At a major public meeting at Glasgow’s City Hall on Tuesday 21 April, Frederick Douglass and James Buffum were joined by the English abolitionist George Thompson, who had long enjoyed a close relationship with the Glasgow Emancipation Society who organised the meeting. They were also rejoined by Henry Clarke Wright, who had parted company with Douglass and Buffum in February to undertake his own six-week speaking tour of the Scottish Borders.
The focus of the meeting was the Free Church of Scotland, facing its most impressive onslaught yet from the abolitionists, for its refusal to break fellowship with its counterparts in the United States. This marked the intensification of their campaign, which would move to Edinburgh the following week, in anticipation of the annual General Assembly of the Free Church which would open at the end of May.
This is one of the few occasions where the abolitionists faced dissenting voices at their meetings. While, as Buffum noted in his speech, earlier invitations to Free Church supporters to debate with them in public – in Montrose, Dundee and Duntocher – had been declined, here in Glasgow, they got an opportunity to respond to their critics in person.
THE SLAVEHOLDERS’ MONEY AND THE FREE CHURCH
A public meeting of the members and friends of the Glasgow Emancipation Society was held in the City Hall, on Tuesday evening, the 21st April, for the purpose of massing a memorial to the General Assembly of the Free Church, imploring them to renounce Christian fellowship with American slaveholders, and to SEND BACK THE MONEY. The meeting was a very large and influential one; the platform was crowded by the Committee, and other friends of emancipation; and, on the motion of George Watson, Esq. Councillor turner was called to the chair.
The Chairman, after expressing the high gratification which he felt at seeing so large an assemblage met for so important a purpose, and the pleasure which it afforded him to be called upon to preside on such an interesting occasion, then introduced
Mr Henry C. Wright of America, who was received with applause, and proceeded to say – Mr. Chairman, I am happy once more to be permitted to address an assembly, over whose deliberations you are called to preside. Trained in the school of popular, peaceful agitation, you have long stood firm to the great principles of human freedom; when many have become faint of heart and pliant in disposition, even to the sacrifice of truth, you have for near half a century been the unfaltering advocate of the ppoor man’s rights and the friend of the oppressed, wherever the tyrant’s frown and the slaveholder’s lash and chain have been seen and felt. (Applause.)
Sir, there is no need to remind this great gathering of men and women of the object of this meeting. The papers, the pulpits, and the walls of Glasgow, the three past days, have proclaimed this to city and country. ‘The Free Church of Scotland’ – ‘American Slaveholders’ – ‘Send back the Money.’ ‘Annul that Covenant with death, and that agreement with hell’ – are the rallying words of this meeting. (Great cheering.)
In the name of three millions of slaves in a land of boasted freedom – in the name of my self-sacrificing, noble coadjutors in the cause of anti-slavery in America – and impelled by emotions of sincere gratitude in my own bosom, I tender my warmest thanks to the Secretaries and to the Committee and friends of the Glasgow Emancipation Society, for their efficient aid in the cause of the American slave.
 Scotland is in a blaze. Well may she be, for a large and influential party, professing to represent the moral and religioius sentiment of her people, have done that, which, if not repented of an undone, must end in deep and indelible disgrace to all concerned. The Free Churuch has been arraigned at the bar of public opinion, and the decision of the people of Scotland, of all denominations, is being registered upon their doings in reference to American man-stealers. Glasgow, Edinburgh, Perth, Dundee, Arbroath, Montrose, Aberdeen, Hawick, Galashiels, Berwick, Coldstream, Kelso, Melrose, Paisley, Kilmarnock, Greenock, Ayr, and many other of the towns and villages of Scotland, have heard and responded to the remonstrance of the American slaves against the Free Church alliance with their kidnappers. The word has gone forth, and has been echoed through glens, and from mountain to mountain all over Scotland, saying to the Free Churuch, ‘Send back the money; annual the covenant with death.’ Thanks are due to the Glasgow Emancipation Society – under God – for this agitation, so cheering to the humane and Christian heart. (Cheers.)
I wish to be understood – I arraign before the tribunal of this kingdom and the world, not the people of the Free Church, but the General Assembly of that church, and its leaders – Drs Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish. The people were not consulted in this guilty participation with man-stealers in their ungodly gains. Nine out of ten of the Free Church people would have said – ‘Touch not the price of blood;’ and now the blood-money has been solicited and obtained by their leaders, and put into the treasury, they would say, ‘Send back that money – it is the price of our Saviour, bought and sold in the persons of his little ones. (Great applause.)
When William Lloyd Garrison first raised the standard of the immediate abolition of slavery in America, he announced that Christianity was his only instrumentality to accomplish the end. This sentiment was embodied in the declaration of sentiments put forth by the American Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, which document was written by Mr. Garrison. He says:–
Our principles lead us to reject, and to entreat the oppressed to reject, the use of all carnal weapons for deliverance from bondage – relying solely upon those which are spiritual and measures shall be such only as the opposition of moral purity to moral corruption – the destruction of error by the potency of truth – the overthrow of prejudice by the power of love, and the abolition of slavery by the spirit of repentance. Our trust for victory is solely in God.1
We have sought to array against slaveholders, as well as against slavery, the moral and religious sentiment of the world. The position was taken that the act of slaveholding was a heinous sin – second to no sin which man could commit – that it was man-stealing, and that all who perpetrated it should be excluded from the church. To bring the discipline of the churches to bear on slaveholders – to get the churches to cease to join hands with slave-breeding thieves and adulterers, we toiled. The fruit of our labours began to appear. Missionary, Bible,  and Tract Societies began to be agitated with the question – Should slave-drivers be employed as agents and missionaries? and Churches, Presbyteries, Synods, Assemblies, Associations, and Conferences, were convulsed with the question – Should slave-breeders and slaveholders be admitted to Churches and Church Courts as Christians and ministers? There seemed a prospect that the various denominations in America would soon cease all religious fellowship with them, or cease themselves to be regarded as Christian bodies. (Loud cheering.)
In this good work we were strengthened by the Congregationalists, the Baptists and Methodists of England – by the Reformed Presbyterians – by many Secession and Relief Churches of Scotland – and the public sentiment of the whole United Kingdom was being arrayed against fellowship with slaveholders as Christians. It was felt to be a question of life and death to our cause. How can Christ be made the power of God and the wisdom of God to abolish this monster sin, while slaveholders are received as Christians? We felt that it could not be done.
But an obstacle presented itself from an unexpected quarter. Men, who had stood before the world for years conspicuous for talent and eloquence, volunteered to stand sponsors to mankind for the Christianity of American man-stealers, and to associate the endeared and adored name of Christ with men polluted with every crime. Doctors Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish espoused the sinking cause of the slaveholder; and came forth to vindicate their title to Christianity and respectability.
But what have these leaders, these Doctors of Divinity done? I give a statement of facts, which none of them have ever denied. A deputation was sent from the Free Assembly to America, to form alliance with the churches there, and to solicit money to build ‘Free‘ churches and pay ‘Free‘ ministers in Scotland. That delegation was composed of the Rev. Dr. Cunningham, Rev. Dr. Burns, Rev. Mr Lewis, Rev. Wm. Chalmers, and others.2 On their arrival in America, and at the commencement of their efforts, they were met by a remonstrance from abolitionists, from which the following are extracts:–
It is with astonishment and grief that we have learned that you have commenced a tour through the Slave States of this Union, with a view to solicit funds, as well of slaveholders as other persons. Doubtless you will be warmly greeted, especially by that portion of the people who hold their fellow-men and fellow-Christians in bondage … Will you now, as you are witnesses of that iniquity that filled you with deep disgust at a distnace, make common cause with that religion, and clasp hands with its defenders, and accept their blood-stained offering. The fiend can well afford to pay you tens of thousands, for he knows that your countenance is worth millions to him. If he can purchase the silence of the successors of John Knox and Andrew Thomson, if he can number them among his allies, he may well think his victory complete … If you obtain the slaveholders’ money, and if the Free Church accept it, it is certain that you will look with more tolerance than you would otherwise have done on the great iniquity of slavery; the lips of your Church will be sealed, and an alliance of sympathy and interests will be established between the Free Church and the slaveocracy of this Union. That tolerance, that sympathy, that  alliance will be the beginning of mischief. Who but God can trace its course and close? 3
Sir, this covenant with man-stealers has caused mischief to the heart-stricken slave – to his God-defying oppressor – to those who formed it – to the Free Assembly – to the Free Church – and to all Scotland. It has in effect put into the hands of Drs Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, and of the Free Church over which they preside, the slave-driver’s lash and fetter, adn they are now using them, in conjunction with their allies, the slave-drivers and slave-breeders of America, upon the backs and limbs of the American salves. It has worked mischief by leading these said Doctors of Divinity to offer apologies for men ‘guilty of the highest kind of theft.’ whom God classes with ‘murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers,’ which they would blush to offer for themselves, and which, if allowed to be valid, would entitle adulterers, pick-pockets, and highway-robbers to be received as ‘honourable, useful, evangealical Christians, and serving God in the gospel of His Son,’ as Dr. Cunningham says of slaveholders. The doctrine of ‘circumstances’ is brought forward by a Chalmers, a Cunningham, a Candlish, and a Macfarlan, to justify them in according the name and honour of Christian to men ‘polluted with every crime, leprous with sin.’ 4 But I wish to call attention to the concluding paragraph of the remonstrance of American abolitionists against the Free Church delegation. Let all members and friends of that Church hear and ponder it, for to them it is as a warning voice from Heaven:–
What will men say of the Free Church if you carry home the slaveholders’ bounty? Will they not taunt you thus:– These are the men who could not swallow the bread of their Sovereign as the price of their submission to tyranny; but their consciences, honour, and Christian principle did not revolt in begging a pittance from the pulpits of tyrannical oppressors in Washington, Charlestown, and New Orleans? What O’Connell refused to touch when brought to his hand, Dr. Chalmers sent; and Doctors Cunningham and Burns went 4000 miles to solicit. Should you, despite our friendly warning and urgent Christian remonstrance, solicit money acquired by the sale of American Christians, and men made heathen by the cruel system of slavery, we can only express our confidence that your constituents, the Free Church of Scotland, will refuse to receive the polluted silver and gold, and return it to those who gave it.5
There spake the word of prophecy – the Free Church will return ‘that polluted silver and gold to those who gave it,’ or become a ‘hissing and a by-word.’
Notwithstanding this Christian remonstrance, the delegates did go to churches composed in part of slaveholders and slavebreeders, where memebrs, elders, and ministers are slavetraders – solicited and obtained £3,000 sterling – entered into alliance with them – engaged to receive them to the Free Church pulpit and communion in Scotland – then returned with the price of the image of their God, bought and sold, in the persons of his children, in their pockets; money that can be viewed in no light but as a remuneration for their recognition of practical atheists – scornful contemners of the teachings, life, sufferings, and death of the Son of God, as devoted Christians; and they put that money, dripping with the blood  and tears of three millions of slaves, into the coffers of the Free Church. (Hear, hear.) Then, through their writings in their periodicals and papers, their Witnesses, their Northern Warders, &c. and the decisions and deliverances of their Presbyteries and Assemblies, they sought to justify their conduct.
