Frederick Douglass' Letter


Activist, journalist and sociologist, Ida B. Wells' letter from Mr. Douglass is featured in her pamphlet, Southern Horrors: Lynch Law in All Its Phases, first published in 1892.
Frederick Douglass' Letter
Brady-Handy portrait of Frederick Douglass, 1865-1880


Dear Miss Wells:

Let me give you thanks for your faithful paper on the lynch abomination now generally practiced against colored people in the South. There has been no word equal to it in convincing power. I have spoken, but my word is feeble in comparison. You give us what you know and testify from actual knowledge. You have dealt with the facts with cool, painstaking fidelity and left those naked and uncontradicted facts to speak for themselves.

Brave woman! you have done your people and mine a service which can neither be weighed nor measured. If American conscience were only half alive, if the American church and clergy were only half christianized, if American moral sensibility were not hardened by persistent infliction of outrage and crime against colored people, a scream of horror, shame and indignation would rise to Heaven wherever your pamphlet shall be read.

But alas! even crime has power to reproduce itself and create conditions favorable to its own existence. It sometimes seems we are deserted by earth and Heaven yet we must still think, speak and work, and trust in the power of a merciful God for final deliverance.

Very truly and gratefully yours,


Cedar Hill, Anacostia, D.C.

Oct. 25, 1892


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