The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

34.
William P. Powell to Sydney Howard Gay 23 March 1851

William P. Powell and his antislavery colleagues recognized that newspapers were a chief weapon in the struggle for Anglo-American public opinion. Powell vigilantly watched newspapers and journals for proslavery or racist articles. Only a few months before traveling to Britain, Powell had engaged in a newspaper confrontation with Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune, who criticized Powell for having "the impudence to walk arm and arm through Cherry Street with a white man." On 23 March 1851, Powell wrote a satirical letter from Liverpool to Sydney Howard Gay of the National Anti-Slavery Standard; Powell rebuked the New York Sunday Times and Noah's Weekly Messenger for attacking him and for proposing that the condition of slaves compared favorably with the life of English factory workers. NASS, 22 August 1850; Foner, "William P. Powell,"97-98.

LIVERPOOL, [ England]
March 23d, 1851

FRIEND GAY:

In The Sunday Dispatch of--date is an article headed "An Abolition delegate on his Travels," and animadverting upon a letter of mine published in your paper. 1 Now, in answer to this, I deny being "An Abolition Delegate," or agent for any Institution of whatever name. I was in hopes when I embarked from New York for England that I should, at least, be permitted to travel through that country unmolested, unassailed by any of the public journals; but, as the saying is, that the man the dogs won't bark at when walking the streets is not worth noticing, I certainly feel greatly obliged to that paper for being the first to growl. It is very fortunate that the DOG LAW is not now in force, or else this snarling, rabid cur, who is only hired to bite once a week (and that at small pay) would either have to be muzzled, or dealt with according to law, in such cases made and provided.

But seriously speaking, it is high time for colored men to speak out, and not to be intimidated either by a licentious venal press, a Jesuitical, wine-bibbing priesthood, and the Northern cringing lickspittles, who all apologise, sanctify, make holy and constitutional when heated with wine and strong drink (witness the great Union celebration of Washington's birth day, February 22d) 2 the accursed Institution of human Slavery, "the chief corner-stone of American Republicanism." There is one thing remarkable in all that is said by apologists in extenuation for the necessary existence of this divine Institution, that the more they stir up the disgust-

-252-

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