The sold and single point at which Drs. Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, aimed was, to prove that they had acted in accordance with the spirit and teaching of Christ and the Apostles, in entering into a Christian alliance with slaveholders. To demonstrate this, they sought to accomplish two things: that is, to present the American abolitionists as the most unprincipled and the basest of men, and the slaveholders as the purest and most evangelical. They assert of the abolitionists that, as a body, ‘they are altogether undeserving of respect and confidence – that it is impossible to talk of them with anything liek respect, or to have the least regard to their judgment, sanity or sense’ – that they were, in point of fact, doing as much injury as the infidels and anarchists of the French Revolution. (See writings and speeches of Drs Cunningham, Chalmers, and Mr. Lewis.) Of the slaveholders they say, ‘they are entitled to be regarded as respectable, useful, honoured Christians, living under the power of the truth, l abouring faithfully, and serving God in the gospel of His Son.’ (See writings and speeches of the parties above named.) Thus all their denunciations are for abolitionists, and all their compliments for slaveholders.
How soon the prediction of the remonstrance became a reality, that if the Free Church leaders took the slaveholders’ bounty, they would volunteer to become their apologists! But suppose the abolitionists are what they say they are – and let me tell them the American abolitionists will never enter upon a vindication of their conduct with slaveholders or their apologists – their vindication they will leave to humanity, rescued by their means from the auction-stand, and to the God of the oppressed. – How does this prove that the Free Church is right in her alliance with slaveholders, and in sharing their spoils? – But let us look for a moment at some of their apologies and arguments to justify themselves and establish the Christianity of American slave-breeders.
Their first strong point is to make a distinction between ‘slave-holding’ and ‘holding men as property.’ The former, they say, ‘is not a sin which should exclude from Christian fellowship,’ but the latter they pronounce to be a ‘sin of the deepest die, which should exclude all who do it from the church.’ Forty years has the subject agitated this country and America, and the laws of slavery, and the writings and speeches of its opponents, have pronounced ‘slaveholding’ and ‘holding men as property’ the same act. Why do Drs. Chalmers, Cunningham, Candlish, and the Free Assembly, now come forward and make a distinction? I did not think they could have thus stultified themselves. Did they suppose the subterfuge could blind the people of Scotland? They had a purpose to serve. They wished to extricate themselves from a guilty position, which they had taken against the urgent entreaties of the abolitionists; and to do this they adopted the puerile and barefaced expedient  of a distinction without a difference between ‘slaveholding’ and ‘holding men as property.’
Their next great argument is, that they are no more to blame for taking the man-stealer’s gold to build churches than merchants and others are in dealing in slave-holder’s cotton and sugar. But I look not at the money, but at the price paid for it: to get the money they gave the fellowship. Let them renounce the fellowship, and then go to the slave-states and get all the money they can. My word for it, they would get no blood-stained dollars, but they would get blood-stained whips upon their bare backs, and blood-stained halters about their necks. The compact – the slave-driving and slave-breeding compact – let them annul this, and I ask no more.
But, ah! exclaim the Doctors, if we give up the fellowship, we must send back the money. In the name, then, of all that is ‘honest and of good report,’ and of Him who came to enthrone God in Heaven, and abolish slavery on earth, I say to them, send back the money.
Another favourite pillow for the consciences of the Free Church leaders is, ‘slavery,’ as a system or institution, is a great sin, but not necessarily wrong in slaveholders.’ As it appears in an institution, slavery seems to Drs. Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, a fiend of darkness; but as it appears in the slaveholder, it is an angel of light. They hate and loathe it as they see it in the system, but as they see it in a Rev. Doctor of Divinity, in band and gown, they love and admire it. As they see it in the bloody lash, they recoil from it with disgust; as they see it in the bloody cash, they cling to it as ‘the one thing needful, and altogether lovely.’ (Laughter and prolonged applause.)
As they see it in the institution, they arraign slavery before the bar of their General Assembly – place it in the criminal box – charge it with adultery, incest, blasphemy, theft, robbery, and murder – to be consigned to prison and the gallows; but as they see it in the slaveholders, they baptise, license, and ordain it, and receive it to their communion and pulpits. As slavery is seen in the institution, they say unto it, ‘Depart ye wicked into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels;’ but as they see it in slaveholding Presbyterians, with pockets full of dollars, ready to be poured into their building fund, they say, ‘Come ye ever blessed – enter into the kingdom prepared for you.’ (Great and continued cheering.)
To the Free Church leaders I would say, with grief and plainness – In thus attempting to screen the slaveholder and justify your compact with him, by taking the crimes and pollutions and horrors of slavery from their living, responsible perpetrators, and putting them upon an intangible nonentity – an irresponsible abstract – you do not mock God, and heap up to yourselves, and your church, wrath against the day of wrath and of the righteous judgent of God – when He shall make bare His right arm and unsheath His sword to right the wrongs of the American bondmen. (Cheers.)
Then, again, they apologist for their allies, and seek to justify themselves by representing slavery as a ‘condition,’ or ‘predicament,’ into which slaveholders ‘are born,’ ‘happen to fall,’ or ‘are placed,’ or ‘unhappily find themselves.’ Go, arraign the Mahometan for his polygamy, the thief for his theft,  the drunkard for his drunkenness, the pirate for his piracy, or the cannibal for his cannibalism. The polygamist says – ‘polygamy is a condition in which I was born,’ the cannibal and pirate say, – ‘cannibalism and piracy are conditions in which we happened to be placed;’ the drunkard says, as he lies in the gutter, ‘I happened to fall into the condition of the drunkard;’ – (laughter and cheers) – the thief in his dungeon says – ‘I find myself unhappily placed in the predicament of a thief.’ (Great applause.)
Would the Free Church leaders accept these apologies, and hasten to solicit a share of their gain, and to welcome them as Christians? They have extended their fellowship to men stained with all these crimes. Why should they not to them? How gentle – how tenderly touched upon – how ‘delicately expressed,’ as Dr. Macfarlan says, of their deliverance. When slaveholders buy and sell men – when they steal their all – when they rob them of their wives and children and of themselves – when they scourge, imprison, and hang them for teaching their children to read the Gospel of Christ; these Free Church Doctors tell us they ‘happen‘ to fall into these deeds – they did not do them themselves – they had no hand in them – they only ‘find themselves unhappily in the predicament of doing them.’ (Cheers.) So might Judas say, when he sold his Master for 30 pieces of silver, ‘I did not do it – my will had no hand in it – I happened to fall into the act, and unhappily found myself doing it.’ (Great sensation.) But this would not have prevented him from going ‘to his own place’ – nor will it save the slaveholders from their own place – though ten thousand Doctors of Divinity should come to their rescue by receiving them as Christians while they are impatient.
Doctor Cunningham went to America. Suppose one of these Presbyterian slave-traders had seized and sold him as a slave for a thousand pounds sterling, and sent the money to the Sustenation Fund.’ (Laughter.) ‘We are glad to get the dollars,’ says the treasurer. ‘Where did you get them?’ ‘I happened to seize and sell Doctor Cunningham as a slave, and he, being a strong man, and a Doctor to boot, brought a good price – (great applause.) – and I, seeing your great need and desire for money, thought it would be a comfort to me, and acceptable to you, to give you a share of the proceeds.’ (Renewed applause and laughter.) ‘Well,’ says the treasurer, ‘considering that you happened to do it, and only found yourself unhappily in the predicament of selling the Doctor, I consider it right to take it, and receive you as a good Christian.’ (Immense cheering.) Would the Free Church accept it? No. If they would not build their churches and pay their ministers by the price of Doctor Cunningham, how dare they take the price of the heart-stricken slave? (Strong emotion.)
But, again, these leaders tell us the laws make slaveholders, and that they cannot help but hold slaves. But who make the laws? The very slaveholders whom they seek to screen. They steal men, women, and children, and then make laws to sanction the theft, and then Drs Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish assure us that these laws are their sufficient vindication. The slaveholders make the laws, and the laws make the slaveholders! The creator makes the creature, and then the creature makes the creator. Here we have  thieves and adulterers making laws to sanction their sins, and the Free Church leaders coming foward and pleading the existence of those laws in palliation of those who framed them, and as a justification of their own conduct in recognizing them as Christians to get a share of their gains. Perish every law that sanctions slaveholders! Burn them at the stake as Luther did the Bull of the Pope.
Then they tell us that ‘in the slave states men must hold slaves or be without domestic servants.’ This is an argument offered by Drs. Chalmers and Cunningham. The argument is, men cannot exist without domestic servants – they cannot get them in the slave states except by buying and holding slaves. Therefore it is right to buy and hold them. Thus slave-breeding, slave-trading, and slave-driving, and all the concubinage, crime, and horror, necessarily attendent on slave-holding, must be sanctioned and regarded as Christian practices, and slave-breeders, slave-traders, and slave-drivers, received as Christians – simply to get domestic servants. Do these men believe there is a God? In words they do; but in their apologies for slaveholders they deny Him. A domestic servant, indeed! Have they a right to perpetrate the sum of all villany to get servants? I say to them, Go work with your own hands, as Paul did, but do not attempt to whitewash thieves and men stained with the blood of innocents, to justify your guilty compact with them, in order to share the fruits of impiety. (Cheers.)
These Free leaders again talk of their regard for the ‘honour,’ the ‘headship,’ and ‘crown rights’ of our Redeemer, and tell us this led them out of the Establishment. Did their concern for the ‘crown rights’ of the Redeemer lead them 4000 miles to form an alliance with slaveholders? They will find it no easy task to convince Free Church people and others that this high and noble motive ever led to such an alliance. All will feel that the slaveholders’ dollars had more influence with them, than regard for the ‘Crown rights’ of the Redeemer, unless that money be sent back. ‘Have we separated ourselves from our Moderate brethren to form alliance with man-stealers?’ exclaims the Rev. Henry Grey. To the members, elders, and ministers of the Free Church of Scotland I say, ‘Cease your talk about your purity, the honour, glory, and crown-rights of the Redeemer, so long as you are in league with man-stealers, men polluted with incest and leprous with sin,’ and while you have the blood-stained dollars of your allies in your coffers; for, while you continue this slaveholding fellowship, your hands must be said to wield the cowskin over the back, and clank the fetter around the limbs, of the slave.
