Frederick Douglass on the Exodus

       The following Resolutions were submitted by Mr. Douglass, preliminary to his debate with Prof. R. T. Greener ON THE IMPOLICY OF THE EXODUS of colored people from the South to Kansas and other Northern States: Upon entering the debate Mr. Greener expressed himself unprepared to meet the resolutions, and required time to prepare a full reply. Mr. Douglass was in favor of submitting his resolutions to a vote, but for the accommodation of Mr. Greener, consented to their withdrawal from the meeting.

       Resolved: That while we who are assembled here in Hillsdale, D. C., do most sincerely deplore, and utterly denounce the lawless and murderous spirit which has prevailed towards the colored people and their friends in some parts of the South; that while we do most heartily abhor and detest the shameful meanness and injustice which in that section of our country has robbed the laborer of his hire, and kept back his wages by fraud; that while we do reprobate and denounce the shortsighted intolerance and bloody persecution, which has been practiced, especially in the states of Mississippi and Louisiana, while we deeply sympathize with those who have felt themselves impelled by necessity to take up their line of march northward, we do, nevertheless, incline to the opinion that this so-called Exodus is not the proper and permanent remedy for the evils thus set forth.

      Resolved: That the Government of the United States is a Government of the people, by the people, and for the people, and in the nature of the case, is and must be largely controlled by the direct influence and force of public opinion; that the President of the United States, in the exercise of his executive functions, is measurable bound to ascertain and respect the best judgement of the people, and that, therefore, it becomes vitally important that the public mind, upon great questions be not confused by false issues, half-way measures, or evasions of any sort, and that it should be firmly, steadily and constantly, held to the high and paramount principle, that allegiance and protection are inseparable, and that this Government is solemnly bound to protect and defend the lives and liberties of all its citizens, whatever may be the color of their skins, or the complexion of their political opinions, and to do this in any and every State in the American Union.

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August 1999