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Farewell to the British People: An Address Delivered in London, England, on March 30, 1847



Farewell Speech of Mr. Frederick Douglass, Previously to Embarking on Board the Cam-
bria. Upon His Return to America, Delivered at the Valedictory Soirée Given to Him at the
London Tavern, on March 30, 1847
(London, 1847). Other texts in London Morning
, 31 March 1847; London Inquirer, 3 April 1847; Pennsylvania Freeman, 6 May
1847; Report of Proceedings at the Soirée Given to Frederick Douglass, London Tavern,
March 30, 1847
(London, 1847); Speech File, reel 13, frames 577—607, FD Papers, DLC;
Philip S. Foner, ed., The Life and Writings of Frederick Douglass, 5 vols. (1950–75), 1:
206–33 (hereafter cited as Life and Writings).

On 30 March 1847 Douglass was the guest of honor at a lavish soirée given
by London antislavery sympathizers. At 6:15 P.M. some four to seven hundred
“persons of great respectability,” including prominent clergymen, public
officials, joumalists, and “very many elegantly dressed ladies,” assembled at
London Tavern on Bishopsgate Street. Lord Morpeth, Charles Dickens, and
other notables who could not attend sent letters of regret. While the guests
consumed tea, coffee, and confectioneries, a band played and Henry Russell,
the “eminent vocalist,” entertained them with renditions of “I’m Afloat,”
“The Slave Ship,” and “The Boatmen of Ohio.” Sometime after 7:00 P.M.
George Thompson called the proceedings to order. He spoke warmly of
Douglass and of the love of liberty that had brought him to England, crediting
the former slave with instilling abolitionist sentiments in “tens of thousands”
in England who had “never felt upon this question before.” The Reverend J.
Todd Brown followed with a speech challenging the United States, which he
labeled the “perfection of paradox,” to justify how it reconciled liberty and
slavery. The Reverend Dr. Francis Augustus Cox, William Howitt, J. B.
Estlin, F. (or T.) Bennock, and the Doctors Conquest and Oxley each deliv-
ered brief remarks highly laudatory of Douglass’s achievements in the anti-
slavery cause. When they finished, Thompson introduced Douglass as a man
“who was once a piece of property.” After further references to Douglass’s


new status as a free man, he called upon the audience to rise and express its
hope that Douglass would continue to labor “until the trump [sic] of jubilee
shall sound from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains, and from Canada to the
Gulf of Mexico.” The assembly complied, giving “three cheers and one
cheer more with the greatest enthusiasm.” “Long-continued cheering" fol-
lowed Douglass’s speech. London Morning Chronicle, 31 March 1847.

Mr. Chairman,1George Thompson. Ladies and Gentlemen,—I never appear before an audi-
ence like that which I now behold, without feeling my incompetency to do
justice to the cause which I am here to advocate, or to meet the expectations
which are generally created for me, by the friends who usually precede me
in speaking. Certainly, if the eulogiums bestowed upon me this evening
were correct, I should be able to chain the attention of this audience for
hours by my eloquence. But, sir, I claim none of these qualities. While I
feel grateful for the generosity of my friends in bestowing them upon me, I
am conscious of possessing very little just right to them; for I am but a
plain, blunt man—a poor slave, or, rather, one who has been a slave.
(Cheers.) Never had I a day’s schooling in my life; all that I have of
education I have stolen. (Laughter.)

I am desirous, therefore, at once to relieve you from any anticipation of
a great speech, which, from what you have heard from our esteemed friend,
the chairman, and the gentlemen who preceded me, you might have been
led to expect. That I am deeply, earnestly, and devotedly engaged in
advocating the cause of my oppressed brethren, is most true; and in that
character, as their representative, I hail your kind expression of feeling
towards me this evening, and receive it with the profoundest gratitude. I
will make use of these demonstrations of your warm approbation hereafter;
I will take them home in my memory; they shall be written upon my heart;
and I will employ them in that land of boasted liberty and light, but, at the
same time, of abject slavery, to which I am going, for the purpose of
overthrowing that accursed system of bondage, and restoring the negroes,
throughout its wide domain, to their lost liberty and rights.

Sir, the time for argument upon this question is over, so far as the right
of the slave to himself is concerned; and hence I feel less freedom in
speaking here this evening, than I should have done under other circum-
stances. Place me in the midst of a pro-slavery mob in the United States,
where my rights as a man are cloven down—let me be in an assembly of
ministers or politicians who call in question my claim to freedom—and


then, indeed, I can stand up and open my mouth; then assert boldly and
strongly the rights of my manhood. (Cheers) But where all is admitted—
where almost every man is waiting for the end of a sentence that he may
respond to it with a cheer—listening for the last words of the most radical
resolution that he may hold up his hand in favour of it—why, then, under
such circumstances, I certainly have very little to do. You have done all for
me. Still, sir, I may manage, out of the scraps of the cloth which you have
left, to make a coat of many colours, not such an one as Joseph was clothed
in, yet still bearing some resemblance to it.2An allusion to the multicolored garment that Jacob gave to Joseph, his favorite son. Gen. 37: 3. I do not, however, promise to
make you a very connected speech.

I have listened to the patriotic, or rather respectful, language applied to
America and Americans this evening. I confess, that although I am going
back to that country, though I have many dear friends there, though I expect
to end my days upon its soil, I am, nevertheless, not here to make any
profession whatever of respect for that country, of attachment to its politi-
cians, or love for its churches or national institutions. The fact is, the whole
system, the entire network of American society, is one great falsehood,
from beginning to end.

I might say, that the present generation of Americans have become
dishonest men from the circumstances by which they are surrounded.
Seventy years ago, they went to the battle-field in defence of liberty. Sixty
years ago, they framed a constitution, over the very gateway of which they
inscribed, “To secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and posterity.''3Douglass paraphrases a line from the preamble to the U. S. Constitution.
In their celebrated Declaration of Independence, they made the loudest and
clearest assertions of the rights of man; and yet at that very time the
identical men who drew up that Declaration of Independence, and framed
the American democratic constitution, were trafficking in the blood and
souls of their fellow men. (Hear, hear.) From the period of the first adop-
tion of the constitution of the United States downward, everything good
and great in the heart of the American people—everything patriotic within
their breasts—has been summoned to defend this great lie before the world.
They have been driven from their very patriotism to defend this great

How have they done it? Why, by wrapping it up in honeyed words.
(Hear) By disguising it, and calling it “our peculiar institution;” “our
social system, " "our patriarchal institution;” “our domestic institution;”


and so forth. They have spoken of it in every possible way, except the right
way. In no less than three clauses of their constitution may be found a spirit
of the most deadly hostility to the liberty of the black man in that country,
and yet clothed in such language as no Englishman, to whom its meaning
was unknown, could take offence at.

For instance, the President of the United States is required, at all times
and under any circumstances, to call out the army and navy to suppress
“domestic insurrection."4Actually, Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, which refers to the state militia, not the army and navy, grants Congress the exclusive power “[t]o provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the Union, suppress insurrections, and repel invasions." Of course, all Englishmen, upon a superficial
reading of that clause of the constitution, would very readily assent to the
justice of the proposition involved in it; they would agree at once in its
perfect propriety. “The army and navy! what are they good for if not to
suppress insurrections, and preserve the peace, tranquillity, and harmony
of the state?” But what does this language really mean, sir? What is its
signification, as shadowed forth practically, in that constitution? What is
the idea it conveys to the mind of the American? Why, that every man who
casts a ball into the American ballot-box—every man who pledges himself
to raise his hand in support of the American constitution—every individual
who swears to support this instrument—at the same time swears that the
slaves of that country shall either remain slaves or die. (Hear, hear.) This
clause of the constitution, in fact, converts every white American into an
enemy to the black man in that land of professed liberty. Every bayonet,
sword, musket, and cannon has its deadly aim at the bosom of the negro:
3,000,000 of the coloured race are lying there under the heels of
17,000,000 of their white fellow creatures. There they stand, with all their
education, with all their religion, with all their moral influence, with all
their means of co-operation—there they stand, sworn before God and the
universe, that the slave shall continue a slave or die. (Hear, hear, and cries
of “Shame.”)

Then, take another clause of the American constitution. “No person
held in service or labour, in any state within the limits thereof, escaping
into another, shall in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be
released from such service or labour, but shall be delivered up to be claimed
by the party to whom such service or labour may be due."5A close paraphrase of Article IV, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution. Upon the face of
this clause there is nothing of injustice or inhumanity in it. It appears
perfectly in accordance with justice, and in every respect humane. It is,


indeed, just what it should be, according to your English notion of things
and the general use of words.

But what does it mean in the United States? I will tell you what it
signifies there—that if any slave, in the darkness of midnight, looks down
upon himself, feeling his limbs and thinking himself a man, and entitled to
the rights of a man, shall steal away from his hovel or quarter, snap the
chain that bound his leg, break the fetter that linked him to slavery, and seek
refuge from the free institutions of a democracy, within the boundary of a
monarchy, that that slave, in all his windings by night and by day, in his
way from the land of slavery to the abode of freedom, shall be liable to be
hunted down like a felon, and dragged back to the hopeless bondage from
which he was endeavouring to escape.

So that this clause of the constitution is one of the most effective
safeguards of that slave system of which we have met here this evening to
express our detestation. This clause of the American constitution makes the
whole land one vast hunting-ground for men: it gives to the slaveholder the
right at any moment to set his well-trained bloodhounds upon the track of
the poor fugitive; hunt him down like a wild beast, and hurl him back to the
jaws of slavery, from which he had, for a brief space of time, escaped. This
clause of the constitution consecrates every rood of earth in that land over
which the star-spangled banner waves as slave-hunting-ground. Sir, there is
no valley so deep, no mountain so high, no plain so expansive, no spot so
sacred, throughout the length and breadth of America, as to enable a man,
not having a skin coloured like your own, to enjoy the free and unrestrained
right to his own hands. If he attempt to assert such a right he may be hunted
down in a moment.

