Amazing Frederick Douglass

Frederick-DouglassI can’t imagine being enslaved. Those elements of life that seemed constraints — parental supervision as a child, school rules and dress codes, perhaps some government or corporate regulations — are nothing compared to the physical and mental shackles suffered when one person owns another.

That makes this letter from famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass to a man he was once forced to call “Master” so remarkable in both its restraint and warmth.

Douglass was not only a passionate advocate for freedom, but also an incredibly astute man whose nuanced view of the world assessed people as individuals, multi-layered, complex, often flawed, but unique individuals that defied simplistic categorization.

“…It is twenty years since I ran away from you, or rather not from you but from Slavery,” wrote Douglass to Hugh Auld, drawing a distinction between the man and the institution that I cannot imagine doing if I had lived his life.


Frederick Douglas letterRochester, N.Y., October 4, 1857
Hugh Auld Esq
My dear Sir.

My heart tells me that you are too noble to treat with indifference the request I am about to make, It is twenty years since I ran away from you, or rather not from you but from Slavery, and since then I have often felt a strong desire to hold a little correspondence with you and to learn something of the position and prospects of your dear children. They were dear to me – and are still – indeed I feel nothing but kindness for you all– I love you, but hate Slavery, Now my dear Sir, will you favor me by dropping me a line, telling me in what year I came to live with you in Aliceanna St. the year the Frigate was built by Mr. Beacham. The information is not for publication – and shall not be published. We are all hastening where all distinctions are ended, kindness to the humblest will not be unrewarded.

Perhaps you have heard that I have seen Miss Amanda that was, Mrs. Sears that is, and was treated kindly such is the fact, Gladly would I see you and Mrs. Auld – or Miss Sopha as I used to call her. I could have lived with you during life in freedom though I ran away from you so unceremoniously, I did not know how soon I might be sold. But I hate to talk about that. A line from you will find me Addressed FredK Douglass Rochester N. York.

I am dear sir very truly yours.
Fred: Douglass

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