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Jones, Absalom  

Donald S. Armentrout

first black Protestant Episcopal priest, was born in Sussex, Delaware, the son of slave parents. He was a small child when his master took him from the fields to wait on the master in the house. Jones was very fond of learning and was very careful to save the pennies that were given to him by ladies and gentlemen from time to time. He soon bought a primer and would beg people to teach him how to read. Before long he was able to purchase a spelling book, and as his funds increased he began to buy books, including a copy of the New Testament. “Fondness for books gave me little or no time for amusements that took up the leisure hours of my companions” (Bragg, 3).

When Jones was sixteen his mother five brothers and a sister were sold and he was taken to Philadelphia by his master There ...


Levington, William  

Richard J. Boles

minister, teacher, missionary, and abolitionist, was born free in New York City during the spring of 1793. His parents and the circumstances of his childhood are unknown. Around 1800 Levington relocated to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he spent most of his adolescence and worked in the bookstore of Sheldon Potter. There he became a friend and protégé of Sheldon's brother, Alonzo Potter, who eventually became the Episcopal bishop of Pennsylvania and who helped secure Levington's entry into the Protestant Episcopal ministry. In 1819 Levington moved to Albany, New York, under Potter's mentorship. Potter became a professor at Union College and he unofficially instructed Levington part-time there until he returned to Philadelphia in 1822 In Albany Levington was employed as a teacher in a school for African American children and he attended St Peter s Church It was likely through his teaching position that ...


Williams, Peter, Jr.  

Graham Russell Hodges

clergyman and abolitionist, was born in New Brunswick, New Jersey, the son of Peter Williams Sr., a slave, and Mary Durham, a black indentured servant from St. Kitts. A patriot soldier during the American Revolution, his father was sexton and undertaker for John Street Methodist Church in New York City. In an unusual arrangement, the church in 1783 purchased him from his departing Loyalist master and allowed him to purchase himself over time, completing his freedom in 1796. A founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and a tobacconist and funeral home owner, he was a leader of the small black middle class in New York City.

Williams Jr. was educated first at the African Free School and tutored privately by a white minister, Reverend Thomas Lyell of John Street Methodist Church He became involved in Sunday afternoon black congregations at Trinity Episcopal Church ...