William G. Allen to Charles Sumner 24 January 1854
William G. Allen never received the same popular attention in Britain as did many of his black abolitionist contemporaries. In spite of his intelli gence, wit, and urbanity, Allen was unable to support himself and his family by antislavery lecturing. Boston abolitionist Eliza Lee Follen, who was visiting Britain in midsummer 1853, realized Allen's economic circumstances and introduced him to some of her wealthy acquaint ances. Early in 1854, Allen was employed by Lady Byron as a lecturer for the penal reform movement. Allen did not plan to abandon antislav ery lecturing but felt duty bound "to adopt some reliable vocation," and he felt that his work for penal reform schools elevated him "into a position at once respectable, and influential." Allen sought information on American reform schools for his lectures in his 24 January 1854 letter to Charles Sumner. Blackett, "William G. Allen,"47; William G. Allen to Gerrit Smith, 24 January 1854, Gerrit Smith Papers, NSYU; William G. Allen to My Dear Sir, 11 July 1854, British Empire MSS, UkOxU-Rh.
14 Union Road
Jan[uar]y 24, 1854
My Dear Sir 1
Although I have never enjoyed the pleasure of a personal interview with you, yet I venture to address you these lines, well knowing the deep interest you feel in whatever pertains to the Great Cause of Human Progress. Permit me also to say, that altho. in England, I am a native of America; and, at this time, am indeed an American in exile. My esteemed friend Hon. Gerrit Smith will detail to you the circumstances, which occasioned this "exile," should you feel any interest in knowing them, if, indeed, you have not already learned them from the newspapers in America.
For several years I was connected with New York Central College McGrawville Cortland Ct. as professor of the Greek Language and of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres. This College is thoroughly reformatory in its character--receiving upon terms of perfect equality both sexes and all colors. When I inform you that I am a colored man, you will be quite inclined to credit me when I assure you that my connexion with this College was to me a source of the highest gratification as it afforded me a most desirable opportunity of aiding with such means as were in my