teacher and abolitionist, said in a letter of protest to the Hartford Courant that he was born to enslaved parents, but their names are unknown. Slavery was not formally abolished in New York State until 1827, and the census of 1820 recorded 518 slaves in New York City. One source suggests that Africanus was born in New York City in 1822; it is possible that he may have been connected to the brothers Edward Cephas Africanus and Selas H. Africanus, who taught at a black school in Long Island in the 1840s. Africanus is now remembered only through his few published writings and journalistic documentation of his actions; the earliest records of his activity in Connecticut date from 1849 when he attended a Colored Men s Convention and a suffrage meeting His most notable publication was the broadside he created to warn Hartford African Americans about ...
Milton C. Sernett
abolitionist and educator, was born in Virginia, the son of a Welshman and a free mixed-race mother. After the death of both parents, a young Allen was adopted by a free African American family in Fortress Monroe, Virginia. Allen soon caught the eye of the Reverend William Hall, a New Yorker who conducted a black elementary school in Norfolk. Hall wrote Gerrit Smith, the well-known philanthropist and abolitionist from Madison County, New York, asking him to sponsor Allen's education. With Smith's support, Allen studied at the Oneida Institute, an interracial and abolitionist school in Whitesboro, New York, presided over by the abolitionist Beriah Green. In a letter written to Smith, Green mentioned Allen's good conduct, his accomplishments on the flute, and his service as clerk to Reuben Hough, the institute's superintendent and treasurer.
While attending the institute, Allen spent the summer of 1841 teaching in a school ...
fugitive slave and abolitionist, was originally named Jack Burton after his enslaver, a Missouri planter. His parents are unknown. Raised in his master's household, Anderson (the name he used in later life) eventually supervised other slaves and farmed his own small plot. In 1850 he married Maria Tomlin, a fellow slave from a nearby farm, and devoted himself to buying their freedom. In the meantime he had become accustomed to visiting Maria at her plantation and was growing impatient with the restrictions of slavery. His master tried to curb his wandering, but Anderson refused to submit to the lash. When this resulted in his sale to a planter on the far side of the Missouri River, Anderson resolved to run off.
On 3 September 1853 the third day of his escape he encountered a planter Seneca Digges and four of his slaves By Missouri law Digges had the ...
Paul E. Lovejoy
abolitionist and slave-narrative author was born in the commercial center of Djougou West Africa inland from the Bight of Benin in what would later be the republic of Benin He was a younger son of a Muslim merchant from Borgu and his wife who was from Katsina the Hausa city in northern Nigeria then known as the Sokoto Caliphate his parents names are now unknown His home town Djougou was located on one of the most important caravan routes in West Africa in the nineteenth century connecting Asante the indigenous African state that controlled much of the territory that would become Ghana and the Sokoto Caliphate After a childhood in which he attended a Koranic school and learned a craft from his uncle who was also a merchant and a Muslim scholar Baquaqua followed his brother to Dagomba a province of Asante There he was captured in war in ...
Roy E. Finkenbine
was an abolitionist and community activist. Nothing is known of the circumstances of his birth, early life, or education, although his surname may indicate West Indian origins.
Barbadoes emerged as an important figure in the small but influential African American community in Boston's West End by the mid-1820s. From 1821 to 1840 he operated a barbershop in Boston. He was a prominent member of the African Baptist Church and of African Lodge #459, the preeminent black fraternal organization in the nation. An amateur musician applauded for both his vocal and his instrumental talents, he performed regularly before local audiences. But he was best known as an “indefatigable political organizer.”
In 1826 Barbadoes joined with the controversial essayist David Walker and several others to organize the Massachusetts General Colored Association MGCA which over the next few years led local protests corresponded with race leaders throughout the North supported the emerging ...
Clifton H. Johnson
clergyman and abolitionist, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of Jehiel C. Beman, a clergyman. Nothing is known of his mother. He grew up and received a basic education in Middletown, Connecticut, where his father was pastor of the African church. A Wesleyan University student, L. P. Dole, volunteered to tutor Beman after the university refused his application for admission because he was an African American. Dole and Beman suffered ridicule and harassment from other students, and an anonymous threat of bodily harm from “Twelve of Us” caused Beman to give up the effort after six months. He went to Hartford, where he taught school for four years, and around 1836 he briefly attended the Oneida Institute in New York.
Beman was ordained as a Congregational minister in 1839. At about this time he married a woman whose name is not known. In 1841 ...
W. Caleb McDaniel
shoemaker, clergyman, and abolitionist, was born in Chatham, Connecticut, to Sarah Gerry and Cesar Beman, a manumitted slave and Revolutionary War veteran who may have chosen his surname to indicate his freedom to “be a man.” By 1809 Jehiel had moved to Colchester, Connecticut, and married Fanny Condol, with whom he fathered seven children, including the noted abolitionist Amos G. Beman. Jehiel worked in Colchester as a shoemaker and Methodist exhorter until 1830, when he moved to Middletown, Connecticut, to pastor the city's Cross Street African Methodist Episcopal Zion (AMEZ) Church. On 11 August of that same year Jehiel's first wife died, and he married Nancy Scott on 17 October. In 1832 he left Cross Street after being appointed an itinerant missionary by the annual AMEZ conference, but he remained in Middletown as a preacher, shoemaker, and reformer until 1838 at ...
