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INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME TWO xxix

weakness, vanity, and egotism,” noting that he was trying “not to illustrate
any heroic achievements of a man, but to vindicate a just and beneficent
principle, in its application to the whole human family.”42

Scarred by a series of disputes with his former Garrisonian allies,
Douglass deliberately emphasized his independence from the competing
abolitionist groups by turning to the erudite black physician James McCune
Smith for an introduction to Bondage and Freedom. Even more than Garri-
son’s and Phillips’s 1845 authentications of Douglass’s self-portrait, Smith’s
introduction sought to shape critical response. Quoting frequently from
Bondage and Freedom, Smith focused variously on ethnography, ancient
and American history, literature, politics, journalism, and oratory. To counter
potential concern about the credibility of the account, Smith referred re-
peatedly to Douglass’s “uncommon memory.” Bondage and Freedom pro-
vided incomparable testimony to this aspect of Douglass’s intellectual
powers because it contained numerous examples of an “unfailing memory
bringing up all the facts in their every aspect.” In contrast to Garrison and
Phillips, Smith demonstrated familiarity with a wide range of black and
white autobiographies; compared Douglass’s account favorably with those
of Hugh Miller, William Wells Brown, Samuel Ringgold Ward, and Henry
Bibb; and claimed that the book was an illustration of manhood and Amer-
ican national character. The most prescriptive elements of Smith’s intro-
duction stressed Douglass’s perspicacity, logical acumen, controlled pas-
sion, and style, and Smith drew special attention to Douglass’s logical
development of arguments as a rhetorical strategy and revelation of intel-
lectual strength.43

Contending that Douglass's style was his “most remarkable mental
phenomenon," Smith admitted that it was to him “an intellectual puzzle."
The style was a mystery, however, only in determining its source. Eventu-
ally Smith located its roots in Douglass’s black family antecedents. Suc-
cinctly summarized, the stylistic elements of Bondage and Freedom in-
cluded “strength, affluence and terseness" as well as a "rare polish...
which, most critically examined, seems the result of careful early culture
among the best classics of our language.”44

Although Smith's authentication of Bondage and Freedom did not
guarantee Douglass the publicity he had gained from the prefatory letters of

42. Ibid., vi-vii.
43. Ibid., xviii, xxvi.
44. Ibid., xxviii, xxix.

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