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promptly attended, my heart bounding at every true utterance against the
slave system, and every rebuke of its friends and supporters. Thus passed the
first three years of my free life. I had not then dreamed of the possibility of
my becoming a public advocate of the cause so deeply imbedded in my
heart. It was enough for me to listen, to receive, and applaud the great words
of others, and only whisper in private, among the white laborers on the
wharves and elsewhere, the truths which burned in my heart.


Anit-Slavery Convention at Nantucket—First Speech—Much Sensation—Extraordinary Speech of
Mr. Garrison—Anti-Slavery Agency—Youthful Enthusiasm—Fugitive Slaveship Doubted—
Experience in Slavery Written—Danger of Recapture

In the summer of 1841 a grand anti-slavery convention was held in Nantucket,
under the auspices of Mr. Garrison and his friends. I had taken no holiday
since establishing myself in New Bedford, and feeling the need of a little rest,
I determined on attending the meeting, though I had no thought of taking part
in any of its proceedings. Indeed, I was not aware that any one connected with
the convention so much as knew my name. Mr. William C. Coffin, a promi-
nent abolitionist in those days of trial, had heard me speaking to my colored
friends in the little school house on Second street, where we worshiped. He
sought me out in the crowd and invited me to say a few words to the conven-
tion. Thus sought out, and thus invited, I was induced to express the feelings
inspired by the occasion, and the fresh recollection of the scenes through
which I had passed as a slave. It was with the utmost difficulty that I could
stand erect, or that I could command and articulate two words without hesita-
tion and stammering. I trembled in every limb. I am not sure that my embar-
rassment was not the most effective part of my speech, if speech it could be
called. At any rate, this is about the only part of my performance that I now
distinctly remember. The audience sympathized with me at once, and from
having been remarkably quiet, became much excited, Mr. Garrison followed
me, taking me as his text, and now, whether I had made an eloquent plea in
behalf of freedom, or not, his was one, never to be forgotten. Those who had
heard him oftenest, and had known him longest were astonished at his mas-
terly effort. For the time he possessed that almost fabulous inspiration, often
referred to but seldom attained, by which a public meeting is transformed, as
it were, into a single individuality, the orator swaying a thousand heads and

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