The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

54.
Speech by Alexander Crummell Delivered at the Lower Hall, Exeter Hall, London, England 26 May 1853

On 26 May 1853, only one month before sailing to Liberia, Alexander Crummell organized a final meeting to raise the balance of the approximately £4,000 required to build a church for his former New York congregation. The gathering was held in the Lower Hall, Exeter Hall, London. It was hosted by Rev. Edward Auriol, rector of the Church of St. Dunstan's-in-the-West ( London) and a leader of the British Committee of Management, formed to oversee Crummell's fund-raising efforts. Crummell used an appeal traditional among black abolitionists soliciting support for free black American institutions; he reminded his British listeners of the integral relationship between southern slavery and northern racial prejudice. Alexander Crummell, "Condition of the Black and Coloured Population of the United States," NN-Sc; PtL, 19 May 1853.

It was the request of several individuals that he should state the reasons for his coming to England to obtain funds for his church, and at the same time give an account of the civil and spiritual condition of the negro race in the United States. There were in the American Union 3,400,000 persons of his race. Of these, 3,000,000 were slaves, who were bought and sold like cattle. They were poorly fed and clothed. They were whipped and scourged. Families were separated. They were overworked. Their mental improvement was forbidden by laws of a most stringent character. In all the slave States severe laws were passed against instructing them, and in the state of Louisiana it was made a capital offence. Their spiritual welfare was uncared for; in many parts of the slave States, there were hundreds and thousands of slaves, who, according to the representations of southern ministers, were literally and absolutely heathen, and who had never heard of the plan of salvation through a Redeemer. Besides the 3,000,000 in slavery, there were 400,000 black and coloured people in a state of freedom. In the southern States their condition was but little removed from that of the enslaved. About 200,000 of the free people of colour lived in the slave States; and the laws prohibiting their instruction were just the same as those which prevented the instruction of their brethren in bonds. It might be supposed that in the United States a free man would be a free man. But unfortunately it was not so if he happened to have a black face. In Brazil, in the Levant, in the French West India Islands, &c., when a negro became relieved from the yoke of slavery, he rose immediately to the condi

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