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Catalyzing worker co-ops & the solidarity economy

Frederick Douglass and Co-ops in 1846

Frederick Douglass drew himself up to his height of just over 6 feet, looked out over the packed audience of over 1,000 - mostly millworkers - and vociferously and eloquently described his life as a slave in the United States of America. It was October 10th, 1846, and Douglass had just been warmly introduced by John Bright, a British Member of Parliament. Even at a young age, Bright had already emerged as one of the most powerful speakers in Britain against slavery. There was a sold-out house in the Public Room on Baillie Street in Rochdale, Lancashire, England.

Douglass used his time to educate the engaged Rochdale audience about his life as a slave and slavery itself in the United States. Douglass spoke at the Public Hall in Rochdale in 1846, five times between October 10 and 14, and twice more on November 10 and 11. On October 12, Douglass returned to Manchester to speak to 4,000 people at the Free Trade Hall, and then returned to Rochdale.

Frederick Douglass was 28-years-old and had just published his first book: ”Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave.” Because the book was an instant best seller in the U.S., and because the press identified the public places where Douglass spoke, Douglass was at grave risk of immediate arrest. Douglas had fled to Britain because his American owner, Thomas Auld, had announced that he intended to capture Douglass and return him to forced slavery. William Lloyd Garrison, the leading American Abolitionist, had accompanied Douglass to Rochdale, and also spoke at each of the October meetings.

Read the rest at Rochdale Capital


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