The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview
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60.
J. C. A. Smith to Editor, Anti-Slavery Reporter 13 March 1854

British antislavery leaders were eager to assist blacks with a worthy cause but felt obligated to protect the integrity of the antislavery move­ ment and its British supporters from the occasional black imposter who fraudulently raised money. By the mid-1840s, black American speakers were subjected to an informal but rigorous credentials check. The unof­ ficial head of the certification system was Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and editor of the society-sponsored Anti-Slavery Reporter. Chamerovzow used the pages of the Reporter to warn local reform leaders about imposters. His 1 March 1854 article, entitled "Colored Lecturers--Caution," vaguely warned of "certain coloured men" who were not genuine fugitive slaves but who were "going through the country with and without a [pan­ orama] . . . delivering lectures on American slavery." Chamerovzow made no specific charges, but black abolitionist J. C. A. Smith, then touring England with a panorama, responded to Chamerovzow's article on 13 March. Smith's letter of reprimand appeared in the next issue of the Anti-Slavery Reporter. ASRL, 1 March, 1 April 1854.

Ashton under Line Lancashire [ England] March 13th, 1854

Dear Sir 1

Having seen a letter of yours in the, A. S. Reporter of March 1st 1854.

Condeming the conduct of coloured Lectures, with and without Pan­ oramas &c. &c. Cautioning the Public against them, and you withhold the names of the parties alluded. Sir I am a coloured man, and have a Panorama, and some times lecture on the horrors of Slavery, as the en­ closed programme will give a few of the particulars. And I feel your letter is calculated to do me much injury, in as much as where ever your letter has been read I shall at once be suspected as one of the culprits alluded to in your able columns. I think it is due to me that you should in your reporter state that I am not one of the suspected persons. I am sure you do not wish to injure those who are honestly trying with yourself to overthrow the cruel system of Slavery and give freedom to the downtrod­ den millions of our race.

I here respectfully solicit a notice in your Reporter for next month. Furthermore, I may state that I am not an escaped Slave. But for the peculiar crime of aiding and assisting Slaves to escape from their terrible bondage I was obliged, subsequently to leave the States. As my trial was

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