The New York Times
William Strickland
5 January 1857

Another Letter from the Banished Mobile Bookseller

From the New-York Journal of Commerce:

MILWAUKEE, (Wisconsin,) Dec. 25, 1856.

  GENTLEMEN: A friend in New-York has sent to me an extract from your paper, being the communication of Mr. W. J. HEILLER, of Memphis, Tenn., regarding my expulsion from Mobile, dated Dec. 10, 1856.

  Your well-known reputation to do justice to all in your columns, induces me to believe that you will permit this notice of his article to have the same publicity.

  Mr. HEILLER says: "It has been authoritatively stated that he (STRICKLAND) sold Fred. Douglass' Life to slaves—in many instances."

  This charge is entirely new to me, and I am extremely desirous to know on what authority he makes the statement.

  The only charges brought against me are those made by the "Mobile Vigilance Committee," who, after the careful and rigid examination (among them are my most bitter personal enemies) of my stock, inventories, correspondence, and invoices, charge, that my firm sold to Dr. CRAGIN, who was acting under the instructions of Mr. HAWTHORNE, one of the committee, two copies of Fred. Douglass, and to Mr. WOODCOCK one copy of the Autographs of Freedom, and that I ordered (not sold) fifty copies of Uncle Tom's Cabin.

  No responsible person in Mobile, to my knowledge, has pretended to say that we sold or distributed any books or anything else to slaves.

  I was driven from Mobile for selling those three books; and I defy any one to substantiate any other fault against me.

  Mr. BABCOCK, our book salesman, has made affadavit that no other books (except the current fiction of the day) or documents of any other kind, of a character improper to be circulated in the South, were in our stock. The two copies of Fred. Douglass were ordered by him, because gentlemen had inquired for them. They were never offered for sale, and were purchased from us as stated above.

  The one copy of the other book, as shown by our inventories, was in our stock previous to July, 1854. How it came there, I have not been able to ascertain. It was probably bought with some lot of books.

  So many of our planters and other customers begged me to procure for them a copy of "Uncle Tom's Cabin," that after the three-shilling edition was published, I ordered fifty copies of it, (as discovered from our invoices by the Committee,) and presented or sent them, as opportunity offered. We never sold a copy of the book, unless it was done contrary to my instructions, nor did we ever knowingly circulate anything which the South would condemn.

  The extreme injustice of their tyrannous conduct towards me has not in the least abated.

  Dr. NOTT lately attacked me through the columns of the Mobile newspapers, and they have refused to print my reply to him, even as an advertisement. Some of the press proprietors declared candidly to my wife, that they "dare not print anything in my favor." I am now making an effort to have it distributed here in the form of a handbill.

  I enclose a copy of it to you, and shall feel much, very much obliged to you, if you will permit me the use of your valuable columns to bring it before the public.

  I also enclose a copy of my "statement to the Mobile public," not one word of which has been contradicted.

Yours truly,