The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

43.
J. C. A. Smith to Gerrit Smith 6 August 1851

Occasionally, as in the case of fugitive slave Henry Box Brown and free black J. C. A. Smith, conflict developed between black abolitionist colleagues on the British lecture circuit. Brown and Smith began traveling together in New England during early 1850 with an antislavery panorama. When slave catchers attempted to kidnap Brown in Providence in August 1850, he and Smith left for Britain, arriving in Liverpool in late October. Brown and Smith dramatically publicized their panorama by reenacting Brown's escape from slavery--he was shipped from Bradford to Leeds, then removed from the box before spectators. During the winter and spring of 1851, Brown and Smith successfully toured the north of England, including stays at Bolton, Blackburn, Darwen, Preston, the Staffordshire potteries, and West Riding.

Although the reasons remain unclear, discord arose between the two, and, on 25 July, they gave legal notice that they had dissolved their partnership, with Brown keeping the panorama. Smith's 6 August letter to his longtime friend Gerrit Smith detailed his understanding of the reasons for the separation. Smith wrote a similar letter to William Lloyd Garrison the same day. He soon obtained his own panorama, and both he and Brown toured England separately. NASS, 7 February 1850; NBDES, 26 July 1850; IC, 7 September 1850; LDN, 6 November 1850; Peo, May 1851; NCA, 25 June 1851; MG, 9 August 1851; J. C. A. Smith to William Lloyd Garrison, 6 August 1851, Antislavery Collection, MB; John Kitton to Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, 7 April 1854, British Empire MSS, UkOxU-Rh.

Manchester, [ England]

August 6, 1851

My Dear Friend-- G. Smith1

I 2 now set down to write you a few lines hoping they may find you and family injoying the good blessings of health. I have been trying to make an opportunity of writing to you before this time but in consequence of many difficultys I have been prevented from doing justice to my own mind--but I now write and am sorry to say that I have nothing good to write about. Perhaps you may wonder at this Strange Story--yet it is too true to denigh--and further more it is what you never could have expected. I wrote to you for a letter when we was about to leave New York which was received--and I must also thank you for your kindness--but I did not [had] the least thought that I should ever have to witness the mean acts of the man that I wrote to you about at the same time. I mean

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