The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

63.
Samuel Ringgold Ward to the Readers of the Provincial Freeman 27 April 1854

Samuel Ringgold Ward's 27 April 1854 letter to the Provincial Freeman was one of many he wrote about his efforts in England to raise money for the Anti-Slavery Society of Canada; the Freeman, in turn, reported to its readers on Ward's British activities. Ward's letter illustrates dimensions of the black abolitionist experience in Britain. Professional black lecturers carefully maintained antislavery contacts at home, often aiding a favored American organization or institution while abroad.

Ward particularly sought to support the black antislavery press. He had founded the Freeman before going to Britain and felt an obligation to help its publishing agent Mary Ann Shadd Cary make the paper a success. Ward and Cary also understood the American reform public's fascination with British society and culture. Ward's letters fed that fascination. Alexander L. Murray, "The Provincial Freeman: A New Source for the History of the Negro in Canada and the United States," JNH 44: 124-25 ( April 1959).

Stowmarket
Suffolk, [ England]
April 27, 1854

KIND READERS:

I am pleased and grateful that the Provincial Freeman1 is afloat. I am glad to have this medium through which to speak to you about many matters, which seem to me to be quite important.

You will, I hope, not be surprised if your enterprise do not meet with very cordial encouragement from some abolitionists. Abolitionists differ and vary in their knowledge and estimate of the negro. Some think we are not to be encouraged to be anything more than a sort of half way set of equals. Others desire and claim for us a full recognition of our equal and inalienable rights. The former class, like the Yankee Quakers, 2 desire that we should be free; but, as to our being regarded and treated as equals, that is another thing. This class are always desirous to keep us with the short frocks of childhood on. They assume the right to dictate to us about all matters; they dislike to see us assume or maintain manly and independent positions; they prefer that we should be a second-rate set of folks, in intellectual matters. A thousand times would they rather see us tied to some newspaper that represents us as being about mid way betwixt slaves and men, than to see us holding up a bold front, with a press worthy of entire freemen. Such will always doubt "whether you are

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