Anthony Benezet was born to Huguenot parents in Saint-Quentin, Picardy, France. His father, Jean-Etienne Benezet, and his mother, Judith, had at least thirteen children, but more than half died at birth. The Protestant Huguenots had experienced a period of relative religious freedom lasting from the promulgation of the Edict of Nantes under Henry IV in 1598 until the revocation of the edict by Louis XIV in 1685, which led to renewed persecution by Catholics. JeanEtienne Benezet belonged to a Protestant group known as the Inspirés de la Vaunage, which descended from the Camisards, who had violently resisted religious persecution in the Cévennes Mountains of southern France. The Benezet family fled France for the Netherlands in 1715, then went to England, and finally settled in Philadelphia in 1731.
In 1735 Anthony Benezet was naturalized as a British subject, and on 13 May 1736 he married Joyce Marriott ...
barber and Underground Railroad station operator, was born to free parents in Virginia, where he lived until moving to Cleveland, Ohio, in 1828. Although records in Ohio do not identify his parents, it is likely that he came from the large extended family of Browns in and around Charles City County, Virginia, descended from William Brown, born around 1670, who all had the status of “free colored.” Abraham Brown, born in 1769, was a founder of Elam Baptist Church of Charles City County. There were several men in the family named John, and newborns were often named for relatives.
“John Brown the barber,” as he was commonly known in Cleveland, may have been related to John Brown, born in 1768, head of a Chesterfield County family of eight “free colored” people in 1810, or John Brown, born in 1764 and his ...
Charlton W. Yingling
abolitionist and black rights activist, was born to a woman of African descent, probably named Eugenie, who was from French Saint‐Domingue (later Haiti). He was allegedly the unrecognized son of Aaron Burr, U.S. Senator from New York and the third vice president of the United States, and he was likely not the only child of this relationship. John P. Burr was also known as Jean‐Pierre Burr, which was probably his birth name. His mother was, by all accounts, a governess for the Burr family who was hired to care for their children during their stay in Saint‐Domingue. The majority of sources indicate that Burr–s mother was Caribbean‐born and of African descent, though one later source says she was originally from Calcutta. John P. Burr may have been born in New Jersey, and he was described as being very fair‐skinned.
By 1818 Burr had made his home in Philadelphia ...
antislavery activist and Underground Railroad conductor, was born in Kent County, Delaware. Nothing is known of his father. Little is known of his early years except that his mother was a free woman of color, and that as a young adult he moved to the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, area, became a farmer, married, and started a family. No information about his wife and children is available. In the mid-1840s he became involved in the antislavery movement and began assisting slaves who were attempting to make it to freedom. Burris welcomed fugitives into his home, hid them for a day or two, supplied them with food and water, and sent them on their way. He became friends with leading abolitionists, including Charles Purvis, one of the founders of-the American Anti-Slavery Society (1833), and William Still, best known for his post–Civil War book titled The Underground Railroad a Record ...
underground railroad conductor, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of David and Elizabeth Hicks Bustill (sometimes known as Mary). His grandfather, Cyrus Bustill, had been born enslaved, and married only after securing his freedom and opening his own bakery. Charles Hicks Bustill was born into the third generation of a growing family that was free, with a leading place in the “Old Philadelphia” elite among residents of African descent.
Like his father, David, and his brother, Bustill made his living as a plasterer while also active as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. His home was a frequent stopping place for self‐emancipated men and women on their way north. In 1849 he was one of the original incorporators of the Lebanon Cemetery of Philadelphia, authorized by an act of the Pennsylvania legislature that year.
Working with Ralph Smith a non black abolitionist who served as the first ...
baker, community leader, cautious abolitionist, and patriarch of a talented African American family well known into the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, was born in Burlington, New Jersey. His narrative records that he belonged to “the Estate of Samuel Bustill of the City of Burlington, but he Dying when I was Young I was Sold to John Allen of the Same City” (Bustill, p. 22). The name of Bustill's mother is recorded only as Parthenia; Samuel Bustill, an English‐born lawyer who died in 1742, was his father as well as his owner.
Many sources, including Lloyd Louis Brown's detailed history of the Bustill family in The Young Paul Robeson: On My Journey Now (1997), leave out the Allen family, and assert that Samuel Bustill's widow, Grace, arranged for Cyrus Bustill to be apprenticed to Thomas Pryor Jr. However Bustill s own account ...
school teacher and active shipping agent on the Underground Railroad, was born in Philadelphia to a prosperous mixed-race family with roots predating the American Revolution.