Sir, in the Mosaic economy, to which reference has been made this
evening by a preceding speaker, we have a command given, as it were,
amid the thunders and lightenings from Sinai, “Thou shalt not deliver unto
his master the servant that is escaped unto thee: he shall dwell with thee in
the place that liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him! "6A close paraphrase of Deut. 23: 15-16. America,
religious America, has run into the very face of Jehovah, and said, “Thou
shalt deliver him unto his master.” (Hear, hear.) “Thou shalt deliver unto
the tyrant, who usurps authority over his fellow man, the trembling
bondman that escapes into your midst.”

Sir, this clause of the American constitution is one of the most deadly
enactments against the natural rights of man; above and beyond all its other


provisions, it serves to keep up that system of fraud, wrong, and inhuman-
ity which is now crushing 3,000,000 ofhuman beings identified with me in
their complexion, and formerly in their chains. How is it? Why, the
slaveholders of the South would be wholly unable to hold their slaves were
it not for the existence of the protection afforded by this constitution; but for
this the slaves would run away. No, no; they do not love their masters so
well as the tyrants sometimes flatter themselves; they do frequently run
away. You have an instance of their disposition to run away before you.
(Loud cheers.)

Why, sir, the Northern States claim to be exempt from all responsibil-
ity in the matter of the slaveholding of America, because they do not
actually hold slaves themselves upon their own soil. But this is a mere
subterfuge. What is the actual position ofthose Northern States? lfthey are
not actual slaveholders, they stand around the slave system and support it.
They say to the slaveholder, “We have a sentiment against—we have a
feeling opposed to—we have an abhorrence of—slavery. We would not
hold slaves ourselves, and we are most sincerely opposed to slavery; but,
still, if your negroes run away from you to us, we will return them to you.
And, while you can make the slaves believe that we will so return them,
why, of course, they will not run away into our states; and, then, if they
should attempt to gain their freedom by force, why, we will bring down
upon them the whole civil, military, and naval power of the nation and
crush them again into subjection. While we make them believe that we will
do this, we give them the most complete evidence that we will, by our votes
in congress and in the senate, by our religious assemblies, our synods,
presbyteries and conferences, by our individual votes, by our deadly hate
and deep prejudice against the coloured man, even when he is free, we will,
by all these evidences, give you the means of convincing the slave, that, if
he does attempt to gain his freedom, we will kill him. But still, not-
withstanding all this, let it be clearly understood that we hate slavery. ”
(Laughter and cheers.)

This is the guilty position even of those who do not themselves hold
slaves in America. And, under such circumstances, I really cannot be very
patriotic when speaking of their national institutions and boasted constitu-
tion, and, therefore, I hope you will not expect any very eloquent outbursts
of eulogy or praise of America from me upon the present occasion. (Loud

No, my friends; I am going back, determined to be honest with
America. I am going to the United States in a few days, but I go there to do,


as I have done here, to unmask her pretensions to republicanism, and
expose her hypocritical professions of Christianity; to denounce her high
claims to civilisation, and proclaim in her ears the wrongs of those who cry
day and night to Heaven, “How long! how long! O Lord God of
Sabaoth!"7Possibly a paraphrase of Rev. 6: 10: “How long, O Lord, holy and true." (Loud cheers.)

I go to that land, not to foster her national pride, or utter fulsome words
about her greatness. She is great in territory; great in numerical strength;
great in intellectual sagacity; great in her enterprise and industry. She may
boast of her broad lakes and mighty rivers; but, sir, while I remember, that
with her broadest lakes and finest rivers, the tears and blood of my brethren
are mingled and forgotten, I cannot speak well of her; I cannot be loud in
her praise, or pour forth warm eulogiums upon her name or institutions.
(Cheers) No; she is unworthy of the name of great or free. She stands upon
the quivering heart-strings of 3,000,000 of people.

She punishes the black man for crimes, for which she allows the white
man to escape. She declares in her statute-book, that the black man shall be
seventy times more liable to the punishment of death than the white man. In
the state of Virginia, there are seventy-one crimes for which a black man
may be punished with death, only one of which crimes will bring upon the
white man a like punishment. (Hear, hear.) She will not allow her black
population to meet together and worship God according to the dictates of
their own consciences. If they assemble together more than seven in
number for the purpose of worshipping God, or improving their minds in
any way, shape, or form, each one of them may legally be taken and
whipped with thirty-nine lashes upon his bare back. If any one of them shall
be found riding a horse, by day or by night, he may be taken and whipped
forty lashes on his naked back, have his ears cropped, and his cheek
branded with a red-hot iron.8[Weld], American Slavery, 144, is probably Douglass’s source.

In all the slave states south, they make it a crime punishable with severe
fines, and imprisonment in many cases, to teach or instruct a slave to read
the pages of Inspired Wisdom. In the state of Mississippi, a man is liable to
a heavy fine for teaching a slave to read. In the state of Alabama, for the
third offence, it is death to teach a slave to read. In the state of Louisiana,
for the second offence, it is death to teach a slave to read. In the state of
South Carolina, for the third offence of teaching a slave to read, it is death
by the law. To aid a slave in escaping from a brutal owner, no matter how


inhuman the treatment he may have received at the hands of his tyrannical
master, it is death by the law. For a woman, in defence of her own person
and dignity, against the brutal and infernal designs of a determined master,
to raise her hand in protection of her chastity, may legally subject her to be
put to death upon the spot.9Douglass paraphrases [Weld], American Slavery, 144-45. (Loud cries of “Shame, shame.”)

Sir, I cannot speak of such a nation as this with any degree of compla-
cency (cheers), and more especially when that very nation is loud and long
in its boasts of holy liberty and light; when, upon the wings ofthe press, she
is hurling her denunciations at the despotisms of Europe, when she is
embracing every opportunity to scorn and scoff at the English government,
and taunt and denounce her people as a community of slaves, bowing under
a haughty monarchy; when she has stamped upon her coin, from the cent to
the dollar, from the dollar to the eagle, the sacred name of liberty; when
upon every hill may be seen erected, a pole, bearing the cap of liberty,
under which waves the star-spangled banner; when upon every 4th of July
we hear declarations like this: “O God! we thank Thee that we live in a land
of religious and civil liberty! ”; when from every platform, upon that day,
we hear orators rise and say:—

“Ours is a glorious land;
Her broad arms stretch from shore to shore,
The broad Pacific chafes her strand,
She hears the dark Atlantic roar;
Enamelled on her ample breast,
A many a goodly prospect stands."10Douglass inaccurately quotes the first stanza of “Our Country" by William Jewett Pabodie:
Our Country!—‘t is a glorious land!
With broad arms stretched from shore to shore,
The proud Pacific chafes her strand,
She hears the dark Atlantic roar;
And, nurtured on her ample breast,
How many a goodly prospect lies
In Nature‘s wildest grandeur drest
Enamell’d with her loveliest dyes.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold, ed., The Poets and Poetry of America (Philadelphia, 1848), 463.

“Ours is the land of the free and the home of the brave.”11A paraphrase of a line from Francis Scott Key's “The Star-Spangled Banner."

I say, when professions like these are put forth vauntingly before the
world, and I remember the scenes I have witnessed in, and the facts I know,


respecting that country, why, then, let others do as they will, I have no
word of patriotic applause for America or her institutions. (Enthusiastic
and protracted cheering.) America presents to the world an anomaly, such
as no other nation ever did or can present before mankind. The people of the
United States are the boldest in their pretensions to freedom, and the
loudest in their profession of love of liberty; yet no nation upon the face of
the globe can exhibit a statute-book so full of all that is cruel, malicious,
and infernal, as the American code of laws. Every page is red with the
blood of the American slave. O'Connell12Daniel O'Connell. once said, speaking of
Ireland—no matter for my illustration, how truly or falsely—that “her
history may be traced, like the track of a wounded man through a crowd.”
If this description can be given of Ireland, how much more true is it when
applied to the sons and daughters of Africa, in the United States? Their
history is nothing but blood! blood! blood!—blood in the morning, blood at
noon, blood at night! They have had blood to drink; they have had their own
blood shed. At this moment we may exclaim

“What, ho! our countrymen in chains!
The whip on woman’s shrinking flesh!
Our soil still redd’ning with the stains
Caught from her scourging, warm and fresh!

What! mothers from their children riven!
What! God’s own image bought and sold!
Americans to market driven,
And barter’d, as the brutes, for gold!”13Douglass slightly misquotes the third stanza of John Greenleaf Whittier's “Expostulation." The Poetical Works of John Greenleaf Whittier, 4 vols. (Boston. 1892), 3: 25.

And this, too, sir, in the midst of a people professing, not merely
republicanism, not merely democratical institutions, but civilisation; nay,
more—Christianity, in its highest, purest, and broadest sense (hear, hear);
claiming to be the heaven-appointed nation, in connexion with the British,
to civilise, Christianise, and evangelise the world. For this purpose, sir, we
have our Tract, Bible, and Missionary Societies; our Sabbath-school and
Education Societies; we have in array all these manifestations of religious
life, and yet, in the midst of them all—amid the eloquence of the orators
who swagger at all these meetings—may be heard the clanking of the fetter,
the rattling of the chain, and the crack of the slave-driver’s whip.


