The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

47.
William Craft to Editor, London Morning Advertiser [September 1852]

William Craft was one of many black abolitionists in Britain who challenged the notion that slaves were content with their status. His reaction to Henry Morley article "North American Slavery," which appeared in the 18 September 1852 issue of Charles Dickens journal Household Words, is illustrative. "North American Slavery" drew heavily upon an article by Casimir Leconte that was published in the French journal La Revue des deux mondes. It questioned why North American slaves appeared content while slaves in the Spanish colonies to the south risked any danger for freedom. Morley concluded that North American slaves were spiritually broken and lacked character. Craft's 1 October 1852 letter to the editor of the London Morning Advertiser rejected Morley's findings. It is likely that Craft received some editorial assistance from his close friend William Wells Brown. Craft had had only limited education when the letter appeared, and Brown frequently wrote article-length pieces for a number of newspapers, including the Morning Advertiser. [ Henry Morley], "North American Slavery," HW, September 1852; Charles Dickens, Uncollected Writings from Household Words, ed. Harry Stone, 2 vols. ( Bloomington, Ind., 1968), 1:13- 14, 2:433-42; Farrison, William Wells Brown, 199-201.

SIR: 1

I have been informed by my kind friend, Mr. Estlin, 2 of Bristol, that you would insert any article that I might write in favour of my enslaved countrymen; therefore, I avail myself of the present opportunity to reply, so far as my limited education will allow me, to an article which I have just read in Mr. Dickens' Household Words, 3 of Sept. 18, 1852, and headed, "North American Slavery." I write this, because I believe that the article is fully capable of misleading and prejudicing the English mind against the coloured population of the United States. The first very incorrect statement which the writer makes, is the denial of the truthfulness of the work entitled Uncle Tom's Cabin. 4 He says, that the main features of slavery, "as they exist in North America, are painted in the freshest colours." He also says, that Uncle Tom's Cabin"is not free from the fault of over-strained conclusions and violent extremes;" and then, to smooth over these malignant slurs, he goes on to eulogise the authoress, 5 but in such a manner as ought to arouse her indignation rather than elicit her approbation.

I beg to inform the writer that I have read the book carefully, but have

-316-

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