The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

2.
Speech by Nathaniel Paul Delivered at Exeter Hall, London, England 13 July 1833

Nathaniel Paul and William Lloyd Garrison appeared together at numerous meetings during the spring and summer of 1833 as they continued their combined efforts against the colonizationist appeal of Elliott Cresson. These efforts culminated at a public meeting held in London's Exeter Hall on Saturday, 13 July, which was attended by two thousand people. The gathering, chaired by noted British abolitionist James Cropper and called "to expose the real character and objects of the American Colonization Society and to promote the cause of universal emancipation," featured speeches by Paul, Garrison, George Thompson, Daniel O'Connell, and others. Paul proposed to the gathering that his color gave him special authority to speak for American blacks against slavery, prejudice, and colonization. He and other blacks that followed him to Britain effectively made this point, and the response that they elicited from reform audiences testified to the accuracy of their argument. Because of their effectiveness at meetings throughout the British Isles, British antislavery leaders came to recognize that a black abolitionist presence was essential to the development of British abolitionism. PtL, 17 July 1833; MC, 15 July 1833.

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 with an apology in the complexion that I wear, and that shall speak in my behalf. (Cheers.)

Allow me to say that Mr. Garrison has, for many years past, devoted himself exclusively to the interests of the slaves and the free people of color in the United States of America. He requires, however, no commendation from me, or from any other gentleman whatever; "the tree is known by its fruits," and "out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaketh." But if there be any necessity for calling evidence in favor of that gentleman, there is an abundance, demonstrating that he has acted a most disinterested part on behalf of those whose cause he has espoused. It has been his lot to make large sacrifices, in order that he might be enabled to pursue the object of his heart's desire. He might have swum upon the tide of popular applause, and have had the great and the noble of our country on his side, who would now have been applauding him, instead of persecuting him as the disturber of the peace and tranquillity of the nation, if he had not lifted up his voice on behalf of the suffering slaves. (Hear, hear.) To my certain knowledge, when he commenced his

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