Mar 30, 2017 - Sale 2441

Sale 2441 - Lot 80

Price Realized: $ 100,000
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 40,000 - $ 60,000
A FEW FRIENDS IN ENGLAND BOUGHT ME AND MADE ME A PRESENT OF MYSELF. (SLAVERY AND ABOLITION.) DOUGLASS, FREDERICK. Autograph Letter Signed to [George Alfred] Townsend. 4 small 8vo pages on a folding sheet; diamond-shaped hole at the conjunction of the folds, obliterating a few words, but perfectly understandable in context. Washington, May 5, 1880

Additional Details

a letter to one of the civil war's great journalists with exceptional content. Douglass addresses something that Townsend has written about Robert Ingersoll the great orator. "I am obliged to you for a copy of your Tales of the Chesapeake and grateful for the kind notice you've given me in the Graphic, but I did not assent to the picture of your strictures upon R. G. Ingersoll. He is a better man than you paint him and I am not the good considerate and persistent Methodist you describe me to be. In regard to the kind of man Mr. Ingersoll is, let me tell you a true story. More than a dozen years ago, one cold winter night, the ground covered with snow and ice the wind sharp and piercing, I lectured in a little town called Elmwood, Illinois, twenty miles distant from Peoria. In order to reach my next appointment, it was necessary for me to reach Peoria that night after lecturing. I went to the Elmwood Station at Midnight, and was told that I would arrive at Peoria about one o'clock am. On my way to the station I said to Mr. Brown who had entertained me that I dreaded going to Peoria as I expected to be compelled to walk the streets all that night to keep from freezing, as the last time went in Peoria no hotel in that city would receive me. My friend Mr Brown was much troubled by this remark and I was almost sorry that I said anything about the prospect before me. He was silent and perplexed for a while, but at last he said 'Mr. Douglass when you arrive at Peoria, enquire for the house of Robert G Ingersoll.' That will not do, they will all be in bed, I will not disturb them. But he insisted that I should do so. No man should be turned from the door of Robert Ingersoll on such a night as this, no matter what may be his color or his religion. [Ingersoll was a noted atheist.] I went to Peoria that night with all the sin of my hated complexion upon me and found Robert G Ingersoll the Good Samaritan that Mr. Brown described him to be. I was received, warmed by his fire and made at home under his roof. Comment on my part is not necessary. Your own generous nature and fertile brain can furnish all that the incident may seem to require. This was no isolated act of humanity on the part of Mr. Ingersoll. He is known to be as kind noble and humane as any Christian man in Peoria." Douglass continues, "I shall certainly read your Tales of the Chesapeake. A child of the Eastern Shore myself, I share your sentiment for that section, though to me it was slavery and ignorance, and to you liberty and intelligence. You are wrong in saying I bought my liberty, a few friends in England bought me and made me a present of myself. Without any word of prompting on my part. But I [ ? ] up my pen to thank you for the little book you sent me and not to write a letter. Respectfully yours, Fredk. Douglass."