Again – the Free Church leaders talk loudly of their persecutions. Go ask the Voluntaries who have been the real persecutors of Scotland? Who struggled to drive the Voluntaries from house and home, and not leave them where they lay their heads? Who tried to wield the power of the State against them as ‘infidels,’ ‘Jacobins,’ ‘atheists,’ and ‘enemies to social order?’ Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, the very men who led the Free church up, as they say, ‘out of Egypt,’ to that Canaan of rest, the downy beds and soft cushions of American slaveholders – (applause) – and who were the loudest in their denunciations and persecutions of the Voluntaries. So eager was Cunningham to put them down, that he applauded and published to the world the very principle which he  now condemns abolitionists, as ‘fanatics, anarchists, and destitute of judgment, sense, or sanity,’ for embracing – i.e. that slaveholders should be instantly expelled from the Church. Why this change? Have slaveholders become more lovely in Dr. Cunningham’s sight of late? He had a purpose to serve them, and he has one now. When slaveholders could be made to tell against Voluntaryism, the Doctor affected to be horror-struck with their atrocities and the idea of Christian fellowship with them. Now, that he would justify himself and colleagues in their alliance with slaveholders, and in sharing the spoils of their guilt and shame, these ‘worst of thieves’ appear exceedingly pure and loveable. A slaveholder, as an argument against Voluntaryism and Republicanism, is the personification of all wickedness – as the donor of £3000 to the Free Church, he is ‘A living epistle for Christ.’ (Immense Applause.)
Times change – so do men. Go ask the slaves who are the persecutors in Scotland? They will point to Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, and say ‘You are the men – you, in conjunction with your allies – our oppressors – score our backs and fetter our limbs; you compel us to live in concubinage; you crush our domestic affections; you tear from us our wives and children; you scourge, imprison, hunt us with blood-hounds and rifles, and kill us if we attempt to read, or to teach our children to read, the words of eternal life – to exchange our ignorance for knowledge – our moral degradation for moral elevation – our slavery for liberty; you herd us with brutes, and seek to overcloud our souls with the night of moral death – to extinguish within us the desire of immortality, to assimilate our minds to our condition, and to rob us of our deathless inheritance.’ (Great applause.) Such would be the reply of the slaves to the Free Church leaders when they talk about their persecutions. Let them send back the money, before they talk more of their persecutions. (Great laughter and applause.)
Again, they seek to ward off our arguments and to allay excitement against them by denouncing us as enemies of the Free church. What have I done to show my enmity to the Free Church? I see her lending all her influence to associate the name of Christian with slaveholders, and receiving from them £3000 given by slaveholders solely as a reward for their fellowship and sympathy. In doing this, I believe they do wrong. I point out to them their sin, and urge them to repent, and to bring forth fruits meet for repentance by sending back the money, and withdrawing from the alliance. Are these things true? They have not denied that they are. I say then to the Free church, Am I your enemy because I tell you the truth? The blasphemer says to the man who rebukes him, You are mine enmy. The thief and robber say to the jury and the court, You are our enemies. Is he who rebukes sin the enemy of the sinner? If so, let the Free Church ministers give up their calling, for they are the enemies of mankind, for none rebuked sinners as he did. No. The real enemy of the Free Church is he who cries to them – Peace, peace, in their guilty confederacy against God and man, which they have formed with slaveholders. Their best friends are those who say to them, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand,’ and that shall sweep away your refuge of lies, discover  your hiding places, and annul your covenant with death. (Applause.)
Repent, and flee from the wrath to come, for He is at the door of your Assembly – who is coming to bind up the wounds of those who are fallen among thieves. He is come with his fan in his hand, and he will thoroughly purge the floors of the Free Assembly and churches from the blood-spots of the slave, and he will gather his wheat into his garner, but he will burn the chaff with unquenchable fire. (Great sensation.)
The Free Church leaders have been unwearied in their efforts to coax or to browbeat the Dissenters into silence, respecting their efforts to unite, in bonds of loving union, Christ and slaveholders, and to hold up the latter as the living representatives of the former. Their efforts, with few exceptions, have proved abortive. Secession, Relief, and Independent Chapels have been open to this question, and hundreds of local churches have adopted the principle of – No fellowship with slaveholders; and it is expected that the Relief and Secession Synods will give distinct utterance to this principle this spring.6 The Committe on Evangelical Alliance have adopted the rule, not to invite slaveholders to sit in the Convention in London, to be held in August, and to join the Alliance, then and there to be formed.7 (Cheers.)
The good sense of the people of Scotland cannot be silenced from expressions of sympathy for the slave by threats, by insolent words and looks, by logical and theological distinctions, nor by bland entreaties. The Dissenters, as a body, will rebuke the oppressor, and all who may attempt to stand sponsor for his Christianity. (Great applause.)
The spirit of slaveholding is one and the same, whether it speaks through Drs. Chalmers, Cunningham and Candlish, or through the Presbyterian kidnappers of America. It hates the light, and will not come to the light, lest its deeds be made manifest, but cries out against all who would cast it out, – ‘Why hast thou come to torment us before our time? Away with him – crucify him, crucify him!‘ (Great cheering.) So in effect the Free Church leaders to all who rebuke them for this guilty league with slave-breeders.
Another argument by which the Free Church leaders seek justify themselves and silence rebuke, is, that the General Assembly has settled the question, and that the inferior courts, and individuals, have no business to disturb a question which the Assembly has settled. They ask me – What right have you to seek to reverse the decisions of the General Assembly? My answer is, Whether it be right to obey God rather than man, judge ye. General Assembly, forsooth! I am not accustomed to yield unreasoning submission to human authority; and the General Assembly of the Free Church, by their deliverance of last spring, on slavery, have shown their decisions are especially unworthy of respect or confidence. Go see their apologies for slaveholders! The veriest huckster in human flesh in Carolina would be ashamed of them. He never would seek to justify himself by pretending that he happened to fall into the condition of slaveholding, or that the providence of God made him a slaveholder – or by a distinction without a difference, between ‘slaveholding’ and ‘holding men as property.’ No man can have any respect for the decisions of a body when that body decides that slaveholding and Christianity are consistent one with the other, and that  slaveholders are Christians.
When the Free Church Assembly sanctions an alliance with manstealers, by making a distinction between ‘slaveholding,’ and ‘holding men as chattels,’ as they did last spring, they show themselves too weak or too wicked to be entitled to confidence. (Cheers.) Let us have no Popes – not even a Pope General Assembly! (Great applause.)
The Free Church leaders, again, seek to screen themselves by attempting to cast odium upon abolitionists. Suppose I am all they represent me to be – ‘a stranger,’ ‘a foreigner,’ ‘a wandering declaimer,’ ‘a fanatic,’ ‘an ultra radical,’ ‘an infidel,’ ‘a heathen,’ a Jew, or Mahometan, or all these combined in one – and suppose the abolitionists – as Dr. Cunningham says they are – ‘are destitute of judgment, sense, or sanity’ – what then? Does this prove that they are right in ‘forming alliance with manstealers?’ I have not asked them to receive me as a Christian, I only ask them not to receive slave-traders and slave-drivers as Christians. I do not ask them to endorse my character. I only ask them not to endorse the character of men ‘polluted with incest and renouncers of marriage rights.’ Let them apply whatever terms of opprobrium their consciences will allow them to apply to me, and to that self-forgetting, self-sacrificing, all-enduring, and all-forgiving band of abolitionists with whom I am associated; but I entreat them not to apply the terms of ‘honoured, useful, devoted, evangelical Christian, to slaveholders.’ (Great applause.)
Sir, I aspire to no higher honour than to sit at the feet of Jesus, and learn of him. If I may but win Christ, if i may but love as he loved, and forgive as He forgave, and be counted worthy to bear about in my body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus may be manifested in me; if I may but live by faith in the Son of God, who hath loved me and died for me; if my life may but be an epistle for Christ, known and read of all; if I may but share in his sufferings and death and in his rejoicing and his glory, it is all I ask on earth, and all I desire in eternity. I care not what men may say of me, if the spirit and life of Christ may but be mine; but, in the name of my Almighty God and Saviour, I protest against this effort of the Rev. Doctors Chalmers, Cunningham, and Candlish, to associate the names of Christ, my Redeemer, with slaveholders. By seeking to promote this blasphemous association, their influence goes to crucify the Son of God afresh, and to make his holy and endeared name the scorn and contempt of mankind. (Great sensation.)
Henceforth, when the Free church leaders talk of their purity and regard for Christ’s crown – my answer shall be ‘Send back the Money.’ When they talk of domestic servants or slavery as an institution, I will say ‘Send back the Money[‘]. When they talk of happening to fall into the condition, or of unhappily finding themselves in the predicament of slaveholders – ‘Send back the money’ shall answer the stale apology. (Great applause.) And when they say the ‘providence of God’ led them into this alliance with slaveholders, as they unblushingly do, my answer to the impious assertion shall be – ‘Send back the Money.’ Be this our cry – till it sounds through every glen, and echoes from summit to summit of every hill in Scotland.
To the Free Church God says – ‘Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil – who justify the wicked for a reward! Ye  have wearied the Lord by saying, those who do evil are good in His sight. Woe to them who build their churches with blood, and their manses with iniquity, for the slave-stone shall cry out of the wall, and slave-beam shall answer it from their pulpits; and say, send back the money!’ ‘Woe to those who fill their treasury with that which is not their own. Bring no more vain oblations, your sabbaths and your solemn meetings are an abomination unto me. When ye make many prayers I will not hear you – your hands are full of blood – wash you – make you clean – put away the evil of your doings – ‘Send back the Money‘ – crease to do evil – learn to do well – relieve the oppressed – then shall your light break forth and your name shall be blessed;’ but if they refuse to obey, and persevere in their covenant with death and their league with hell – they and their allies must be overwhelmed in undistinguishable ruin. (Cheers.)
Mr. Wright concluded by proposing several resolutions amidst great applause.
Mr JOHN MURRAY, of Bowling, seconded the resolutions.
Mr. JAMES PINKERTON here ascended the platform from the body of the hall, and upon stating that he could not sit still and hear the venerable men alluded to by the last speaker characterised by such names as he had been pleased to apply to them, was received with a storm of disapprobation. Through the intervention of the Chairman and Mr. George Thompson, however, he was allowed to proceed. He said, the gentleman who had sat down had drawn a picture, but it was one of his own imagining. He then proceeded to state the object for which the deputation had proceeded to America.
They had gone there partly through invitation, and partly to make known the great principles which had led to the disruption; and also to seek pecuniary means in order to support the gospel throughout the land. He defended Dr. Cunningham and the other members of the deputation from the charge of treating the abolitionists, technically so called, with disrespect. They did refuse to connect themselves with the abolitionists; they made known their principles, they preached to congregations, and they received contributions, as Mr. Lewis says, whose character would stand as high as that of Mr. Wright – (hisses and applause) – they received £3000, partly from emancipated negroes, and partly from Scottish settlers, whose hearts beat with fond regard for their fatherland. He denied that they were called upon to inquire from whence money came that was cast into the treasury for the support of the gospel – they were not warranted in doing so by any principle in the Word of God. It was a principle not acted upon by the Apostles, and it was a principle not acted on by any Church he knew in this country. He detested slavery as much as any man among them. Was it not a fact that every Church in Scotland is as much identified with slavery as the Free Church, if they excepted the Reformed Presbyterians. He asked when the Secession or Relief Churches in Scotland cut off all connection with the Churches in America? During the rage of Voluntaryism, the Churches in America were pointed at as the pink of perfection; but no sooner did the Free Church of Scotland venture, contending for Christ’s rights and the people’s liberties, to go to that country than there was a hue and cry set up to send back the money. (Cheers and laughter.)
