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Dear Doctor:

Washington seems to be a
kind of a Mecca for sable gentlemen—at least
prospectively; and they are not, as formerly,
required to show their free papers ere they
pass through the metropolis of "my Mary-
​" when facing northward. "Have you
got a pass?" said a genteel-looking young
white man to me as we were about to leave
Washington. "I had to get one before I could
get away. I do not know whether colored
men have to or not," said he. At this my
friend G. began to get a little nervous, and we
had but little time, and a mile away from the
place where passes were to be obtained.

But to ascertain if such were really neces-
​ was first in order, and so I stepped up to
the most important-looking personage about
the station, exhibiting at the same time let-
​ enclosed in government envelopes, and
asked if I needed anything else to leave Wash-
​. "Nothing," said he, promptly (he was
the man in power). "With that" (pointing
to the enveloped letters, or the envelope)
"with that you can go anywhere." Oh! won-
​ strange! There sat crouched at my feet,
with his permit to leave Washington in his
pocket, a white man who, a few dozen moons
ago, had I not had one, could, and doubtless
would, have arrested me as a piece of stray pro-
, and, as such, put a part of the price into
the very pocket that now contained (to him)
the humiliating permit.

Among other distinguished persons, Frede-
​ Douglass (who has by this time earned
for himself the appellation of Lion—if not of
the tribe of Judah, yet certainly a Lion) made
his entry into this pilgrim's rest a day or so
before I arrived. From his Excellency and
heads of departments down, all stepped for-
​ to do him honor and bid him God-speed
on his mission, and lesser employees laid aside
their pens and other duties to look upon the
unusual scene; while all sympathizing rebel-
​, or what there is left of it hereabouts,
gazed in mute astonishment, even bewilder-
​, upon the scene and the cause of it.

Remember, this Lion who is now going
about rebeldom seeking whom he may devour
was once (forgive me, friend Douglass) a Cub
in "my Maryland," where his physical growth
was well stimulated by the rod-applying hand
of more than one of the good old saints of that
slavery-beloved region. But since his mental
growth and strength developed somewhere up
Northward, and so often felt upon the country,
and is now being brought to bear upon these
lower regions, it is no surprise that there was
some little gnashing of teeth amid the mingled
amazement and hilarity here; for whoever be-
​ that all the old leaven is out of the gov-
​ dough trays, pap bowls and spoons, is
sadly mistaken.

Douglass left Washington the day of our
arrival. I was sorry for this; but my friend
G. and myself, if we were not lions, each of us
looked the lion, and on repairing to the several
departments where business or pleasure called
us, found ourselves very handsomely treated
by both white and colored friends, of whom we
left behind many.

Mr. Slade, to whom among others I had
letters, and who is not only, as you know, a
highly intelligent gentleman, but a leading
man here, paid us every attention. Through
him we were introduced into one of the leading
Churches here (the Presbyterian), and to
many noted friends and co-laborers in the
great field of progress, and whose hands are
not slack. Indeed, from what I witnessed, I
am not sure that they can put to blush some
of the frigid societies up about Gotham in real
work, at least, of their associations. The an-
​ of the Ladies' F. R. Association oc-
​ one evening. At the same time a flag
was presented to the First Washington Regi-
​ (colored), and a splendid flag it was, too,
gotten up by the ladies of the Society, and
costing, I think, $150. All this threw Wash-
​—I mean the colored portion—into quite
a flutter of pleasant excitement. A young gen-
​, it was said, of much talents and learn-
​, but of great modesty, was to deliver the
presentation address, and as it was his first
appearance and generally predicted success,
expectation was, as you may know, on tiptoe.

At the appointed hour we quietly went
round to the place of gathering—the Presbyte-
​ church—and found every aisle and pas-
​ crammed with anxious spectators.
All Anglo-African rank and beauty was there;
and what beauty! It would have done your
heart good to have gazed for one moment upon
that vast and beautifully-countenanced audi-
​. My friend G., who was no stranger
here, and is of the "Cloth," was immediately
on entering ushered up to the pulpit. I stepped
a little behind him, and slipped into the first
vacant space I could find.

