Abraham Schwarzman: brought face to face with previously unconsidered intricacies of race and racism, of slavery and abolition . . . .
“I admit, Lawrence, that I was happier by the banks of the Charles than I would have been by the banks of the Niger, but I was shaken by seeing the conditions under which the slaves we liberated today were being transported. I am the third generation of free Americans in my family, and I must admit that I have concentrated nearly exclusively on the difficulties facing a free man of color in New England, and to think only in passing on the horrors visited on my great-grandfather, and visited still upon free men along the Guinea coast and in Angola. I am shaken that it was my own countrymen who were transporting these wretched people, and it brought forcibly to mind that other Americans hold slaves, that there are whole states in which the majority of the population is bondsmen, the progeny of men and women brought from their native land to ours under these conditions or worse, long ago, and even yet their children are held in bondage. And here is the Royal Navy intercepting the slave-ships, putting their officers in irons, and delivering the slaves to freedom. Yet that same Royal Navy has impressed me, changed me from a free man into a prisoner, forced to work against my will, with no redemption in sight. It poses a grand conundrum.”