J. C. A. Smith to Editor, Anti-Slavery Reporter 13 March 1854
British antislavery leaders were eager to assist blacks with a worthy cause but felt obligated to protect the integrity of the antislavery move ment and its British supporters from the occasional black imposter who fraudulently raised money. By the mid-1840s, black American speakers were subjected to an informal but rigorous credentials check. The unof ficial head of the certification system was Louis Alexis Chamerovzow, secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society and editor of the society-sponsored Anti-Slavery Reporter. Chamerovzow used the pages of the Reporter to warn local reform leaders about imposters. His 1 March 1854 article, entitled "Colored Lecturers--Caution," vaguely warned of "certain coloured men" who were not genuine fugitive slaves but who were "going through the country with and without a [pan orama] . . . delivering lectures on American slavery." Chamerovzow made no specific charges, but black abolitionist J. C. A. Smith, then touring England with a panorama, responded to Chamerovzow's article on 13 March. Smith's letter of reprimand appeared in the next issue of the Anti-Slavery Reporter. ASRL, 1 March, 1 April 1854.
Ashton under Line Lancashire [ England] March 13th, 1854
Dear Sir 1
Having seen a letter of yours in the, A. S. Reporter of March 1st 1854.
Condeming the conduct of coloured Lectures, with and without Pan oramas &c. &c. Cautioning the Public against them, and you withhold the names of the parties alluded. Sir I am a coloured man, and have a Panorama, and some times lecture on the horrors of Slavery, as the en closed programme will give a few of the particulars. And I feel your letter is calculated to do me much injury, in as much as where ever your letter has been read I shall at once be suspected as one of the culprits alluded to in your able columns. I think it is due to me that you should in your reporter state that I am not one of the suspected persons. I am sure you do not wish to injure those who are honestly trying with yourself to overthrow the cruel system of Slavery and give freedom to the downtrod den millions of our race.
I here respectfully solicit a notice in your Reporter for next month. Furthermore, I may state that I am not an escaped Slave. But for the peculiar crime of aiding and assisting Slaves to escape from their terrible bondage I was obliged, subsequently to leave the States. As my trial was