His grandfather, Cyrus Bustill, was the son of a slave-owning Quaker named Samuel Bustill, by an enslaved woman in Bustill's household. Born in Burlington, New Jersey, on 2 February 1732, Cyrus arranged after his father and owner's death to be apprenticed in a bakery, owned by another Quaker. He later purchased his freedom with the proceeds of his work, and then opened his own bakery. Cyrus Bustill's wife, Elizabeth Morrey, was the daughter of an Englishman and a Lenni Lenape woman, giving to their descendants an English, African, and Native American heritage. According to a family tradition, four years after his marriage in 1773, Cyrus delivered bread to George Washington's army at Valley Forge during the winter of 1777–1778 ...
abolitionist and Georgia politician, was born free in Middlebrook, New Jersey, the son of John Campbell, a blacksmith, and an unknown mother. From 1817 to 1830 he attended an otherwise all-white Episcopal school in Babylon, New York, where he trained to be a missionary to Liberia under the auspices of the American Colonization Society. Rebelling against his training and calling himself “a moral reformer and temperance lecturer,” Campbell moved to New Brunswick, New Jersey, converted to Methodism, joined an abolition society, and began to preach against slavery, colonization, alcohol, and prostitution. He joined Frederick Douglass on speaking tours and participated in the Colored Convention Movement, a new nationwide organization that aimed at racial uplift and black voting rights.
From 1832 to 1845 Campbell lived and worked in New York City as a steward at the Howard Hotel Later for an undetermined period he worked at the Adams House ...
Gregory S. Jackson
author and antislavery lecturer, was born into slavery on the plantation of his maternal grandfather, Samuel (some sources say William) Campbell, in Madison County, Kentucky. He was the son of Campbell's mixed-race slave daughter Letitia and her white Scottish-immigrant husband, Daniel Clarke, a soldier in the American Revolution. Lewis Clarke's middle name is variously recorded as either George or Garrand. Clarke's family history, which he traced back to the founding of the nation, inspired his quest for freedom and his subsequent dedication to the abolition cause in the North.
Clarke's first six years were spent with his parents and nine siblings and were the only family life and childhood he experienced. Betsey Campbell Banton one of Campbell s white daughters and Clarke s maternal aunt whom he likened to a female Nero claimed Clarke by right of dowry taking him from his parents to her home in Lexington ...
Thomas Clarkson single-mindedly devoted his life to ending the slave trade and slavery. Clarkson was born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire, England. His father, the Reverend John Clarkson (who died suddenly when Thomas was only six years old) was headmaster of the Wisbech Free Grammar School; his mother, Anne Ward, came from a genteel background. From an early age Clarkson was raised in the Anglican faith, which was to inspire his tireless abolitionist activities in later life.
Clarkson, who initially pursued a career in the church, was a diligent and brilliant student. After attending Saint Paul's School in London, he earned a bachelor's degree at Saint John's College, Cambridge, in 1783. In 1785 he won first place in a Latin dissertation contest at Cambridge for which the given subject was Anne liceat invitos in servitutem dare? Is it lawful to make slaves of others against their will The following year ...
abolitionist and businessman, was born in Boston, Massachusetts, to John and Mary Coburn. Nothing is known about his upbringing and little about his parents and family. During the 1820s Coburn labored as a housewright and by 1830 had established a clothing business, probably with his white father, on Brattle Street. He married Emeline Gray, a New Hampshire native, and joined with his brother-in-law Ira S. Gray, a well-known light-skinned gambler, to establish a successful gaming parlor. Coburn remained in the clothing business into the mid 1860s, when he changed the name of his company to W. T. Coburn Clothing Store, after his adopted son, Wendell T. By the early 1850s he had acquired substantial real estate holdings in the city—with one house worth four thousand dollars and another valued at three thousand dollars—and possessed one thousand dollars of personal property.
As one of the most successful African Americans ...
Aimee Lee Cheek and William Cheek
abolitionist, was born free in Raleigh, North Carolina, the son of John Anthony Copeland, a carpenter and joiner emancipated in childhood upon the death of his white owner-father, and a freeborn biracial woman, Delilah Evans, a domestic worker. In 1843, impelled by the increasing proscription of free blacks in North Carolina, the Copelands moved to the heavily abolitionist Oberlin, a key station on the Underground Railroad, in northern Ohio. Taking advantage of the exceptional egalitarianism, his parents acquired their own home and reared eight children. Copeland, who was the eldest child, attended the preparatory department of Oberlin College in 1854–1855 and pursued his father's trades. A newspaper editor in a neighboring town wrote that young Copeland was regarded as an “orderly and well-disposed citizen.”
According to the 1894 autobiography of John Mercer Langston a leading black townsman Copeland regularly attended meetings of blacks in Oberlin to ...
Barbara A. White
fugitive slave, Baptist minister, and abolitionist leader on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, was born the son of his wealthy white owner and Mary, one of his father's slaves on a plantation in Virginia. No account has been found yet which reveals his father's name or how James Crawford himself was named. Though stories about how and when he escaped slavery are in conflict, all of them agree that his white half brother broke his promise to their dying father to free Crawford. Instead, Crawford was sent into the fields to work. His obituary in the Nantucket Inquirer and Mirror claimed that he escaped the first time by running to Florida to live among the Seminole Indians for two years as a preacher The same account claimed that his half brother then the master of the plantation spent a fortune to recapture him and then strung him up by the thumbs ...