Douglass left the United States for two reasons: he wanted to raise funds for the American abolitionist movement, and he wanted to put himself outside of U.S. legal jurisdiction. Under American law, he was still considered property belonging to a slave owner in Maryland.
Douglass often found a welcoming audience among the English and Irish, and some sympathetic American newspapers reported on his appearances.
- New York Tribune, November 19, 1845: A brief account of the welcome Douglass received in the Irish cities of Dublin and Cork.
- New York Tribune, February 2, 1846: A letter from Ireland Douglass had written to The Liberator, the fiery abolitionist newspaper published by William Lloyd Garrison, was reprinted in one of New York's leading papers.
- The Anti-Slavery Bugle, April 10, 1846: A letter from Douglass to William Lloyd Garrison appeared in an Ohio abolitionist newspaper. Douglass described the poverty and oppression he witnessed in Ireland.
- New York Tribune, June 16, 1846: A description of an address Douglass gave in England provided dramatic details about the content of his speeches.
- Anti-Slavery Bugle, May 28, 1847: An American abolitionist newspaper reprinted a story, from the Times of London, concerning the controversy that erupted when Douglass left Britain in the spring of 1847. As he boarded the Cunard liner Cambria he was told he could not stay in the first class cabin he had paid for. Douglass was eventually able to use his cabin, but was forced to eat alone on the ship. The British public was offended that American prejudices had intruded on a British liner.
Upon returning to America, Douglass, with money he had raised overseas, purchased his freedom. It was a controversial move among ardent abolitionists, who considered the buying of freedom an acceptance of the legality of slavery. But Douglass wanted to ensure he could continue his speaking and writing without fear of being abducted.
And, of course, he continued to rise to prominence as one of the great voices of freedom in 19th century America.
Note: after visiting the links at the Chronicling America site of the Library of Congress, use the "persistent link" to view the entire page of the newspaper.
Illustration: Frederick Douglass/Library of Congress
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