But Mr. Wright set  up men of straw, and then he knocked them down again; and was either ignorant of what Drs. Chalmers and Cunningham meant in their reference to the American law, or wilfilly misrepresented them. When a man in America was left property by his father, the law prevented him from emancipating his slaves, and he condemned the Free church, not for taking the money, but for holding any ecclesiastical fellowship with these Churches until that law was altered. (Cheers.) He was speaking his honest convictions, but they were to recollect that there was a difference between Christian fellowship and ecclesiastical fellowship. (Laughter.) Mr. Wright’s statement as to the refusal of ministers of the Free Church to sit on School, Trac, or Bible Society Committees with Erastians, was not consistent with fact. Mr. Pinkerton conlcuded by moving, as an amendment to the resolutions, that it was inexpedient to memorialise the Free Church Assembly, inasmuch as they have already given a full and unanimous decision on the subject, and that they are not warranted, either by the Word of God, apostolic example, or the practice of the Christian Church, to send back the money.
Mr WRIGHT said he did not mean to occupy the time of the meeting but for a moment, as all the gentleman had said could be answered in a few words – a very few words. What is the question at issue? Dr. Candlish says distinctly that the question of receiving pecuniary aid from the churches in America turns solely on the question of holding Christian fellowship with them. Now, they cannot give up the fellowship with these slaveholders while they keep the money. The money was given with the understanding that they were to be received into Christian fellowship, for the Free Church would never have received one farthing from the American slaveholders had they told them that they were opposed to the system of slavery. Had the delegates gone to the south, and preached abolition there – had they spoken out against slavery – Would they have obtained any money? (No, no.) They would have got a halter about their necks, but no money. (Cheers.) But it was not the money he cared about – it was the fellowship which was given in return. (Hear, and loud cheers.) He put it to every member of the Free Church in this Hall, – talk not about the money, but the price paid for the money; for, be it understood, they never would have received one penny; for, be it understood, they never would have received one penny if they had not paid the price of Christian fellowship. (Applause.) They themselves know this, and Doctors Cunningham and Candlish cannot agree to give up the fellowship, because if they renounce the fellowship, they must send back the money. (Cheers.)
Mr DOUGLASS next addresed the meeting nearly as follows:– The abolitionists of the United States have been labouring, during the last fifteen years, to establish the conviction throughout that country that slavery is a sin, and ought to be treated as such by all professing Christians. This conviction they have written about, they have spoken about, they have published about – they have used all the ordinary facilities for forwarding this view of the question of slavery. Previous to that operation, slavery was not regarded as a sin. It was spoken of as an evil – in some cases it was spoken of as a wrong – in some cases it was spoken of as an excellent institution – and it was nowhere, or scarcely nowhere, counted as a sin, or treated as a sin, except by the Society  of Friends, and by the Reformed Presbyterians, two small bodies of Christians in the United States. The abolitionists, for advocating or attempting to show that slaveholding is a sin, have been called incendiaries and madmen, and they have been treated as such – only much worse in many instances; for they have been mobbed, beaten, pelted, and defamed in every possible way, because they disclaimed the idea that slavery is not a sin – a sin against God, a violation of the rights of man – a sin demanding the immediate repentenace on the part of the slaveholders, and demanding the immediate emancipation of the trampled down crushed slave. (Cheers.) They had made considerable progress in establishing this view of the case in the United States. They had succeeded in establishing to a considerable extent in the northern part of the United States a deep conviction that to hold human beings in the condition of slavery is a sin and ought to be treated as such, and that the slaveholder ought to be treated as a sinner. (Hear and applause.)
They had called upon the religious organisations of the land to treat slaveholding as a sin. They had recommended that the slaveholder should receive the same treatment from the church that is meted out to the ordinary thief. They had demanded his exclusion from the churches, and some of the largest denominations in the country had separated at Mason & Dixon’s line, dividing the free states from the slave states, solely on account of slaveholding, as those who hold anti-slavery views felt that they could not stand in fellowship with men who trade in the bodies and souls of their fellow-men. (Applause.)8
Indeed, the anti-slavery sentiment not to sit in communion with these men, and to warn the slaveholder not to come near nor partake of the emblems of Christ’s body and blood, lest they eat and drink damnation to themselves, is become very prevalent in the free states. They demand of the slaveholder first to put away this evil – first to wash his hands in innocency – first to abandon his grasp on the throat of the slave, and until he was ready to do that, they can have nothing to do with him.
All was going on gloriously – triuphantly; the moral and religious sentiment of the country was becoming concentrated against slavery, slaveholders, and the abettors of slaveholders, when, at this period, the Free Church of Scotland sent a deputation to the United States with a doctrine diametrically opposed to the abolitionists, taking up the ground that, instead of no fellowship, they should fellowship the slaveholders. According to them the slaveholding system is a sin, but not the slaveholder a sinner. They taught the doctrine, that it was right for Christians to unite in Christian fellowship with slaveholders, and their influence has been highly detrimental to the anti-slavery cause in the United States. (Hear, hear.) All their reasonings and arguments, instead of being quoted on behalf of the abolition cause, are quoted on behalf of slavery. (Disapprobation.)
The newspapers which came from the United States came laden with eulogies of Drs. Candlish and Cunningham, and of the Free Church in general. While the slaveholders have long disconnected themselves with the Secession Church in this country, I do not say that the Secession Church has for-  formally repudiated all alliance with them, but by the faithfulness of their remonstrances, by their denunciations of slavery from time to time, and by their opinions and arguments being known of all men, the slaveholders have disconnected themselves with them. (Hear, hear, and applause.)
Now, we want to have the matter of the Free Church thoroughly sifted here to-night. We want to call attention to the deputation particularly which admitted the principle of holding fellowship with slaveholders. To fellowship slaveholders as the type and representatives of Jesus Christ on earth, and not only that, but to take their money to build churches, and pay their ministers, the Free Church sent a deputation to America. That deputation was met by the Abolitionists of New York, and remonstrated with, and begged not to stain their cause by striking hands with manstealers, and not to take the polluted gains of slavery to pay their ministers; but by all means to take the side of the oppressed. The deputation had an excellent opportunity of aiming an effectual blow at slavery, but they turned a deaf ear and refused to listen to the friends of freedom. They turned a deaf ear to the groans of the oppressed slave – they neglected the entreaties of his friends – and they went into the slave states, not for the purpose of imparting knowledge to the slave, but to go and strike hands with the slaveholders, in order to get money to build Free churches and pay Free Church ministers in Scotland. (Cries of ‘shame,’ and applause.)
Now, I am here to charge that deputation with having gone into a country where they saw three millions of human beings deprived of every right, stripped of every privilege, ranged with four-footed beasts and creeping things, with no power over their own bodies and souls, deprived of the privilege of learning to read the name of the God who made them, compelled to live in the grossest ignorance, herded together in a state of concubinage – without marriage – without God – and without hope; – they went into the midst of such a people – in the midst of those who held such a people, and never uttered a word of sympathy on behalf of the oppressed, or raised their voices against their oppressors.
We have been told that the deputation went to the United States for the purpose of making the Christians of the United States acquainted with the position of the Free Church of Scotland, or rather to explain the nature of the struggles of the Free Church in behalf of religious freedom, and to preach the gospel. Now, I am here to say that that deputation did not preach the gospel to the slave – that gospel which came from above – that gospel which is peaceable and pure, and easy to be entreated. Had they preached that God was the God of the poor slave as well as of his rich master – had they raised their voices on behalf of that gospel – they would have been hung upon the first lamp-post. The slaveholders hate the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is nothing they hate so much. A man may go there and preach certain doctrines connected with the gospel of Christ, but if ever he apply the principles of the love of God to man – to the slave as well as to the slaveholder – it will immediately appear how such a doctrine would be relished.
But this is not all. Not only did the Free Church Deputation not  preach the gospel, or say a word on behalf of the slave, but they took care to preach such doctrines as would be palatable – as would be agreeably received – and as would bring them the slaveholders’ money. (Cries of ‘Shame,’ and applause.) They said, ‘We have only one object to accomplish;’ and they justified themselves for not meddling with the sins with which they came into contact in America, on the ground that they had one particular object to employ their attention. Was it to obey the voice of God? Was it to proclaim the terrors of the law against all iniquity? No. It was to get money to build Free Churches, and pay Free Ministers. That was the object to be accomplished, and in following this course they acted more like thieves than Christian ministers. (Applause.) I verily believe, that, had I been at the South, and had I been a slave, as I have been a slave – and I am a slave still by the laws of the United States – had I been there, and that deputation had come into my neighbourhood, and my master had sold me on the auction block, and given the produce of my body and soul to them, they would have pocketed it and brought it to Scotland to build their churches and pay their ministers. (Cries of ‘No,’ ‘Yes, yes,’ and applause.) Why not? I am no better than the blackest slave in the Southern plantations.
These men knew who were the persons they were going amongst. It had been said that they were not bound to inquire as to where money comes from, when it is put into the treasury of the Lord. But in this case there was no need of inquiry. They knew they were going to a class of people who were robbers – known stealers of men – for what is a thief? what is a robber? but he who appropriates to himself what belongs to another. The slaveholders do this continually. They publish their willingness to do so. They defend their right to do so, and the deputation knew they did this. They knew that the hat upon the head of the slaveholder, the coat upon his back, and the cash in his pocket were the result of the unpaid toil of the fettered and bound slave, and yet in view of this fact they went amongst them. They went with a lighted candle in their hands. They were told what would be the consequence, but they went – purity gave way to temptation, and we see the result. The result is evil to Scotland, and evil to America, but more to the former than to the latter; for I think the Free Church has committed more sin in attempting to defend certain principles connected with this question, than in accepting the money. They have had to upset all the first principles of Christianity in its defence. They have had to adopt the arguments of the Infidels, of the Socialists and others, by which to defend themselves, and have brought a foul blot on Christianity. (Cheers, and slight sounds of disapprobation.)
Now, what are their arguments? Why is Dr. Chalmers speaking as he does of the slaveholders and slavery, and trying to make it appear that there is a distinction without a difference? This eminent Free Church leader says, ‘A distinction ought to be made between the character of a system, and the character of persons whom circumstances have connected therewith. Nor would it be just,’ continues the Doctor, ‘to visit upon the person all the recoil and moral indignation which we feel towards the system itself.’ Here he lays down a principle by which to justify the present policy of the Free Church. This is the rock of their present position.  They say ‘Disinction ought to be made, for while slavery may be very bad, a sin and a crime, a violation of the law of God, and an outrage on the rights of man, yet the slaveholder may be a good and excellent Christian, and that in him we may embrace a type and standing representative of Christ.’ While they would denounce theft, they would spare the thief; while they would denounce gambling, they would spare the gambler; while they would denounce the dice, they would spare the sharper; for a distinction should be made between the character of a system and the character of the men whom circumstances have connected therewith. (Cheers and laughter.)
