“No niggers in here”: Frederick Douglass’s Massachusetts Experience
“I remember about two years ago there was in Boston, near the southwest corner of Boston Common, a menagerie. I had long desired to see such a collection as I understood was being exhibited there. Never having had an opportunity while a slave, I resolved to seize this, and as I approached the entrance to gain admission, I was told by the door-keeper, in a harsh and contemptuous tone, ‘We don’t allow niggers in here.’
“I also remember attending a revival meeting in the Rev. Henry Jackson’s meeting-house, at New Bedford, and going up the broad isle for a seat, I was met by a good deacon, who told me, in a pious tone, ‘We don’t allow niggers in here.’ Soon after my arrival in New Bedford from the South, I had a strong desire to attend the lyceum, but was told ‘They don’t allow niggers there.’
“While passing from New York to Boston on the steamer Massachusetts, on the night of the 9th of December, 1843, when chilled almost through with the cold, I went into the cabin to get a little warm. I was soon touched upon the shoulder, and told, ‘We don’t allow niggers in here.’
“A week or two before leaving the United States, I had a meeting appointed at Weymouth, the house of that glorious band of true Abolitionists—the Weston family and others. On attempting to take a seat in the omnibus to that place, I was told by the driver (and I never shall forget his fiendish hate), ‘I don’t allow niggers in here.’”
–Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1881; reprint, New York: Pathway Press, 1941), 273.