The very man who ascends the platform, and is greeted with rounds of
applause when he comes forward to speak on the subject of extending the
victories of the cross of Christ, “from the rivers to the ends of the earth,"14Douglass adapts Ps. 72: 8: “He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth."
has actually come to that missionary meeting with money red with the
blood of the slave; with gold dripping with gore from the plantations. The
very man who stands up there—Dr. Plummer, for instance, Dr. Marsh,
Dr. Anderson,15American Presbyterian minister William Swan Plumer, American Congregational minister John Marsh, and probably the Reverend Robert N. Anderson. Dr. Cooper, or some other such doctor—comes to the
missionary meeting for the purpose of promoting Christianity, Evangelical
Christianity, with the price of blood in his possession. He stands up and
preaches with it in his pocket, and gives it to aid the holy cause of sending
missionaries to heathen lands. This is the spectacle we witness annually at
New York and Philadelphia; and sometimes they have the temerity to come
as far as Boston with their blood-stained money.

We are a nation of inconsistencies; completely made up of inconsisten-
cies. Mr. John C. Calhoun, the great Southern statesman of the United
States, is regarded in that country as a real democrat, “dyed in the wool,”
“a right out-and-out democrat,” “a back-bone democrat.” By these and
similar phrases they speak of him; and yet, sir, that very man stands upon
the floor of the senate, and actually boasts that he is a robber! that he is an
owner of slaves in the Southern states. He positively makes his boast of this
disgraceful fact, and assigns it as a reason why he should be listened to as a
man of consequence—a person of great importance. All his pretensions are
founded upon the fact of his being a slaveowner.

The audacity of these men is actually astounding; I scarcely know what
to say in America, when I hear men deliberately get up and assert a right to
property in my limbs—my very body and soul; that they have a right to me!
that I am in their hands, “a chattel personal to all intents, purposes, and
constructions whatsoever;”16This was the common legal definition of a slave in South Carolina. William Goodell, The American Slave Code in Theory and Practice (New York, 1853), 23. “a thing” to be bought and sold!—to be
sure, having moral perceptions; certainly possessing intellect, and a sense
of my own rights, and endowed with resolution to assert them whenever an
opportunity occurred; and yet, notwithstanding, a slave! a marketable
commodity! I do not know what to think of these men; I hardly know how to
answer them when they speak in this manner. And, yet, this self-same John


C. Calhoun, while he vehemently declaims for liberty, and asserts that any
attempt to abridge the rights of the people should be met with the sternest
resistance on all hands, deliberately stands forth at the head of the democ-
racy of that country and talks of his right to property in me; and not only in
my body, but in the bodies and souls of hundreds and thousands of others in
the United States.

As with this honourable gentleman, so is it with the doctors of divinity
in America; for, after all, slavery finds no defenders there so formidable as
them. They are more skilful, adroit, and persevering, and will descend
even to greater meannesses, than any other class of opponents with whom
the abolitionists have to contend in that country. The church in America is,
beyond all question, the chief refuge of slavery. When we attack it in the
state, it runs into the street, to the mob; when we attack it in the mob, it flies
to the church; and, sir, it is a melancholy fact, that it finds a better, safer, and
more secure protection from the shafts of abolitionism within the sacred
enclosure of the Christian temple than from any other quarter whatever.
(Hear, hear.) Slavery finds no champions so bold, brave, and uncom-
promising as the ministers of religion. These men come forth, clad in all the
sanctity of the pastoral office, and enforce slavery with the Bible in their
hands, and under the awful name of the Everlasting God. We there find
them preaching sermon after sermon in support of the system of slavery as
an institution consistent with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We have commen-
tary after commentary attempting to wrest the sacred pages of the Bible into
a justification of the iniquitous system.

And, sir, this may explain to you what might otherwise appear unac-
countable in regard to the conduct and proceedings of American
abolitionists. I am very desirous of saying a word or two on this point, upon
which there has been much misrepresentation. I say, the fact that slavery
takes refuge in the churches of the United States will explain to you another
fact, which is, that the opponents of slavery in America are almost univer-
sally branded there—and, I am sorry to say, to some extent in this country
also—as infidels. (Loud cries of “Shame, shame.”) Why is this? Simply
because slavery is sheltered by the church.

The warfare in favor of emancipation in America is a very different
thing from the warfare which you had to wage on behalf of freedom in the
West India Islands. On that occasion, thank God! religion was in its right
position, and slavery in its proper place—in fierce antagonism to each
other. Religion and slavery were then the enemies of each other. Slavery
hated Religion with the utmost intensity; it pursued the missionary with the


greatest malignity, burning down his chapel, mobbing his house, jeopar-
dising his life, and rendering his property utterly insecure. There was an
antipathy deep and lasting between slavery and the exponents of Chris-
tianity in the West India Islands. All honour to the names of Knibb and
Burchell!17No dissenting missionaries in Jamaica at the time of emancipation were more feared and hated by the planters and their Anglican allies than William Knibb (1803-43) and Thomas Burchell (1799-1846). Born in Kettering, England, Knibb was a printer's apprentice before he became affiliated with the London-based Baptist Missionary Society. Burchell, a native of Tetbury, England, was engaged in cloth manufacturing before the London Society sent him to Bristol College to prepare for missionary work in the West Indies. Both men arrived in Jamaica in 1824, Knibb eventually heading the Baptist mission at Falmouth and Burchell the one at Montego Bay. Harassed even before the Jamaican slave insurrection of 1831-32, they were persecuted during and shortly after it by Jamaican authorities and white colonists who held them particularly responsible for this so-called Baptist War. Upon his return to Jamaica from a visit to England, Burchell was arrested for inciting the revolt. One of the leaders ofthe slave insurrection was in Burchell's congregation, and the missionary was believed to have in some way caused the uprising by allegedly promising to bring back from England “free papers" for the slaves. Because the evidence against him had been perjured, Burchell was never indicted and was eventually released from custody. Knibb, who was arrested on the same charge at about the same time stood trial but was acquitted. Nevertheless, proslavery mobs composed partly of militia destroyed the chapels, manses and personal effects of both men. The missionaries fled the island in the spring of 1832. Knibb went to England, where he lectured extensively on behalf of West Indian emancipation for the Anti-Slavery Agency; Burchell, who had first gone to the United States, joined him on the English lecture circuit a short time later. By 1834, the two men were able to return to Jamaica, where they spent the rest of their lives expanding their missionary operations, working with the freedmen, and speaking out against the abuses of the apprenticeship system and the impositions of the planter class. Knibb attended the 1840 World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London. [William Knibb]. Facts and Documents Connected With the Late Insurrection in Jamaica (London, 1832); Colonial Slavery: Defence of the Baptist Missionaries Front the Charge of Inciting the Late Rebellion in Jamaica; in a Discussion Between the Rev. William Knibb and Mr. P. Borthwick . . . (London, [1833]); William F. Burchell, Memoir of Thomas Burchell. . . (London, 1849); John H. Hinton, Memoir of William Knibb, Missionary in Jamaica (London, 1847); Wright, Knibb “The Notorious." (Loud cheers.) Those men were indeed found faithful to Him
who commanded them to, “Preach deliverance to the captive, and the
opening of the prison to them that were bound."18A close paraphrase of Isa. 61: 1: “[H]e hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives. and the opening of the prison to them that are bound." (Loud cheers.) But, sir,
the natural consequence of such faithfulness was, that these men were
hated with the most deadly hate by the slaveowners, who with their abet-
tors, used every effort to crush that living voice of truth coming from the
bosom of the Christian church, which was endeavoring to dash down the
bloody altars of slavery, and scatter its guilty profits to the winds.

Slavery was opposed by the church in the West Indies: not so in
America; there, religion and slavery are linked and interlinked with each
other—woven and interwoven together. In the United States we have


slaveholders as class-leaders, ministers of the Gospel, elders, deacons,
doctors of divinity, professors of theology, and even bishops. We have the
slaveholder in all parts of the church. Wherever he is, he is an active,
energetic, vigilant man.

Slavery never sleeps or slumbers. The slaveholder who goes to his bed
for the purpose of taking rest does not pass his night in tranquillity and
peace; but, knowing his danger, he takes his pistol, bowie-knife, and dirk
with him. He is uneasy; he is aware that he lies upon bleeding heartstrings,
that he sleeps upon the wretchedness of men, that he rests himself upon the
quivering flesh of his fellow creatures around him; he is conscious that
there is intellect buming—a spark of divinity enkindled—within the
bosoms of the men he oppresses, who are watching for, and will seize
upon, the first opportunity to burst their bonds asunder, and mete out
justice to the wretch who has doomed them to slavery. (Loud cheers.) The
slaveowner, therefore, is compelled to be watchful; he cannot sleep; there
is a morbid sensitiveness in his breast upon this subject: everything that
looks like opposition to slavery is promptly met by him and put down.

Whatever, either in the church or the state, may appear to have a
tendency to undermine, sap, or destroy the foundation of slavery is in-
stantly grappled with; and, by their religion, their energy, their persever-
ance, their unity of feeling, and identity of interest, the slaveholder and the
church have ever had the power to command a majority to put down any
efforts for the emancipation of the coloured race, and to sustain slavery in
all its horrors. Thus has slavery been protected and sheltered by the church.
Slavery has not only framed our civil and criminal code, it has not only
nominated our presidents, judges, and diplomatic agents, but it has also
given to us the most popular commentators on the Bible in America. (Hear,
hear.) It has given to us our religion, shaped our morality, and fashioned it
favourable to its own existence.