Drs Chalmers and his Master are at odds. Christ says, ‘By their fruits shall they be known.’ Oh! no, says Dr. Chalmers, a distinction should be made between the fruits and the character of a system! Oh! the artful dodger. (Great laughter.) Well may the thief be glad, the robber sing, and the adulterer clap his hands for joy. The character of adultery and the character of the adulterer – and the character of slavery and the character of the slaveholder, are not the same. We may blame the system, therefore, but not the persons whom circumstances have connected therewith.
I would like to see the slaveholder made so by circumstances, and I should like to trace out the turn of circumstances which compelled him to be a slaveholder. (Hear, and cheers.) I know what they say about this matter. They say the law compels a slaveholder to keep his slaves, but I utterly deny that such a law exists in the United States. There is no law to compel a man to keep his slaves, or to prevent him from being emancipated. There are three or four States where the master is not allowed to emancipate his slaves on the soil, but he can remove them to a free State, or, at all events, to Canada, where the British lion prowls upon three sides of us, and there they would be free. (Cheers.) The slaveholder who wishes to emancipate his slaves has but to say, ‘There is the north star – that is the road to Canada – I will never claim you’ – and there would be little doubt of their finding their way to freedom. There was not a single slaveholder in America but who, if he chose, could emancipate his slaves instantly; so all the argument on this basis falls to the ground, as the fact did not exist on which it is built. (Cheers.)
Slavery – I hold it to be an indisputable proposition – exists in the United States because it is respectable. The slaveholder is a respectable man in America. All the important offices in the Government and the Church are filled by slaveholders. Slaveholders are Doctors of Divinity; and men are sold to build churches, women, to support missionaries, and children to send bibles to the heathen. Revivals in religion and revivals in the slave trade go on at one and the same time. Now, what we want to do is to make slavery disrespectable. Whatever tends to make it respectable tends to elevate the slaveholder, and whatver, therefore, proclaims the respectability of the slaveholders, or of slaveholding, tends to perpetuate the existence of this vile system. Now, I hold one of the most direct, one of the most powerful means of making him a respectable man, is to say that he is a Christian; for I hold that of all other men a Christian is most entitled to my affection and regard. Well, the Free Church is now proclaiming that  these men – all blood-besmeared as they are, with their stripes, gags, and thumbscrews, and all the bloody parapharnalia of slave-holding, and who are depriving the slave of the right to learn the word of God, that these men – are Christians! and ought to be in fellowship as such. (Cries of ‘No,’ and ‘Yes.’) Does any man deny that the Free Churuch does this?
Mr. PINKERTON. – You are libelling the Free Church.
Mr. DOUGLASS. – What! is this disputed? Will they not fellowship those who will not teach their slaves to read? I have to say, in answer, that there is not a slaveholder in the American Union who teaches his slaves to read, and I have to inform that individual, and the Free Church and Scotland generally, that there are several States where it is punishable with death for the second offence to teach a slave his letters. (Great applause.) And further (said Mr. Douglass) I have to tell him there is yet to be the first petition in the Legislature demanding a repeal of that law. If the Free Church are to fellowship the slaveholders at all, they must fellowship them in their blood and their sins just as they find them; and if they will not fellowship them except they teach their slaves to read, then they must not fellowship them at all. It was necessary to keep the slaves in ignorance. If he were not kept in ignornace, where there are so many facilities for escape, he would not long remain a slave, and every means are resorted to to keep him ignorant. The sentiment is general, that slaves should no know nothing, but to do what is told them by their masters.
But a short time ago there was a Sabbath school established in Richmond, Virginia, in which the slaves, it was supposed, were being educated. The story reached the north, and was some cause of gratification; but in three weeks afterwards we found in the Richmond papers an article inquirying into the character of that school, and demanding to know why a Sabbath-school had been established in Virginia. Well, they gave an account of themselves, and what was it? In that Sabbath-school nothing was taught but what would tend to make the slave a better servant than before it was established; and in the second place, that there had not been, and there never would be, any book whatever. So they have schools there without books, and learn to read without letters. You fill find Sabbath-schools, in many part of the country, but you will find these such as I have desribed. (Applause.)
Mr. Douglass concluded a long speech by paying a compliment to Mr. Thompson for his efforts in the cause of slave emancipation.
Mr. JAMES N. BUFFUM next addressed the meeting. He always, he said, felt much hesitation in addressing a meeting like the present; but being placed between two such large men as his friends Mr. Douglass and Mr. Thompson, he felt more than his usual diffidence on this occasion. (Cheers.)
He had been requested to say something about his impressions of Scotland – of the impressions which he had formed since he had come here from America. He was proud to acknowledge that his heart had been made glad since he came to this country, by the feeling which he had seen manifested in every place which he had visited in favour of the cause of universal abolition. Everything which he saw indicated  that good would come out of the present movement. (Hear.) He rejoiced to say that on scarcely any occasion had they encountered anything but the most flattering cordiality of sentiment; but he was now more rejoiced in the fact that they had at last got some opposition, for here now was a man who had actually come out in defence of the Free Church. (Cheers and laughter.)
Mr. Douglass and he had visited Perth, Dundee, Montrose, Aberdeen, Ayr, Kilmarnock, the Vale of Leven, and other places, and they had not before found an individual who had any defence to offer for the conduct of the Free Church. He was glad to see them beginning to come out. (Cheers.) They had asked them ever since they came to Scotland to come forward with their defence, if they had one. They had challenged them in every town they went to, but it was of no avail, they were silent; but they kept the money. (Applause.)
When they reached the town of Montrose, they were told they would be met by the lion of the north, the Reverend Mr. Nixon, who was expected to speak in defence of the Free Church, but he carefully kept out of the way. They challenged him on the spot. He was ready to speak on all occasions, for he was an eloquent man, but on this occasion he kept out of the way, and Mr. Douglass and he, were therefore, left in undisturbed possession of the field.
They afterwards went to Duntocher, where, they were told, there was a man who wanted to discuss this question, but although he got notice to come forward, he paid no attention to the intimation. (Hear.) Instead of coming to meet them, the Rev. Mr. Alexander of the Free Church, the individual referred to, took another way of settling the question as far as he was concerned. This Rev. Gentleman, they were informed, entertained the idea, that slavery would never be abolished because it had existed for such a length of time. On this account he would take no interest in the question in future. What an excuse in the 19th century, in which Christianity had been proclaimed, seeing that not one-half of the world had yet been evangelised. Christianity had been preached during that time and had made great progress, and it was still progressing, and in the same way part of slavery had been abolished, although the best part of it was yet to come.
But this was not the point. This minister of the Free Church, after being invited to come to the meeting, where Mr. Douglass and he were to speak, told those of his congregation who called upon him, that he had now decided not to go to hear them; but if they (the members of the Free Church) went, they were carefully to notice what was said, and come back to him and he would explain it. (Laughter.) What a coward! They offered to give him a free platform, but no, he preferred remaining in his own private room, and telling those who waited upon him to bring the facts to him and he would expalin them. He (Mr. B.) told Mr. Douglass the next day that this Mr. Alexander put him mind of a little Connecticut Colonel, who was a very brave man according to his own account. This hero flourished during the revolutionary war in America, and on one occasion when they were about to have a battle with some British troops, he addressed his soldiers in the following terms – ‘Now is the  time to show your courage and patriotism. Now is the time to fight gloriously and fall triumphantly, but, if you must run, then run, and, as I am a little lame, I’ll be going now.’ (Cheers and laughter.)
Now, the Free Church was a little lame, and her Doctors of Divinity were a little lame, and the knowing ones were going off at once, as they knew if they remained to fight in defence of the slaveholders’ money, or American slavery, they would not have a foot left to stand upon. (Great applause.)
When he was in the town of Dundee, he called on the Editor of the Northern Warder, for the purpose of inviting the Rev. Mr. Lewis to come out and speak on the question. They (Mr. Douglass and himself) stated that they wanted to give him an oportunity, if they stated anything beyond the truth, or what was untrue or false in logic, to come forward and dispute it. Well, he refused to come, but he saw the gentleman some days afterwards, and got into argument with him on the subject. On this occasion, he (Mr. B.) put the question in this shape:– Now, supposing, any one was to rig out a pirate ship, go upon the high seas, take the vessels of the merchants of this or any other country, kill, burn, and destroy all that came in their way, and make themselves rich by this means – and after getting tired of this business, that they went to the coast of America, and formed themselves into a Church, to make themselves respectable – and suposing they took the Free Church for their model, and made the captain the minister, the mates elders and deacons, and the crew the congregation – would the Free Church of Scotland go over there, and fellowship such men, and take their blood-stained gold? (Cheers.) He supposed there was not a man in scotland but would have answered this direct. (Hear, hear.)
In his estimation the cases were parallel. There was nothing of consequence pased at the time, he gave no answer, but be came out afterwards in the Warder with the following article:–
So far as we are personally concerned, we must say that few questions have throughout appeared to us more free from difficulty and perplexity. If we want aid in a good cause, we shall accept it freely and unhesitatingly from all who tender it. Whatever their creed, or their character, or the origin of their gains, it would make no difference, and constitute no difficulty in our eye, provided that they gave what they gave frankly and unconditionally, and did not ask us to receive it as specially derived from an unlawful source, so as to win from us any implied approbation of that source. If for a good cause, we say, a sum of money were placed in our hands unconditionally, and without explanations, we should accept it, whoever the donor, asking no questions, for conscience sake:– nay, if we have reason to believe that in some particular part of his conduct, he was erring and criminal.9
Here (said Mr. B.) we have the moral standard of the editor of the Warder. Let us examine it for a moment, and compare it with that of worldly men wh make not the same high claims to Christian principle. In our country we have a law (and I am told that you have the same here), that if a man receives stolen goods, knowing them to be such, he is reckoned accessary to the crime, and punished along with the thief; but this sage and Christian editor tells us that his standard is not so high as the common law. It  would ‘constitute no difficulty in our eye’ – we would take it, ‘asking no questions, for conscience sake.’ (Cheers.)
A few years ago, when a committee of gentlemen in our country, (who made no claims to anything more than common honesty, in their official capacity at least,) when struggling to complete a monument to the memory of those who fell in the battle of Bunker’s Hill, were offered a donation by a lady who procured it by dancing at the theatres in our country, they at once rejected it, giving as a reason that they could not stain their monument, and the memory of their fathers, by taking money that was procured in such an improper way. But the editor of the Warder would have taken it, and asked no questions for conscience sake.
I have only time to cite but one more example out of the hundreds which might be brought in proof of what I have alleged against the Warder and that is the noble and magnanimous position taken by Daniel O’Connell. When the Repeal cause was struggling for want of funds, a sum of money was sent him from American slaveholders. That gentleman, labouring, as he believed, for the cause of liberty in his own country, could not purchase it by receiving the price of the enslaved men of any other portion of mankind, and he at once sent it back, saying, that he ‘wanted none of their blood-stained money!’ (Cheers.) How nobly does this act contrast with the wicked conduct of the Free Church, and the low and grovelling declaration of the Northern Warder! Out upon such morality! It is better suited for the organ of a banditti, than the mouth-piece of a Christian denomination.
