Nell, William Cooper. Letter to Amy Kirby Post.


Handwritten letter from William Cooper Nell to Amy Kirby Post, June 2, 1850. Nell writes to Post about his recent anti-slavery activities in Boston.


June 2, 1850

Click the thumbnail for larger display


I have Several Letters by me       First Day Evening = 7 oclock
written for Rochester Friends                                       I shall
waiting a Conveyance                                                  be most
but I may soon send by-           Boston June 2d 1850   grateful for
                express                                                        an early response

My Esteemed Friend Amy Post
                                                          Thy well filled and
exceedingly interesting letter of March 18th Calls very
Loudly upon me and Justly rebukes my not before
responding =. I. will therefore not attempt to apologise
further than ^that^ various causes at the time [obliterated]
have prevented = I was anticipating the visit of Frederick
Douglass - from whom I expected to hear about Rochester
and by whom I also intended forwarding Letters –
his presence was much desired at the glorious
New England anti slavery [sic] Convention . which though
parcially [sic] disturbed by Proslavery [sic] Roudyism [sic] was despite
all a brilliant triumph for the friends of Humanity
I am now seated in my Bachelors Sanctum = My
Roommate Benjamin Weeden has Just Left for a visit
probably at Miss Howards = .I. have Kept Housed all day
as a means of driving away an Influenza attack.
The [obliterated] Month of May Just past. brought to mind
many interesting reminiscenses [sic] of our trip one Year since
from Rochester = my Leaving with John S. Jacobs at Utica
the meeting with You and Sarah at New York = the
several meetings and incidents there = and then at
Boston =our visits and adventures = I can hardly
realize that One Year has indeed elapsed = Time
flies on rapid pinions = and some take no note of
     it but from its Loss.

(Page 2)

 Thursday June 13th = I. had prepared another Sheet specially naming
Isaac William & Mary= Sarah Hallowell and others

Within a few weeks past= The Town and Country Club
(of which I wrote You.) has dissolved = I am now mostly
at Mr Bowditchs expecting Soon to be admitted –
at present . Business with me is not very active but
as usual= Hope for better days = I. enjoyed a
successful Winter for which I feel very thankful.
Louisa & Husband also little Ira are well= the two Latter
visited me this afternoon= Ira usually makes me a
Sunday Call= I. hear some of his lessons and he secures
Oranges [obliterated] Cakes = or Picture Books as encouragements
He spoke at one of my Juvenile Exhibitions in behalf of the
School Right Question and recieved [sic] much applause–
we have an army of little Boys & Girls = and if I
was only Rich      I would do great things for them
Our Sister Harriet has been very low and was thought
to be dying = Louisa and Myself have devoted much time
over there. She is now quite   comfortable and may get
up again but I cannot expect an entire recovery
the humour has disappeared from her face  She thereby
Looks more like herself = We felt so apprehensive
that we secured a Miniature = Mrs. Russell has not
Yet finished it = we felt that for France's sake
at least it were [sic] best to secure the shadow before
the substance faded. She is more rational than
ever during her illness and eagerly desires to
Come out = She remembers Amy Post and speaks of Her

(Page 3)

but as I shall now forward this by mail =I close
Omit the rest= but you must talk to them for me as
I should be indeed happy if present to do for myself.

in grateful terms of the most lively gratitude—
Louisa unites in Kind remembrances and regards to You
    Frances owes us –Letters?               Louisa sent by Mail a
                                                                        few weeks
I had a pleasant time at Salem on Fast day April 11th
Joseph Putnam and Wife =attended the antislavery [sic] Convention
one of his Youngest Sisters is now in the City -the matter
of which You and Sarah heard something of =remains
in Status Quo = and of course is likely to = Madam
Rumor has reported me as being specially interested in
the Heart history of some nice Girls here but to the
present= My declaration is -Hand free, Heart whole.
      I wish Charles Remond success in his Marriage prospects
I hear much speculation on the matter but do not Know the
data sufficiently to form an intelligent opinion –
except that the Widow in question will likely prove
a most valuable acquisition to him-________________
     Samuel R. Ward created much interest here some time
Since and now is about establishing his Paper in
Boston . I am not at all sanguine of his success
If my desire prevailed every body [sic] here should have the
North Star Liberator and North Star surely and
all other papers afterwards . I can appreciate the
ability of Mr. Ward. but if what I have thus far
learned of the recent Philadelphia controversy be
true I. certainly hope He will not plant himself
in Boston= for we cannot afford to take
                  any steps backward.

