Sending words of "my old and precious friend, John Brown"
"I am deeply exercised by what is going now in the country. Oh! That out of the present trouble and chaos might come the Slaves deliverance! The calamity of civil war can have no compensation short of this."
Sending words of "my old and precious friend, John Brown"

FREDERICK DOUGLASS, 1861

Details
Sending words of "my old and precious friend, John Brown"
Frederick Douglass, 1861
DOUGLASS, Frederick (1817/1818-1895) and BROWN, John (1800-1859). Autograph letter signed ("Frederick Douglass") to S[amuel] D. Porter, Rochester, 16 April 1861 with four autograph words by John Brown affixed below Douglass's signature.

One page, 200 x 126mm (lightly toned at top margin, glue remnants where Brown's autograph is affixed).

Douglass conveys his hope that the Civil War will end slavery and sends several words of John Brown's handwriting. Douglass is writing to his friend Samuel Porter (1808-1891), a fellow abolitionist and a conductor on the Underground Railroad: “It gives me pleasure to be able to oblige with an extract from a letter from my old and precious friend John Brown. It is but a part of a sentence, but I hope enough to serve the purpose of your friend Dr. Sprague. It is a fair specimen of Capt Brown's chirography. The good old man wrote with much care and very uniformly." (The sample of Brown's handwriting, affixed with glue, reads: "our own faults; & follies.") Writing in the days immediately following the fall of Fort Sumter, Douglass concludes by offering his hopes that the coming war will put an end to slavery: "I am deeply exercised by what is going now in the country. Oh! That out of the present trouble and chaos might come the Slaves deliverance! The calamity of civil war can have no compensation short of this."

Douglass first met John Brown in the late 1840s, and it was at Douglass's home in Rochester in 1858 that Brown composed his provisional constitution for a state to be formed in the west of Virginia, populated by escaped slaves. Following the Harper's Ferry raid, it was found among Brown's papers and was used in his trial as evidence of sedition. Following Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Douglass, although denying any direct involvement in the plot, fled to Canada to avoid an arrest warrant in Virginia and subsequently embarked on a lecture tour in Great Britain. He returned to the United States in the spring of 1860, again via Canada to avoid detection. During the Civil War, Douglass, the most famous Black man in America, campaigned for emancipation. After Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Douglass worked to recruit Black soldiers to enlist in the Union Army. Three of his sons served in various capacities in the Army, most notably his son Lewis, fought at the Battle of Fort Wagner.

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