Thus is it that slavery is ensconced at this moment; and, when the
abolitionist sees slavery thus woven and interwoven with the very
texture—with the whole network—of our social and religious organisa-
tions, why he resolves, at whatever hazard of reputation, ease, comfort,
luxury, or even of life itself, to pursue, and, if possible, destroy it. (Loud
cheers.) Sir, to illustrate our principle of action, I might say that we adopt
the motto of Pat, upon entering a Tipperary row. Said he, “Wherever you
see a head, hit it!” (Loud cheers and laughter.) So, the abolitionists have
resolved, that wherever slavery manifests itself in the United States, they
will hit it. (Renewed cheering.) They will deal out their heaviest blows


upon it. Hence, having followed it from the state to the street, from the mob
to the church, from the church to the pulpit, they are now hunting it down

But slavery in the present day affects to be very pious; it is uncom-
monly devotional, all at once. It feels disposed to pray the very moment
you touch it. The hideous fiend kneels down and pretends to engage in
devotional exercises; and when we come to attack it, it howls piously—
“Off! you are an infidel;” and straightway the press in America, and some
portion of the press in this land also, take up the false cry. (Hear, hear.)
Forthwith a clamour is got up here, not against the slaveholder, but against
the man who is virtuously labouring for the overthrow of that which his
assailants profess to hate—slavery. (Loud cheers.) A fierce outcry is
raised, not in favour of the slave, but against him and against his best and
only friends.

Sir, when the history of the emancipation movement shall have been
fairly written, it will be found that the abolitionists of the nineteenth cen-
tury were the only men who dared to defend the Bible from the blasphemous
charge of sanctioning and sanctifying negro slavery. (Loud cheers.) It
will be found that they were the only men who dared to stand up and
demand, that the churches calling themselves by the name of Christ, should
entirely, and for ever, purify themselves from all contact, connection, and
fellowship with men who gain their fortunes by the blood of souls. It will be
found that they were the men who “cried aloud and spared not;” who
“lifted their voices like trumpets,”19 Douglass adapts Isa. 58: 1: “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet." against the giant iniquity by which
they were surrounded. It will then be seen that they were the men who
planted themselves on the immutable, eternal, and all-comprehensive prin-
ciple of the sacred New Testament—“All things whatsoever ye would that
men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them”20A close paraphrase of Matt. 7: 12.—that, acting on this
principle, and feeling that if the fetters were on their own limbs, the chain
upon their own persons, the lash falling quick and hard upon their own
quivering bodies, they would desire their fellow men about them to be
faithful to their cause; and, therefore, carrying out this principle, they have
dared to risk their lives, fortunes, nay, their all, for the purpose of rescuing
from the tyrannous grasp of the slaveholder these 3,000,000 of trampled-
down children of men. (Loud cheers.)

Sir, the foremost, strongest, and mightiest among those who have
completely identified themselves with the negroes in the United States, I


will now name here; and I do so because his name has been most unjustly
coupled with odium in this country. (Hear, hear.) I will name, if only as an
expression of gratitude on my part, my beloved, esteemed, and almost
venerated friend, William Lloyd Garrison. (Loud and prolonged cheering.)

Sir, I have now been in this country for nineteen months; I have gone
through its length and breadth; I have had sympathy here and sympathy
there; co-operation here, and co-operation there; in fact, I have scarcely
met a man who has withheld fellowship from me as an abolitionist, stand-
ing unconnected with William Lloyd Garrison. (Hear.) Had I stood discon-
nected from that great and good man, then numerous and influential parties
would have held out to me the right hand of fellowship, sanctioned my
proceedings in England, backed me up with money and praise, and have
given me a great reputation, so far as they were capable; and they were men
of influence.

And why, sir, is William Lloyd Garrison hated and despised by certain
parties in this country? What has he done to deserve such treatment at their
hands? He has done that which all great reformers and pioneers in the cause
of freedom or religion have ever been called upon to do—made himself
unpopular for life in the maintenance of great principles. He has thrown
himself, as it were, over the ditch as a bridge; his own body, his personal
reputation, his individual property, his wide and giant-hearted intellect,
all were sacrificed to form a bridge that others might pass over and enjoy a
rich reward from the labours that he had bestowed, and the seed which he
had sown. He has made himself disreputable. How? By his uncompromis-
ing hostility to slavery, by his bold, scathing denunciation of tyranny; his
unwavering, inflexible adherence to principle; and by his frank, open,
determined spirit of opposition to everything like cant and hypocrisy.
(Loud cheers.) Such is the position in which he stands among the American
people. And the same feeling exists in this country to a great extent.
Because William Lloyd Garrison has upon both sides of the Atlantic fear-
lessly unmasked hypocrisy, and branded impiety in language in which
impiety deserves to be characterized, he has thereby brought down upon
himself the fierce execrations of a religious party in this land.21Not long before William Lloyd Garrison left England for the United States in early November 1846, the Reverend John Campbell, editor of the London Christian Witness attacked him for his “infidelity.” A minor exchange of recriminations between the two men followed. Walter Merrill and Louis Ruchames, eds., The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison (Cambridge, Mass., 1971-), 3: 455—59 (hereafter cited Garrison Letters); Annie H. Abel and Frank J. Klingberg, eds., A Side-Light on Anglo-American Relations, 1839—1858 (1927; New York, 1970), 267n, 278-80.

But, sir, I do not like, upon the present occasion, even to allude to this


subject; for the party who have acted in this matter is small and insignifi-
cant; so impotent for good, so well known for its recklessness of statement,
so proverbial for harshness of spirit, that I will not dwell any longer on their
conduct. I feel that I ought not to trespass upon your patience any further.
(Loud cheers and cries of “Go on, go on.”)

Well, then, as you are so indulgent to me, I will refer to another matter.
It would not be right and proper, from any consideration of regard and
esteem which I feel for those who have honoured me by assembling here
this evening to bid me farewell—especially to some who have honoured me
and the cause I am identified with, honoured themselves and our common
humanity, by being present to-night upon this platform—I say it would not
be proper in me, out of deference to any such persons, on this occasion, to
fail to advert to what I deem one of the greatest sins of omission ever
committed by British Christians in this country. I allude to the recent
meeting of the Ecumenical Evangelical Alliance.33The Evangelical Alliance met in Freemasons' Hall, London, from 19 August to 2 September 1846. (Hear.) Sir, I must be
permitted to say a word or two upon this matter. (Hear.)

From my very love of British Christians—out of esteem for the very
motives of those excellent men who composed the British part of that great
convention—from all these considerations, I am bound to state here my
firm belief, that they suffered themselves to be sadly hoodwinked upon this
point. (Hear, hear.) They were misled and cajoled into a position on this
question, which no subsequent action can completely obliterate or entirely
atone for. They had it in their power to have given slavery a blow which
would have sent it reeling to its grave, as if smitten by a voice or an arm
from Heaven. They had moral power; they had more—they had religious
power. They were in a position which no other body ever occupied, and in
which no other association will ever stand, while slavery exists in the
United States. (Hear.) They were raised up on a pinnacle of great eminence:
they were “a city set on a hill."23An allusion to Matt. 5: 14: “A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid." They were a body to whom the whole
evangelical world was looking, during that memorable month of August.

Pressed down deep among evangelical Christians, under the feet of
some there, were 3,000,000 of slaves looking to the Evangelical Alliance,
with uplifted hands, with imploring tones—or, rather, I should say in the
absence of tones, for the slave is dead; he has no voice in such assemblies;
he can send no delegates to Bible and Missionary Societies, Temperance
Conventions, or Evangelical Alliances; he is not permitted to send representatives


there to tell his wrongs. He has his pressing evils and deeply
aggravated wrongs, to which he is constantly subject; but he is not allowed
to depute any voice to plead his cause. Still, in the silence of
annihilation—of mental and moral annihilation—in the very eloquence of
extinction, he cried to the Evangelical Alliance to utter a word on behalf of
his freedom. They “passed him by on the other side."24Douglass alludes to the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10: 31-32. (Loud cheers.)

Sir, I am sorry for this, deeply sorry; sorry on their own account, for I
know they are not satisfied with their position. I am sorry that they should,
from a timidity on their part—a fear of offending those who were called
“The American brethren”—have given themselves the pain and trouble to
repent on this question. But still, I hope they will repent; and I believe that
many of them have already repented (hear, hear); I believe that those who
were hoodwinked on that occasion, when they shall be brought to see that
they were miserably deceived—misled by the jack o’ lanterns from
America (laughter)—that they will add another element to their former
opposition to slavery, and that is, the pain and sense of injustice done to
themselves on the part of the American delegates. From the very feeling of
having been betrayed into a wrong position, they will feel bound to deal a
sharp, powerful, and pungent rebuke to those guilty men who dared to lead
them astray.

Sir, after all, I do not wonder at the manner in which the British
delegates were deluded; when I reflect upon the subtlety of the Amer-
icans, their apparently open, free, frank, candid, and unsophisticated
disposition—how they stood up and declared to the British brethren that
they were honest, and looked so honestly, and smiled so blandly at the
same time. No; I do not wonder at their success, when I think how old and
skilful they are in the practice of misrepresentation—in the art of lying.
(Hear) Coarse as the expression I have here applied to them may be, Mr.
Chairman, it is, nevertheless, true; the thing exists. If I am branded for
coarseness on the present occasion, I must excuse myself by telling you I
have a coarse thing and a foul business to lay before you.

