Status: Complete

7 FEBRUARY 1867 149


St. Louis Daily Missouri Democrat, 8 February 1867.

During the winter of 1866—67 Douglass, who had just published an article on
“Reconstruction” in the Atlantic Monthly, combined his criticisms of Presi-
dent Andrew Johnson and his views on the constitutional powers granted
presidents in a speech entitled “Sources of Danger to the Republic,” which
apparently was first delivered in Brooklyn, New York, on 17 December 1866.
Carrying his message from there to Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Ohio,
Douglass traveled as far west as Missouri, Iowa, and Minnesota before return-
ing to Rochester in March. His audiences generally approved his remarks.
One auditor in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, declared that Douglass’s words “were
uttered with a power and chasteness of style and diction that shook down
prejudice from many who had heard, but until now did not believe.” A “Quiet
Listener” in Boston, however, criticized Douglass “in true friendship,”
pointing out that “when he instituted comparisons between English govern-
mental forms and practices with our own, he made mistakes that the [New
York] World newspaper will rejoice over as samples of negro incapacity to
grapple with profound themes.” On the evening of 7 February 1867 Douglass
delivered his “great speech” before an overflow crowd at Turner’s Hall in St.
Louis, Missouri. According to the Daily Missouri Democrat, the audience’s
frequent applause and cheering proved that the speaker had met “the highest
expectations of his numerous warm friends in St. Louis.” Despite those
“warm friends,” however, a question arose whether two local hotels had
denied a room to Douglass during his visit. The St. Louis Evening Dispatch
stated that they had, but the Daily Missouri Democrat claimed that Douglass
had never intended to stay at a hotel, lodging instead at the house of a “highly
respected colored barber,” William Roberson. Douglass continued to empha-
size themes included in “Sources of Danger to the Republic” in other
speeches he gave in late 1867 and early 1868. See Appendix A, text 3, for
precis of alternate texts. Douglass to Gerrit Smith, 31 March 1867, Gerrit
Smith Papers, NSyU; New York Herald, 18 December 1866; Boston Com-
22 December 1866, 12 January 1867; NASS, 12 January 1867; St.
Louis Daily Missouri Democrat, 11 February 1867; Keokuk (Iowa) Daily
Gate City,
2 March 1867; Winona (Minn.) Daily Republican, 15, 18 March
1867; Joseph A. Dugdale to Editor, 17 March 1867, in NASS, 30 March 1867;
Frederick Douglass, “Reconstruction,” Atlantic Monthly, 18 : 761—65 (De-
cember 1866).

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: I know of no greater misfortunes to individuals
than an over confidence in their own perfections, and I know of fewer
misfortunes that can happen to a nation greater than an over confidence in

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