Frederick Douglass: Freedom's Voice, 1818-1845

By Gregory P. Lampe | Go to book overview

Chapter Seven
The Hundred Conventions Tour of Massachusetts: Torrents of Eloquence, January-May 1844

THE HUNDRED CONVENTIONS tour of the West was so successful that in January 1844 the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society decided a similar campaign should be organized to canvass the central counties of Massachusetts. The leadership of the society planned to carry out approximately 100 conventions by sending five teams of lecturers to tour the state simultaneously. Frederick Douglass was among the lecturers hired to conduct the tour, which began in mid-February.1 In the interim, he undertook a brief series of abolitionist lectures in New Hampshire. Although Douglass did not mention either his brief lecture tour of New Hampshire or the Hundred Conventions tour of Massachusetts in any of his autobiographies, it is possible to reconstruct his itinerary and activities from newspaper reports, journal accounts, and letters written to the Liberator. These sources capture vividly the details of Douglass' rhetorical efforts during the first five months of 1844. As we shall see, these sources document clearly the rhetorical artistry and eloquence of his message and the profound impact it had on audiences during this period, a period that has been largely ignored by students of Douglass and his oratory.2


I

After the December 1843 anniversary meeting of the American Anti- Slavery Society in Philadelphia, Douglass returned home to Lynn, Massachusetts, to rest and enjoy some time with his family. In late January 1844 he attended the twelfth annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti- Slavery Society in Boston. The "superbly attended" three-day convention

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