Just at this moment a lady—tall, stately,
commanding—I dare not say more—rose, and
in a clear and harmonious voice commenced to
address the Society. You could have heard a
pin had it dropped from any part of the house
—a just tribute to so fine a speech and so cap-
​ uttered. "Who is that?" said I,
ere she resumed her seat, for I could not
speak before, and could not wait till she had
sat down. "Who is that?" I instinctively
inquired of my nearest neighbor. "That,"
said he, "is Madam Keckley.

I drew breath, and looked and listened again
and again, as young lady after young lady—
active, live members of the Association—read
their various reports, conclusive of the life,
activity and good results of the past year.

Then unfurled the splendid flag to the audi-
​ and to the soldiers detailed to bear it to
their regiment. I will not describe it. It has
already been done better than I can by the
Washington correspondent of The Anglo-Afri-
, "Bob Logic." Enough to say it was in-
​; and the orator of the evening, let me
now expose him. J. F. Cook, rising, caught
the flame, and for chaste, ornate language, and
fine classical allusions and patriotic thoughts,
it has seldom been my privilege to listen to in
the brief space of half an hour. The flag was
received by an officer, who, in a brief speech,
thanked the ladies for their patriotism and
kindness. Then followed what was perhaps
never expected in Washington—certainly
never by me. Col. John W. Forney was pre-
​. Yes, sir, Col. Forney, one of the old
apostles of Democracy in the olden days, when
Polk and Dallas, and Soule and Buchanan, and
Jeff. Davis and Floyd, and Pierce and Butler
even Ben, the other Butler, the man of this our
time—and Wise, Henry A., of John Brown
notoriety, and many other of lesser light were
above the horizon; I say the said Col. J. W.
Forney, once the rock and tower and strength,
and often brain, of these men and this once
formidable party, was called for, and that
loudly, and did go upon the platform right
willingly and made a speech, every word of
which I not only cheerfully subscribed to, but
did my heart good. I confess I was not pre-
​ for the complete conversion and soul-
​ utterances of this able and influential
man. I was not prepared to hear him say, as
he did in remarking upon his former views of
the colored people in these United States, and
of what he had formerly written of them and
spoken of them—said he, "I little thought
then that the things I wrote and spoke of you
then I should as I now do loathe and hate. I
am amazed," said he, "at what I now know of
the colored people of these United States, and
what I once thought of them; and I am also
amazed at myself that I ever could have enter-
​ such sentiments. I repeat again," said
he, "I both hate and loathe them." Much
more to the same effect proceeded from him;
closing with the assurance that whatever of
talent he possessed he should henceforth wield
in behalf of the cause of right, which is our

My friend G. next spoke; and then, for some
cause (for fun, I suppose, because without it
things would go dull indeed), Mr. J. Cook,
brother of the orator of the evening, who acted
as master of ceremonies, rose and said (I could
have pinched Shylock's pound of flesh out of
him, no more nor no less, for it), "Ethiop is in
the house." I think I must have been getting
under the bottom of the pew at that moment[.?]
"We will now have a speech from Ethiop,"
said he. Madam Keckley, the President, rose
and called for me. Between my friends, Mr.
Kiger, Harris, and some others, I think I must
have been led up; and I remember to have
got off some broken and incoherent sentences
—about what, I leave for my Washington au-
​ to say. I took my seat, and some more
splendid music, under the direction of our old
friend, T. S. Boston (he is everywhere), and
many kind and cordial introductions of ourself
by friends to the elite and beauty present,
ended one of those brilliant fetes now becoming
frequent all over Afric-America where intelli-
​, spirit and patriotism are to be found.

But I have trespassed upon your patience.
More anon.

Yours truly,

To James McCune Smith, M.D.