The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

98.
J. Sella Martin to Michael E. Strieby 4 June 1865

After emancipation, some Anglo-American reformers began collecting funds and supplies for recently freed blacks in the American South. By May 1865 the British freedmen's aid effort had gained considerable momentum with the formation of more than thirty local societies. British enthusiasm attracted American organizations with similar aims. But the behavior of some American freedmen's aid agents in Britain imperiled their opportunity to work with the fast-developing British campaign. A few British movement leaders were concerned about overt American solicitations and were fearful that money might be misused. These circumstances confronted J. Sella Martin in early May when he arrived in Britain as the freedmen's aid agent for the American Missionary Association. At the end of May, he wrote AMA headquarters about the situation. Martin complained that collections were hampered by the competition between himself and Dr. Dudley C. Haynes of the AMA, Levi Coffin and Dr. Henry M. Storrs of the Western Freedmen's Aid Commission, Charles C. Leigh of the National Freedmen's Relief Association of New York, and Rev. Crammond Kennedy of the American Freedmen's Union Commission. Dr. Haynes's fund-raising methods as an AMA representative had created a particularly hostile climate for Martin. Martin's 4 June 1865 letter to AMA Secretary Michael E. Strieby further described his difficulties. J. Sella Martin to [ Secretary, American Missionary Association], 31 May 1865, AMA-ARC; Bolt, Anti-Slavery Movement and Reconstruction, 107, 136.

[18 Alfred] Place
London, W. C. [ England]
June 4, 1865

My dear Sir 1

Yesterday I met Messrs. Storr2 and Leigh3 at the Freedmen's Aid Rooms; 4 and evidently I had been the subject of conversation, for as soon as I entered Dr. Storr, scarcely waiting for an introduction, said he had desired to see me that he might have a little plain talk with me; and he proceeded to say among other things "That the American Missionary Association was not acting fairly.""We are here" he continued, pointing to Mr. Leigh "under the reproach of our American friends for soliciting funds from England. And you are here doing the same thing without suffering the reproach."

I replied that neither I nor my Society 5 held ourselves responsible for the reproach that others might suffer under unless it could be shone that

-549-

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