The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

67. Samuel Ringgold Ward to Frederick Douglass January 1855

The fresh perspective gained by living in a different culture led many black professionals to reexamine the black American experience. Samuel Ringgold Ward's reflections resulted in a series of provocative essays, which were published in Frederick Douglass' Paper during the winter and spring of 1855 under the title "The Modern Negro." The first of these essays, "No. 1," appeared on 23 February and was prompted by Ward's reading of Douglass speech, "The Claims of the Negro Ethnologically Considered," delivered 12 July 1854 before a commencement-week function of the Philozetian Literary Society of Western Reserve College at Hudson, Ohio. PtL, 4 December 1854; Blassingame, Frederick Douglass Papers, 2:497-525.

LONDON, [ England] Jan[uary], 1855

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, Esq. My DEAR SIR:

One of your many admirers in this country has recently given me the
pleasure of reading your "Ethnological Address" upon the negro race.
Allow me to thank you for that able, masterly document. And allow me
to avail myself of our ancient and unbroken friendship to thank you, as a
mulatto for the honor you do me, as a negro--that you are the former,
and I the latter, is certainly a fact for which neither of us is responsible,
praiseworthy, or blameworthy. But the variety gives us both abundant
and varied and I know, that so far as you and I are personally concerned,
united opportunities illustrating and defending the manhood and the
equality of our African ancestry and our Africo-American brethren.

In this particular connexion, I will add, that Canada and the United
States are too closely allied in feeling as well as in geographical position,
to make the cause of the black man otherwise than one, on both sides of
the line. You, from your stand point, we from ours, are alike enabled to
vindicate our race, and to repel the vile, foul slanders by which that race
has been--by the baser half of the Anglo Saxon race--aspersed. You, I
hope will never be ashamed to point your maligners to the condition and
prospects of the entirely free British negro; while we, I hope will always
be proud of the advancing [progress of nominally] free in the United
States--uniting our testimony practically and undeniably, in behalf of
those still remaining in chains.

I cannot help thinking that such a theme as that you brought before
The Western Reserve College Literary Society, needs, at this time to be

-412-

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