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Lemuel Haynes was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to a black father he never knew and a white mother who refused to acknowledge him. In his infancy he was made an indentured servant to a white family in Granville, Massachusetts, who treated him as one of their children. A serious and studious child, he received a common school education as well as a religious upbringing.

Haynes's indenture ended in 1774, whereupon he became a Minuteman in the Continental Army. During the Revolutionary War he fought at the siege of Boston and Fort Ticonderoga. After the war he studied Latin and Greek with local ministers and was ordained by the Congregationalists, apparently the first African American ordained by a mainstream white denomination. Throughout the next five decades he ministered to white congregations in New England and New York.

Haynes spoke little on race but did write a manuscript called ...


Richard Newman

Congregational minister, was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, the son of a black father and a white mother, both unknown, and both of whom abandoned him at birth. He was indentured at five months of age to a white family named Rose through whom he absorbed strong Calvinist theology and evangelical piety. He was educated in the local schools, but, a serious and diligent child, he also taught himself by the light of the fireside at night; he later said, “I made it my rule to know more every night than I knew in the morning.” In 1783 he married Elizabeth Babbit, a white schoolteacher who had proposed to him; they became the parents of ten children.

Haynes fulfilled his indenture and came of age just as the American Revolution was beginning. He signed up as a minuteman in 1774 and joined militia troops at Roxbury Massachusetts ...


Scott A. Miltenberger

Scholars have written more about the religious teachings and writings of Lemuel Haynes than about his life, yet his beliefs were born of his life experiences; each shaped the other, with profound consequences. Haynes was born in West Hartford, Connecticut, to an African father and a white mother. His parents deserted him before he was six months old, and Haynes was indentured to David Rose a deacon at the Middle Granville Congregational Church Raised as their son Haynes worked the Roses farm and attended the district school While he was still quite young he experienced an intense religious conversion at the sight of the aurora borealis For the remainder of his life Haynes devoted himself to theology and the Bible endeavors that the Roses happily encouraged With their help and support he immersed himself in religious studies reading not only the Bible but also the sermons of noted ...