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Cork Anti-Slavery Societies to Frederick Douglass, December 18, 1845


From the Cork Examiner.

Anti Slavery Meeting at the Independent Chapel.

Monday night the Independent Chapel was crowded by a most respectable audience. The platform was occupied by men of influence of our city.

The Mayor, being called to the chair, began by saying that it was unnecessary to tell the people of Cork what Mr. Douglass had done—they are already fully aware of it. The citizens of Cork were always ready in everything of this kind. In this instance they had to deal with a question not so much their own—but as good Christians ought—they have made the work of every part of the world their own. Now, there are one or two matters of duty to proceed with before Mr. Douglass addresses you. We have a duty of thanks to perform. I will begin with the press. We know it is a mighty engine; and when we find it engaged on the side of humanity, we are glad to give it our full testimony of thanks—their giving us a corner at all might well be considered a compliment, instead of this they have given us columns. The Anti-Slavery Societies of Cork are deeply indepted to the Examiner and Reporter papers in giving publicity to the Anti-Slavery efforts.

The resolutions were here proposed and carried, which will be found in our advertising columns.

Mr. Ralph Varian stated that he had been requested to read to the meeting, and present to Mr. Douglass, the following address, which was adopted unanimously, at a meeting of the Ladies' and Gentleman's Anti-Slavery Societies of Cork, held on Monday morning, the 3d instant, at the Committee-Room of the Royal Cork Institution. The Mayor in the chair, read

Address to Frederick Douglass, from the Anti-Slavery Society of Cork.

Dear Sir:—Allow us to express our sense of the advantages that the cause by which we are bound together as societies has derived from your labors in Cork, during your short visit here; and to request you to transmit to the Abolitionists of America, our estimation of their services to the holy cause in which we are engaged.

By your labors here we have been stirred up to renewed and active life for the deliverance of the captive. We feel that if not associated with him by the ties of a common government, we are bound to his relief by the higher and holier claim, the revealed and universal truth of a common humanity and a common origin. Seeds of truth—which can never be eradicated—have been disseminated by you, in numerous public assemblies here; and sent far and wide through the instrumentality of a liberal public press. By your addresses the mass of the people have had an opportunity—which they eagerly embraced—of gaining knowledge. Their best sympathies have been aroused in behalf of those suffering under an evil of greater magnitude than the most abject poverty. They have been benefited by being made aware how they too might do something to hasten the emancipation of the American slave from his debasing bondage—simply by forming a portion of the public sentiment of the world - which must finally awaken the American Government and people to a sense of the degraded position in which their support of a hideous slave system, places them amongst the civilized nations of the earth.

The Anti-Slavery press of the United States, and our letters from the Abolitionists of America, led us to anticipate many good results from your visit to our city—but our anticipations have been more than realized. In the happy hours of social intercourse which we have enjoyed in your society, a farther opportunity has been afforded us of becoming acquainted with the details of that abominable system of savage law, and degraded public sentiment, by which three millions of human beings are held in bodily and mental bondage, yoked to the car of American Freedom! Never were we so impressed with the horrors of the system, as while listening to one, who was himself born subject to the lash and fetter—who, in his own person, endured their infliction; yet who is so gifted, as he to whom we dedicate this address, with high moral, intellectual, and spiritual power, together with so much refinement of mind and manners.


Allow us to say, that in estimating the pleasures and advantages which your visit has conferred upon us—we value highly, those derivable from your excellent Anti-Slavery work—the unpretending memoir of your escape from chattled bondage to the liberty and light of a moral and intellectual being. While perusing it, we have been charmed to the end by the power of simple truth, adn warm and genuine feeling.

We beg of you to transmit to the Abolitionists of America expressions of our regard and admiration. Even previous to your visit we deeply felt their services to humanity. To their cry for "immediate, unconditional emancipation, the right of the slave, and the duty of the master!" raised by WILLIAM LLOYD GARRISON, so as to startle an unwilling people from their criminal apathy—we have responded, in the establishment of that seminary of Freedom.—"The Oberlin Institute." we felt deeply interested. While the persecutions to which the Abolitionists were subjected—calumnies—injuries of property and person—arouse our indignation. And the death of the martyred LOVEJOY, stirred the deepest feelings of our souls.

Especially would we be affectionately remembered to that intrepid female band, who—scorning all petty feeling, and false sentiment at the call of duty, rallied to the heavenly work of delivering the captive; directing him to those possessions which are rightfully his—knowledge, liberty, and power.