I will refer to but one more position taken by this sage editor. He seems to congratulate himself on this fact, that if the Free Church be guilty in taking the slave money, then the cotton-spinners of Glasgow and Manchester are as much or more so. (Cheering.) Now this is coming down considerably. At first we heard of this church as being one formed of members who had come out from the Establishment because it was too corrupt – too low and grovelling, and they had struck for somthing [sic] higher, something holier, something purer, than what was professed and practised by any other church; and the struggle through which they had passed in coming out of the old Establishment had wrought a wonderful change on them. (Cheers.) When Mr. Lewis was about to take his departure for America on the money mission, he says ‘I have attempted to analyse the state of mind in which I am about to visit America – very different from that in which I should ahve visited the States a few years ago, when a Minister of the Establishment, and taking part in its defence and extension. Then I fear I should have attracted to myself only the evil things of America; now, I may hope to see the good as well as the evil. Surely the Establishment controversy on the one side, whose waves have hardly subsided, and this new enterprise of the Free Church, have induced a state of mind favourable to a large observation of the civil and ecclesiastical condition of the United States.’
Here we have the state of mind in which Mr. Lewis was about the visit the country where three millions of men were made brutes, and not only deprived of the right to read the Bible, but deprived of every right which can make life desirable. Surely the friends of man in America had a right to  expect that such a person as Mr. Lewis, who had just passed through a great conflict for Christian liberty, and had become purified by the process, would not, when he landed on our shores, at once join with a band of piratical men who had enslaved a portion of God’s children, as dear in His sight as Mr. lewis, and whose oppression is as much more galling and bitter than that practised by the Government of England upon the Churches in Scotland, as man is more valuable than money. But in despite of remonstrance, the most pathetic and earnest – in despite of every argument of the friends of the slave, they went to the slave states, called them good Christians, partook of the Lord’s Supper with thieves, and shook hands with adulterer. In vain were they reminded of the former Christian stand taken in Scotland – in vain did our friends point to some of the noblest Scotch divines, whose voices had thrilled the hearts of the friends of freedom in our land, and whose testimony had struck terror to the heart of the oppressor – in vain did they tell them how the oppressor’s hands would be strengthened, and their own weakened, by such an alliance – in vain did they tell them of the stain they would cast upon Christianity and their own Church’s cause. Nothing was sufficient to restrain their rapacity for the dollars; and soon we see these champinions of freedom – these paragons of piety – bowing down to the Moloch of slavery, and worshipping before its blood-stained altar. (Hear, hear.)
How have the mighty fallen! Starting with a high and holy profession, and claiming to be peculiarly qualified to represent the principles of Jesus Christ upon earth, now, within a few years, we have seen them come down – down step by step, until, if we judge by the articles in the Northern Warder, they are struggling for a character equal with those worldly men, the cotton-spinners of Manchester and Glasgow, who, for the purposes of gain, trade in articles which are produced by the unpaid labour of slaves.
But I think they will not be able to stick there. (Hear.) If I am not mistaken, the cotton-spinners of Manchester and Glasgow will not allow the connection, for I do believe, wordly as they are, their standard of honest dealing is far higher, and they would scorn that of the Warder as being immeasurably too low for men who wish to sustain a fair character as business men. I do not believe they are yet preopared to take money where they can get it without regard to its origin, and especially when they know that it is procured in a criminal way.
I presume it would take quite a number of years of religious teaching from the Warder to make them believe that a man who receive and partakes of stolen goods, is not by that act implicated in the crime. That discovery was left for a religious paper, the organ of a great and pure religious body, whose particular office is to seek for new truths. (Hear.) Let pickpockets rejoice – let thieves hold up their heads – let highway robbers take courage at this discovery, – now they will be able to form an alliance with honourable and sage editors, and see the fruit of their toil appropriated to the conversion of man, and the spread of the gospel. (Great applause.)
I want the Free Church to send back that money. (Cheers.) I want them to take a position which will benefit themselves  pecuniarily, morally, and religiously. (Much applause.) I find members of the Free Church who tell me that they want the money sent back. More than this, when I was at Greenock, I met a deacon of Dr. Macfarlane’s congregation who told me that he wanted that money to go back, and that he had no language to express his abhorrenace of taking it. He further stated that he had been talking with a large number of the members of the Free Church that morning, and that they were all in favour of sending it back. I know one person who would give £100, if not a larger sum, to the Free Church, so soon as it is sent back; another who would give £20, another £10, and many members who would not pay another farthing into the treasury until the money is sent back. (Applause.) I believe that the Free Church in six months would be better off pecuniarily, and I know she would be so moraly and religiously; and as a friend, therefore, I would advise that they send back this blood-stained money, and sever all connection with the slaveholders of America. (Cheers.)
Mr. Buffum, after referring to the visit of Mr. Thompson to the United States, and to the change of feeling which had taken place since that period in regard to the anti-slavery question, concluded by stating that there was not a house large enough in Boston to hold those who would now go to hear him – and even those who joined in the mob against him, hoped he would again visit them.
Mr. PINKERTON’s amendment not being seconded, the resolutions moved by Mr. Wright, seconded by Mr. Murray, and supported by Messrs. Douglass and Buffum, were submitted to the meeting, and adopted by acclamation.
A gentleman, named Kilpatrick, here got upon the platform, and made a few observations. He said he was not apologist for the Free Church, but he objected to the resolution, on the ground that he was not one of those who could agree to break all fellowship with Christians on the slavery question. He was of opinion that the opponents of slavery would frustrate their own object by breaking all connection with the Christians of America, as by communication the latter might be benefited by the greater light, which the people of this country had obtained on the subject.
The CHAIRMAN, in answer to the remarks of the previous speaker, said they did not look upon slaveholders as being Christians at all. (Loud cheers.)
Mr. GEORGE THOMPSON rose and said – My excellent friends who have already addressed this meeting, must permit me to say, that though I fully concur in the view they have taken of the momentous question now before us, I nevertheless cannot rise to speak in support of their sentiments, without expressing my deep pain at finding myself in the situation which I at this moment occupy. It has been my honour and privilege to stand in many of the pulpits of Scotland to advocate, in the presence of large audiences, the abolition of slavery. I have also very frequently in those pulpits exposed and denounced the guilty connection subsisting between the churches of the Southern States of America, and the execrable and cruel system of slavery. Wherever I have done this, I have not only had the sympathy of the people, but  the approbration and support of the ministers. Not unfrequently I have been specially invited to lecture upon the inconsistency and criminality of the American churches that were connected with slavery, and in all cases found the clergy ready to go with me in my heaviest denuncations of those who, while they called themselves the disciples and ministers of the Redeemer, were found conniving at the enslavement, body and soul, of those for whom he died. Little did I ever dream that, in the course of my brief life, it would fall to my lot to stand upon a platform in Scotland to arraign those who once joined with me in condemning the blood-guiltiness of the American churches, for needlessly, gratuitously, without solicitation, and without any temptation but the most sordid and paltry, uniting in Christian fellowship with men who, of all the abettors of the slavery in the universe, are the most inexcusable – because the most enlightened. (Cheers.) Sir, this is the third deputation from the Churches of Great Britain to the Christians of America that I have found it my duty to charge with having done injury to the cause of the slave, by their fraternisation of menstealers and their apologists; and it is in grief I add, that of those three deputations, the one before us to-night has done most harm and has the smallest excuse to offer.
Sir, the frequent mention this evening of the name of one gentleman connected with that deputation, has brought to my mind a circumstances which I consider it proper to make public. In 1834 I presented a friend in Edinburgh with a small volume entitled, ‘A Picture of American Slavery.’ It was a work of a gentleman who had been for many years a Presbyterian minister in the southern states of America. It contained an awful and revolting delineation of the utter corruption of the churches connected with slavery. Its accuracy had never been denied, though its author had frequently been in imminent peril of losing his life, as a reward for his faithfulness in drawing aside the curtain which, till the appearance of his book, had veiled the horrors of those painted sepulchres – the Evangelical slaveholding Churches of the United States. Well, Sir, this book was placed in the hands of Dr. Cunningham. (Hear, hear.) After he had read it, he invited me to breakfast with him. Our conversation related solely to the criminality of the American Churches that supported slavery. He told me, distinctly and emphatically, that of all the aspects under which he regarded American slavery, the most affecting, and that which filled him with the deepest horror, was the connection of ministers of the Gospel, and professing Christians, with the soul-destroying system. At that interview he did not hesitate to declare his conviction, that slaveholding and Christianity were incompatible and irreconcileable. (Cheers.) He did more. He expressed his desire to be instrumental in reprinting the work which he had read, for he said that he most earnestly desired that all the Christians of Scotland should be aware of the guilt and turpitude of those in America, who had covered their Christian profession with shame, by participating in the iniquity of slavery. The consequence was, that the little book was reprinted, under the auspices of Dr. Cunningham, and circulated for the information of the people of Scotland, and for the sole and special purpose of rousing their indignation against the hyprocrites of  America who, while calling themselves members of the body of christ, made merchandise of slaves and the souls of men. Here is the book, printed in your own city, with a preface from the pen of Dr. Cunningham. What says he in the preface? – that he felt ‘he could not do a more important service to the cause of true religion, than to have it printed in a cheap edition, and presented to his fellow-countrymen.’ What else does he say? – ‘We are of opinion that all parties will unite in testifying their abhorrence of the abominations revealed in this book.’ How does he speak of the acts revealed in this book? – he calls them ‘brutal deeds;’ and concludes with these remarkable words:– ‘The extraordinary facts detailed, especially that professed ministers of the Gospel in the United States are deeply involved in the fearful guilt and wickedness in the book, must make a deep impression on every well-disposed mind in these lands.’ Such is the preface to Mr. George Bourne’s ‘Picture of Slavery among the Churches of America.’ What is the motto which Dr. Cunningham printed upon the title-page? –
Is there not some chosen curse –
Some hidden thunder – in the stores of heaven,
Red with uncommon wrath, to blast the man
Who gains his fortune from the blood of souls?
This is an awful motto. Well, what is the entire object of the book, thus reprinted and adopted by Dr. Cunningham, and sent forth with the terrific words upon its title which I have just read? The object is to show, (I quote from the book,) ‘how this desolating curse (slavery) can be effectually extirpated.’ And what is the remedy advised by the author, and recommended by Dr. Cunningham? Hear it:
Every slaveholder, peremptorily and without delay, must be excommunicated from the church of God. (Cheers.) It is of no importance what titles, what office, what station, or what rank the slaveholder may hold, or what apparent virtues or talents he may possess or develope. To all these specious pleas, and to all this anti-christian white-washing, there is a concise, significant and irrefutable reply – He is a man-stealer! But, as a man-stealer is the very highest criminal in the judgment of God, and of all rational uncorrupted men, he cannot be a Christian; and, therefore, it is an insult to the Lord Jesus Christ the Head of the church, to record the most notorious criminal as an acceptable member of ‘the household of faith.’ (Loud cheers.)
