Forney and Fred Douglas

September 11, 1866


In response to an article in the Washington Chronicle which applauded Fredrick Douglas' speech to the Radical National Convention, and suggested many southern conservatives in Richmond ask him to come speak for he may change many of their views, the fact that no southern "negro" was invited to speak at the Philadelphia convention when so many policies that affect them were discussed was brought up and attacked the credibility and motives of the Radical Convention.


Forney and Fred Douglas. The Washington Chronicle of yesterday contains the best tempered editorial which we have seen in that journal for months. It actually writes as if it would like to try the effect of these measures upon the rebels, though that is not the subject under discussion. The occasion for this display of good temper was the appearance in the Lynchburg Republican a few days ago of a paragraph stating that the speech of Fred Douglass was the best delivered in the Radical National Convention. Of course such a compliment to a colored gentleman merited a kind return, and accordingly Forney goes so far as to declare that our friend Glass is "frank"; and in the warmth of his gratitude he declares that if the people of Virginia would only Invite Fred to speak in the African church in Richmond, and go to hear him ; or, still better, discuss the questions of the day with him, "such an exhibition of liberality on their part would do more to conciliate the angry passions of the hour than anything that has happened for a long time." The whole affair, quoth Forney, "should be under their own management." Now, it strikes us that this is a most unfortunate proposition for a leading Radical to make; and especially in connection with any reference to the Radical National Convention. This was an assemblage of the peculiar friends of Sambo; was got up by the friends of freedom, equality, and negro suffrage; was intended to redound to the advantage of the down-trodden African; was the pet of Greeley, Hamilton Butler, Forney, and others of the same genus; and yet no southern negro out of the millions here was "invited " to speak in Independence Hall or to discuss political questions with the " white trash" there assembled. How say you Mr. Forney; was this neglect or an intentional insult? If we, who deny their equality with ourselves in many respects, ought to invite them to make speeches, what excuse can you, who concede that a negro should have all the rights of a white man, give for refusing to invite them to sit in your convention and discuss the great political questions in which they are so deeply interested?
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Nat Berry




“Forney and Fred Douglas,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed June 1, 2023,