EIGHTEEN FORTY-THREE was to be the year of the Hundred Conventions—a hundred antislavery meetings planned by the American Anti‐ slavery Society. The goal of a hundred was never actually reached, but Douglass himself spoke at nearly that many meetings in 1843 as he traveled across New England, upstate New York, Ohio and Indiana, and back through Pennsylvania, gaining an increasingly strong and independent voice. While preaching against slavery as it existed in the South, he made constant references to what he was facing now in the North—a North that would not accord him equality. He believed fervently that the ending of slavery would mean the beginning of full manhood for his brothers and himself. With its end, they and he would be paid attention to, would be respected. Somehow, it was slavery that had bred the poison of racism. In the company of devoted proponents of universal reform, he did not waver in his belief that slavery was the one overriding evil that had to be gotten rid of before any other goals, however desirable, should be sought.
This single-mindedness led him into one of the myriad controversies in which he was to engage during his long life, and cost him the friendship of John A. Collins, with whom he had often traveled amicably. What drove them apart was a speech by Collins at a meeting in Syracuse at the end of July, in which, in Douglass's view, "the antislavery cause was wantonly assailed & by one to whom I had always looked up to as its warmest protector." Collins, a Fourierist opponent of all individual ownership of property—in interesting ways he anticipated Henry George—was the general agent, or executive director, of the American