The Abolitionists eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about The Abolitionists.
when Mr. Beecher appeared on the scene.  He had not gone to England to make public speeches.  He was there for health and recreation, but, realizing the situation with his quick perceptiveness, he took up the gage of battle.  It was a fearful resolution on his part.  The chances seemed to be all against him.  It was one man against thousands.  His victory, however, was complete.  His five great speeches in the business centres of England and Scotland were not only listened to by thousands, but they went all over the country in the public prints.  They completely changed the current of public opinion.

Mr. Beecher’s first address was in Manchester, which, owing to the interest of the leading business men of that city in the cotton trade and the furnishing of ships and supplies for blockade running, was a seething hot bed of Rebel sentiment.  When he arrived in that place on the day he was to speak, he was met at the depot by friends with troubled faces, who informed him that hostile placards—­significantly printed in red colors—­had been posted all over the city, and, if he persisted in trying to speak, he would have a very uncomfortable reception.

He was asked how he felt about trying to go on.  “I am going to be heard,” was his reply.

The best description of the scene that ensued is supplied in Mr. Beecher’s own words: 

“The uproar would come in on this side, and then on that.  They would put insulting questions and make all sorts of calls to me, and I would wait until the noise had subsided and then get in about five minutes of talk.  The reporters would get that down, and then up would come another noise.  Occasionally I would see things that amused me, and I would laugh outright, and the crowd would stop to see what I was laughing at.  Then I would sail in with another sentence or two.  A good many times the crowd threw up questions that I caught and threw back.  I may as well at this point mention a thing that amused me hugely.  There were baize doors that opened both ways into side alleys, and there was a huge burly Englishman standing right in front of one of these doors and roaring like a bull of Bashan.  One of the policemen swung his elbow round and hit him in the belly and knocked him through the doorway, so that the last part of his bawl was out in the alleyway.  It struck me so ludicrously to think how the fellow must have looked when he found himself ‘hollering’ outside, that I could not refrain from laughing outright.  The audience immediately stopped its uproar, wondering what I was laughing at.  That gave me another chance, and I caught on to it.  So we kept it up for about an hour and a half before the people became so far calmed down that I could go on peaceably with my speech.  My audience got to like the pluck I showed.  Englishmen like a man that can stand on his feet and give and take, and so for the last hour I had pretty much clear sailing.  The next morning every great
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The Abolitionists from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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