Can you wonder, Sir, at the pain, the surprise, the indignation which I feel, on finding that Dr. Cunningham has sought the aid of these man-stealers, to build up the cause of the Free Church of Scotland, and that he now stands forth in the General Assembly of that church, to claim them as Christian brethren, and to rebuke the men who are endeavouring to separate the holy from the vile in the visible Church of Christ? How have the mighty fallen! How has the fine gold become dim! The salt has lost is savour, and is henceforth fit for thing, but to be cast out and trodden under foot of men. I do not hesitate to declare my conviction, that the conduct of the deputation of the Free Church, while in America, has been as disgraceful as any thing recorded during the last fifty years. (Loud cheers.)
 Sir, I well recollect receiving a requisition, signed by Dr. Cunningham, Dr. Candlish, and others, who are now conspicuous members of the Free Church, to deliver a lecture in the West Church, Edinburgh, on the duty of British Christians in reference to American slavery. (Cheers.) The great building in which we assembled was crowded to overflowing, and I was supported by these gentlemen in my declaration, that it was the duty of the Christians of this country to refuse all intercourse with the professors of Christianity on the other side of the Atlantic, who in any way lent their assistance to the horrid system of slavery. (Cheers.) What have we beheld since? One of these men has crossed the Atlantic, and, instead of bearing a fearless testimony against the abomination of slavery, he has actually linked the Free Church of Scotland to the very worst of the slaveholding churches of America. He has done more. He has brought into the treasury of the Free Church, the fruits of the plunder of the victims, whom the members of those slaveholding churches have robbed of their liberty – robbed of the fruits of the plunder of the victims, whom the members of those slaveholding churches have robbed of their liberty – robbed of the fruits of their industry – robbed of every privilege that is valuable and dear – and reduced to the condition of horses, and pigs, and dogs. Oh, horrible impiety! Oh, wicked inconsistency! Oh, monstrous and iniquitous union, of light and darkness, Christ and Belial! Ministers and members of Scotland’s Free Church, I tell you from this place, that, while you retain in your treasury, one farthing of the money taken from the slaveholders of America, the curse of the slave, and the righteous indignation of the slave’s God, are upon you. While you retain that money, the fairest edifice you have reared, is stained with blood. While you retain that money, there is a fly in your pot of ointment, that will make it a stench in the nostrils of all good men. While you retain that money, your gold and your silver are cankered and corrupted, and, as surely as you have taken it, and, by so doing, joined hands with the very worse of the oppressors of the slave, so surely will your glory depart, until ‘ICHABOD’ will be written upon the walls of those buildings you have erected for the worship of Him, who has said, ‘Woe unto you Scribes and Pharisees, Hypocrites! for ye tithe mint, and anise, and cummin, but neglect the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy and faith.’ (Loud cheers.) You must put on the sackcloth of repentence. You must confess that you have sinned. You must acknowledge that you have allowed yourselves to be driven into an unholy compact with men-stealers, and you must ask forgiveness of those manacled beings, whose stolen wages you permitted to be brought into your treasury. (Cheers.) Do this, and thy light shall break forth as the morning, thine health shall spring forth speedily, and thy righteousness shall go before thee, the glory of the Lord shall being up the rear.
Oh, the accursed love of gold! Oh, that three thousand pounds should outweigh the claims of three millions of slaves; should strike dumb the eloquent tongues of Scotland’s most talented ministers; should corrupt the principles, pervent the judgment, and stifle the sympathies of those, who sere once among the most uncompromising of the enemies of slavery! Who does not say, ‘Perish the gold, and return again the days of honesty and truth and justice.’ (Cheers.) What a spectacle, to see the delegates of the Free  Church wandering about the slave states with padlocks on their lips! to see them holding fellowship with men, who would have hounded on a lynch-law mob to drag them to the gibbet, if they had preached one sermon against slavery.
A person at this meeting has told us that these gentlemen were sent to preach the Gospel, and had nothing to do with slavery. I tell him they did not preach the Gospel. Would that Missionary be called a preacher of the Gospel, who should say not a word against idolatry in India; not a word against Popery in Rome; not a word against the false prophet at Constantinople! but, on the contrary, fellowship the priests of Juggernaut, fellowship the disciples of Ignatius Loyola, fellowship the expounders of the Koran, and hold forth in their temples and mosques, and take gifts from the shrines of their idols, to build churches and pay ministers in this country. (Loud cheering.) Would Nathan have fulfilled his mission, if, when he had told his parable, he had neglected to say. ‘Thou art the man?’ (Cheers.) Did Paul so act when he stood on the Hill of Mars, at Athens? Did Christ so act when he overthrew the tables of the money-changers? Did Noah so act when he preached righteousness to an antediluvian world? Did Lot so act in Sodom, or Moses when he beheld the golden calf? The man who, calling himself a minister of the gospel, visits the Southern States without bearing his testimony against slavery, is recreant to the cause he has professed to espouse; and the more so, if his silence is induced by a desire to share with the man-stealer the gains of his iniquity.
They preached the Gospel – did they? and in so doing satisfied their consciences! Why then did they leave the Church of Scotland? (Cheers.) They might have preached it till now, and still remained in the church, according to the principles which actuated them in America. They had only to be silent on the subject of the interference of the secular authority in the affairs of the church, and they might have remained. Why the Non-intrusion agitation in Scotland, and the silence of the delegates on the subject of slavery in America? They could find texts enough in Scotland in favour of Non-intrusion, how was it they could find none against salvery when in America? I should like to see the sermons they preached. I should like to see if among their texts could be found these words –
‘Whoso stealeth a man and selleth him, or if he be found in his hand he shall surely be put to death.’
Or these – ‘Is not this the fast that I have chosen? To loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke:’
Or these – ‘Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us? Why do we deal treacherously one with another:’
Or these – ‘Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants therefore:’
Or these – ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he heath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord:’
Or these – ‘Remember them that are in bonds as bound with them:’
 Or these – ‘Masters give unto your servants that which is just and equal:’
Or these – ‘The labourer is worthy of his hire.’ Or these – ‘Go to now, rich men, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. The cry of those who have reaped down your fields, whose hire is of you kept back by fraud, crieth, and their cry hath entered in the ears of the Lord God of Sabaoth.’
Think you, my friends, the ministers of the Free Church took any one of these texts, while gathering up the gold of the Southern States? I tell you, say. A faithful sermon from either of these texts, would have obtained for him the honours of martyrdom – a martyrdom that would have shed more glory on the Free Church of Scotland, than all her struggles for the Headship of Christ, in his own Church. (Cheers.)
Oh, Sir, when I think of the good which these men might have done, and of the evil which they have done; when I contrast the undying fame they might have achieved for themselves, and Scotland’s Free Church, with the scandal and infamy they have brought, both upon themselves, and upon that otherwise illustrious body, I feel as if I could weep tears of blood.
Do not judge me too harshly for my warmth, or for the strength of my language. Have I not been in America? Have I not laboured in the cause of the slave? Have I not had the honour of suffering somewhat for the slave’s sake? Is not my heart knit in strongest sympathy with those who are nobly battling with the demon of oppression? Was it not my mission, for years, to preach the duty which these delegates have neglected? Have I not laboured to effect the very object which they have frustrated? Have I not addressed public meetings, and synods, and unions, and assemblies in Scotland, upon the duty of non-fellowship with man-stealers? Has not every city, and almost every town, and scores of the churches in Scotland, heard my voice uplifted in denunciation of all communion with slave-owners? Have I not rejoiced over the growing symptoms of a determination to mark the reprobatioin in which slavery is held in Scotland, by withdrawing from fellowship with the most guilty of those who participate in the iniquity of the system, namely the professed disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ? Can I then read such speeches as have been delivered by Dr. Cunningham – such articles as have been written in the Witness – such letters as have been penned by Dr. Chalmers – such books as have been published by Mr. Lewis – and such atrocious articles as have appeared in the Scottish Guardian, without being moved to indignation, and without joining my voice to the voices of those who are at this moment crying – ‘Send back the money?’ Yes send back the money! Let that be the cry – teach it to your children, that when they see one of Scotland’s ministers in the street, they may in infantile accents cry – ‘Send back the money!’ Women of Scotland! let the words become so familiar to you, that you shall in mistake say to those who sit at your table – ‘Will you please to send back the oney?’ (Laughter and loud cheers.) Let every city cover its walls with capitals, a foot square in size, ‘Send back the money.’ (Cheers.) Inscribe upon the pedestal of John Knox’s statue – ‘Send back the money.’ (Cheers.) Write upon the tombs of those who died for the solemn league and covenant – ‘Send back the money.’  (Cheers.) From the summit of Arthur’s Seat, let a banner perpetually float, with this watchword – ‘Send back the money.’ (Cheers.) Carve deep into the Salisbury Crags the words ‘Send back the money.’ Inscribe on the Calton Hill, in characters that may be seen from St. George’s Hall, ‘Send back the money.’ (Immense cheering.)
Sir, the question which everybody is asking is, What will the Free Church Assembly do?’ What they will do I cannot say, but I know what they ought to do, and what they will do if they do right. If they listen to the wishes of the vast majority of the people, they will send back the money. If they are sincerely desirous of averting disunion and division, they will send back the money. If they determine to purge their body from the foul stain of slavery and blood, they will send back the money. If they wish to preach the gospel with success, they will send back the money. If they would have the blessing, rather than the curse, of the slave, they will send back the money. If they would secure the favour and blessing of the God who hath said, ‘I hate robbery for burnt offering,’ they will send back the money. (Loud cheers.) But if they do not, what is the duty of those who belong to that Church? I answer, come out from such a Church, be separate from it, touch not the unclean thing; wash your own hands in innocency; bear a practical testimony against so gross an act of treason to the cause of humanity, as that of recognising as the ministers and followers of Christ those who trade in men, and make merchanidse of souls. Settle it in your minds, that of all the crimes that can be committed, slavery, as practised in the United States, is the worst. It is the sum of all villainies; – it is the usurpation of the rights of God himself; – it is the debasement of man, created in the image of God, to the level of the beast.
Does it mend the matter that this horrible crime is committed by a Doctor of Divinity? – Does it diminish the turpitude of the crime, that the victim is dragged by sacerdotal hands to the horns of the altar, and sacrificed in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ? Is slavery more amiable, because practised by those who preach that God hath made of one blood all the nations of men? Sir, my deliberate opinion, formed from a study of this subject during the last fifteen years, is, that slavery would long since have ceased in America, if it had not been upheld by the Christian denominations of that country. (Cheers.)
