‘They had struck hands with the slaveholder in Christian fellowship. They would not listen to the voice of Scotland demanding, in tones which could not be mistaken — send back the money’
This pamphlet publishes the minutes of an antislavery meeting that was held at Mr Cairns’s church in Paisley, Scotland, at which Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) gave a blistering antislavery speech. Douglass relied on powerful language to expose the base morality of the Free Church of Scotland and condemn their bloodthirsty actions in taking the blood-stained money from white enslavers in the USA. He was unequivocal in his demand: ‘SEND BACK THE MONEY’.
‘I am very glad I came to Paisley – (Cheers) – glad to be in Scotland… I have been here before. Since I addressed an audience here last, the question of slavery has assumed not a new form, but some additional points have been started. The Evangelical Alliance has held its sittings in the city of London — and the General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland has held its meetings at Cannonmills in Edinburgh. There were remarks made and speeches delivered, to which I will draw your attention for the short time I am to address you. I heard at the Free Church Assembly speeches delivered by Duncan, Cunningham, and Candlish, and I never heard, in all my life, speeches better calculated to uphold and sustain that bloody system of wrong. (Cheers). I heard sentiments such as these from Dr. Candlish — that christians would be quite justified in sitting down with a slaveholder at a communion table — with men who have a right, by the law of the land, to kill their slaves. That sentiment, as it dropped from the lips of Dr. Candlish, was received by three thousand people with shouts of applause. I heard other sentiments equally objectionable to this. Every imaginable excuse for slaveholding was brought forward by these men eminent for their learning — men who claim to be the heaven-appointed instruments for the removal of all sin. I heard these men, standing up there, appealing to the sympathies of those who heard them, to remember the slaveholder, and not one rose spoke of remembering those in bonds as bound with them. Their manacled bondmen were not thought of for a single moment, but, like the Levite of old, they passed by on the other side. (Applause.) They had struck hands with the slaveholder in christian fellowship. They would not listen to the voice of Scotland demanding, in tones which could not be mistaken — send back the money. (Applause.) The Free Church went to the United States in the name of freedom, to injure the cause of the slaves in their own country. They never raised a whisper in condemnation of the traffic, or one word of sympathy for the poor bondman. (Cheers.) They united in christian fellowship with the slaveholder — spread around him the sanctification of Christianity — told him they had many things to learn of them — that the Scottish religionists would do well to take a lesson from them. (Cheers.) Friends, these charges shall be rung from one end of Scotland to another, if there be any shame left in her. (Cheers.) I believe she is beyond shame. Why do they dare to stand up in Scotland to advocate this union? Your own liberties are in danger — the liberty of your own children is in danger. (Loud cheers.) For men who can defend those who embrace three millions of their fellow-creatures, would even reduce to slavery those who tread your own soil. He who steals a black man will steal a white man, and he who steals a white man will steal a black man. (Applause.) I look upon the slaveholders as being dastardly, infernal, in their character, but I consider the Free Church incomparably worse, for what they have done is with less temptation. Their crime is greater then even that of the slaveholders themselves. (Loud cheers.) They have taken the ground that deliberate slavery is not in itself sinful. This is awful ground, which they never would have taken but for their contact with the slaveholders. I hope you will not allow this matter to stop with this meeting. I hope you mean what you look to mean — that you are now in earnest that no slaveholders' apologists shall be allowed to tread the soil of Scotland unattacked — and while there is a single individual left in Scotland who will dare to lift his voice in favour of the American slaveholder.’