We've been listening to podcasts about Frederick Douglass, a former American slave who toured extensively across the UK, and spent time in Rochdale. His speeches and autobiographies made him a 'star' amongst the abolitionists of the time.
Have a listen to David Runciman's History of Ideas podcast here (scroll down for the episode):
‘My Bondage and My Freedom’ by the former slave Frederick Douglass was the second of his three autobiographies and the one that contained his most radical ideas. In this episode David explores how Douglass used his life story not only to expose the horror of slavery but to champion a new approach to abolishing it. The name for this approach: politics.
And the BBC's In Our Time programme here:
Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life and ideas of the prominent abolitionist, who in 1845 told his story in Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave.
Cotton Famine Rd… a lonely stone track on the moors above Rochdale. You’d be forgiven for thinking it a road to nowhere since it just stops midway across the moor!
But you’d be wrong, because it goes right back into our shared history, and it reaches right across the world, to cotton fields of the American South. It tells of Britain’s role in the transatlantic slave trade, of the millions that were made by merchants here out of that misery. And ultimately it tells us how the weavers of Rochdale played their small part, and suffered hugely, in bringing it to an end.
It came about as a result of public subscription in 1863, deep in the midst of the cotton famine of 1861-65 when the southern ports were blockaded and the mills of the Lancashire were starved of raw materials. As the blockade began to bite the mills went form short time working to complete shutdown – and the weavers were thrown into penury and starvation.
But for all this at a meeting in Manchester in December in 1862 all threw their full support behind the blockade, and the Union cause in the American Civil war, the fight to end slavery.
Stand up on it and you can see for miles. You can see a big picture, one of people uniting in common sacrifice for something that mattered more – principle.