(Page 4)

a friend intimated a few days ago that Abby Thayer
was expected East= it would delight me to meet
her or Phebe in Boston = I. shall in a few days
write to some one [sic] of the family = I am always
grateful to You for any thing [sic] You mention of either
of the family = I shall never forget my first interview
with Abby and Phebe at 36 Sophia St = nor the
Evening when with Amy Post and Sarah Hallowell
I mistook North for Main Street in driving to the
House of Frederick Douglass = Phebe Thayer was then
about installed as Governess = Mr McWilliams
performed some Ventriloquism Vc this opens the
door to a long train of associations = but I must
now shut it unless for sooth I was talking with
instead of writing to You == meeting with
Friends face to face as Charles Lamb somewhere
remarks is worth more than whole reams of
Correspondence = If could therefore once more visit
Rochester and again press the hand of my much
beloved friends there an omnipresent and darling
desire of my heart would be realised =I know
not when to anticipate such a boon =
Had I true the means to spare . How gladly would
would - my Heart proclaim = "Westward W.C.N.
wends his way." I may Yet have a Windfall
or as some Call it a God send [sic] = when it happens
the next train for Rochester numbers me among
its Passengers.     I want to see my Scholars = all of them
not excepting the very troublesome ones = [obliterated]

(Page 5)

and this reminds me of some portions of my school
School experience which I could wish never was
Do You remember the morning drive from Lewis Burtis
with You and Sarah Fish and our talk on
Moral Suasion for PupiIs Children as opposed to
Corporeal ? well in opposition to preconcieved [sic]
intentions I resorted for Experiments sake in moments
of peculiar emergency. to a show of Coercion
and thought it was merely for experiments sake-
and always exercised by me under protest.
Yet I never look back upon those Scenes with
satisfaction = while reading Sarah Fishs North
Star articles on this subject. the whole train of
associations presented themselves to my mind
( Should it ever be my lot to meet You
again - this will form a prominent feature
of our Conversation . I have a Leaf in my
Rochester Journal devoted expressly to it.
                        The Papers mention = Rochester Knockings
in New York = I. hope the Girls will visit Boston
I shall be happy to meet them = Yankee
Speculation is somewhat excited and I
trust ^they^ will find it an advantage in
gratifying = it -------------------------------
                        You mention the Evening
Serenades of ^from^ Parlours and also Sidewalks
on Sophia St = and Your Satisfaction

(Page 6)

in listening = many such delights have
been mine = there as You and Sarah
may well remember = and even
here as I stroll home evenings my ear
is attracted by the Street and other
music =and the familiar airs of
Susannah and 'Oh Carry me back to
Virginny' are among those
welcome ones reminding me of
Rochester and in a special
sense of Joannas Musical
exercise intended as a Pacification
for Little Willie
I am rejoiced with Your good
accounts of Jacob and Joseph
May Continued Prosperity be thier [sic]
portion I presume soon on being
moved to write Jacob a Letter
we have had too many happy hours
together. thus to preserve a
mutual Silence With a renewed pledge of
                   grateful remembrance I remain
                     Faithfully Yours Wm C. Nell.


William Cooper Nell, an abolitionist, is writing from Boston to fellow activist, Amy Post. 

Frederick Douglass was a former slave and abolitionist.  The New England Anti-Slavery Convention was formed by abolitionist leader, William Lloyd Garrison in 1831. The organization held yearly conventions from 1831-1835, when it changed its name to the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society.

John S. Jacobs was the brother of fugitive slave and author, Harriet Brent Jacobs. Sarah Hallowell was Post's sister. Mary was Post's daughter, and her husband was William Hallowell. William Ingersoll Bowditch served as Treasurer of the Anti-Slavery Society, and opened his home as a stop on the Underground Railroad. Louisa Nell Gray was Nell's sister.

The "school right questions" refers to the campaign Nell and other led to ensure education for former slaves. Frances may refer to another of Nell's sisters.

Joseph H. Putnam and Charles Lenox Remond were abolitionist leaders. Sammuel Riggold Ward was a former slave who became an abolitionist, newspaper editor and Congregationalist Minister. Both the North Star and the Liberator were anti-slavery newspapers.

Abby and Phebe Thayer were relatives of the Post family. Lewis Burtis married woman's rights activist, Sarah Anthony- Susan B. Anthony's second cousin. Sarah Fish was also a woman's rights activist. Nell refers to the address of the Post family home, at 36 Sophia Street.

The "Girls" Nell refers to were Margaret and Catherine Fox, who began the Spiritualist movement. Their followers believed that through mediums they could communicate with the dead.

Joanna lived with the Post family and helped to take care of Post's youngest son, Willie. Jacob and Joseph were Post's two older sons.

About the Original Item

Nell, William C. (William Cooper), 1816-1874
Post, Amy Kirby, b. 1802
Internal Identifier
Post, Amy Kirby, b. 1802
Nell, William C. (William Cooper), 1816-1874
Slavery, abolition, and emancipation
Rochester (New York)
Boston (Mass.)
Letters (Correspondence)
, ,
Post Collection
Item Type:
Nell, William C. (William Cooper), 1816-1874, “Nell, William Cooper. Letter to Amy Kirby Post.,” Post Family Papers Project, accessed December 11, 2018,