The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

42.
An Appeal to the People of Great Britain and the World Presented by Alexander Duval at the Hall of Commerce, London, England 1 August 1851

When William Wells Brown concluded his remarks at the 1 August 1851 meeting, British abolitionist George Thompson delivered a lengthy address, which summarized his American tour, noted the effects of the Fugitive Slave Law, and encouraged aid to fugitives in London. Thompson's speech generated comments from the audience. Then Alexander Duval rose and read the "Appeal to the People of Great Britain and the World," which had been written earlier by a "Committee of Fugitives" living in London (probably including Duval, Brown, Francis S. Anderson, Benjamin Benson, and others). It was consciously and ironically written in the language of the Declaration of Independence. When Duval finished reading the "Appeal," it was seconded in a lengthy speech by Benson, then adopted unanimously. After brief concluding remarks by Thompson and Robert Smith, the audience cheered as Thompson led the procession of fugitives off the platform. Lib, 5 September 1851.

We consider it just, both to the people of the United States and to ourselves, in making an appeal to the inhabitants of other countries against the laws which have exiled us from our native land, to state the ground upon which we make our appeal, and the causes which impel us to do so. There are in the United States of America, at the present time, between three and four millions of persons who are held in a state of slavery which has no parallel in any other part of the world, and whose members have, within the past fifty years, increased to a fearful extent. These people are not only deprived of the rights to which the laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, but every avenue to knowledge is closed against them, and the blessed teachings of the Savior denied them. The laws do not recognize the family relation of a slave, and extend to him no protection in the enjoyment of domestic endearments. Brothers and sisters, parents and children, husbands and wives, are torn asunder, and permitted to see each other no more. The shrieks and agonies of the slave are heard in the markets at the seat of government, and within hearing of the American Congress, as well as on the cotton, sugar and rice plantations of the far South.

The history of the negroes in America is but a history of repeated injuries and acts of oppression committed upon them by the whites. It was amongst this oppressed class that we were born and brought up, and it was from under the laws which keep them in chains that we have

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