GERRIT SMITH (March 6, 1797 – December 28, 1874) was a leading abolitionist, politician and philanthropist. He contributed liberally to the Liberty Party and the Republican Party and made substantial donations to create Timbuctoo, an African American community in North Elba, New York. Most notably, Smith was in favor of the immediate freeing of slaves and was a member of the Secret Six who financially, clandestinely supported John Brown’s raid at Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, in 1859. Brown’s raid was disrupted. He was arrested and hanged for treason.
Offering a three-page 8 7/8 x 11 7/8 broadside speech of Smith’s “To His Neighbors In Peterboro, N.Y., June 22nd, 1872,” filled with intense and descriptive language supporting Ulysses S. Grant’s re-election as necessary for the country and the Black race and decrying the Democratic Party for its racist views. He calls the Democratic party his “dread,” saying it was once the party for human rights and equality. “But for the well-known pro-slavery spirit of that party, the rebellion would not have been...This infamous party continued in more or less active sympathy with the slave power—ever hostile to the emancipation of the slaves; and ever hating and despising the colored race...To this day it persists in refusing him his full measure of civil rights and his equality before the law.” He calls the Ku Klux Klan the “worst element in the population of our country...By all that is precious in justice and mercy, the Republican party must be kept in power...The Democratic party has sinned too long and too deeply to be capable of repentance...This generation of impenitent negro-hating, negro-whipping, negro-hanging Democrats be forever shut out of power...” Speaking about Ulysses S. Grant, who was running for President, Smith said, “He means to be, if elected, an honest as well as a wise ruler...” He also speaks of Charles Sumner’s antagonistic speech against Grant. “Mr. Sumner speaks of President Grant’s insult to Frederick Douglass, and through him to the colored race. The insult exists but in Mr. Sumner’s imagination...Mr. Douglass is insensible of it for he is still the uncomplaining and warm friend of the President. Mr. Sumner says that the President, in inviting the San Domingo Commissioners to dine with him, forgot Mr. Douglass. But Mr. Douglass, though Mr. Sumner speaks of him as one of the Commissioners, was not one of them...He served the commission in the capacity of Assistant Secretary...
He concludes, “Is there a black man...who is inclined to vote the Democratic ticket? He had better die and do it. He had better die than so wrong his race and so wrong us, whose lives have been lives of suffering and sacrifices for the redemption and welfare of his race. Will not William Lloyd Garrison and his fellow laborers have lived in vain, if now, at the last, the black man for whom they have lived, shall turn against them and go over to their and the black man’s enemy?”
Light toning. One small tear repaired with archival tape. Wonderful post-Civil War, abolitionist speech.
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