Frederick Douglass Button


Frederick Douglass Pin


Frederick Douglass, (1818-1895) abolitionist, eloquent orator, writer, editor, and women’s rights advocate, was born a slave in Maryland in 1817 or 1818. Having failed at one attempt to escape to the North he succeeded on his second attempt in 1838, and settled in the New Bedford, Massachusetts, area in order to use his skills as a ship caulker in the growing whale hunting industry. When he spoke at an anti-slavery meeting in1841, William Lloyd Garrison heard him and invited Douglass to join the American Anti-Slavery Society and become a persuasive speaker for that cause. By the late 1840s, Douglass had met Gerrit Smith who convinced him to give up the persuasive moralizing and join the budding effort to abolish slavery by political means. Douglass became a supporter of the Liberty Party and moved to RochesterNew York, in order to carry out his dream of being a journalist and to avoid the influence of Garrison. Douglass spoke at anti-slavery conventions in Peterboro and in the Free Church of Peterboro which Gerrit Smith had established. Douglass worked with Smith in organizing the 1850 Anti-Fugitive Slave Law Convention in CazenoviaNew York. Smith made large and regular donations of money to Douglass in order to keep solvent Douglass’ anti-slavery efforts through his newspapers The North Star and Frederick Douglass’ Paper. Douglass dedicated the second edition of his autobiography to Gerrit Smith whom he considered a great man because of his practical efforts to implement universal human rights. Smith was praised for his personal hospitality and his public stand for immediate abolition in Douglass’ newspaper, and Smith’s ideas regarding education, political activity, and religion deeply influenced Douglass’ thought and action. Douglass’ relationship with Smith was also on a very personal level. He visited Peterboro often, bringing with him colleagues and other members of his family for extended visits as early as 1835. In a letter to Smith in 1851, Douglass closes with “Please remember my love to Mrs. Smith” and in a letter the next year Douglass closes with “I doubt not that my friend Miss Griffiths had a good visit at Peterboro and left you with her strength renewed.”

Inducted into the National Abolition Hall of Fame & Museum Peterboro NY 

2.25" diameter metal shell

Mylar protective cover

Metal pin back

A community heritage gift shop, located within the Visitors Center on the Gerrit Smith Estate, National Historic Landmark, in Peterboro NY. The Mercantile is staffed and operated under the management of the Smithfield Community Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of historic Peterboro.



Artwork by Joe Flores

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