As with the president, so with those deputations from America; there is
not a single inaugural speech, not an annual message, but teems with lies
like this—that “in this land every man enjoys the protection of the law, the
protection of his property, the protection of his person, the protection of his
liberty.” They iterate and reiterate these statements over and over again.
Thus, these Americans, as I said before, are skilled in the art of falsehood. I


do not wonder at their success, when I recollect that they brought religion to
aid them in their fraud; for they not only told their falsehood with the
blandness, oratory, and smiling looks of the politicians in their own coun-
try, but they combined with those seductive qualities a loud profession of
piety; and in this way they have succeeded well in misleading the judge-
ments of some of the most intrepid, bright, and illustrious of slavery's foes
in the ranks of the ministers of religion of England. (Hear)

Among the arguments used at the meeting of the Evangelical Alliance,
the following stood pre-eminent: “You, British ministers, should not inter-
fere with slavery, or pass resolutions to exclude slaveholders from your
fellowship, because,” it was coolly said, “the slaveholders are placed in
difficult circumstances.” It was stated that the slaveholders could not get
rid of their slaves if they wished; that they were anxiously desirous of eman-
cipating their slaves, but that the laws of the states in which they lived were
such as to compel them to hold them whether they would or not. It was al-
leged that their peculiar circumstances make it a matter of Christian duty in
them to hold their slaves.25The idea that a large portion of the southern master class might be slaveholders and yet Christians because of their "difficult circumstances" was one of the arguments used most frequently by many American delegates and their British friends against efforts to exclude slaveowners altogether from the London meeting of the Evangelical Alliance. Several examples were given of southern ministers and planters who, because of state laws prohibiting manumission or requiring expatriation of the manumitted, chose to remain slaveholders not for their own sake but for the sake of the slave. Many in the antislavery opposition conceded this possibility but argued that the Alliance could not legislate on these exceptions, only on general principles. After lengthy debate and prayerful committee meetings, the American delegates accepted a compromise resolution, which, while deploring slavery, in effect admitted to membership all persons who were placed in “difficult circumstances." The resolution passed overwhelmingly, in part because of the acquiescence of much of the original antislavery opposition. But the next day many of the American delegates. not satisfied with having defeated the effort to exclude all slaveholders from the conference, urged the Alliance to maintain an official silence on the slavery question altogether. They forced the recommittal of the resolution to the committee that had produced it, which in turn deleted all references to slavery and postponed indefinitely the plans for a general Evangelical Alliance. Evangelical Alliance, Report of the Proceedings of the Conference Held at Freemasons' Hall, London, From August 19th to September 2nd Inclusive, 1846 (London, 1847), 290-459.

Sir, I know the stubborn and dogged manner in which these statements
were made; and I am conscious how well calculated they were to excite
sympathy for the slaveholders: but I am here to tell you, that there was not
one word of truth in any of those plausible assertions. There was, indeed, a
slight shadow of light; a glimmering might be detected by an argus eye, but
not certainly by the eye of man. There was a faint semblance of truth in it; a
slight shadow; but, after all, it was only a semblance. (Hear)


What are the facts of the case? Just these: that in three or four of the
Southern states, when a man emancipates his slaves, he is obliged to give a
bond that such slaves shall not become chargeable to the state as paupers.26By the mid-1840s there were probably seven states which more or less required masters to post security for the future good behavior of manumitted slaves: North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, Virginia, Maryland, and Arkansas. Stroud, Laws Relating to Slavery, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia, 1856), 96-103; Ira Berlin, Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negro in the Antebellum South (New York, 1974), 146—53.
That is all the “impediment;” that is the whole of the “difficulty” as
regards the law. But the fact is, that the free negroes never become paupers.
I do not know that I ever saw a black pauper. The free negroes in Philadel-
phia, 25,000 in number, not only support their own poor, by their own
benevolent societies, but actually pay 500 dollars per annum for the support
of the white paupers in the state.27Philadelphia blacks, who did support many mutual-aid and self-improvement societies, actually numbered fewer than 11,000 in the 1840s. (Loud cheers.) No, sir, the statement is
false; we do not have black paupers in America; we leave pauperism to be
fostered and taken care of by white people; not that I intend any disrespect
to my audience in making this statement. (Hear.) I can assure you I am in
nowise prejudiced against colour. (Laughter.) But the idea of a black
pauper in the United States is most absurd.

But, after all, what does the objection amount to? What if really they
have to give a bond to the State that the slaves whom they emancipate
should not become chargeable to the state? Why, sir, one would think this
would be a very little matter of consideration to a just and Christian man;
considering that all the wealth that this conscientious slave-holder pos-
sesses, he has wrung from the unrequited toil of the slave. It is not much,
when it is recollected that he kept the poor negro in ignorance, and worked
him twenty-eight or thirty years of his life, and that he has had the fruit of
his labour during the best part of his days. But yet, it is gravely stated, that
the slaveowner looks on it as a great hardship, that if he emancipates his
slave he is bound not to suffer him to become chargeable to the state. Why,
the money which the slave should have earned in his youthful days, to
support him in the season of age, has been wrung from him by his Christian
master. But the slaveholder of America had no occasion ever to have had
such a difficulty as this to contend with before he gets rid of his slave.

I may mention a fact, which is not generally known here, that this law
was adopted in the slave states—for what purpose? I will tell you why:
because it was previously the custom of a large class of slaveholders to hold


their slaves in bondage from infancy to old age, so long as they could toil
and struggle and were worth a penny a day to their masters. While they
could do this, they were kept; but, as soon as they became old and
decrepit—the moment they were unable to toil—their masters, from very
benevolence and humanity of course, gave them their freedom. (Hear,
hear.) The inhabitants of the states, to prevent this burden upon their
community, made the masters liable for their support under such circum-
stances. Dr. Cox did not tell you that in his famous speech in the Evangeli-
cal Alliance. (Hear, hear.) I mean Dr. Cox of America.28The American Presbyterian minister Samuel Hanson Cox was at this time a director of the Union Theological Seminary and a former moderator of the New School General Assembly, having once been a staunch ally of the Garrisonians. At the London meeting of the Evangelical Alliance Cox played a central part in the debates over slavery. When the issue of debarring slaveholders from the Alliance first arose, he objected to referring the matter to a committee on the grounds that the Alliance should not postpone what he believed was an inevitable collision. Cox, who sat on the committee charged with harmonizing the conflicting views on slavery, apparently had a hand in framing the compromise resolution, which he presented to the Alliance on behalf of the committee. After the American delegates said they preferred the conference not mention slavery at all, Cox joined the general clamor for the rescinding of the resolution that he helped produce. His reasoning, as laid out in the speech to which Douglass refers, was that the compromise resolution. by giving the Alliance the color of an antislavery movement, had made it politically impossible for American churchmen to cooperate with their British brethren in a project for Christian Union. Cox argued that an antislavery test was unnecessary since the churches in the United States were already “in favour ofemancipation and freedom." Evangelical Alliance, Proceedings, 298, 371, 374, 392-93, 411-17, 454-57. (Mr. Douglass
here turned to Dr. Cox of Hackney,29This was Francis Augustus Cox, the English Baptist minister whom Douglass had criticized six months earlier for compromising his antislavery principles during an 1835 tour of the United States. Cox chaired the Alliance committee that brought in the resolution debarring from membership men who were slaveholders “by their own fault." He was still in the chair when the same committee reversed itself a few days later and recommended the rescinding of its original resolution. During its deliberations his “Anti-slavery principles" kept him from fully concurring in the committee's decision to undo its own handiwork, but, after the arguments of both sides were presented to all the assembled delegates, he expressed the hope that the latest resolution might be passed unanimously in the interests of “a united Alliance." Evangelical Alliance, Proceedings, 370, 453-54. which caused much laughter.) I do
rejoice that there is another Dr. Cox in the world, of a very different
character from the one in America, to redeem the name of Cox from the
infamy that must necessarily settle down upon the head of that Cox, who,
with wiles and subtlety, led the Evangelical Alliance astray upon this ques-
tion. (Cheers.) I am glad—I am delighted—l am grateful—profoundly
grateful, in review of all the facts, that my friend—the slave’s friend—Dr.
Cox of Hackney, has been pleased to give us his presence to-night. (Re-
newed cheers.)

But now, really if the slaveholder is watching for an opportunity to get


rid of his slaves, what has he to do? Why, just nothing at all—he has only to
cease to do. He has to undo what he has already done; nothing more. He has
only to tell the slave, “I have no longer any claim upon you as a slave.”
That is all that is necessary; and then the work is done. The negro, simple in
his understanding as he was represented this evening—somewhat unjustly,
by the by (referring to some remarks made in a former part of the evening
by the vocalist, Mr. Henry Russell)30Born in Sheerness, England, Henry Russell (1812-90) was a popular vocalist and songwriter on both sides of the Atlantic, composing an estimated 800 songs during his career. After studying in Italy with Gioacchino Antonio Rossini, Russell emigrated to Canada in 1833 and thence to Rochester, New York, where he served as a church organist. Shortly thereafter he settled in New York City. His concert tours in the United States were commercially successful, and after returning to England in 1840 or 1841, he continued to perform until 1865, when he retired to enter the banking business. No account of his remarks concerning the Negro's “understanding” appears to have survived. John D. Champlin, Jr., and William F. Apthorp, eds., Cyclopedia of Music and Musicians, 3 vols. (New York, 1888-90), 3 276; Eric Blom, ed., Grave's Dictionary of Music and Musicians, 10 vols. (London, 1954-56), 7: 332—33; National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (New York, 1898—), 5: 249.—would take care of the rest of the
matter. He would have no difficulty in finding some way to gain his
freedom, if his master only gave him permission so to do

The truth is, that the whole of America is cursed with slavery. There is
upon our Northern and Western borders a land uncursed by slavery—a
territory ruled over by the British power. There—

“The lion at a virgin’s feet
Crouches, and lays his mighty paw
Upon her lap—an emblem meet
Of England’s queen and England’s law.” (Cheers)

From the slave plantations of America the slave could run, under the
guidance of the North-star, to that same land, and in the mane of the British
lion he might find himself secure from the talons and beak of the American
eagle. The American slave-holder has only to say to his slave, “To-
morrow, I shall no longer hold you in bondage,” and the slave forthwith
goes, and is permitted—not merely “permitted”—oh! no, he is welcomed
and received with open arms, by the British authorities; he is welcomed,
not as a slave, but as a man; not as a bondman, but as a freeman; not as a
captive, but as a brother. (Cheers) He is received with kindness, and re-
garded and treated with respect as a man. The Americans have only to say
to their slaves, “Go and be free;” and they go and are free. No power
within the states, or out of the states, attempts to disturb the master in the
exercise of his right of transferring his negro from one country to the other.


