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Graham Russell Hodges

Born free in Barbados, Stephen Blucke moved to New York City sometime before 1770. There Blucke married Margaret Coventry, who was his elder by nine years. She claimed to have purchased her own freedom in 1769, from Mrs. Coventry's family in New York City, as well as that of a six-year-old girl, Isabel Gibbons, who was probably her daughter. Blucke joined the Church of England, which gave him some prominence in the black community of New York City and in rural New Jersey. He chose to remain loyal to the English cause at the outbreak of the American Revolution and gained a patron in Stephen Skinner, a wealthy Loyalist. Stephen Blucke became a commander of the Black Pioneers, an informal black military organization that provided logistical support to the British army.

On 31 July 1783 Stephen Blucke and his family left New York City on HMS Peggy ...

Article

Thaddeus Russell

Prince Hall was born in Bridgetown, Barbados, the son of a “white English leather worker” and a “free woman of African and French descent”; his birth date is sometimes given as September 12, 1748 (Horton). He was the slave of William Hall, a leather dresser. At age seventeen, Hall found passage to Boston, Massachusetts, by working on a ship and became employed there as a leather worker. In 1762 he joined the Congregational Church on School Street. He received his manumission in 1770. Official records indicate that Hall was married three times. In 1763 he married Sarah Ritchie, a slave. In 1770, after her death, he married Flora Gibbs of Gloucester, Massachusetts; they had one son, Prince Africanus. In 1798 Hall married Sylvia Ward. The reason for the dissolution of the second marriage is unclear.

In March 1775 Hall was one ...

Article

Richard S. Newman

Born on the island of Barbados, Prince Hall forged his reputation in the burgeoning free black community of Boston during the 1770s, 1780s, and 1790s. His birth and early life have been the subjects of much debate. He was reputedly born free in 1748, but Hall's birth may have occurred as early as 1735. He was a child of mixed-race parents: his father was English, and his mother was a free woman of color. Hall journeyed to Boston in 1765 and worked in the leather trade.

Like his birth date, Hall's status in colonial Boston has aroused scholarly debate. Although he was technically the slave of the Bostonian William Hall Prince Hall was said to have believed that he was free as his manumission papers noted In any event Hall secured his liberty and began working as a leather merchant He supplied leather goods to the ...

Article

Harvey Amani Whitfield

slave, Black Loyalist, and community leader, was most likely born in present day Nigeria in West Africa. Little is known about the early stages of his life. It is unclear what his occupation or family size might have been or how Peters might have been captured in 1760. French slave traders purchased Peters and brought him to Louisiana, probably to work in the brutal sugar fields. Unwilling to reconcile himself to his new status, Peters attempted to escape several times. As a result, his master sold him to the British American colonies. By the 1770s he had become the property of William Campbell of Wilmington, North Carolina.

During the early 1770s, Peters's life started to change dramatically. First, he probably married a fellow slave named Sally and within a year became a father Second the impending conflict between the American colonies and the British Empire ...

Article

Diane L. Barnes

John Brown Russwurm was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, to a white merchant, John Russwurm, and an unidentified black woman. John Brown Russwurm spent his early years in Jamaica and was sent to Canada in 1807 or 1808 to obtain a formal education. In 1813 his father remarried and brought Russwurm to Maine to join his new extended family. Russwurm remained in the care of his stepmother, Susan Blanchard, even after his father's untimely death in 1815, when he began a series of short appointments as an instructor at schools in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York.

In 1826 Russwurm earned a bachelor of arts degree from Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. Among his classmates were Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the future president Franklin Pierce had graduated the year before In such illustrious company Russwurm was designated to give the graduation oration In a commencement ...