Leith: 28 May 1846

Leith Walk. From J. B. Gillies, Edinburgh Past and Present (Edinburgh: Oliphant, Anderson & Ferrier, 1886), p. 204.

Following their two meetings in Edinburgh’s Music Hall, Frederick Douglass and George Thompson addressed a large audience in Leith on Thursday 28 May. The only report – in the Edinburgh Evening Post – does not specify the venue.  It would be Douglass’ last public appearance before the debate on slavery scheduled to take place two days later on Saturday 30 May at the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland. He and Thompson, as well as Henry Clarke Wright and James Buffum would observe the proceedings from the gallery.

MR THOMPSON – ANTI-SLAVERY. On Thursday evening, Mr Thompson, Mr Douglass, and others addressed one of the largest meetings ever held in Leith, on the position which the Free Church at present occupies with regard to the slavery question.

Mr Thompson stated, in eloquent and forcible terms, that, but for the Church in the United States, slavery could not exist; and that the deputation from the Scotch Free Church, by accepting of money (upwards of L.3000), as a bribe to their silence regarding the great question of slavery, had thereby identified themselves with the slave-supporting Church, and had given slavery a more lasting hold upon the minds of men in America than anything that has happened for a long period of time.

Mr Thompson stated that a few years ago he was invited to occupy the pulpit of one of our city churches by the now leaders of the Free Church, to deliver a lecture upon the sinfulness and horrors of slavery. – Drs Chalmers, Candlish, and Cunningham, and others, then sitting in the seats immediately around the pulpit, applauding all he said, and giving publicity in every possible way to his statements. Then they hailed him as a brother; but now they repudiated him as an ‘itinerant orator;’ and so ‘changed is the spirit of their dream’ that they have exhausted their ingenuity to discover Scriptural authority to sanction the diabolical traffic in human blood!

Mr Thompson was listened to with deep interest during his eloquent appeal in behalf of the slaves, and cheered throughout as fact after fact fell from his lips; and he concluded by assuring the meeting that he would not cease agitating the great cause of feedom and humanity till the Free Church ‘traitors’ were forced to ‘send back the money!’

Edinburgh Evening Post, 30 May 1846