The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

25.
Speech by J. W. C. Pennington Delivered at Merchants Hall, Glasgow, Scotland 12 June 1850

Throughout the spring and early summer of 1850, J. W. C. Pennington toured Scotland to raise funds to build a schoolhouse near his church and to solicit contributions for the New York State Vigilance Committee. He gave particular attention to Glasgow and Edinburgh, where leading Free Church clergymen helped him promote a series of successful antislavery gatherings. Pennington's presence in Glasgow provided him with an opportunity to help organize the Glasgow New Association for the Abolition of Slavery. He recruited its women's auxiliary, the Glasgow Female Association for the Abolition of Slavery, as a funding source for the New York State Vigilance Committee. Pennington addressed two of the association's formative meetings during June 1850, including the organization's first official meeting on 12 June at Merchants Hall. His actions mirrored the efforts of a few of his black colleagues, who helped create local British antislavery societies and made them sources of support for projects in North American black communities. CN, 13, 27 June 1850; BB, 27 March 1850; AB, 17 April 1850; ASRL, 1 August 1850.

It was with great pleasure, he said, that he rose to address them on the all-important and absorbing question of American slavery. Assuming it to be true that American slavery would not continue to exist much longer, then their attention was very naturally called to the means by which it was to be brought to a termination. It must be terminated in one or other of these three ways. First, by a due course of legislation, it was said--a legislation which must include the idea of compensation, 1 or must be unconditional. The world, he thought, ought at once to be disabused with reference to any expectation that the American slave- holder would receive any compensation for his slaves. There were obstacles in the way of such a compensation. The free states would object, and justly object to be called upon to pay the southerners, to give up their stolen property when they had given up theirs, without fee or reward. Again, the enormous amount demanded by the planters made it utterly impossible that the liberation of the slaves could be a matter of purchase. The year after the West Indian emancipation, the Hon. H. Clay2 entered into an estimate of the value of the slaves, which he fixed at 1,200,000,000 federal dollars; and during the past winter another member from the south had increased the estimate to 1,600,000,000 of dollars, equal to £230,000,000 sterling. Now, who was going to pay

-185-

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