A Storm of Controversy – Wm. King, 13 of 28

The people of Edinburgh are furious with members of the anti-slavery movement  holding slaves.
The people of Edinburgh are furious with members of the anti-slavery movement holding slaves.

In the winter of 1845 a delegation from the Abolition Society of USA came to Scotland to decry the fact that the Free Church of Scotland had not only received money from wealthy American slave owners, but  also had a slave owner in their midst studying to become a minister.

“The lectures were attended by crowded audiences. The large hall was filled to overflowing. Placards were put up everywhere in the city crying, ‘Send back the Money!’ Children on the streets, when they saw a Free Church minister, they would cry to him, ‘send back the money’”. (56) “In one of the public meetings the Delegation stated that one of the students attending the Free College was a slave owner. I was not named but the Students all knew that I came from a Slave State and that my wife was the Daughter of a planter, I was not able to explain my position. I was a Slave owner but there were legal difficulties in the way that I could not then set them free, but those difficulties were removed two years afterward when I gave them their freedom. I told Dr. Cunningham my position and said that I would go on the platform and explain my position but he advised me to say nothing about it. I was abused in good company. When a person is doing that which is right and gets abuse for it, he need be in no haste to vindicate his character. It will vindicate itself. When Frederick Douglass (former slave and orator of the highest caliber and leader in the Anti-Slavery movement) heard two years after that I had given my slaves their freedom and brought them to Canada and planted a colony of freedmen there called the Elgin Settlement he came from Rochester, NY, called a public meeting in the Settlement and apologized for the hard things he and others had said about me in Edinburgh.” (57)

I love the line that is in bold. Does this passage stir up any memories of similar circumstances?

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