Oct 28, 2021 - Sale 2584

Sale 2584 - Lot 19

Price Realized: $ 7,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 5,000 - $ 7,500
"STILL FAITHFUL TO THE CAUSE OF MY PEOPLE" DOUGLASS, FREDERICK. Autograph Letter Signed, to W.H. Johnson, promising to set out his views on the "Exodus" [African American migration from the South] in his speech to be delivered before the Social Science Congress, sending printed tracts on the same subject [not present], and expressing gladness at his recognizing Douglass's continued faith to the cause of his people. 1 page, 8vo, ruled paper, with integral blank; some smudging to date (but still legible), folds. With the original envelope, addressed in another hand. Washington, 29 August 1879

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". . . I am soon to prepare a paper on the Exodus to be read at the Social Science Congress to be held at Saratoga N.Y. 9th Sept. It will contain my present thoughts on that subject. Meanwhile I will send you a series of resolutions written by me, which give you in some measure what have been my views upon the subject. I am glad you do me the justice to believe me still faithful to the cause of my people."
The American Association for the Promotion of Social Science was founded in 1865 and later renamed the American Social Science Association. At a meeting of the Association held in Saratoga, NY, on September 9, 1879, Douglass delivered a speech entitled "The Negro Exodus from the Gulf States" (published in the January 1880 issue of Frank Leslie's Popular Monthly). In the speech, Douglass pointed out that the North required skilled labor for its machines, and the South, unskilled for its farms; he argued that unskilled Blacks moving from the poverty and persecution of the former Confederacy to Kansas and other states in the North were leaving behind a certain benefit for an uncertain one, bringing ruin to both the migrants and the nation as a whole. Leaving the South, Douglass continued, also allowed the government to shirk its duty to protect all its citizens wherever they live.
At the same time that Douglass was writing, other African American leaders with opposing views, such as John Mercer Langston, argued that the migration of Blacks to the North was no less justified than that of other migrants forced to leave their untenable circumstances to seek a better life. Some attending to Douglass's remarks, aligning with Langston or the migrants themselves, might have doubted whether Douglass was agitating more for the welfare of his country than his African American compatriots, which sentiment might have prompted the closing remark in Douglass's letter.