After the publication of his book, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, Douglass' life and freedom were at risk. For his own protection he was advised to flee America for Britain and later Ireland. He would spend four months in the country.
Whilst in Ireland, Douglass was present at a Repeal meeting where he heard Daniel O'Connell speaking on the subject of the liberation of slaves in America. So impressed was Douglass with O'Connell's dedication to the abolition of slavery that the sought an audience with him. The two men became friends and travelled to a number of rallies together.
During his time in Ireland, Douglass gave over 50 lectures around the country on the topic of the abolition of slavery in America. He was well-received and described feeling for the first time that he was a man and not a colour. One such visit, which was highly attended, took place in Waterford on the 9th of October 1845. He spoke in the Large Room, City Hall, that evening and left for Cork the next day. Unfortunately, the details of his speech in Waterford and its reception are scant. However, a local newspaper recorded that the attendance at the meeting was “…both numerous and respectable…” and that “The cause he so ably advocates deserves the support of every friend to humanity…”
On Monday 7th October 2013 the Mayor of Waterford unveiled a Blue Plaque on the façade of Waterford City Hall to commemorate the visit to Waterford City of Frederick Douglass in October 1845.
Read about Douglass' visit to Ireland in his own words here.
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