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Proceedings of the First Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of Illinois, Convened at the City of Chicago, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 6th, 7th and 8th, 1853.


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We have still faith to believe that our present political disabilities are not the result of the well understood wishes of you, the people; and we, therefore, appeal distinctly to you, who, are, in truth the rightful sovereigns of the State, to instruct your Legislators to vote for the repeal of those enactments of which we so justly complain. And last, though not least, we appeal to the Press, that mighty engine and swift-winged intelligencer, to use its great power and influence in behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden of Illinois in particular, and of the country in general.

H. O. Wagoner, William Smith,

Wm. Robinson, Thomas Mason,

Henry Brown.

Frederick Douglass' Paper, October 28, 1853.


1. John Jones was a prosperous black Chicago tailor and abolitionist. He used his home to lodge runaway slaves preparatory to their settlement in Canada. Jones was also a vigorous spokesman, during this period; against the program of African colonization.

2. H. O. Wagoner was a noted Chicago black abolitionist and a frequent contributor to Douglass' paper, the North Star. Later, he moved to Denver, Colorado, from which city he continued to send letters to Douglass' paper.

3. Lewis Tappan (1788-1873) was a wealthy New York merchant, philanthropist and abolitionist. Along with his well-known brother Arthur, he played a prominent role in the formation of the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833. In 1840, owing to such divisive issues as the relationship of church to slavery, participation of women in antislavery activities, and political action, the Tappan brothers broke with William Lloyd Garrison, president of the Society, and founded the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. See Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War against Slavery (New York, 1969), passim.

4. David Paul Brown (1795-1872), eminent Philadelphia lawyer and abolitionist, frequently used his services defending runaway slaves. Louis Ruchames pointed out (Letters of William Lloyd Garrison [Cambridge, Mass., 1971], II, 364) that "abolitionism was but one of his numerous reforms." See his reminiscences, The Forum, or Forty Years Full Practice at the Philadelphia Bar (Philadelphia, 1856).

5. Horace Greeley (1811-1872) founded the New York Tribune, a successful and influential antislavery organ, and later became one of the foremost Republican editors.

6. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896), American humanitarian and novelist, was the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin, or Life Among the Lowly. This work was first published as a serial (June 5, 1851-April 1, 1852) in the National Era, an antislavery paper in Washington, D.C., and as a book in two volumes on March 20, 1852. It achieved international acclaim and sold into the hundreds of thousands.

7. This convention met July 6-8, 1853.

8. In late February 1853, Mrs. Harriet Beecher Stowe invited Frederick Douglass to her Andover, Ohio, home to discuss what means could be found to help elevate the free colored people of the United States. Mrs. Stowe had received substantial sums of money from the sale of her book Uncle Tom's Cabin and was shortly preparing for a tour of England, where a huge testimonial was to be given in her honor. She informed Douglass that the monies obtained from her English trip would be used in seeking to ameliorate the condition of blacks in this country.

After this interview, Douglass wrote a very long letter to Mrs. Stowe, dated March 8, 1853, in which he requested that any money Mrs. Stowe might contribute to his people be used for the establishment of an industrial college where black youth could learn mechanic skills in order to prepare them for a livelihood. Upon her return from England, however, Mrs. Stowe had apparently reconsidered her plans for an industrial school. Douglass was embarrassed by her about-face and noted that "her change of purpose was a

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