“Oh! but then,” Dr. Cox would say, “brethren, although all this
which Douglass states may be very true, yet you must know that there are
some very poor masters, who are so situated in regard to pecuniary
matters”—for the doctor is a very indirect speaker—“so situated, in re-
gard to pecuniary concerns, that they would not be able to remove their
slaves. I know a brother in the South—a dear brother” (Mr. Douglass here
imitated the tone and style of Dr. Cox, in a manner which caused great
laughter) “to whom I spoke on this subject; and I told him what a great sin I
thought it was for him to hold slaves, but he said to me, ‘Brother, I feel it as
much as you do’ (loud laughter), ‘but what can I do? Here are my slaves;
take them; you may have them; you may take them out of the state if you
please.’ ” Said he [Cox], “I could not; and I left them.” (Renewed
laughter.) “Now what would you do?” said the doctor to the brethren at
Manchester and Liverpool—“what would you do, if placed in such dif-
ficult circumstances?”31In a speech before the London meeting of the Evangelical Alliance, Dr. Samuel H. Cox mentioned a Mr. Gordon, a Kentucky slaveholder who was prevented from emancipating his slaves because of humanitarian, not financial, considerations. As Cox explained it, Gordon had “the misfortune of standing in the law-relation of a slaveholder to nine human beings. Some of these are intermarried with the slaves of other planters, and that is often the case. If he were to set them free, he would have to separate husbands and wives, and to send them out ofthe State; and, though they love freedom, they love their relations too well to wish to have freedom on those terms. He said to us. . . with tears and grief—‘Show me what is the will of God, and I will do it.’ I know no man who hates the system more ex animo than that man does." Evangelical Alliance, Proceedings, 416.

The fact is, there is no truth in the existence of these difficulties at all.
Sir, let me tell you what has stood as a standing article in our anti-slavery
journals for the last ten years. When this plea was first put forth in America,
and those intrepid champions of the slave, Gem't Smith, Arthur Tappan,32Arthur Tappan (1786-1865), the brother of Benjamin and Lewis Tappan, was a major figure in the American antislavery movement and an important financial contributor to a variety of moral reform and philanthropic causes in the antebellum period. Born in Northampton, Massachusetts, he began work as a dry-goods clerk in Boston but by the age of fifty had become a prosperous silk-jobbing merchant in New York City. Believing that his wealth obligated him to be “a STEWARD ofthe Lord. " Tappan gave generously of his time and money to such reform organizations as the American Bible Society, the American Tract Society, the American Home Missionary Society, and various efforts to root out moral vice ofevery sort, including intemperance. Oberlin College was founded largely through his financial contributions, and he also contributed to the support of Kenyon College, Auburn Theological Seminary, and Lane Theological Seminary. Tappan established, or helped to establish, the New York Journal of Commerce, and several reform papers, including the New York Emancipator, the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter, and the Washington (D.C.) National Era. He also made timely contributions at an early period to William Lloyd Garrison's Liberator. After renouncing his membership in the American Colonization Society, Tappan devoted most of his philanthropic energies to the antislavery movement. In 1833 he helped found the American Anti-Slavery Society. Seven years later he seceded from it because of tactical disagreements with the Garrisonians and helped to organize the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. Tappan served as the first president of both these major antislavery organizations and was an early supporter of the Liberty party. When various missionary societies with which he had been affiliated failed to adhere to his antislavery principles, he cut his connection with them and, in 1846, helped to establish the American Missionary Association. Tappan tried to promote schools and colleges for free blacks in the North, but local race feeling frustrated his efforts. Lewis Tappan, The Life of Arthur Tappan (New York, 1870); Bertram Wyatt-Brown, Lewis Tappan and the Evangelical War Against Slavery (Cleveland, 1969); Appleton's Cylopaedia of American Biography, 6 vols. (New York, 1888—89), 6: 33; NCAB, 2: 320—21; DAB, 18: 298—300.


and other noble-minded abolitionists heard of it, what did they do? They
inserted their cards in all the most respectable papers in America, and stated
that there were 10,000 dollars ready at the service of any poor slaveholders
who might not have the means of removing the negroes they were desirous
of emancipating. (Cheers) Now, sir, the slaveholder must have seen this
advertisement, for whatever difficulties they have to encounter, they find
none in seeing money. (Hear, and laughter.) But, sir, was there ever a
demand for a single red copper of the whole of those 10,000 dollars? Never;
never.33Details of this particular program of compensated emancipation have not been uncovered, but Gerrit Smith's willingness to purchase the freedom of various slaves was well known. Gerrit Smith to Rev. D. R. Gillmer, 4 September 1837, in Lib., 22 September 1837; Ralph Volney Harlow, Gerrit Smith: Philanthropist and Reformer (New York, 1939), 269—74.

Now what does this fact prove? Why, that there were no slaveholders
who stood in need of such assistance; not one who wanted it for the purpose
for which it might have been easily obtained, to meet the "difficult circum-
stances” stated by Dr. Cox. How Dr. Cox could, knowing that fact, as he
must have done—for he is not so blind that he cannot see a dollar—I say
how he could set up this false and contemptible plea before the world, and
attempt to mislead the public mind of England upon the subject—I will not
use a harsh expression, but I will say—that I cannot see how he could
reconcile its concealment with honesty at any rate. That is the strongest
word I will use in regard to this portion of his conduct. (Hear, hear.) He
certainly knew better; at least, I think he must have known better; he ought
to have done so; for it is astonishing how quickly he sees things generally.

Another brother, the Reverend Doctor Marsh,34The American Congregational minister John Marsh attended the London meeting of the Evangelical Alliance and voted consistently with the American delegation, but never spoke on the slavery question during any of the Alliance sessions devoted to the subject. In a Speech at Newcastleupon-Tyne shortly after the Alliance adjourned, Marsh allegedly argued that slaveholders could not manumit their bondsmen except under penalty of a jail sentence. The published summary of his remarks does not, however, substantiate the allegation. Newcastle Guardian, 5 September 1846. also went into this
subject, and told the brethren of the difficult circumstances in which the
slaveholders were placed, especially the “Christian slaveholders;” for,


mark this, they never apologise for infidel slaveholders! (Hear.) You never
heard one of the whole deputation apologise for that brutal man—the
uneducated slave-driver. No; it is the refined, polite, highly civilised,
general, Christian part of the slaveholders, for whom they stand up and
plead. Yes; they apologise for what they call “Christian slaveholders”-——
white blackbirds.’ (Loud cheers and laughter.) Dr. Marsh stated, that if any
persons in the United States were to emancipate their slaves, they would
instantly be put into the penitentiary. (Laughter and cries of “Oh, oh.”) I
have sometimes been astonished at the credulity of their English auditory;
but I do not wonder at it, for John Bull is pretty honest himself, and he
thinks other people are so also. But, yet, I must say that I am surprised when
I find sagacious, intelligent men really carried away by such assertions as

Why, sir, if this statement were true, another tinge, deeper and darker
than any previously exhibited, would have appeared in the character of the
American people. What! men are not only permitted to enslave, not only
allowed by the government to rob and plunder, but actually compelled by
the first government upon earth to live by plunder! Why, these men, by
such statements, stamp their country with an infamy deeper than I can cast
upon it by anything I could say; that is, admitting their statements were

But, sir, America, deeply fallen and lost as she is to moral principle,
has not embodied in the form of law any such compulsion of slavery as that
which these reverend gentlemen attempt to make out. No, sir; the slavehold-
er can free his slaves. Why, he has the same right to emancipate as he has
to whip his negro. He whips him; he has a right to do what he pleases with
his own; he may give his slave away.

I was given away (hear); I was given away by my father, or the man
who was called my father, to his own brother. My master was a Methodist
class-leader. (Hear) When he found that I had made my escape, and was a
good distance out of his reach, he felt a little spark of benevolence kindled
up in his heart; and he cast his eyes upon a poor brother of his—a poor,
wretched, out-at-elbows, hat-crown-knocked-in brother (laughter)—a reck-
less brother, who had not been so fortunate as to possess such a number
of slaves as he had done. Well, looking over the pages of some British
newspaper, he saw his son Frederick a fugitive slave in a foreign country,
in a state of exile; and he determined now, for once in his life, that he would
be a little generous to this brother out at the elbows, and he therefore said to
him, “Brother, I have got a negro; that is, I have not got him, but the


English have (cheers). When a slave, his name was Frederick—Fred.
Bailey. We called him Fred”—(for the negroes never have but one
name)—“but he fancied that he was something better than a slave, and so
he gave himself two names. Well, that same Fred, is now actually changed
into Frederick Douglass, and is going through the length and breadth of
Great Britain, telling the wrongs of the slaves. Now, as you are very poor,
and certainly will not be made poorer by the gift I am about to bestow upon
you, I transfer to you all legal right to property in the body and soul of the
said Frederick Douglass." (Laughter.) Thus was I transferred by my father
to my uncle.35Douglass describes the transfer of legal title to his person from Thomas Auld to Hugh Auld. The transfer, however, was by sales agreement and not by gift. Elsewhere, Douglass intimates that his father was rumored to be Aaron Anthony, not Thomas Auld. Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave; Written by Himself, ed. Benjamin Quarles (Cambridge, Mass, 1960). 24; idem, My Bondage and My Freedom (New York, 1855), 52.

Well, really, after all, I feel a little sympathy for my uncle, Hugh Auld. I
did not wish to be altogether a losing game for Hugh, although, certainly, I
had no desire myself to pay him any money; but if any one else felt disposed
to pay him money, of course they might do so. But at any rate I confess I
had less reluctance at seeing £150 paid to poor Hugh Auld than I should
have had to see the same amount of money paid to his brother, Thomas
Auld, for I really think poor Hugh needed it, while Thomas did not. Hugh is
a poor scamp. I hope he may read or hear of what I am now saying. I have
no doubt he will, for I intend to send him a paper containing a report of this
meeting. (Laughter.)

