Frederick Douglass: Freedom's Voice, 1818-1845

By Gregory P. Lampe | Go to book overview

Chapter Eight

No Union With Slaveholders: The Proslavery Character of the United States Constitution, May-August 1844

IN EARLY MAY 1844, Frederick Douglass returned home to Lynn from western Massachusetts. Now that the Hundred Conventions tour of Massachusetts had come to an end, Douglass would enter into another important period of antislavery agitation. Although overlooked by most Douglass scholars, the time from May through August 1844 marked a critical stage in his development as an abolitionist and as an orator.1 His growing significance to the movement can be seen in his being invited by the board of managers of the American Anti-Slavery Society to be the guest of the society at their annual May meeting with all expenses paid. In early August, during the opening session of the Eastern Pennsylvania Anti- Slavery Society, he was invited to speak on the status of the antislavery movement in New England and its prospects for the future. Later in the same month he was the featured speaker at an antislavery meeting in the State House yard at Philadelphia, after which he undertook a lecture tour in eastern Pennsylvania with Charles Lenox Remond. In all of these activities, he continued to speak impressively and eloquently on behalf of African Americans.

This period, moreover, includes two complete texts of speeches by Douglass never before documented or studied. The first is from a 28 May 1844 meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society in Boston, the other is from a 12 August 1844 meeting of the Eastern Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society at Norristown. Both these speech texts, previously undiscovered by scholars, will be closely examined in this chapter.

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