Henry Highland Garnet to Julia Garnet
13 September 1861
On 2 September 1861, Henry Highland Garnet left the United States for a second tour of Britain, this time to promote his African Civilization Society's plans to resettle American blacks in Yoruba. On this trip, unlike his earlier voyage, Garnet was well treated on the New York-to- Liverpool steamer and, before leaving America, was able to obtain a valid U.S. passport. On 26 August 1861, despite the 1857 Dred Scott pronouncement denying black citizenship, Secretary of State William H. Seward granted Garnet a passport. This made him, in the words of the National Anti-Slavery Standard, the "first black citizen of the dis United States." In his 13 September letter to his wife, Julia, Garnet described the voyage. That night, he departed for London to begin his British lecture tour. Miller, Search for Black Nationality, 192, 218-26, 259; Schor, Henry Highland Garnet, 164; NASS, 26 October 1861.
23 ISLINGTON TERRACE
September 13, 1861
My Dearest Wife: 1
We arrived in Liverpool yesterday evening, at 5 o'clock, after an extremely pleasant passage of twelve days.
We had on board four hundred passengers, 340 in the steerage, and 60 in the saloon. Twelve years ago my treatment on board of an English steamer from New York to this place was very different from that which I have just received. Then I was caged up in the steward's room of one of Cunard's vessels, and although a first class passenger, I was not allowed to go into the saloon, or to eat at the table with white humanity.
How changed now. On a steamship belonging to the same nation I took a first class passage, asked the steward to give me my berth, and assign me my seat at the table. My ticket was given me without a remark; an elegant state-room with six berths was placed at my disposal, and my seat at the table was between two young American gentlemen, educated at St. Mary's College in Maryland, and on their way to Rome to finish their studies for the Roman Priesthood. And I am happy to say that I did not receive a look, or hear a word during the whole voyage, that grated upon my very sensitive feelings.
As usual, I was sea-sick all the voyage, more or less. When I went on board I resolved not to be sick; but as soon as we cleared Sandy Hook old Neptune called for me, and lead me to the side of the ship, and told me to throw my resolutions overboard, which I did in double-quick time, and for a while I felt as if I did not care if he threw me over after them.