The mode in which the Abolitionists of America, conduct their Great Annual Bazaars, calls for expressions of our thorough approbation. The exertions necessary to send our mite in appropriate articles to the Boston Fair—we have felt as a relief to our feelings a pleasure to our hearts. We could wish that this sentiment was more generally participated in here, that the claims of our neighbors, the colored population of America, who have fallen among thieves—were better understood, so that all might regard their prostrate condition, and afford them aid. In the funds raised at these Bazars we recognize a means of sustaining a noble missionary labor,—that of opening the prison doors, and letting the oppressed go free; that of pouring light upon the mental sight, so that he who stole should steal no more, but make restitution to the captive of his plundered property in his limbs, head, and heart, in his children, and his home. When the preachers of glad tidings to the oppressed; and of warning and stern rebuke to oppressors and abetters; when the educators of a people are reared in the land where they teach, and among the people they volunteer to elevate; there is, in this, assuredly, a great facility to the work of redemption. Such teachers and laborers are the Abolitionists of America: as such we would willingly sustain, support, and cheer them on to live and die for the happy consummation of the glorious work they have in hands.

We have not forgotten the visit to our shores of Charles Lenox Remond. His labors here were fruitful. He is still affectionately remembered.

In conclusion, we beg of you to present our respectful and kind remembrances to your friend and fellow-traveller, J. N. Buffum, Esq. whose property, and powers of mind and body have been long devoted to the aid of those laboring for the slaves' emancipation in his native country. And let us hope that the intercourse which your visit, and that of Mr. Buffum has established between us - may not be severed by land or sea, but may continue, based on the foundation of united labors for oppressed, down-trodden, and bleeding humanity.

We are, dear Sir, your friends and fellow-laborers.

Signed on behalf of the Anti-Slavery Societies of Cork.

Richard Dowden, (Rd.) Esq. Mayor, Chairman.
Mary Mannix, Isabel Jennings, } Secretaries.
Ralph Varian, Secretary, pro. tem.

The votes of thanks and the reading of the address were loudly applauded by the meeting.

Mr. Douglass arose and was received with enthusiastic cheering. When it subsided, he said—["]The sentiments of gratitude expressed by the meeting are in perfect unison with my own. Never was I held under greater obligations to the press, and to


the proprietors of public buildings, then I have been since in Cork, and I express my sincere gratitude for it in behalf of the bondsmen. Particularly am I indebted to the press for their freedom in copying the few feeble words I have been able to say in this city, that they may return to my land, and sound terribly in the ears of the oppressors of my countrymen. Mr. President, the address which has been read, I certainly was not expecting. I expected to go through the length and breadth of your country preaching to those who are ready to hear the groans of the oppressed. I did not expect the high position that I enjoy during my stay in the city of Cork, and not only there, but in Dublin. The object which we have met to consider is the Annexation of Texas to the United States. You have perhaps heard that in America when an individual has absented himself unaccountably for any time, such a person is said to have gone to Texas, few knowing where it is. Texas is that part of Mexico, bounded on the north by the United States, on the south side by the Gulf of Mexico. The extent of this country is not correctly known. It is as large as France—a most prolific soil—climate most salubrious. The facilities for commercial and agricultural proceedings are unsurpassed anywhere. A Mr. Austin obtained a grant of the Royal Government, to settle three hundred families in Texas, with an understanding that such families should obey the laws then existing, and also, that they should be members of the Roman Catholic religion. He succeeded in introducing thirty families. His son took up the business, and introduced three hundred families. Before he succeeded, the revolution in Mexico severed the Mexican provinces from the crown, and the contract was rendered void. He made application to the new Government, and obtained a similar contract. Other men in the West made similar applications to the Mexican Government. Among the rest were Irishmen, and they were among the few who fulfilled their contracts.

The consequence of making the Catholic religion a necessary qualification to settle in Texas afforded opportunity for hypocrisy. A number of persons of Catholic persuasion entered the Territory and made complaints. They succeeded in fomenting a revolt against the Mexican Government. Soon after the Texans managed to lodge complaints of oppression against it. Under these presences they declared for religious freedom, applied to the United States for sympathy, for religious liberty. After getting the property under condition of submission, they turn round for sympathy in a revolt in behalf of religious toleration. Mexico came forward nobly and abolished Slavery in Texas. In open violation of this, slaves were introduced. Mexico, outraged at this violation of her laws, attempted to compel obedience—this resulted in the revolution. Texas applied to the United States for assistance. Here came the deed that ought to bring down on the United States the united execration of the world. She pretended to be in friendly relation with Mexico. Her Congress looked with indifference on the raising of troops to aid the slaveholding Texans in wresting from the Mexicans, Texas. Indeed they encouraged it. Texans succeeded in holding at bay, the Mexican Government. The United States with an indecent haste recognized the independence of Texas. This was the preparatory step to the consummation of [its] Annexation to the Union. The object was that of making Texas the market for the surplus slaves of the North American States.