By the by, though, I want to tell the audience one thing which I forgot,
and that is, that I have as much right to sell Hugh Auld as Hugh Auld had to
sell me. If any of you are disposed to make a purchase of him, just say the
word. (Laughter.) However, whatever Hugh and Thomas Auld may have
done, I will not traffic in human flesh at all; so let Hugh Auld pass, for I will
not sell him. (Cheers)

As to the kind friends who have made the purchase of my freedom, I
am deeply grateful to them. I would never have solicited them to have done
so, or have asked them for money for such a purpose. I never could have
suggested to them the propriety of such an act. It was done from the
prompting or suggestion of their own hearts, entirely independent of my-
self. While I entertain the deepest gratitude to them for what they have
done, I do not feel like shouldering the responsibility of the act. I do,
however, believe that there has been no right or noble principle sacrificed


in the transaction. Had I thought otherwise, I would have been willingly “a
stranger and a foreigner, as all my fathers were,”36A paraphrase of Ps. 39: 12: “Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear unto my cry; hold not thy peace at my cars: for I am a stranger with thee, and a sojoumer, as all my fathers were.” through my life, in a
strange land, supported by those dear friends whom I love in this country. I
would have contented myself to have lived here rather than have had my
freedom purchased at the violation or expense of principle. But, as I said
before, I do not believe that any good principle has been violated. If there is
anything to which exception may be taken, it is in the expediency, and not
the principle, involved in the transaction.

I wish to say one word more respecting another body who have been
alluded to this evening. You see that I keep harping on the church and its
ministers, and I do so for the best of all reasons, that however low the
ministry in a country may be (they may take this admission and make what
they can of it: I know they will interpret it in their own favour, as it may be
so interpreted)—that however corrupt the stream of politics and religion,
nevertheless the fountain of the purity, as well as of the corruption, of the
community may be found in the pulpit. (Hear.)

It is in the pulpit and the press—in the publications especially of the
religious press—that we are to look for our right moral sentiment. (Hear,
hear.) I assert this as my deliberate opinion, I know, against the views of
many of those with whom I co-operate. I do believe, however dark and
corrupt they may be in any country, the ministers of religion are always
higher—of necessity higher—than the community about them. I mean, of
course, as a whole. There are exceptions. They cannot be enunciatin g those
great abstract principles of right without their exerting, to some extent, a
healthy influence upon their own conduct, although their own conduct is
often in violation of those great principles. I go, therefore, to the churches,
and I ask the churches of England for their sympathy and support in this

Sir, the growing contact and communication between this country and
the United States, renders it a matter of the utmost importance that the
subject of slavery in America should be kept before the British public.
(Hear.) The reciprocity of religious deputations—the interchange of na-
tional addresses—the friendly addresses on peace and upon the subject of
temperance—the ecclesiastical connections of the two countries—their
vastly increasing commercial intercourse resulting from the recent relaxa-
tion of the restrictive laws upon the commerce of this country—the influx


of British literature into the United States as well as of American literature
into this country—the constant tourists—the frequent visits to America by
literary and philanthropic men—the improvement in the facility for the
transportation of letters through the post-office, in steam navigation, as well
as other means of locomotion—the extraordinary power and rapidity with
which intelligence is transmitted from one country to another—all conspire
to make it a matter of the utmost importance that Great Britain should
maintain a healthy moral sentiment on the subject of slavery.

Why, sir, does slavery exist in the United States? Because it is reputa-
ble: that is the reason. Why is it thus reputable in America? Because it is not
so disreputable out of America as it ought to be. Why, then, is it not so
disreputable out of the United States as it should be? Because its real
character has not been so fully known as it ought to have been. Hence, sir,
the necessity of an Anti-Slavery League37Douglass refers to the short-lived Anti-Slavery League, which William Lloyd Garrison established in London in August 1846. (hear, hear, and cheers)-—of men
leaguing themselves together for the purpose of enlightening, raising, and
fixing the public attention upon this foulest of all blots upon our common
humanity. Let us, then, agitate this question. (Hear.)

But, sir, I am met by the objection, that to do so in this country, is to
excite, irritate, and disturb the slaveholder. Sir, this is just what I want. I
wish the slaveholder to be irritated. I want him jealous. I desire to see him
alarmed and disturbed. Sir, by thus alarming him, you have the means of
blistering his conscience, and it can have no life in it unless it is blistered.
Sir, I want every Englishman to point to the star-spangled banner and say—

“United States! your banner wears
Two emblems, one of fame:
Alas! the other that it bears
Reminds us of your shame.
The white man’s liberty in types
Stands blazoned on your stars;
But what’s the meaning of your stripes?
They mean your negroes’ scars."38Douglass quotes and paraphrases Thomas Campbell's To the United States of North America, W. A. Hill, ed., The Poetical Works of Thomas Campbell, With Notes and a Biographical Sketch (London, 1851), 364.

“Oh!” it is said, “but by so doing you would stir up war between the
two countries.” Said a learned gentleman to me, “You will only excite


angry feelings, and bring on war, which is a far greater evil than slavery.”
Sir, you need not be afraid of war with America while they have slavery in
the United States. We have 3,000,000 of peace-makers there. Yes,
3,000,000, sir—3,000,000 who have never signed the pledge of the noble
Burrit, but who are, nevertheless, as strong and as invincible peace-men as
even our friend Elihu Burrit himself.39Elihu Burritt was traveling throughout England at this time recruiting members for his recently formed “League of Universal Brotherhood." The only membership requirement was the signing of a peace pledge, which read in part: “Believing all war to be inconsistent with the Spirit of Christianity, and destructive to the best interests of mankind, I do hereby pledge myself never to enlist or enter into any army or navy, or to yield any voluntary support or sanction to the preparation for or prosecution of any war, by whomsoever, for whatsoever proposed, declared or waged." Peter Tolis, Elihu Burritt: Crusader for Brotherhood (Hamden, Conn., 1968), 145—53.

Sir, the American slaveholders can appreciate these peace-makers;
3,000,000 of them stand there on the shores of America, and when our
statesmen get warm, why these 3,000,000 keep cool. (Laughter). When
our legislators’ tempers are excited, these peace-makers say, “Keep your
tempers down, brethren! ” The Congress talks about going to war, but these
peace-makers suggest, “But what will you do at home?” When these
slaveholders declaim about shouldering their muskets, buckling on their
knapsacks, girding on their swords, and going to beat back and scourge the
foreign invaders, they are told by these friendly monitors, “Remember,
your wives and children are at home! Reflect that we are at home! We are
on the plantations. You had better stay at home and look after us. True, we
eat the bread of freemen; we take up the room of freemen; we consume the
same commodities as freemen; but still we have no interest in the state, no
attachment for the country: we are slaves! You cannot fight a battle in your
own land, but, at the first tap of a foreign drum—the very moment the
British standard shall be erected upon your soil, at the first trumpet-call to
freedom—millions of slaves are ready to rise and to strike for their own
liberty.” (Loud cheers.) The slaveholders know this; they understand it
well enough.

No, no; you need not fear about war between Great Britain and
America. When Mr. Polk tells you that he will have the whole of Oregon,
he only means to brag a little. When this boasting president tells you that he
will have all that territory or go to war, he intends to retract his words the
first favourable opportunity.40 In his first annual message to Congress in December 1845, President James K. Polk announced his intention to press for English recognition of American rights to all of the Oregon country below 54° 40’. War between the two countries over the Oregon boundary appeared a growing likelihood until June 1846, when Polk, responding to British initiatives for a peaceful settlement of the issue, accepted the 49th parallel as the territorial dividing line. Fred L. Israel, ed., The State of the Union Messages of the Presidents, 1790—1966, 3 vols. (New York, 1966), 1: 641-46. When Mr. Webster says, fiercely, If you do
not give back Madison Washington—the noble Madison Washington, who


broke his fetters on the deck of the Creole, achieved liberty for himself and
one hundred and thirty-five others, and took refuge within your
dominions—when this proud statesman tells you, that if you do not send
this noble negro back to chains and slavery, he will go to war with you, do
not be alarmed; he does not mean any such thing. Leave him alone; he will
find some way—some diplomatic stratagem almost inscrutable to the eyes
of common men—by which to take back every syllable he has said.41Daniel Webster, secretary of state during the Creole crisis of 1841—42, never demanded the return of Madison Washington and the other slaves freed by British authorities, nor did he threaten England with war over the issue. He did, however, actively seek indemnification for the liberated slaves. Howard Jones, “The Peculiar Institution and National Honor: The Case of the Creole Slave Revolt," Civil War History, 21: 39, 42, 43-44 (March 1975).
(Hear, hear.)

You need not fear that you will have any war with America while
slavery lasts, and while you as a people maintain your opposition to the
accursed system. When you cease to feel any hostility to slavery, the
slave-holders will then have no fear that the slaves will desert them for you,
or will hate and fight against them in favour of you. So that, if only as a
means of preserving peace, it were wise policy to advocate in England the
cause of the emancipation of the American slaves. But, sir, England not
only has power to do great good in this matter, but it is her duty to do so to
the utmost of her ability.

But I fear I am speaking too long. (Loud cheers, and cries of “No, no;”
“Go on, go on. ”) Oh, my friends, you are very kind, but you are not very
wise in saying so, allow me to tell you, with all due deference. I must
conclude, and that right early; for l have to speak again to-morrow night
almost 200 miles from this place; and it becomes necessary, therefore, that
I should bring my address to a close, if only from motives of self-
preservation, which the Americans say is the first law of slavery.

