Sarah Mapps Douglass
Note: There is some disagreement about whether the above is a picture of Caroline Still Anderson, another prominent Philadelphia Black female educator or Sarah M. Douglass.
“…in anguish of spirit I have often queried, why the lord should require me to go among a people who despise me on account of my complexion, but I have seen that it is designed to humble me, and to teach me the lesson, ‘Love your enemies, and pray for them who despitefully use you.'” – Sarah Mapps Douglass
Sarah Mapps Douglass, Grace Douglass’ daughter, became active in the abolitionist movement as early as 1831, when at twenty-five, she organized the collection of money to send to William Lloyd Garrison to support The Liberator (a weekly abolitionist newspaper). Douglass also helped to found the Female Literary Association, a group of African-American women dedicated to improving their skills and deepening their identification with slave sisters.
In an address to the Female Literary Association in 1832 Sarah Mapps Douglass wrote:
“One short year ago, how different were my feelings on the subject of slavery! It is true, the wail of the captive sometimes came to my ear in the midst of my happiness, and caused my heart to bleed for his wrongs; but, alas! The impression was as evanescent as the early cloud and morning dew. I had formed a little world of my own, and cared not to move beyond its precincts.
But how was the scene changed when I beheld the oppressor lurking on the border of my own peaceful home! I saw his iron hand stretched forth to seize me as his prey, and the cause of the slave became my own. I started up, and with one mighty effort threw from me the lethargy which had covered me as a mantle for years; and determined, by the help of the Almighty, to use every exertion in my power to elevate the character of my wronged and neglected race.
One year ago, I detested the slaveholder; now I can pity and pray for him.”
To the Editor of The Liberator
Sir – I write at the request of a friend, to ask this question: – Why do our friends, as well as our enemies, call us ‘negroes’? We feel it to be a term of reproach and could wish our friends would call us by some other name. If you, Sir, or one of your correspondents, would condescend to answer this question, we would esteem it a favor.
I was much pleased with your remarks on the absurd practice of placing the people of color behind all others, in our houses of worship. I, Sir, would have gladly sat among the humblest of my despised race; but have been obliged, for conscience’s sake, to sit with white Christians; and often as I have met the look of scorn, and heard the whispered remark of ‘This bench is for the black people,’ – ‘This bench is for the people of color,’ as the tear gathered in my eye, and the prayer ascended from my heart to God, that he would in his own time take away our reproach; and oh! most rmly do I believe he will. This belief alone is sufficient to keep me in the path of duty. …Philadelphia, May 25, 1831
With her mother, Sarah Mapps Douglass was a founding member (1833) of the bi-racial Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. She studied anatomy, female health and hygiene, and acquired medical basic training at the Female Medical College of Pennsylvania – becoming the first African-American female student.
Grace Bustill Douglass was an African-American abolitionist and women’s rights advocate. Although she was a devout Friend, she was never allowed membership into the Society of Friends because she was black.
Daisy Douglass Barr
Daisy Douglass Barr served as the Imperial Empress of the Queens of the Golden Mask, the women’s auxiliary of the powerful Indiana Klan. Her role in the Invisible Empire was so important that she worked directly with D.C. Stephenson to organize women’s branches.
Sojourner Truth was born a slave named Isabella Baumfree in southeastern New York. The future abolitionist had several owners during her childhood—many of them cruel—before, at age 13, ending up the property of John Dumont. For 17 years, she worked for him and then...
Thanks for highlighting Sarah Mapps Douglass, who was a truly remarkable woman. The photo here, however, is of another amazing Philadelphia Black female educator, Caroline Still Anderson and was taken in the 1890s.
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It would be helpful to include the letter Sarah Mapps Douglass wrote regarding the back bench where she and her mother sat and her sadness at the Meeting’s refusal to approve her mother Grace for membership. Encouraged by the Grimke sisters, Sarah wrote the letter without naming any names. Elizabeth Pease helped to get the letter to the Meeting. We Quakers should remember her for speaking her truth to the Society of Friends.
Hi, thanks very much for this reminder! Years ago I had a hard copy that I distributed but I been looking but can’t seem to find it. Do you have an electronic version?