The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

18.
Remarks of Alexander Crummell Delivered at the Hall of Commerce, London, England 21 May 1849

By the late 1840s, the free produce movement began to attract popular support among British reformers. This component of the antislavery movement--which, for many, was an expression of moral contempt for slavery--asked the British people to reduce the profitability of slavery by refusing to purchase slave-produced goods. Henry and Anna Richardson and their Newcastle Ladies' Free Produce Association sparked enthusiasm by recruiting black lecturers Henry Bibb and Henry Highland Garnet to speak in Britain. Other black abolitionists, including Alexander Crummell, assisted the movement in less formal ways. At the tenth annual meeting of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, held in the Hall of Commerce, London, on 21 May 1849, Crummell introduced a resolution calling for abstinence "from the use of slave-labour produce." ASRL, 1 May 1848, 1 June 1849; BB, 23 May 1849; Joel Schor, Henry Highland Garnet: A Voice of Black Radicalism in the Nineteenth Century ( Westport, Conn., 1977), 111.

Resolved--That, in the opinion of this meeting, the abolitionists of this and other countries have a great personal as well as collective duty to perform towards the suffering and oppressed millions of mankind, now in bondage, in abstaining, as far as practicable, from the use of slave-labour produce, and in the encouragement of that alone which is grown and manufactured by the compensated labour of freemen; they would, therefore, earnestly recommend all the opponents of slavery to set a worthy example themselves, and also to encourage and sustain every well-directed effort to induce the public at large to adopt similar views and practice, as one great and powerful means for securing the universal abolition of slavery.

The report 1 which has been read presents you with the deplorable fact, that notwithstanding all the efforts and sacrifices that have been made, multitudes of our brethren yet remain in cruel bondage, in this age of wide-spread civilisation and Christianity. It is a matter of congratulation that in this matter your reputation is secure--that nothing can rob you of the honour of what you have done as a nation. Every one knows something of slavery, but no one has a full knowledge of it but the slave. One of its peculiarities is, that wherever it exists it produces a demand for slaves--a slave-trade; a fact not seen till recently in this country, and perhaps it was important in the discipline of the national mind that it should not be known. But now it is seen that to put down the slave-trade

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