The Middle States of the United States are slave-raising States. In 1837 you might meet in Virginia, hundreds of slaves handcuffed and chained together, driving southward to be sold. The Southern States were formerly these where the slaves brought the highest price, but at present they are fully supplied with slaves; and there is a consequent reduction in the price of human flesh and bones. In 1836 slaves brought from $1,000 to $1,500; but a year ago the price was reduced to $600. The slaveholders saw the necessity of opening a new country where there would be a demand for slaves. Americans should be considered a band of plunderers for the worst purposes. T. Coke(?) is the leader of the Whig party in America.(!) He declared his intention not only to annex Texas, but Oregon. When he heard the British lion growl at this, he allowed that he considered it an open question. It was well he did, for the Americans ought to dread a war.—Should they go to war with three millions of slaves in their bosom, only looking for the first favorable opportunity of lifting their arms in open rebellion?—American statesmen are aware of this. The reasons they give for the annexation of Texas not only prove them to be rotten at heart, but a band of dastards. They say that Mexico is not able to go to war, therefore we can take their country. I dare the Americans to reach their arms to Canada. The conduct of America in this particular has not been sufficiently dwelt upon by the British press. England should not have stood by and seen a feeble people robbed without raising a note of remonstrance.


I have done with the question of Texas - let me proceed to the general question. I will read you the laws of a part of the American States regarding the relation of master and slave, the laws which created the row in the steamship Cambria, not because they are the worst I could select, but because I desire to have them remain upon your memory.—If more than seven slaves are found together without a white person, twenty lashes a piece; for letting loose a boat from where 'tis moored, thirty-nine lashes, for the first, and for the second offence the loss of an ear. For having an article for sale without a ticket from his master, ten lashes. For travelling in the night without a pass, forty lashes. Found in another person's quarters, forty lashes. For being on horseback without a written permission, three lashes; or riding without leave a slave may be whipped, cropped, or branded with the letter A, in the cheek. The laws may be found in Heywood's manual, and several other works. These laws will be the laws of Texas. How sound these laws, Irish men and Irish women, in your ears? These laws, as you are aware, are not the worst, for one law in North Carolina makes it a crime punishable with death for the second offence, to teach a slave to read. My friends, I would wish to allude to another matter in relation to the religious denominations of Cork. My friends, all I have said respecting their brethren in America has been prompted by a regard for the bondman. I know what Slavery is by experience. I know what my experience has been at the hands of religionists. The Baptist, or Presbyterian that would desire me not to tell the truth, is a man who loves his sect more than he loves his God. (Cheers). To you who have a missionary spirit, I say there is no better field than America. The slave is on his knees asking for light; slaves who not only want the Bible, but some one to teach them to read its contents. - (Hear, hear.) Their cries come across the Atlantic this evening appealing to you! lift up your voices against this giant sin. (Loud cheers.) Mr. President, I am glad to learn that the simple reading of my narrative by a minister in your town, was the cause of his preaching last Sabbath an able Anti-Slavery discourse. (Hear, hear.) My friends, labor on in this good work, for hearts on the other side of the Atlantic have long been cheered by your efforts. When England with one effort wipe from her West Indies the stain of Slavery, turning eight hundred thousand things into eight hundred thousand beings, from that time the bondmen in our country looked with more ardent hope to the day when their chains would be broken, and they be permitted to enjoy that liberty in a Republic, which was now enjoyed under the mild rule of a monarchical Government. This infused amongst us a spirit of hope, of faith, of liberty. Thus you have done much, but don't feel your power craze here.—Every one has an influence. ONLY SPEAK THE TRUE WORD—BREATHE THE RIGHT PRAYER—TRUST IN THE TRUE GOD—and your influence will be powerful against all wrong! [(]Loud and continued applause.)

Your land is now being travelled over by men from our country, their whole code of justice is based on the changing basis of the color of a man's skin; for in Virginia there are but three crimes for which a white man is hung, but in the same State there are seventy-three crimes for which the black suffers death. I want the Americans to know that in the good city of Cork I ridiculed their nation—I attempted to excite the utter contempt of the people here upon them. O, that America were freed from Slavery! her brightness would then dazzle the Eastern world. The oppressed of all nations might flock to her as an asylum from monarchical or other despotic rulers. (Applause.) I do believe that America has the elements for becoming a great and glorious nation. Thos three millions of foes might be converted into three millions of friends - but I am not going to say anything in her favor - I am an outlaw there - and 'tis time to bid you farewell!["] Mr. Douglass sat down amidst the most enthusiastic applause, which was again and again repeated.


Cork Anti-Slavery Societies




Cork Anti-Slavery Societies to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: NASS, 18 December 1845. Expresses gratitude for inspirational visit to Cork County, Ireland; sends appreciation to American Anti-Slavery societies.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


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National Anti-Slavery Standard