4 Alexander Street
ROCHESTER was a brash new city, bright and ready for a man eager to claim his own place in the world. In 1847, it was a prosperous manufacturing center of fifty thousand people. Situated in upstate New York at the fall line of the north-flowing Genesee River just short of where it reached Lake Ontario, Rochester was across the lake from Canada, the last—the safe—stop of the underground railroad. That famous conduit to freedom, so compelling to the American imagination that it sometimes seems to dwell only in legend, was real indeed in Rochester; from the city, many runaways from slavery made their way out of the United States and into freedom, with the help of a vigorous group of antislavery citizens. The route to liberation led due north, and Frederick Douglass chose the richest image of the resolute, hopeful trek of runaways to freedom when he named his new antislavery newspaper North Star.
Rochester offered promise to another runaway as well. For Douglass, going there meant a new start. He would be leaving Lynn and breaking free of the Garrisonian fold. Initially, it had appeared that the traveler had returned not only to hearth and home but also to his old relationship with his mentor. The two had parted affectionately in Liverpool the previous fall, when Garrison had left for America, but when Douglass returned, he brought with him ideas and ambitions that the American Anti-Slavery Society found hard to contain—notably his plan to have his own newspaper, with which to bring his own words in his own way to a public concerned with the slavery question. "I still see before me a life of toil and trials ..., but," he pledged, "justice must be done, the