Kilmarnock: 2 October 1846

Kilmarnock, engraved by David Octavius Hill. National Library of Scotland.

Following their lecture at City Hall in Glasgow on Wednesday 30th, Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison addressed several more meetings in the city – of which no newspaper report has been found – before leaving by train to Ardrossan on the morning of Friday 2nd October, in order to take the steamer to Belfast. However, there was just time to break their journey at Kilmarnock, where Douglass had lectured four times in the Spring. Here is Garrison’s account of those two days:

On Thursday, at noon, we addressed a full meeting of ladies, which seemed to give great saisfaction. In the evening, we held another meeting in the City Hall, which was equally cheering with the others, and terminated near midnight. Yesterday morning, about seventy ladies and gentlemen gave us a public breakfast at the Eagle Hotel, and I only regret that I have not time to tell you all about it. As a testmonial of affectionate regard to myself, it was overpowering to my feelings. At half past 11 o’clock, we bade farewell to Glasgow, (to the Patons, the Smeals and numerous other liberal friends,) and went to Kilmarnock, where we addressed several hundred persons, hastily summoned together, and received their benediction – and, after taking tea with a number of choice lovers of our good cause, we took the cars for Ardrossan, and at that place went on board a steamer for Belfast, making the passage in severn hours.1

We reproduce here the brief report of that ‘hastily summoned’ meeting, which appeared in the Ayr Advertiser the following week. The venue was not specified in the report.

Douglass would return to Scotland with Garrison three weeks later.

AMERICAN SLAVERY.– On Friday last, Kilmarnock was visited by the great leader of the abolitionists in America, – Mr Lloyd Garrison, and the self-liberated slave, Frederick Douglass. A meeting was held during the day, as the two gentlemen were on their way to Ireland, and had only, at the urgent request of friends, taken Kilmarnock in their route. The speech of Lloyd Garrison was on the general question of American slavery, and his remarks deprecating that horrid system were warmly responded to by his auditory. His friend Frederick Douglass also shortly addressed the meeting, which was numerous, considering that it was convened in a few hours.

Ayr Advertiser, 8 October 1846


  1. William Lloyd Garrison to Liberator, Belfast, 3 October 1846; in The Letters of William Lloyd Garrison. Volume 3: No Union with Slave-Holders, edited by Walter M. Merrill (Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1973), p. 434. The Glasgow farewells specified here relate to their hosts, Andrew Paton and his sister Catherine of Richmond Street (where Garrison stayed), and William and Robert Smeal, of Gallowgate (where Douglass probably stayed).