Irish Christians and Non-Fellowship with Man-Stealers

Frederick Douglass

Citation Information:  Frederick Douglass, “Irish Christians and Non-Fellowship with Man-Stealers: An Address Delivered in Dublin, Ireland, on October 1, 1845.” DublinEvening Packet and Correspondent, October 4, 1845. Blassingame, John (et al, eds.).The Frederick Douglass Papers: Series One–Speeches, Debates, and Interviews. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Vol. I, p. 34.

Irish Christians and Non-Fellowship with Man-Stealers: An Address Delivered in Dublin, Ireland, on October 1, 1845.

Dublin Evening Packet and Correspondent, October 4, 1845.

  1. Mr. Douglass then came forward, and for an hour and a half he rivetted the attention of his hearers by his eloquent appeals on behalf of his outraged coloured brethren. Recently a slave himself, and still liable, by the laws of his country, to be seized and carried back into bondage, he appealed to an Irish audience for help to break the chains which bound the black man in America. What the chairman had stated respecting the churches of America was true. They were all implicated more or less in the sin of maintaining the infernal slave system—of placing their brethren in chains like these, and flogging them with whips like this—(holding up to the audience some of the horrible instruments of torture used by the slaveholders.) It is with such a church as this that I ask you to hold no Christian intercourse. Be faithful friends in your Christian testimony against such profanation of Christianity as this.
  2. I love religion—I love the religion of Jesus, which is pure and peaceable, and easy to be entreated. I ask you all to love this religion; but I hate a religion which, in the name of the Saviour, and which prostitutes his blessed precepts to the vile purposes of slavery, ruthlessly sunders all the ties of nature, which tears the wife from the husband—which separates the child from the parent—which covers the backs of men and women with bloody scars—which promotes all manner of licentiousness. I hate such a religion as this, for it is not Christianity—it is of the devil.—I ask you to hate it too, and to assist me in putting in its place the religion of Jesus.
  3. Let the Methodist minister, the Presbyterian minister, the Baptist minister, the Unitarian minister, the Catholic clergyman, and the Protestant clergyman—let the Society of Friends—let all, of every denomination in Ireland, be faithful to their Saviour, and slavery in America will soon fall to the ground. For they are all in connection with churches in America, to whom they can send out faithful remonstrances. Public opinion in America boasts that it is almost omnipotent, and to a great extent this is true; it makes and unmakes laws—it establishes and overturns the customs of society; and while our people claim to be the most enlightened and the most civilised, and the freest upon the earth; and while they are vain of their institutions, they are sensitive in the extreme to the opinions entertained of them in European countries, particularly in England and Scotland and Ireland.
  4. Friends of the poor slave, be therefore firm and faithful in your remonstrances with Americans; let your press teem with denunciations; let your pulpits proclaim to the world that Christianity disowns all fellowship with man-stealers; let your social circles all talk on the subject as one of deep importance to the interests of humanity; let your entire community be filled with anti-slavery sentiment; so that when slaveholders, or apologists of the system, visit your country, they may feel that they breathe in an atmosphere too pure to be contaminated by them. Do this, my friends, and you will render good service to the oppressed. I ask you in the name of humanity; I ask you in the name of Christianity; I ask you in the name of God; I ask you in the name of all you hold dear on earth or in Heaven, to be in earnest in this holy cause.
  5. I am the representative of three millions of bleeding slaves. I have felt the lash myself; my back is scarred with it; I know what they suffer, and I implore you to bring the weight of that powerful public opinion which you can make so effective, to bear on the hearts and consciences of the slaveholders of my country. Tell them they must give up their vile practices, or continue to be held in contempt by the whole civilised world. (We have but given a faint outline of Mr. Douglass’s eloquent and manly speech. He is a speaker of great ability, well calculated to interest the feelings and convince the judgment of his hearers. He read copious extracts from the laws of the slave states, proving that a grinding despotism exists in them, and that great pains are taken to keep the colored man in a condition of the most brutal degradation. He was loudly cheered throughout his long and most interesting discourse.)