On This Place in History, we travel to Ferrisburgh, Vt. in 1843. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass delivers a powerful anti-slavery speech as part of the Great Convention.
“Vermont had a really strong anti-slavery society.” explains Steve Perkins, executive director of the Vermont Historical Society. “Headed by Roland Robinson who was a wealthy landowner here in Ferrisburgh. He sponsored Frederick Douglass to come.”
Perkins says Douglass spoke in Middlebury and Ferrisburgh. In Middlebury, he was jeered and heckled. Some college students pamphleted the area against Douglass.
“Very different here in Ferrisburgh.” says Perkins. “He was welcomed. Huge crowds. And his speech was very well received.”
Perkins says orators spoke for hours in those days.
“This was entertainment.” he says. “No microphones or anything. They stand in a tent and just hold that audience, enthralled.”