When George Latimer was arrested and threatened to be sent back south because he was a fugitive, Frederick Douglass joined the fight to set Latimer free. The efforts of Douglass and his fellow abolitionists were successful! Frederick Douglass was so moved by the events that on November 8, 1842, he wrote a letter from his home in Lynn, Massachusetts to the editor of the Liberator.


The date of this letter finds me quite unwell. I have for a week past been laboring, in company with Bro. Charles Remond, in New Bedford, with especial reference to the case of our outraged brother, George Latimer, and speaking almost day and night, in public and private. . . . On Sunday we held three meetings in the Town Hall. . . . In the morning we had quite a large meeting, at the opening of which I occupied about an hour on the question whether a man is better than a sheep. . . . Long before the drawling, lazy church bells commenced sounding their deathly notes that afternoon, mighty crowds were making their way to the Town Hall. They needed no bells to remind them of their duty to bleeding humanity. . . . As I gazed upon them my soul leaped for joy. . . . The splendid hall was brilliantly lighted in the evening, and crowded with an earnest, listening audience. . . . A large number had to stand during the meeting, which lasted about three hours; where the standing part of the audience were at the commencement of the meeting, there they were at the conclusion of it. . . . Prejudice against color was not there. . . . We were all on a level; every one took a seat just where he chose; there was neither man’s side nor woman’s side; white pew nor black pew; but all seats were free, and all sides free. . . . I again took the stand, and called the attention of the meeting to the case of Bro. George Latimer, which proved the finishing stroke of my present public work. On taking my seat I was seized with a violent pain in my breast, which continued till morning, and with occasional raising of blood. . . . It is a struggle of life and death with us just now. No sword that can be used, be it never so rusty, should lay in its scabbard. Slavery, our enemy, has landed in our very midst, and commenced its bloody work. . . . I can sympathize with George Latimer, having myself been cast into a miserable jail, on suspicion of my intending to do what he has said to have done, viz., appropriating my own body to my own use. My heart is full; and had I my voice, I should be doing all that I am capable of for Latimer’s redemption. I can do but little in any department; but if one department is more the place for me than another, that one is before the people. I can’t write to much advantage, having never had a day’s schooling in my life; nor have I ventured to give publicity to any of my scribbling before; nor would I now, but for my peculiar circumstances.

Your grateful friend,