Well, Sir, just when the great religious bodies of that country were awakening to a sense of their duty – just when Methodists, Baptists, and Presbyterians, were taking up the subject of fellowship with slaveholders, and resolving to purge out the leaven of iniquity, the Free Church of Scotland sends out a deputation – that, trampling under their feet all their formerly avowed principles – resisting and despising the most affectionate and earnest remonstrances offered to them on their landing – casting behind their backs the known wishes and opinions of the vast bulk of their constituents – direct their steps to the slave States – partake the hospitalities of slaveholders – sit at tables groaning with delicacies, the plunder of those who sere fainting under the lash in the field – lie in luxurious beds, pur-  chased with the money that belonged to the slaves – are waited upon by human beasts of burden – enter churches build by slaves, out of the money of which those slaves had been robbed – preach sermons to recommend the religion of Christ, in pulpits from which they would have been dragged as felons, if they had opened their mouths for the dumb. They call by the name of ‘dear brethren,’ men living upon the fruits of the enslavement and degradation of their own church members – they pocket a portion of the fruits of a system of soul murder, concubinage, lewdness, Lynch-law – and having done so, come home to be henceforth the apologists of those whom they have thus confederated.
Verily, they have their reward! They have broken the hearts of the friends of liberty. They have won the regards and esteem of the traffickers in human flesh. Their praises are sounded in the vile pro-slavery newspapers of America. They have done what they could do to sanctify and perpetuate the most horrible system of brutality and murder on the face of the earth. They have given the lie to all those who, before they visited America, had proclaimed the doctrine of ‘no union with slaveholders.’ To justify themselves, they have misrepresented and maligned the only persons who are consistently working in the cause of freedom. To cover their own cowardice, they have branded others as fanatics, and enemies to the cause of the slave. And, to reconcile the Free church of Scotland to all this, they have put £3000 into her treasury.
Oh, Sir, if every farthing of that three thousand pounds could be made another three thousand pounds, the Free Church should sacrifice it three thousand times over, rather than fix upon herself the deep and damning stain of such a horrid sin, as that of appropriating the wages of blood for the promotion of the cause of Christ. (Loud cheers.)
Friends of humanity! Up, rouse ye. Let the Free Church have no rest. I feel sure that you will in the end triumph. I feel sure that you will in the end triumph. The difficulty all lies in the influence which a very few men exert over the rest of their brethren. But for the fear of man, which bringeth a snare, there would be scores in the ensuring Assembly to denounce this covenant with transgressors, into which the deputation has entered. I well know the over awing effect of the presence of the Candlishes, the Cunninghams, and the Chalmerses. Were these men to propose the sending back of the joyful money, the proposition would be hailed with plaudits from all parts of the house; but while they hang by their corupt and temporising doctrines, their less influential brethren are mute. All honour to the Willises, Greys, and Duncans of the Free Church.10 (Loud cheers.) I believe, Sir, there are many Willises, Greys, and Duncans, and many in that body, and I fondly trust they will at the ensuing Assembly, obey God rather than man, and speak out in the honest sentiments of their souls.
To this Society and its friends I would say, Be ye steadfast and unmovable. The path of duty at the present is most plain. While a penny of the slaveholders’ money remains in Scotland, let there be no peace.
If there be any in this country who, while calling themselves abolitionists, look with indifference or apathy upon this ques-  tion, and refuse to lend a helping hand, I beseech such to examine themselves, whether they are really sound in the faith, and to beware lest this struggle should reveal, that they were only abolitionists when they could be such, without the loss of the favour and countenance of the chief priests and elders of the people. Peace is worth much; but it is not worth the sacrifice of principle. It is far too dearly bought, when it costs a man his fidelity to the cause of truth, and of the bleeding slave.
To the Free Church, I say – Be wise in time. What you do, do quickly. It is even now almost too late to retrieve your character; but delay may be fatal. Let those distinguished men, who are for compromising the question, and keeping the money, be assured that the strife is unequal. The people are against them. The spirit of the age is against them. The Word of God, and the Gospel of Christ, are against them. They may contend a little longer, but they must fall at last.
Repent ye, then, and swiftly bring,
Forth from the camp, the accursed thing;
Consign it to remorseless fire –
Then, strew its ashes on the wind,
Nor leave an atom wreck behind!
So shall your power and wealth increase –
So shall the FREE CHURCH dwell in peace;
On it the Almighty’s glory rest,
And all the land by it be blest.
Mr. Thompson resumed his seat amidst loud cheers.
Mr WRIGHT proposed a resolution or cordial acknowledgement to the Evangelical Alliance, for having, at their last meeting held at Birmingham, passed a resolutioin by which slaveholders would not be invited to their meeting, to be held in August next; and recommending to all those bodies whose object is the spread of the Redeemer’s Kingdom, to adopt and carry out the same principle; which motion was agreed to by acclamation.
Mr. THOMPSON – Sir, the Committee have intrusted to me a resolution, which it gives me peculiar pleasure to submit to this meeting. It is the intention of a few in this country, who deeply sympathise with the American abolitionists, and who desire to do all in their power to promote the cause of universal emancipation, to meet in London in the month of August next, that they may confer together respecting the best and most effectual means of realising their wishes. At this conference we hope to be favoured with the presence and assistance of some of the most uncompromising friends of abolition from Scotland, from ireland, from various parts of England, and from the United States.
Sir, there is one man without whom such a meeting would scarcely be complete, by whomsoever else it might be attended. That man is the object of my resolution to invite, and that man is William Lloyd Garrison. (Loud cheers.)
Sir, there are many reasons for my individually desiring to see William Lloyd Garrison once again in this country. I long to embrace to my heart a friend and brother, who occupies a place in my most ardent affections. I long to tell him, that though the  whispers of falsehood, and the parthian arrows of the envious and bigoted, may have done him injury in the estimation of others, they have only made him more dear to me, and more anxious to be identified with him. I want him to revisit these shores, that he may, by his own bright presence, dispel those clouds which the clandestine calumnies of his enemies have raised, to obscure the fair proportions of his pure and beautiful character.
Sir, let me once again bear my testimony to the character of William Lloyd Garrison. I have known him for thirteen years. During that time I have studied him deeply. I have seen his soul in his writings. (Loud Cheers.) I have seen it poured out in the fulness of confidential correspondence – I have seen it manifested in the hours when a man throws off the disguises he is wont at other times to assume, and appears as he really is – I have seen him in the every day labours of life – I have seen him in the time of danger, when his life was in peril, and in the season of prosperity, when the people shouted Hosannah. I have conversed with him on matters of deepest importance relating both to time and eternity, and have enjoyed, I believe, his unlimited confidence. I have heard the accusations of his enemies, and have investigated both them and the motives in which they originated. I may therefore ask to be admitted a witness, and my solemn, my heartfelt conviction and my unbiased testimony is this, that there breathes not a man more worthy the love, the trust, and the esteem of the friends of God and man than William Lloyd Garrison. (Loud cheers.)
In the event of Providence permitting us to meet together some time hence, I desire to see him in our midst, that we may be aided by his counsel and cheered by his presence. (Cheers.) And oh, I want those who have harboured a hard thought towards this my beloved brother, to know him, to prove him, and then to take him to their hearts and tlel him, that they repent that they ever allowed the breath of slander to dim for a moment the lustre of his character in their eyes. (Loud cheers.) Mr. Thompson presented the following resolution:– ‘That this Meeting cordially sympathize with William Lloyd Garrison and his coadjutors, in their efforts to promote the Abolition of Slavery in America; and that we extend to Mr. Garrison an invitation to visit this kingdom, to cheer us by his presence, and to encourage us by his counsels.’
A vote of thanks having been given to the chairman, the meeting separated.
Free Church Alliance with Manstealers. Send Back the money. Great Anti-Salaery Meeting in the City Hall, Glasgow, Containing Speeches Delivered by Messrs. Wright, Douglass, and Buffum, from America, and by George Thompson, Esq. of London; with a Summary Account of a Series of Meetings Held in Edinburgh by the Above Named Gentlement (Glasgow: George Gallie, 1846), pp. 7–38.
- ‘Declaration of the National Anti-Slavery Convention.’ Liberator, 14 December 1833.
- On the composition of the Free Church delegation to the United States, which also included Henry Ferguson, see Iain Whyte, ‘Send Back the Money!’: The Free Church of Scotland and American Slavery (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2012), 14.
- American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, Letter from the Executive Committee of the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society to the Commissioners of the Free Church of Scotland (Edinburgh: Myles Macphail, ). Reprinted in the Liberator, 26 April 1844.
- Wright is probably referring to a letter Chalmers wrote to the Witness defending the Free Church’s position, insisting that a ‘distinction ought to be made between the character of a system and the character of the persons whom circumstances have implicated therewith.’ Thomas Chalmers to editor, Edinburgh, 12 May 1845 (Witness, 14 May 1845). Douglass mocked this argument in several of his speeches, including one he gave in Arbroath on 12 February 1846 and returned to it in his own speech, below.
- American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society, Letter from the Executive Committee. In a notorious speech at a meeting of the Repeal Association in Dublin on 11 May 1843, Daniel O’Connell declared his intention to refuse ‘blood-stained money’ from pro-slavery Repeal groups in the United States. The speech was reported in the Liberator, 9 and 30 June 1843, and in the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Reporter, 9 August 1843.
- The United Associate Synod approved a motion proposing the withdrawal of fellowship with American churches on 8 May 1846 (Scotsman, 9 May 1846); the Relief Synod followed suit on 14 May (Scotsman, 16 May 1846). Douglass attended the former but was not allowed to speak.
- The resolution was approved at a meeting of the Aggregate Committee of the Evangelical Alliance in Birmingham in March 1846: see Whyte, ‘Send Back the Money!’, p.120; Richard Blackett, Building an Anti-Slavery Wall: Black Americans in the Atlantic Abolitionist Movement, 1830–1860 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983), p. 97.
- The Presbyterian Churches in the United States had split on North-South lines in 1837 and the Baptist and Methodist Churches followed in 1844-45, but the Northern Churches were not exempt from censure from abolitionists. See Hilrie Shelton Smith, In His Image, But…: Racism in Southern Religion, 1780–1910 (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1972), pp. 74–128; Milton Sernett, Black Religion and Ameriican Evangelicalism: White Protestants, Plantation Missions, and the Flowering of Negro Christianity, 1787–1865 (Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, 1975), pp. 36–58; and John R. McKivigan, The War Against Proslavery Religion: Abolitionism and the Northern Churches, 1810–1865 (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1984).
- ‘The Free Church and the Contributions from the Slave States,’ Northern Warder, 12 February 1846.
- On 12 March 1845 at the Free Church Presbytery of Edinburgh, Dr John Duncan and Dr Henry Grey called on the Free Church to adopt a more uncompromising attitude towards the American churches (Whyte, ‘Send Back the Money!’, pp. 60-5). Rev Michael Willis, a Free Church minister had as early as March 1844, called on the church leaders to return the money raised in the United States (Glasgow Argus, 18 March 1844); in May 1846 Willis would be one of the founding members of the Free Church Anti-slavery Society (Whyte, ‘Send Back the Money!’, pp. 129-30)