BBC History Magazine

“Welcome not those brazen human fleshmongers… Have no fellowship with these merciless menstealers”

Murmurs spread around London’s Finsbury Chapel, quickly followed by shouts and the thunderous stamping of feet. “It’s not true!” an audience member cried out, his voice ringing out loudly from the almost 3,000-strong crowd.

It was May 1846. Standing on the platform addressing the audience was radical activist and formerly enslaved African-American Frederick Douglass, who had provoked the audience member’s wrath with his attacks on slavery. Douglass had listed countless facts to prove his assertions. With blistering rhetoric, he argued that each American enslaver should be “surrounded by a wall of antislavery fire, so that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light”. He spoke passionately and forcefully because his cause was urgent: Douglass knew that as he spoke in London, black women, men and children – including his own family members – were at that very moment suffering and dying across the US.

Frederick Douglass was not the first nor the last black abolitionist to traverse the Atlantic during the 19th century in order to expose “the secrets of the prison-house of bondage”. Scores of these “advocates of freedom” travelled to England, Ireland, Scotland and even remote parts of rural Wales to educate the public on American slavery. At least

Vous lisez un aperçu, inscrivez-vous pour en lire plus.

Plus de BBC History Magazine

BBC History Magazine10 min de lectureEthnic Studies
“It Was Painful To Realise How My Education Had Colonised Me”
Ellie Cawthorne: Your new book explores how modern Britain is still shaped by its imperial history. Where can we still see the influence of empire today? Sathnam Sanghera: It’s absolutely everywhere. There are millions of expressions of it. You can f
BBC History Magazine4 min de lecture
Encounters
Insects outnumber humans by hundreds of million to one, yet many of us, wary of creatures that can seem so alien and are associated with disease, prefer not to think too much about them. It’s a shame, because – as a new weekday show presented by the
BBC History Magazine4 min de lecture
Letters
In January’s Letters, Marek Pruszewicz refers to Britain as having an “obsession” with the Second World War, and implies that the British have a deep national conviction that Britain has always been a “good” country. I think he is entirely wrong in t