The Writing of
Michelle Duster
1894 - Ida's Writing

From The  Daily Inter Ocean, written in 1894 
by Ida B. Wells


            Liverpool was the center of slave interests from the days of good Queen Bess to the abolition of slavery by the British in 1807.  More than half the slave ships which carried human merchandise from Africa to the West Indies and America were built in the Liverpool docks and owned by Liverpool merchants.  The triple voyages of these ships brought enormous wealth to the owners and to the city.  There was first the voyage to Africa, where hundreds of slaves were captured or bought for a few gewgaws; thence to the West Indies, where the cargo was sold at 100 per cent profit, and the ship’s hold stored with sugar and rum; this at Liverpool brought as great profit as had the slaves in the West Indies.  The opposition to the abolition of the slave trade as a matter of course came from those who profited most largely by it.  Right finally prevailed, and Liverpool in 1806 returned as its member of Parliament a man who had written the first philippic against slavery thirty years before.  William Roscoe aided materially in the passage of the bill for the abolition of slavery.

            In 1861, fifty-five years later, the strongest sympathy evinced for the pro-slavery party in the United States was found in Liverpool.  After the cessation of its own slave trade the shipping merchants and cotton mills had gradually built up a flourishing trade in the cotton produced by slave labor in the Southern States.

            Southern ports were blockaded and no more cotton could be obtained.  The ships were idle and the looms empty.  Again self-interest pointed the way, and Liverpudlians gave their support to the South.  Hon. W. E. Gladstone, a native of Liverpool, whose wealth had come from slave labor on a West India plantation, and who was then leader of the House of Commons, said concerning secession:  “Jeff Davis has created a nation.”  In the Liverpool docks were built the gunboats Florida and Alabama, which saw such active service in the Confederate cause.  Here it was that Henry Ward Beecher met the greatest resistance to his attempts to speak in behalf of the Union in 1863.  For nearly three hours the mob at the Philharmonic Hall yelled, hisses, hooted, and interrupted him when he began to speak, but he managed little by little to get his address all out at last.


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