Charles Lenox Remond
February 1, 1810 – December 22, 1873
Orator and Abolitionist

Charles Lenox Remond (1 February 1810 – 22 December 1873) was an American orator, abolitionist and military organizer during the American Civil War. He was one of the first African-American abolitionists and a delegate to the World Antislavery Convention held in London in 1840. His sister was Sarah Parker Remond, also heavily engaged in the cause.

Remond was born free in Salem, Massachusetts to John Remond, naturalised from Curacao, a hairdresser, and Nancy Lenox, daughter of a prominent Bostonian, a hairdresser and caterer. The eldest son of eight children, He began his activism in opposition to slavery while in his twenties as orator speaking at public gatherings and conferences in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine, New York and Pennsylvania.

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. In 1838 Remond was elected secretary of the American Antislavery Society and vice president of the New England Antislavery Society. As a delegate from the American Anti-Slavery Society, he went with William Lloyd Garrison to the World's Anti-Slavery Convention in London in 1840. The young Remond had a reputation as an eloquent lecturer and is reported to have been the first black public speaker on abolition.

In 1842 at meetings held by Remond and his sister in New Brighton Massachusetts. Remond stated "When the world shall learn that "mind makes the man"-- that goodness; moral worth, and integrity of soul, are the true tests of Character, then prejudice against caste and color, will cease to be."

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.

Remond recruited black soldiers in Massachusetts for the Union Army during the Civil War, particularly for the famed 54th and 55th Massachusetts Infantry. He was also active in recruiting for the U.S. Colored Troops. After the war he served as a clerk in the Boston Customs House until his death in 1873.

Personal life

Remond's family operated a hairdressing business, and catering service in which several members participated and struck out on the own. After the war, he worked as a clerk in the Boston Customs House, and as a street lamp inspector. Of Remond's siblings were Nancy, the eldest, wife of James Shearman, an oyster dealer; Caroline, a salon owner, wife of Joseph Putnam; Cecelia, co-owner of a wig salon, wife of James Babcock; Maritchie Juan, wig salon co-owner; Sarah Parker, abolition activist;, and John who was married to Ruth Rice.

Remond was married to Amy Matilda William Casey (her second marriage) until her death on 15 August 1856. His second wife was Elizabeth Magee. Remond died in Boston on December 22, 1873.

Charles Remond Douglass, the son of Frederick Douglass, was named for him.

[Top of Page] [Back to Flag]