The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

22.
Speech by William Wells Brown Delivered at the Lecture Hall, Croydon, England 5 September 1849

After returning to London from the Paris Peace Congress in early September 1849, Brown began his first British antislavery lecture tour at a 5 September meeting in the developing middle-class London suburb of Croydon, Surrey. The well-attended gathering was held at the Lecture Hall and drew a number of antislavery notables. George Thompson introduced Brown, assuring listeners that the black lecturer was a "bonafide" representative of the American slave. Then Brown rose, briefly applauded the antislavery influence of British popular opinion, and asked that it be used to censure American proslavery apologists in Europe. Lib, 28 September 1849; SF, 8 September 1849; NSt, 5 October 1859.

Mr. BROWN, in coming forward, was greeted with warm applause, which having subsided, he said, that, in coming before a British public as the advocate of the American slave, he had nothing to commend himself in the way of educational attainments, having been brought up under the institution of slavery, without schooling, or the opportunity of obtaining that which every good citizen should possess, and be desirous of attaining--education. When speaking in America of the friends of the slave in England, every heart that was capable of beating for freedom leapt for joy. There was in the United States a higher appreciation of the advocacy of the friends of freedom in this country than they themselves probably supposed. The people of Great Britain had already done a great deal for the cause of emancipation in America. Let even a small meeting of the friends of the slave be held in England and it was immediately published in America, and men who cared nothing about the cause of abolition there, would talk about such a meeting as a matter of consequence. But the people of this country had not only already accomplished much for the American slave, but they had it in their power to effect a great deal more. (Hear.) Let an American slaveholder be warmly received in any part of Europe, and the whole body immediately rejoice that one of their number had met with such an honourable reception; but let him be received here as every man should be who robbed a large portion of his countrymen of their liberties, and the Americans immediately take that reception to heart, and it exercises great influence upon them. No meeting could be held in this country, no matter for what purpose, but especially of a moral and religious character, to which the slaveholders of America were not anxious to send representatives. (Hear.) If a World's

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