(1787) Gouverner Morris “The Curse of Slavery”

Image Ownership: Public Domain The Constitutional Convention in 1787 debated the institution of slavery.  In the speech below Gouverner Morris, a Pennsylvania delegate, described the negative impact of the institution on both North and South and in doing so made public at the highest level … Read More(1787) Gouverner Morris “The Curse of Slavery”

(1787) Jupiter Hammon, “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York”

Long Island-born Jupiter Hammon is believed to be the first published male African American poet and essayist.  His “Evening Thought, Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries,” was published in 1760.  His first essay, “Winter Piece,” appeared in 1782.  The speech below by Hammond is also … Read More(1787) Jupiter Hammon, “An Address to the Negroes in the State of New York”

(1789) An Unknown Free Black Author Describes Slavery In 1789

We don’t know the name of one of the earliest orators against slavery. He was a West Indian who apparently was a former slave fortunate enough to be educated. He was also intimately familiar with slavery and the slave trade in that region. The themes … Read More(1789) An Unknown Free Black Author Describes Slavery In 1789

(1792) Prince Hall, “A Charge Delivered to the Brethren of the African Lodge”

Barbadian-born Prince Hall spent the first thirty-five years of his life enslaved. Twenty-one of those years he was owned by William Hall who brought him to Boston in 1765. Prince Hall was finally manumitted in 1770. He quickly became a leader of the small African … Read More(1792) Prince Hall, “A Charge Delivered to the Brethren of the African Lodge”

(1797) Abraham Johnstone, “Address To The People Of Color”

In 1797 Abraham Johnstone, a former slave born in Delaware was convicted in Glocester County, New Jersey of murdering Thomas Read, another free African American and sentenced to be hanged. When the court asked for a statement from Johnstone after it announced his conviction, he … Read More(1797) Abraham Johnstone, “Address To The People Of Color”

(1797) Prince Hall Speaks To The African Lodge, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Five years after his presentation at Charles Town, Prince Hall again addresses his fellow Masons. In an address delivered to the African Lodge at West Cambridge, Massachusetts on June 24, 1797, Hall challenges those Masons to work for the elimination of slavery and the establishment … Read More(1797) Prince Hall Speaks To The African Lodge, Cambridge, Massachusetts

(1808) Rev. Peter Williams Jr., “An Oration On The Abolition Of The Slave Trade”

On March 2, 1807 Congress enacted a law that banned the external slave trade beginning January 1, 1808. With that act enslaved persons could no longer be brought to the United States. Although the law would be frequently violated until the eve of the Civil … Read More(1808) Rev. Peter Williams Jr., “An Oration On The Abolition Of The Slave Trade”

(1809) William Hamilton, “Mutual Interest, Mutual Benefit and Mutual Relief”

In January 1809 the African American community of New York celebrated the first anniversary of the passage of the Slave Importation Ban passed by Congress. That celebration, however, would be the last. By the following year it was clear that the law prohibiting the “foreign” … Read More(1809) William Hamilton, “Mutual Interest, Mutual Benefit and Mutual Relief”

(1811) John Gloucester, “Dedication of the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia”

In October of 1811, before the dedication of the first house of worship for African American Presbyterians in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Reverend John Gloucester, founder and Pastor, had the following address circulated throughout the surrounding neighborhood and all friendly to his cause. The cost of 200 … Read More(1811) John Gloucester, “Dedication of the First African Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia”

(1817) J. Forten & Russel Perrott, “An Address To The Humane & Benevolent Inhabitants Of The City And County Of Philadelphia

On August 10, 1817, James Forten and Russel Perrott served as chairman and secretary of a large indignation meeting of Philadelphia’s free African American community. The gathering protested the efforts of the year-old American Colonization Society to recruit blacks to leave the United States for … Read More(1817) J. Forten & Russel Perrott, “An Address To The Humane & Benevolent Inhabitants Of The City And County Of Philadelphia