A small but enthusiastic crowd gathered in the Music Hall in Leeds, England, on December 23, 1846, to hear an address by a fugitive slave from the United States whose freedom had been purchased by British abolitionists a few days earlier. The local merchant who presided at the meeting promised the audience that the speaker would demonstrate how the United States could realize its dream of becoming an exemplary land of freedom. Loud and prolonged cheering erupted as the tall, broad-shouldered black man, known as Frederick Douglass, stepped to the platform. Although Douglass had not fully recovered from an illness which prevented him from speaking in Leeds the previous week, his address exhibited the “thrilling and natural eloquence” which audiences had come to expect of him since his arrival in Britain in August 1845. “I want the slave-holder surrounded as by a wall of anti-slavery fire,” he declared at one point in his speech, “so that he may see the condemnation of himself and his system glaring down in letters of light” (p. 481). For twenty months he hammered away at this theme in lectures throughout the British Isles in an attempt to rekindle the dormant anti-slavery spirit there and set in motion a “tide of moral indignation” which would ultimately lead to the abolition of slavery in the United States.
Gatewood, Jr., Willard B.
"Frederick Douglass and the Building of a Wall of Anti-Slavery Fire, 1845-1846. An Essay Review,"
Florida Historical Quarterly: Vol. 59:
3, Article 8.
Available at: https://stars.library.ucf.edu/fhq/vol59/iss3/8