The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

99.
J. Sella Martin to Michael E. Strieby 21 June 1865

Despite proper references, previous lecturing experience, and well- placed contacts, J. Sella Martin's inability to raise funds and schedule meetings in England during the early summer of 1865 demonstrated the unpredictability of the British lecture circuit. Following his 2 June 1865 exchange with Henry M. Storrs, Charles Leigh, and Frederick Tomkins, Martin agreed to operate under the auspices of the London-based Freedmen's Aid Society. But this brought only limited success in scheduling meetings until the 13 June annual gathering of the Birmingham and Midland Freedmen's-Aid Association at Birmingham's Town Hall. Martin appeared on the platform with Storrs and Leigh "to give color to the American delegation," was enthusiastically cheered, and collected £250. Even so, the failure of a mid-June Manchester meeting and the postponement of a scheduled Glasgow lecture tempered his optimism and hampered his mission. Martin's 21 June letter to American Missionary Association Secretary Michael E. Strieby reported the vagaries encountered in organizing a tour. When later inquiries to local societies proved fruitless, Martin also unprofitably contacted Aspinall Hampson, secretary of the National Committee of British Freed-Men's Aid Societies, for assistance in arranging a series of lectures. Annual Report of the Birmingham and Midland Freedmen's-Aid Association to May 19, 1865 ( Birmingham, England, 1865), 4, 12; J. Sella Martin to [Secretary, American Missionary Association], 4 July 1865, AMA-ARC; Henry J. Wilson to Jo. Stokes, 23 June 1865, Sheffield Ladies Anti-Slavery Society Letters, UkMJr; J. Sella Martin to [ Aspinall Hampson], 12 July 1865, British Empire MSS, UkOxU-Rh [15:1021].

14 Oxford St[reet]
London WC. [ England]
June 21, 1865

My dear Sir

In my letter of 19th inst. I find that I was not as explicit as I intended to be about some matters connected with my mission. And in the first place I find I did not [set in] a sufficiently clear light either the difficulties of an initiatory nature in, in getting the American Missionary Society before either the public or [the] various freedmen's aid Societies; or the ultimate [ad]vantages to be derived from taking time to make the claims of our Society appreciated and to [get] a response for them.

Confident that neither Levi Coffin1 or Dr. Haynes2 had reached the religious element, I felt certain that it could be reached and would yield

-556-

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