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Resource Date: 1840

Number: 8

Record Office: St John's College Library, Cambridge

Record Office Location Number: Folder 3 Doc 72


Draft of a speech given by Clarkson in Ipswich September 1840, prior to the development of a new anti-slavery society, to cooperate with the London Society to abolish slavery where ever it exists.

Notes: Speech outlining what it means to be a slave and the treatment of slaves. The document demonstrates Clarkson's passions and principles about slavery. It is a very accessible & personal speech, that could be used with students.

Draft of a speech given by Clarkson in Ipswich

My Friends! I was invited to take the Chair on this Occasion, though I am utterly unfit for it on account of old age and Infirmities, and I am sorry to say, that I cannot remain in it long for the same Reason: and yet I did not see how I could refuse the Invitation, when I considered, that the great Question of the Abolition of Slavery and the Slave Trade, to which Subjects your attention is called this night, originated wholly with myself. Yes, I have worked in this sacred Cause from the Beginning, now fifty six years; and though I have been broken down and disabled in the Pursuit of it, I am neither weary of it, nor dismayed; but I mean by the Blessing of God to continue my assistance to it, feeble as it must now be, as long as I am able. Perhaps many of you here are not acquainted with the Subject of Slavery. I will therefore explain to you what it is. First, let us imagine a child to have been born of Slave - Parents. poor unfortunate child! From that very Day his Birthday he is considered and classed as a Brute. From that very Day he becomes Property, the Property of a Master, who may sell him, and do with him what he pleases. Let us now look at him as a grown up Man at his Labour in the Field. He works there, but he is not paid for his Labour. He works there, but not freely and willingly, as our Labourers do, but he is followed by a Driver, whose whip leaves the marks of its severity on his Back during the Remainder of his Life, but if he is found to be what is brutally called sulky or obstinate, there is yet in Store for him - the Chain - the Iron Neck - Collar with its frightful spikes - the Dungeon - and other modes of punishment. But let us now look at him in another Situation. Weary of his Life he flies from Oppression and he runs away from the Estate; but he is almost sure of being brought back and returned to an enraged master; and have who can imagine, but they, who live in Slave Countries, what further Punishment awaits him. Perhaps he dies in consequence of the Cruelties then inflicted upon him; But the Murderer escapes. The Matter is hushed up. Who on the Estate dares to reveal it? But suppose the Fact, by some accident, to become known and a Jury to sit on the Body; still the murderer may esacpe for who are the Jury? They are all of them Slave - Owners; all interested in favouring one another in support of arbitrary Power. A Friend of mine was lately in one of the Carolinas, and near the spot, where a Jury had been assembled on account of the murder of a Slave. The poor man had been flogged to Death. In his agonies he called for a little Water, which was brought him. The Jury availed themselves of this circumstance, and though they saw before them his Body mangled and cut into pieces by the Whip, they returned a Verdict, that the administration of cold water in the then excited State of his Body occasioned his Death. But there are other Evils belonging to Slavery and to Slavery alone. Perhaps a Slave has a Wife and Family. So much the worse; for He may be sold at any moment to go to a Plantation perhaps a hundred Miles off, never to see them more. The Wife may be severed from her Husband and Children in like Manner, and the Children may be severed from their Parents, one after another, or all together, as it suits the Purchaser. This is not an ideal Case, but a case of every Days' Occurrence. These are some of the Evils which you are called upon this Night to try to put an End to. I do not doubt your Humanity. I do not doubt your Willingness to pity and befriend the oppressed at home, and can you overlook this monstrous oppression, these monstrous Outrages upon human Nature, which have been brought before you, because they take place in a foreign Land. Christianity, true Christianity, does not confine her Sympathy to Country or Colour, but feels for all who are persecuted wherever they may live. May I hope then that the Society, which is to be formed after this Meeting may meet with your Encouragement and Support.
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By Permission of the Master and Fellows of St John's College Cambridge
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