TO STAY OR TO GO? THE NATIONAL EMIGRATION CONVENTION OF 1854
Delany v. Douglass: Scandal
A letter with scathing remarks about Delany.
Martin R. Delany, one the most popular emigration advocates, made his beliefs known not only through his participation at the 1854 National Emigration Convention, but also through his direct opposition to Frederick Douglass. In 1847, Delany left his own newspaper to join Douglass as co-editor of the North Star. This partnership lasted about eighteen months until Delany left for medical school at Harvard, from which he was quickly dismissed due to his race.
Since their split as co-editors at the North Star, Delany and Douglass began to develop different ideas. In particular, they disagreed about the type of national identity they believed African Americans should strive for. Delany believed that for African Americans to obtain freedom, they must move out of the United States and address racial injustice from the outside. Douglass, in direct contrast with Delany, thought it best to stay and fight injustice on American soil. These opposing beliefs would eventually manifest themselves within the Black press, specifically the Provincial Freeman and Frederick Douglass’ Paper.
The letter on the left was published in Frederick Douglass’ Paper. By publishing it, Douglass presents a counterargument against Delany’s stance. One can see how Black activists, editors, and contributors used the press not only to share political discussions, but also to express dissent and disagreement.
Written by Hannah Harkins. Taught by Benjamin Fagan, Auburn University, Fall 2016.
Edited by Sarah Patterson, Samantha deVera, and Gabrielle Foreman.