The Hundred Conventions Tour of the West: Independence and Restlessness, June-December 1843
THE HUNDRED CONVENTIONS tour of the West was a milestone in the development of abolitionist rhetoric. Garrisonian abolitionists intended to awaken northern sympathy and arouse the national conscience by holding a series of 100 antislavery conventions that included meetings in Vermont, New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Frederick Douglass was chosen by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society's board of managers as one of six agents who would conduct the six-month tour. Others selected were George Bradburn, Charles Lenox Remond, John A. Collins, Jacob Ferris, and James Monroe. In addition, William A. White of Watertown, Massachusetts, and Sydney Howard Gay, managing editor of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, volunteered to join the crusade, which began on 13 July 1843 and lasted until 7 December.1
Although the Hundred Conventions tour was a major event in the history of abolitionism, neither it nor Douglass' role in it have been closely studied.2 In addition, most scholars have overlooked Douglass' other rhetorical activities during the last seven months of 1843, most notably his activities in New Hampshire and in the vicinity of New Bedford, Massachusetts, in June and early July, and his participation in the National Convention of Colored Citizens in Buffalo, New York, in mid-August, where he distinguished himself as an eloquent orator and reformer before a national audience of African Americans. By examining these activities, this chapter provides a detailed account of Douglass' ventures during the last six months of 1843, a period of great importance for him and for abolitionism in general.