Frederick Douglass' Paper
[Unsigned. Douglass?]
Rochester: 27 May 1852


  On Wednesday morning, at eight o'clock, an adjourned meeting of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society was held in the lecture room of the Tabernacle. Rev. J. Warner, Williamsburg, presided. . . .


  Dr. McCune Smith then moved the following resolutions:

  Resolved, That the warm thanks of this meeting to be presented to Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe, for writing the inimitably beautiful and truthful story called Uncle Tom's Cabin, and that we rejoice that the Almighty is awakening the finest literary talent of the country to lay their best offerings on the altar of human freedom; and

  Resolved, That we earnestly call upon the women of the United States, earnestly and zealously to follow in the glorious path laid out for them by Harriet Beecher Stowe, Grace Greenwood and Lydia M. Child.

  Dr. Smith eulogised "Uncle Tom's Cabin," and said its success—unexampled as it was—proved the depth and the breadth of the anti-slavery feeling in this country. The writer had touched a vein richer than California gold, and would be followed by a host of Grub street imitators. If there was romance in the country, it was in the relations between masters and slaves, and in the mixed relations growing out of them. He then proceeded, at some length, to criticise the critic of the Literary World, who had turned this beautiful story into ridicule, while he puffed a world of fiction, on the other side, without merit or invention.

  Mr. Lewis Tappan said Mr. Jewett had sold a thousand copies of the work every day since it was published, or 50,000 copies in eight weeks—a sale that was unparalleled in the whole world. Look at the humble origin of this book. Dr. Baily, one day at my house said, I think I will get Mrs. Stowe to write a story for my paper (for Dr. Baily put stories in his paper, just as parents put pills into preserves for their children.) He wrote her a note, and enclosed a $100 bill.—She sent him No. 1 of "Uncle Tom," for the National Era, and said she would finish it in three numbers. She was astonished herself at the way it looked in print. In a month or two he sent her $200 more, and so went on the tale till she completed the work. Mrs. Stowe is now in Brooklyn, and was here yesterday. She told me that when the fugitive slave law came out, her pillow was wet every night, with her tears, and if any book was ever written from the effect of prayer, it was that book. I introduced her last night to Uncle Tom's grandson. She is going to write more, and others are going to rival her. A distinguished gentleman in Massachusetts is writing a tale on the Fugitive Slave Law.

  Dr. McCune Smith.—It is suggested by a gentleman here, that it is Daniel Webster.—(Great laughter.)

  Mr. Tappan.—Ladies can do much good by writing. For instance, the book of Mrs. Nicholson, on Ireland, was very valuable. The Irish were not blacks, but they had wrongs. I observe the lady is in the room, and congratulate her on this work. Then there is the work of Mrs. Child, in the very title of which there is genius—"An appeal in behalf of Americans called Africans."—President Day, of Yale College, a man of eighty years of age, boasted that he never read a novel, yet he was caught with "Uncle Tom." It is not a fiction, but a narrative of facts in the form of a fiction. A lawyer told me that the escape of Eliza, over the Ohio river, was too extravagant to be true.

  Mr. Cook.—It is true; I know the man that helped her over the river.

  Mr. Tappan—A lawyer, one of the most distinguished members of the Union Safety Committee, told me that he verily believed that book had broken down their cause.—(Great laughter.) Already an edition is being brought out in Canada, and I have no doubt that it will soon be in half a dozen of the languages of Europe. Now is the time to go out with your agencies, after the seed is sown by this book.

  Dr. Thomas Kitter moved that the following be added to the resolution:—"That the publisher be requested to publish a cheap edition for the people, at 37 1/2 cents." If he does, I will expend $25 for copies to this tribute. A gentleman told me that the would spend several hundred dollars in the purchase of copies of a cheap edition, to send to the students of a college.

  Mr. Tappan—Send it to the members of Congress.

  Mr. Ritter—Copies of it have been sent to the Southern Senators, except Mr. Dawson, who said he would not read it if it were sent to him.

  Mr. Tappan—It is rather too much of a good thing to expect the publisher to do this when he is selling a thousand copies per day, at $1.50. Three paper mills cannot supply the paper fast enough. I am sorry to say that the publisher derives the chief profit from it. He has already made $25,000; and he will make $50,000. He made a hard bargain with Mrs. Stowe. She receives fifteen cents upon each copy sold. It has enabled her to purchase a house and a garden for her husband and children. A letter from Dr. Ritter would have as much effect as a resolution by this body. I don't think we ought to interfere between the publisher and the author.

  Rev. Mr. Ray, (colored,) said the way Mr. Jewett got hold of this book was as follows: He took the Era, and his wife read the story. She asked her husband to read it, but he was too busy. When the second number came out she insisted on his writing to Mrs. Stowe for permission to publish the remainder of the story with what had already appeared, in the form of a book. Mr. Jewett did so in obedience to his wife, (laughter) not caring much about the matter himself.

  Dr. Ritter withdrew his amendment, and the resolutions were then passed.