The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

28.
J. W. C. Pennington to Editor, Christian News
6 September 1850

Black abolitionists often used current American antislavery events, particularly a fugitive slave incident, to inform and arouse British reform interests. J. W. C. Pennington's 6 September 1850 letter to the Glasgow Christian News demonstrates his willingness to communicate his anti- slavery message in this way. His letter to the newspaper discussed the mistreatment or murder of several white American abolitionists who attempted to assist escaping slaves. Pennington aimed at generating Scottish support for the New York State Vigilance Committee and its work of assisting fugitives from slavery. Schor, Henry Highland Garnet, 112; IC, 16 October 1850.

Edinburgh, [ Scotland]
Sept[ember] 6, 1850

Sir: 1

You take a lively interest in the subject of American slavery. I have noticed with gratification, that you have placed in your columns from time to time paragraphs of news bearing upon that system. Will you allow me to call the attention of your readers to the case of a recent victim. I mean William L. Chaplin, 2 Esq.--who is now lodged in the felon's prison of Washington on charge of having been concerned in assisting slaves to escape into a land of freedom. Mr. Chaplin is a citizen of New York State, proprietor of an anti-slavery newspaper, a gentleman of high respectability and intelligence. He was arrested on the 6th of August by the police of Washington city, the seat of the American government, and will be given up to the authorities of Maryland, a slave State, by whom he is to be tried on the above charge; and from what we know of the fate of the Rev. Charles Torrey3 and Captain Drayton, 4 who fell into the hands of the same authorities, and were tried and condemned for the same alleged crime, it is certain he will be condemned to hard labour in the State prison of Maryland for some fifteen or twenty years. And all this will be according to law in a slave State! But is there not purity and power enough in the public sentiment of the Christian world to deliver this worthy man? Can we not bring to bear upon America a sufficient amount of righteous indignation to save W. L. Chaplin? Great progress has been made in forming a pure and just public sentiment in the northern States of America. Thousands in the States will demand the liberation of Mr. Chaplin, as he has been guilty of no crime. And if backed by a strong expression from Britain and other countries, we cannot tell what the result may be. These victims of slavery have now

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