The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview
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William Wells Brown to Wendell Phillips 31 January 1851

Passage of the Fugitive Slave Law in the fall of 1850 prevented William Wells Brown's return to America, but his lecturing, writing, and the sale of his narrative provided the income necessary to establish his family overseas. Eighteen months into his stay abroad, Brown began making plans for his daughters, Clarissa, fifteen, and Josephine, twelve, to join him. Brown believed that his daughters would receive a better education on the continent than in the United States. Brown's 31 January 1851 letter to antislavery friend Wendell Phillips completed the arrangement of details for their passage. On 25 June, Clarissa and Josephine boarded the Royal British Mail Company steamer, America, bound for Liverpool. They were chaperoned by the Reverend Charles Spear, a Massachusetts delegate to the London Peace Congress, and by George Thompson, the noted British antislavery advocate, who was returning from a nine-month tour of America. Clarissa and Josephine were first refused passage because they were black, then were listed on the passenger manifest as servants. Farrison, William Wells Brown, 66, 73, 178, 182-93.

Perth, [ Scotland]
Jan[uary] 31, 1851

W[endell] Phillips, Esq. 1

My Dear friend,

I wrote to you by the last steamer, and hope ere this you have got my letter.

I stated that I should send another draft by this post for £10--for the expenses and passage of my girls, 2 provided my Mr. Thompson could see to them on the voyage and my friends would see that they were on the same steamer.

I send the enclosed draft for £12. This together with the £38 already sent will make £50. This I hope will be enough to pay up what outstanding debts that may be against me on account of my daughters, and to pay their passage. But should this not be sufficient, if you will advance the required sum, I will forward that sum to you by the return steamer. Should there be any over paying these demands you can send it to Mr. Thompson.

Please write me a line. My best regards to my friends in and about the antislavery office 3 and especially to our friend Mr. Thompson. The Crafts are well and go with me to Aberdeen next week. They wish to be remembered to all. Yours with truth,

W. W. Brown


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The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1
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