Lift Every Voice: African American Oratory, 1787-1900

By Philip S. Foner; Robert James Branham | Go to book overview

my brethren, have you made a powerful effort? Have you prayed the legislature for mercy's sake to grant you all the rights and privileges of free citizens, that your daughters may rise to that degree of respectability which true merit deserves, and your sons above the servile situations which most of them fill?■


21 LET US ALONE

Nathaniel Paul

Born in New Hampshire, Paul (c. 1793-1839) assumed the pastorate of Albany's First African Baptist Church in 1820. He campaigned both against slavery and against racial discrimination while arguing that blacks could diminish white prejudice through temperance, educational achievement, and diligent labor.

But in 1830, frustrated with black progress and prospects in the United States, Paul emigrated to the Wilberforce Colony in Upper Canada. Two years later, he was sent to England to raise funds. In 1833- 1834, Paul and William Lloyd Garrison toured Britain to campaign against the efforts and claims of the American Colonization Society, whose representative, Elliot Cresson, was then engaged in a British fund- raising tour.

On July 13, 1833, Paul appeared with Garrison at an anticolonization meeting in London's Exeter Hall, where he delivered the following address. Through the persuasive efforts of Paul and other visiting black American lecturers who soon followed him, writes Peter Ripley, "British antislavery leaders came to recognize that a black abolitionist presence was essential to the development of British abolitionism" ( Witness for Freedom, 44).

The text of Paul's speech was published in Speeches Delivered at the Anti-Colonization Meeting in Exeter Hall, London ( Boston: Isaac Knapp, 1833), 12-15, and was reprinted in Dorothy Porter, Early Negro Writing, 1760-1837 ( Boston: Beacon Press, 1971), 286-91. See also C. Peter Ripley, Witness for Freedom: African American Voices on Race, Slavery, and Emancipation ( Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1993).

In rising to address an audience of this description, I shall not offer an apology, because I consider it to be unnecessary. Nature has furnished me

-130-

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