The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

92.
Remarks by J. Sella Martin Delivered at the Residence of Arthur Kinnaird, M.P. 2 Pall Mall East, London, England 22 November 1861

Black antislavery lecturers cultivated a variety of British audiences. Although generally concerned with the clergymen, skilled professionals, and mercantile middle class that dominated British abolitionism, blacks also tried to interest sympathetic aristocrats. J. Sella Martin spoke to the invited guests of Arthur Kinnaird, M.P., and his wife at their 2 Pall Mall East residence in London on the evening of 22 November 1861. The audience of sixty to seventy included members of the peerage, distinguished clergymen, high-ranking military officers, and their families. Kinnaird introduced Martin by reading a letter of introduction from the Reverend Edward N. Kirk of Boston, then briefly outlined the reasons for the lack of British support for the Union cause in the American Civil War. Martin's remarks on the same topic engendered a lively discussion. Dr. G. H. Davis, secretary of the Religious Tract Society, John Macgregor, Samuel Morley, R. N. Fowler, and several others participated. The Reverend Henry Allon dismissed the gathering with a prayer. PtL, 21 November 1862; DM, February 1862.

The Rev. J. SELLA MARTIN then came forward and delivered a lengthened and able address, touching more or less on each of the abovenamed topics. 1 Having opened with a grateful acknowledgment of English sympathy for the negro race, he expressed his belief that the apparent indifference to the cause of the North in this country, and, on the other hand, the irritability awakened in the North by the harsh criticisms of the English press, were the fruit of mutual misunderstandings. This was especially the case in regard to the opinion entertained in England as to the extent of anti-slavery feeling in the North--a feeling much deeper, and more widely spread than we supposed. He illustrated at some length the proposition, that the origin of the war was the desire of the South to have slavery supreme; pointing out, in much detail how, for years past, the Slave States, notwithstanding their inferiority in population, extent, and wealth, had exercised predominant power in the Legislative, Administrative, and Executive departments of the country. Thus, out of eighteen Presidents, twelve had been from the South, and six only from the North. 2 At length the Northern people found that slavery was asking too much. The passing of the Fugitive Slave Law, and the slave- holding assault on the Hon. Charles Sumner on the floor of the Senate Chamber, were among the things which roused the North to resistance. 3

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