“I Will Not Surrender” – Wm. King, 17 of 28

Rev. William King
Rev. William King

Rev. King left “his slaves” with his brother in Ohio and proceeded on to Canada West to purchase land on which he could settle them.  The Chatham area had the “soil, climate and nearness to market” he desired.(74)  Nine thousand acres were to be purchased “for settlement by people of color and to solicit for this purpose the aid of all who are desirous to promote the improvement of this long neglected and deeply injured race.” (75)

Word got around Chatham that the popular minister who had preached on two different Sundays had “chartered  a vessel and intended to bring in a shipload of coloured persons from the United States and settle them in Canada in the Township of Raleigh…My popularity fell rapidly; the next time I visited the Town I got the cold shoulder. Scarcely anyone would speak to me. One man came to me when riding down King Street on horseback and told me as a friend that my life was in danger, and that I should not expose myself after dark in the town.

A public meeting was scheduled and a memorial written “in not very respectful language to the Coloured people and signed by 400 citizens. A copy was sent to the Governor General and one to the Commissioner of Crown lands, and one to the Synod of the Presbyterian Church with a letter threatening my life if I should settle the coloured people in Raleigh. On my way to Toronto I met with the Sheriff in the stage who handed me the requisition calling the meeting, who also informed me of what the enemies of the coloured persons were doing.” (77)

King finished his business in Toronto and returned to Windsor by lake the night before the meeting. “To my dismay I found the boat (for Chatham) was disabled in her machinery and would not run for a couple of days. The meeting was to take place.” (77) He hired a horse and buggy and travelled all night and arrived at Chatham to find the Magistrate swearing in twelve special constables to keep the peace, as trouble was expected at the meeting.

The crowd that assembled was too large for the barn in which the meeting was to take place, so they moved to the front of the Exchange Hotel where the speakers could be heard from the balcony. “The crowd became noisy, and would not let me speak. Mr. Larwill (the loudest opponent) said I was a Yankee, and had no right to speak. I said I was a British subject, owned property in the Township, paid taxes and had a right to speak. I had come 200 miles to attend this meeting and they could not put me down. Besides, I am from LondonDerry and LondonDerry never did surrender.  Several influential persons at the meeting insisted that I should be heard.” (79)

And heard he was! By the end of the meeting the land was secured and Rev. King could begin surveying.

Tell of a time when you stood up for yourself or others.

1 thought on ““I Will Not Surrender” – Wm. King, 17 of 28

  1. I couldn’t think clearly when I posted this last night. Our absolutely exuberant puppy had been killed on the road. But I do have a thought this morning and it’s about a time when I didn’t stand up for someone.
    I was teaching science and someone in the class called a lovely girl by the name of Harriet Serwada “a nigger”. I stopped the offender, but was completely paralyzed in knowing what to do to make things right. My mind was a complete blank. I hate when the “right responses” completely vanish when you need them the most.

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