The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

16.
M. M. Clark to Editor, London Patriot 9 October 1846

M. M. Clark traveled to Britain in late August 1846 as the African Methodist Episcopal church representative to the international meeting of the Evangelical Alliance in London. The alliance was an interdenominational attempt by missionary-minded European and American Protestant churches to coordinate their efforts through an umbrella organization. A controversy, which eventually destroyed alliance efforts, developed when American delegates refused to debate the question of slavery and refused to exclude churches with slaveholding members. The meeting was further disrupted when William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass criticized the alliance and censured Clark for his participation. Like black Presbyterian clergyman Stephen H. Gloucester one year later, Clark found that black antislavery moderates fared poorly in the intense abolitionist atmosphere of the British Isles. At a 25 September Norwich gathering of British alliance delegates, Clark outlined his antislavery views. The day after his presentation, William Brock, a noted British abolitionist and a participant at the Norwich meeting, wrote the London Patriot accusing Clark of "making a formal defence of American slavery." Clark responded to Brock, Garrison, Douglass, and his British critics in a 9 October letter to the Patriot. Lib, 11 December 1846; ASRL, 1 October 1846; M. M. Clark, Tract on American Slavery ( Bradford, England, 1847), 4-8; NASS, 26 November 1846.

Brighton, [ England]
October 9, 1846

Sir: 1

I regard the circumstance of my visit to England as an important era in the history of my life, respecting particularly the subject of American Slavery. I have not been accustomed in America to view the subject in exactly the same moral light in which I see it is viewed in this country. 2 This is accounted for by the different medium through which it is viewed in the immediate vicinity of Slavery, and that of perfect freedom from such darkening influence. I confess I have been benefited in my views of Slavery and slaveholding since I came to this country; and I regard the discussion which has arisen as providential, tending much to inform the public mind upon the subject, as well as to give me clearer views of what is Christian duty regarding Slavery. It is true that there is no law of the United States against the emancipation of the slaves; but there is that which amounts almost to a practical prohibition of immediate emanci-

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