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Charles Lennox Remond

Charles Lennox Remond

Charles Lennox Remond (1810-1873), African American leader, was one of the first black abolitionists and a delegate to the World Antislavery Convention held in London in 1840.

Charles Lennox Remond was born in Salem, Mass., on Feb. 1, 1810, the son of a free West Indian barber who had voluntarily emigrated to the United States. Remond was well educated and, like many of the free, middle-class African Americans of his day, was an ardent abolitionist and a major figure in the Antislavery Convention movement that served as a forum for black Americans after 1830.

Remond was one of the original 17 members of America's first Antislavery Society. The first African American to become a regular lecturer for the Massachusetts Antislavery Society, he was an ardent supporter of William Lloyd Garrison. In 1838 Remond was elected secretary of the American Antislavery Society and vice president of the New England Antislavery Society.

For several years Remond was the most distinguished black abolitionist in America. When his uniqueness was challenged by Frederick Douglass, Remond reacted bitterly. While he never got over his jealousy of Douglass, on several occasions the two found themselves allied. One occasion was the national antislavery convention at Buffalo, N.Y. (1843), at which Henry Highland Garnett challenged the slaves to liberate themselves by any means necessary. Remond and Douglass led the opposition that rejected the address as the sentiment of the convention. Neither man was at this time committed to violence, or even to political action, as a means of liberation.

As time passed, Remond grew increasingly frustrated over the injustice of color discrimination. He protested segregated travel in Massachusetts and was so incensed by the Dred Scott decision (1857) that he felt he could "owe no allegiance to a country … which treats us like dogs." For African Americans to persist in claiming citizenship under the U.S. Constitution seemed to him "mean-spirited and craven." Eventually he moved very close to the radical position of the fiery Garnett. Speaking at the State Convention of Massachusetts Negroes in New Bedford (1858), he urged that the convention promote an insurrection among the slaves, declaring that he would rather see his people die than live in bondage.

During the Civil War, Remond recruited for the Negro 54th Massachusetts Infantry. After the war he served as a clerk in the Boston customhouse until his death on Dec. 22, 1873.

Further Reading

Useful information on Remond is offered by Herbert Aptheker, ed., A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States (1951), and by August Meier and Elliot Rudwick, eds., The Making of Black America: Essays in Negro Life and History (2 vols., 1969). See also John Daniels, In Freedom's Birthplace: A Study of the Boston Negroes (1914; repr. 1968); Carter G. Woodson and Charles H. Wesley, The Negro in Our History (1922; 11th rev. ed. 1966); and Wilhelmena S. Robinson, Historical Negro Biographies (1967; 2d rev. ed. 1969). □

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Remond, Charles Lenox

Remond, Charles Lenox

1810
December 22, 1873


The abolitionist Charles Lenox Remond was born in Salem, Massachusetts, in 1810, the eldest son of John and Nancy Remond. John Remond, a hairdresser and successful merchant originally from Curaçao, was a prominent figure in Salem's black community and led the campaign to desegregate the city's public schools. Charles Remond received his education from a private tutor and attended integrated schools in Salem.

Remond adopted his parents' antislavery commitment as his own. He participated in the early life of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS). He embraced the Garrisonian principles of nonresistance and moral suasion, and he acquired the reputation as an eloquent and persuasive antislavery speaker. In 1838 he became the first full-time black lecturer hired by the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. Over the following two years, he traveled through New England delivering antislavery lectures and organizing a network of local antislavery societies.

Remond drew on his lecturing and organizational experience during an eighteen-month tour of the British Isles. He represented the AASS at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. When the convention refused to seat women delegates, he created a sensation by chastising the assembly for their exclusionary policy and by withdrawing from the proceedings.

Remond continued his antislavery lecturing when he returned to the United States in December 1841. He worked with Frederick Douglass (18181895) on the lecture circuit and participated in the widely publicized "One-Hundred Conventions" antislavery tour of midwestern states. Although an advocate of moral suasion, Remond revealed an interest in political antislavery as president of the Essex County Anti-Slavery Society in the late 1840s.

In the wake of federal laws and legal decisions restricting black citizenship, Remond became increasingly pessimistic about the prospects for racial progress. In the late 1850s he judged the antislavery movement a failure. He abandoned nonresistance, defended slave revolts, and predicted a violent resolution to the question of southern slavery. In the 1850s Remond advocated more aggressive tactics in the struggle for equal rights, but he remained committed to racial integration. He continued to oppose expressions of black separatism and criticized those who advocated racially exclusive schools, churches, and reform organizations.

During the Civil War, Remond recruited black soldiers for the Fifty-fourth and Fifty-fifth Massachusetts regiments. He spoke out on Reconstruction issues and urged AASS to extend its commitment to racial justice beyond slave emancipation. Remond attended the 1867 meeting of the American Equal Rights Association, but he apparently retired from public life shortly thereafter. He suffered from ill health most of his life. The deaths of his first wifeAmy Williams, in 1856and his second wifeElizabeth Magee, in 1872further aggravated his condition. Remond spent his last years working as a clerk in the Boston Customs House and died in 1873.

See also Abolition; Remond, Sarah Parker; Slavery

Bibliography

Usrey, Miriam L. "Charles Lenox Remond: Garrison's Ebony Echo at the World's Anti-Slavery Convention. 1840." Essex Institute Historical Collections 106 (1970): 112125.

Ward, William Edward. "Charles Lenox Remond: Black Abolitionist, 18381873." Ph.D. diss., Clark University, Worcester, Mass., 1977.

michael f. hembree (1996)

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"Remond, Charles Lenox." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Remond, Charles Lenox." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Encyclopedia.com. (July 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/remond-charles-lenox

"Remond, Charles Lenox." Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History. . Retrieved July 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/history/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/remond-charles-lenox