Henry Highland Garnet and the Weims Family Purchase Charles B. Ray to Henry Highland Garnet 27 September 1852 Note by Henry Highland Garnet 16 October 1852
Henry Highland Garnet, like many of his colleagues, found that antislavery developments in America might redirect the aims of a British lecture tour. During his last few months in Britain, Garnet responded to an appeal from black associate Charles B. Ray, a cofounder and director of the New York State Vigilance Committee. On 27 September 1852, Ray wrote to Garnet seeking assistance for John Weims, a Washington, D.C., free black whose family was in slavery. The Weims family included John Weims's slave wife and seven slave children. An eighth child, daughter Stella Weims, had escaped and was living with the Garnets in Britain.
John Weims went to New York City in spring 1852 to raise the necessary funds to purchase his family out of slavery. He collected $600, but in the interval, the family was sold for $3,300 to a Washington slave trader, who resold two children and held the remainder in local "slave pens" for resale in the deep South. Weims urgently continued to raise funds in several northeastern cities and collected an additional $300 while Ray organized an American subscription drive to obtain the balance. After receiving Ray's appeal, Garnet immediately launched a British subscription drive. In early November, Garnet reported to the North British Daily Mail that his efforts in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Glasgow, and Edinburgh had raised half the required £600 in three weeks. But the effort was only partially successful. Later in 1852, John Weims purchased his wife and two younger sons, but his three older boys were sold to slave traders. By 1855 the two other daughters were also free. Schor, Henry Highland Garnet, 111; GO, 30 October, 18 December 1852; 1, 6,13, 20 November 1852; NC, 17 November 1852; ASRL, 1 May 1853; CN, 29 January 1853; "How Ann Maria Weims Came to Be Transformed into Boy Joe," Leeds Anti-Slavery Juvenile Series ( Leeds, England, 1856), 1-7.