The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

1.
Nathaniel Paul to William Lloyd Garrison
10 April 1833

During the 1830s, American abolitionists and colonizationists engaged in a protracted struggle to influence the direction of the Afro-American destiny. Immediatist abolitionists wished to end slavery and integrate blacks into American life. Colonizationists hoped to resettle blacks outside the United States. Both sought to rally the reform public to their programs. The American Colonization Society carried the struggle abroad in 1832-33 when it dispatched agent Elliott Cresson to enlist British antislavery behind colonizationist objectives. Several American abolitionists, including blacks Nathaniel Paul and Robert Purvis, combated Cresson's efforts in Britain. As an American free black, Paul spoke against colonization to large and enthusiastic audiences. He had been in Britain a little over a year seeking funds for Austin Steward's Wilberforce fugitive slave settlement in Upper Canada when he wrote a 4 April 1833 letter to William Lloyd Garrison, reflecting on a year of successful lecturing. By the time the letter appeared in the 22 June Liberator, Garrison had arrived in Britain and joined Paul on a tour designed to blunt Cresson. Lib, 22 June 1833; Walter M. Merrill and Louis Ruchames, eds., The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison, 6 vols. ( Cambridge, Mass., 1971-82), 1:224-28, 237-39.

Bristol, England
April 10, 1833

My DEAR FRIEND GARRISON: 1

Having an opportunity of sending to America, I improve it in writing you a few lines. I have much to say, and I hardly know what to say first; but I will begin with that subject which, next to the salvation of the soul, I know lies nearest your heart--viz. the liberation of the helpless slave, and the elevation of the people of color from that state of degradation that they have so long been in.

Let me say, then, sir, that the voice of this nation is loud and incessant against the system of slavery. Its death warrant is sealed, so far as it relates to the British West Indies. 2 The advocates of slavery are trembling, for the signs of the times proclaim that the end of their oppression draweth near. The tune of the planters is changed. They formerly threatened, but they now begin to supplicate pity for themselves and their children. But how shall those who have felt no pity for others, think of exciting pity for themselves? Their entreaties come too late. The course of the people is determined, and by the help of God they will continue it until slavery shall cease. And let it rejoice your heart, sir, that no half way

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