The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

61.
Samuel Ringgold Ward to Louis Alexis Chamerovzow 1 April 1854

Ex-slave abolitionists had enormous influence in the British Isles because audiences regarded them as trustworthy sources of information about slavery. When the integrity of one former-slave lecturer in Britain was questioned, it had potentially disastrous implications for all others on the lecture circuit. Samuel Ringgold Ward was about thirty-five miles northeast of London at the time J. C. A. Smith's 13 March 1854 letter appeared in the 1 April Anti-Slavery Reporter. Ward contacted Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, editor of the Reporter, attesting to Smith's character ( Smith had apparently been the subject of a private discussion between Chamerovzow and Ward eight days earlier). Ward's status and reputation in the Anglo-American antislavery movement gave special significance to his endorsement of Smith's credibility. When Ward's letter was published in the Reporter, it was introduced by an editor's commentary designed to set Smith's reputation "right with the public." ASRL, 1 May 1854.

Braintree
Essex, [ England]
April 1, [1854]

Mr. Chamerovzow My dear Sir:

I see, in the last Reporter, a letter from Mr. Smith, expressing fear that he should be injured by your caution against impostors.

I am happy to say that if Mr. Smith is an impostor, he must have become such since he came to England. For the occasion he refers to I well remember, and the facts concerning the Syracuse meeting are just as he states them. At that meeting, I gave him the soubriquet of "Boxer" Smith, because he is the man who nailed the box in which Henry Box Brown escaped from Virginia.

I presume this is the same person concerning whom you spoke to me on the 24th ult. I believe him to be a true man. Your obedient servant,

S. R. WARD

Anti-Slavery Reporter ( London), I May 1854.

-387-

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