The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

51.
Speech by Samuel Ringgold Ward Delivered at the Poultry Chapel, London, England 9 May 1853

Black Canadian antislavery agent and newspaper editor Samuel Ringgold Ward went to Britain in the spring of 1853 to raise funds for the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada. On 9 May 1853, just eight days after arriving in England, Ward was enthusiastically received by the wellattended annual meeting of the Colonial Missionary Society, an organization that supported Congregational churches in the British North American provinces and Australia. The meeting, held at the Poultry Chapel in London, was chaired by Thomas Challis, the lord mayor of London. The reading of the annual report reviewed information about the number of churches and church members in Canada West, the society's contributions to those congregations, and missionary efforts among Indians and Canadian fugitives. Ward's speech reacted to the report and questioned its statistical accuracy, while informing the audience in more general terms about black life in Canada. His remarks were preceded by speeches from the Reverends Henry Allon, John Angell James, and George Smith, among others. Rev. J. C. Gallaway, who had toured the Canadas for the society during the previous year, also spoke. NC, 18 May 1853.

My feelings on this occasion are very peculiar, because this is the first time, upon such an occasion, that I have had the privilege of addressing an audience on this side of the Atlantic; and it certainly comes to me like a cooling, soothing balm, to have the Lord Mayor of London1 take me by the hand, introduced to him by such a man as Thomas James2--to be shaken hands with by the world-renowned Angell James3--and that brave George Smith, 4 who dares to do justice to Oliver Cromwell5 (applause)--to receive attestations of kind and tender feelings, creating sentiments in my mind, which I can better feel than express. I thank you for all this, and I thank you for the many regards you have shown towards the province in which I reside. 6 It is true that, fifteen years ago--and here I think the Report a little mistaken--it was fifteen years ago, that there were but nine churches in Upper Canada. It may be thought astonishing that the increase has been so great in so short a time. I will tell you the secret of that. The men you have sent there, and are in part or wholly sustaining, are men devoted to their work, and the God of the gospel grants such blessing to such devotion as he always grants in like circumstances. (Hear, hear.) They are men labouring on very small salaries. Eighty pounds a-year of your money is a large sum for us in Canada, and

-335-

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