Autograph Signed Letter (ALS) Written in Connection with Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Visit to England in 1853 and Bringing Together Some of the Major Figures in the Campaign to Abolish Slavery in America

Lord Shaftesbury - 7th Earl of Shaftesbury (1801 -1885)

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Titel: Autograph Signed Letter (ALS) Written in ...


DESCRIPTION OF ITEM: An interesting and historically significant autograph letter signed by Shaftesbury to Louis Chamerouzow (head of The Anti-Slavery Society) expressing his desire to attend a meeting with Harriet Beecher Stowe to convey the respect in which he holds her but explaining he has to open a new Ragged School earlier in the day and lay a foundation at a church in Chatham. Dated May 25th 1853, Shaftesbury writes, ‘When Mr Sturge spoke to me about the Soiree, I told him that I had to attend at Chatham, this day, to lay the first stone of a Church and afterwards open a Ragged School in the evening. I added that it would give me very great pleasure to be present at the meeting and show to Mrs Stowe the respect that I do so deeply feel. I observed, however, that it would be difficult and perhaps impossible to get away from Chatham sufficiently early for the Ceremonial proposed. I will do my best and if I can achieve it’. He then goes on to add, ‘Should I not arrive in time, pray let my letter be read to the meeting.’ HISTORICAL CONTEXT: An MP and one of the best known philanthropists of the Victorian era, Shaftesbury was largely responsible for legislation that dramatically changed social welfare in Great Britain including the Factory Acts of 1847 and 1853, the Coal Mines Act of 1842 and the Lunacy Act of 1845. He also led the establishment of the Ragged Schools Union providing refuge and education for London’s street children and schooling them in trades to enable them to escape poverty. The letter refers to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s visit to England in May 1853 to promote ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ and build support for the campaign to abolish slavery in America (as described in Chapter 10 of ‘The Life of Harriet Beecher Stowe’ - CE Stowe 1889). From the biography of Stowe written by her son, we know that she met Shaftesbury at least twice during this visit. The first time was at the reception held for Stowe by the Duchess of Sutherland (patron of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society) at Stafford House on May 8th when Shaftesbury read an address on behalf of the women of England (known as the Affectionate and Christian Address which had been organised by the Society and had half a million signatures). The second time they met was on May 30th when Shaftesbury took her to St Paul’s to meet ‘the charity children’. This letter suggests Shaftesbury and Stowe were also due to meet on this third occasion although it is not clear whether Shaftesbury did eventually make it the meeting. It is also interesting to note that the work of Shaftesbury and Stowe were linked before her 1853 visit. In 1851 Rev. Josiah Henson (the escaped slave whose autobiography ‘The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada, as Narrated by Himself’ is believed to have been the inspiration for Stowe’s ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’) developed a deep interest in the Ragged Schools Union movement and frequently visited the schools to speak about his experience (as described in Chapter XXII of his autobiography). The Joseph Sturge referred to by Shaftesbury in the letter was an English Quaker and founder of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (now Anti-Slavery International) which had as its aim the world wide emancipation of slaves. Similarly, the Louis Alexis Chamerouzow to whom the letter is addressed was Secretary of the British and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society (1852-70) and helped John Brown write and edit his seminal autobiography ‘Slave Life in Georgia: A Narrative of the Life, Sufferings, and Escape of John Brown, a Fugitive Slave, Now in England’ which was published 2 years after this letter in 1855. An interesting letter that not only provides further information about Stowe's visit to England but which also throws light upon the relationships that existed between some of the key figures involved in the campaign to abolish slavery in America. DETAILED CONDITION REPORT : 18.2cm x 11.5cm. 4pp (with text on 3 of them). Maili. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 000018

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