The Black Abolitionist Papers - Vol. 1

By C. Peter Ripley | Go to book overview

102.
Sarah P. Remond to Editor, London Daily News 7 November 1865

Even though they supported the dismantling of American slavery, some in British society retained strong racial preconceptions about black abilities and questioned the former slave's "fitness" for freedom. Black abolitionists in Britain did not let these new expressions of racism go unchallenged. On 7 November 1865, Sarah P. Remond wrote a letter to the editor of the London Daily News refuting the London Times's characterization of the month-old black rebellion in Morant Bay, Jamaica. The Times declared that the uprising proved blacks unsuited for freedom and advised American legislators to observe Jamaica when considering the future status of former slaves. The Times joined other London papers such as the Standard, Morning Herald, and Daily Telegraph, which similarly portrayed the Jamaican situation. Remond's critique appeared in the Daily News because it alone emphasized the legitimacy of Jamaican black grievances. NAW, 3:137; Lorimer, Colour, Class and Victorians, 179, 182-83.

5 Trafalgar Square Brompton, S.W. [ London, England] [ November 7, 1865]

Sir:

Will you allow me to say a word in defence of the most hated race in the world, the negroes and their descendants? Notwithstanding the attempt on the part of our enemies, I think it will be difficult to prove that the negroes are more savage than other races. Unprejudiced observers from time to time have given facts which prove that the negroes, under similar circumstances, are as humane as the dominant races. Now, take for granted, if you please--I do not--that all the cruelties reported during the recent insurrection in Jamaica are true: 1 I take also for granted that the negroes are entirely the aggressors, and I appeal to every candid mind to answer this question, whether the aggressors would have been dealt with in so summary a manner if they had belonged to the dominant race, and their complexions had been white instead of black? It has been with feelings of intense gratitude that the colored race have turned with confidence to one fact, i.e., that since the decision of Lord Mansfield, in 1772, every human being, without any reference whatever to a difference of complexion, was an equal before the law. If they committed any crime, they expected to be legally tried and punished. But there is a change in the public opinion in Great Britain in reference to the colored race. There

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