Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Eliot, William Greenleaf (1811-1887) to Charles Sumner

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also request a pdf of the image from us here.

Log in
subscribe to see this thumbnail image

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07202.06 Author/Creator: Eliot, William Greenleaf (1811-1887) Place Written: s.l. Type: Autograph note signed Date: circa 1872 Pagination: 1 p. ; 20.4 x 12.7 cm.

A high-resolution version of this object is available for registered users. LOG IN or SUBSCRIBE

Summary of Content: Eliot, a social activist and clergyman, writes to Sumner, a United States Senator from Massachusetts (recipient inferred from collection). Encloses newspaper clippings asserting they prove the necessity of a civil rights bill. The first clipping, attached to the note, relates that Frederick Douglass was recently denied service at the Planters' House, a St. Louis, Missouri inn. The article notes, "This is the first difficulty of the kind he has received on his present lecture trip, and it is a shameful reflection on St. Louis' hospitality..." The other clipping offers a similar version of the story, suggesting that Douglass should have been given a private room, "where he could have taken his meals, if prejudice did not prevent him to enter the public dining room."

Background Information:

Full Transcript: Dear Sir. The inclosed shows the necessity of civil-ization, if not of a Civil-rights bill. Yr truly W.G. Eliot

People: Eliot, William Greenleaf, 1811-1887
Sumner, Charles, 1811-1874
Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: SegregationAfrican American HistoryCongressAmerican StatesmenJim Crow

Sub Era: Reconstruction

Order a Copy Citation Guidelines for Online Resources