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Frederick Douglass and Lisburn

In late July 2023 a statue of the famous 19th-century social reformer and abolitionist, Frederick Douglass was unveiled in Lombard Street, Belfast. Born into slavery, Douglass escaped and told his story to the world. But did you know he came to Lisburn?

Lisburn had its own small, but committed anti-slavery movement active from the early 19th-century who met at the Quaker Meeting House. However, it was in Lisburn’s First Presbyterian Church that Frederick Douglass spoke on Monday 29 December 1845. 

Addressing the packed church, the minister, Rev Alexander Henderson welcomed Douglass. He stated that he was sure that the Lisburn congregation ‘had a heart to feel for the oppressed’. Furthermore, he stated that he knew they would do all they could to ‘have the wrongs of those who were held in cruel bondage redressed’. 

The Belfast Newsletter noted Douglass delivered a long and eloquent speech to the congregation. Douglass’ Lisburn speech was one of 50 he gave during his four-month Irish tour (1845-46).  

Frederick Douglass statue, Belfast. ILC&LM Collection.
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