But before I sit down, let me say a few words at parting to my London
friends, as well as those from the country, for I have reason to believe that
there are friends present from all parts of the United Kingdom. I look
around this audience, and I see those who greeted me when I first landed on
your soil. 1 look before me here, and I see representatives from Scotland,
where I have been warmly received and kindly treated. Manchester is
represented on this occasion, as well as a number of other towns. Let me


say one word to all these dear friends at parting; for this is probably the last
time I shall ever have an opportunity of speaking to a British audience, at all
events in London.

I have now been in this country nineteen months, and I have travelled
through the length and breadth of it. I came here a slave. I landed upon your
shores a degraded being, lying under the load of odium heaped upon my
race by the American press, pulpit, and people. I have gone through the
wide extent of this country, and have steadily increased—you will pardon
me for saying so, for I am loath to speak of myself—steadily increased the
attention of the British public to this question. Wherever I have gone, I
have been treated with the utmost kindness, with the greatest deference, the
most assiduous attention; and I have every reason to love England.

Sir, liberty in England is better than slavery in America. Liberty under
a monarchy is better than despotism under a democracy. (Cheers) Free-
dom under a monarchical government is better than slavery in support of the
American capitol. Sir, I have known what it was for the first time in my life
to enjoy freedom in this country. I say that I have here, within the last
nineteen months, for the first time in my life, known what it was to enjoy

I remember, just before leaving Boston for this country, that I was even
refused permission to ride in an omnibus. Yes, on account of the colour of
my skin, I was kicked from a public conveyance just a few days before I left
that “cradle of liberty. ” Only three months before leaving that “home of
freedom , ” I was driven from the lower floor of a church, because I tried to
enter as other men, forgetting my complexion, remembering only that I
was a man, thinking, moreover, that I had an interest in the Gospel there
proclaimed; for these reasons I went into the church, but was driven out on
account of my colour. Not long before I left the shores of America I went on
board several steamboats, but in every instance I was driven out of the
cabin, and all the respectable parts of the ship, on to the forward deck,
among horses and cattle, not being allowed to take my place with hu-
man beings as a man and a brother. Sir, I was not permitted even to go
into a menagerie or to a theatre, if I wished to have gone there. The doors of
every museum, lyceum and athenaeum were closed against me if I wanted
to go into them. There was the gallery, if I desired to go. I was not granted
any of these common and ordinary privileges of free men. All were shut
against me. I was mobbed in Boston, driven forth like a malefactor,
dragged about, insulted, and outraged in all directions. Every white
man—no matter how black his heart—could insult me with impunity.


I came to this land—how greatly changed! Sir, the moment I stepped
on the soil of England—the instant I landed on the quay at Liverpool—I
beheld people as white as any I ever saw in the United States; as noble in
their exterior, and surrounded by as much to commend them to admiration,
as any to be found in the wide extent of America. But, instead of meeting
the curled lip of scorn, and seeing the fire of hatred kindled in the eyes of
Englishmen, all was blandness and kindness. I looked around in vain for
expressions of insult. Yes, I looked around with wonder! for I hardly
believed my own eyes. I searched scrutinizingly to find if I could perceive
in the countenance of an Englishman any disapprobation of me on account
of my complexion. No; there was not one look of scorn or enmity. (Loud
cheers.) I have travelled in all parts of the country: in England, Ireland,
Scotland, and Wales. I have journeyed upon highways, byways, railways,
and steamboats. I have myself gone, I might say, with almost electric
speed; but at all events my trunk has been overtaken by electric speed. In
none of these various conveyances, or in any class of society, have I found
any curled lip of scorn, or an expression that I could torture into a word of
disrespect of me on account of my complexion; not one.

Sir, I came to this city accustomed to be excluded from athenaeums,
literary institutions, scientific institutions, popular meetings, from the
colosseum—if there were any such in the United States—and every place
of public amusement or instruction. Being in London, I of course felt
desirous of seizing upon every opportunity of testing the custom at all such
places here, by going and presenting myself for admission as a man. From
none of them was I ever ejected. I passed through them all; your colos—
seums, museums, galleries of painting, even into your House of Commons;
and, still more, a nobleman—I do not know what to call his office, for I am
not acquainted with anything of the kind in America, but I believe his name
was the Marquis of Lansdowne42This was probably Henry Petty-Fitzmaurice, the third Marquis of Lansdowne (1780-1863), a prominent leader of the Whig party for over fifty years. Educated at the universities of Edinburgh and Cambridge, Lansdowne served in several Whig and coalition cabinets and after a brief career in the House of Commons sat for many years in the House of Lords. He was an early and consistent supporter of “Catholic Emancipation" and of other measures that removed the political disabilities of religious minorities. An aristocrat who believed that public education, reform, free trade, and the repeal of the Corn Laws posed no threat to members of his class, Lansdowne also played an important role in the parliamentary efforts to abolish the slave trade, often cooperating closely with William Wilberforce. Lansdowne's home was a favorite meeting place of prominent politicians and men of letters and science. Donald Southgate, The Passing of the Whigs, 1832—1886 (London, 1962), 214-15; DNB, 15: 1013-17.—permitted me to go into the House of


Lords, and hear what I never heard before, but what I had long wished to
hear, but which I could never have heard anywhere else, the eloquence of
Lord Brougham.43Douglass heard Brougham address the House of Lords on postage conventions between Great Britain and other European powers, probably on 28 January 1847. Douglass later recalled that listening to Brougham “was like standing near the track of a railway train, drawn by a locomotive at the rate of forty miles an hour. You are riveted to the spot, charmed with the sublime spectacle of speed and power, but can give no description of the carriages, or of the passengers at the windows." Frederick Douglass, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass (1893; New York, 1941), 266-67; Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, 3rd ser., 89: 500—01 (28 January 1847). In none ofthese places did I receive one word ofopposi-
tion against my entrance.

Sir, as my friend Buffum,44James Buffum. who used to travel with me, would say, “I
mean to tell these facts, when I go back to America.” (Cheers) I will even
let them know, that wherever else I may be a stranger, that in England I am
at home. (Renewed cheering.) That whatever estimate they may form of my
character as a human being, England has no doubt with reference to my
humanity and equality. That, however much the Americans despise and
affect to scorn the negroes, that Englishmen—the most intelligent, the
noblest and best of Englishmen—do not hesitate to give the right hand of
fellowship, of manly fellowship, to a negro such as I am. I will tell them
this, and endeavour to impress upon their minds these facts, and shame
them into a sense of decency on this subject.

Why, sir, the Americans do not know that I am a man. They talk of me
as a box of goods; they speak of me in connexion with sheep, horses, and
cattle. But here, how different! Why, sir, the very dogs of old England
know that I am a man! (Cheers) I was in Beckenham for a few days, and
while at a meeting there, a dog actually came up to the platform, put his
paws on the front of it, and gave me a smile of recognition as a man.
(Laughter) The Americans would do well to learn wisdom upon this
subject from the very dogs of Old England; for these animals, by instinct,
know that I am a'man; but the Americans somehow or other do not seem to
have attained to the same degree of knowledge.

But I go back to the United States not as I landed here—I came a slave; I
go back a free man. I came here a thing—I go back a human being. I came
here despised and maligned—I go back with reputation and celebrity; for I
am sure that if the Americans were to believe one tithe of all that has been
said in this country respecting me, they would certainly admit me to be a
little better than they had hitherto supposed I was. I return, but as a human


being in better circumstances than when I came. Still I go back to toil. I do
not go to America to sit still, remain quiet, and enjoy ease and comfort.

Since I have been in this land I have had every inducement to stop here.
The kindness of my friends in the north has been unbounded. They have
offered me house, land, and every inducement to bring my family over to
this country. They have even gone so far as to pay money, and give freely
and liberally, that my wife and children might be brought to this land. I
should have settled down here in a different position to what I should have
been placed in the United States.

But, sir, I prefer living a life of activity in the service of my brethren. I
choose rather to go home; to return to America. I glory in the conflict, that I
may hereafter exult in the victory. I know that victory is certain. (Cheers) I
go, turning my back upon the ease, comfort, and respectability which I
might maintain even here, ignorant as I am. Still, I will go back, for the
sake of my brethren. I go to suffer with them; to toil with them; to endure
insult with them; to undergo outrage with them; to lift up my voice in their
behalf; to speak and write in their vindication; and struggle in their ranks for
that emancipation which shall yet be achieved by the power of truth and of
principle for that oppressed people. (Cheers) But, though I go back thus to
encounter scorn and contumely, I return gladly. I gojoyfully and speedily.

I leave this country for the United States on the 4th of April, which is
near at hand. I feel not only satisfied, but highly gratified, with my visit to
this country. I will tell my coloured brethren how Englishmen feel for their
miseries. It will be grateful to their hearts to know that while they are toiling
on in chains and degradation, there are in England hearts leaping with
indignation at the wrongs inflicted upon them. I will endeavour to have
daguerreotyped on my heart this sea of upturned faces, and portray the
scene to my brethren when I reach America; I will describe to them the kind
looks, the sympathetic desires, the determined hostility to everything like
slavery sitting heavily or beautifully on the brow of every auditory I have
addressed since I came to England. Yes, I will tell these facts to the
negroes, to encourage their hearts and strengthen them in their sufferings
and toils, and I am sure that in this I shall have your sympathy as well as
their blessing.

Pardon me, my friends, for the disconnected manner in which I have
addressed you; but I have spoken out of the fulness of my heart; the words
that came up went out, and though not uttered altogether so delicately,
refinedly, and systematically as they ought have been, still, take them as


they are—the free upgushings of a heart overborne with grateful emotions
at the remembrance of the kindness I have received in this country from the
day I landed until the present moment. With these remarks I beg to bid all
my dear friends, present and at a distance—those who are here and those
who have departed—farewell!


Douglass, Frederick, 1818-1895


March 30, 1847


Yale University Press 1982



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