Notes: An important abolitionist pamphlet that paved the way for Frederick Douglass's "send the money back" speeches in the British Isles the following year.
A brief bit of history, for context: In 1843, the Free Church of Scotland split from the official Church of Scotland. The parishes that left the main church needed funds for buildings and clergy, and American presbyterians in the South became generous donors to the new denomination. Protestant abolitionists in the US launched an ultimately unsuccessful campaign to have the Free Church return the funds sent by enslavers (the manstealers of the title).
Henry Clark Wright, a radical white abolitionist, was one of the first American critics of the Free Church's acceptance of funds mostly contributed by slave owners. When the escaped slave Frederick Douglass arrived in Scotland in 1846, as part of a 19-month series of abolitionist lectures in the British Isles, he centered his speeches on the Free Church's acceptance of Southern slaveholder's funds. Douglass's "Send the Money Back" refrain became the rallying cry of British abolitionists in the mid-1840s.
In this early pamphlet on the subject, Wright appeals to the moral compass of the Free Church leaders, arguing that their stated opposition to the institution of slavery needs to extend to the church-going slaveholders themselves. "I shall regard every act attributed to Slavery as done by Slaveholders," Wright writes. "I shall regard Slavery as an act—not an institution—for which every man that commits it is responsible... If theft and robbery and the abolition of marriage are essential elements of Slavery, then every Slaveholder is a thief and robber—responsible for all the polutions and horrors that result from concubinage in the Slave States."
He also attacks the sexual violence inherent in slavery and condemns Southern church leaders for their participation: "The fathers of Slaves are never asked after in civil or ecclesiastical courts. If they were, it would, at once, reveal the unutterable horrors of the American Sodom. [Very] few Slaveholders, be they Preachers, Doctors of Divinity, Statesmen, Governors, and Presidents, that are born and educated at the South, would escape the charge of enslaving and selling their own offspring."
"Manstealers" is an important contribution to British abolitionism and the first salvo in a campaign against the Christian legitimizaiton of slavery that Frederick Douglass waged across Great Britain in 1846.
A single sheet folded to make 16 pages.
Edition + Condition: Some spotting to the first page and a few splits at the folds, else a very good example in original, never-bound condition.
Publication: Glasgow: Printed by David Russell... for the Glasgow Emancipation Society, 1845.
Item No: #360748