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Douglass’ advocacy of slave revolt was a view shared much more widely among black than among white abolitionists. In 1856, Lewis Tappan became alarmed at Douglass’ “vengeance is mine” attitude toward slaveholders. “In your speeches and in your paper,” Tappan complained, “you advocate the slaughter of slaveholders. I cannot go with you.” He accused the black leader of “scattering firebrands, arrows, and death.” Tappan was still a strong adherent of nonviolence and his shock at Douglass’ rhetoric is understandable. His reaction, though, serves as a good measure of Douglass’ changing thought on slave insurrection. Douglass never encouraged slave revolts with relish, but by the time of John Brown’s raid in 1859 he was prepared to accept and make the most of what appeared inevitable.
— David W. Blight, from Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith In Jubliee (Louisiana State University Press, 1991)

The Lewis Tappan letter Blight quotes was dated December 19, 1856 and sent from Tappan’s home in Brooklyn which I believe was on Degraw Street. Wait, wait, wait I hear the Brooklyn historian plead— that Degraw Street? “You bet your sweet rosy ass!” as Allan Nevins— no relation to that Nevins, I don’t think— might have said. (This might be apocryphal.)
Caz Dolowicz

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