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Gloucester, John  

Donald Scott

founder of African American Presbyterianism and abolitionist, born a slave in Kentucky, was a “body servant” called “Jack” and purchased as a young man by the Tennessee Presbyterian minister Gideon Blackburn. Gloucester's parentage is unclear because of his early enslavement; although in 1806, while a member of the New Providence Presbyterian Church of Maryville, Tennessee, he was bought by Blackburn from an undisclosed owner. His intelligence and comprehension of theological principles motivated Blackburn, an evangelical preacher and abolitionist, to unsuccessfully seek Tennessee legislative help to free Gloucester. Blackburn had been born an orphan and moved into the Presbyterian ministry in the early 1790s before establishing missions to “educate” the Cherokee in Tennessee. He visited Philadelphia with Gloucester and freed him under the guidance of the Reverend Archibald Alexander pastor of the Third Presbyterian Church By that time in Tennessee Gloucester had converted many whites and blacks to ...


Wright, Theodore Sedgwick  

David E. Swift

black Presbyterian minister and reformer, was born in New Jersey and brought up in Schenectady, New York, the son of R. P. G. Wright, an early opponent of the American Colonization Society's program of returning American blacks to Africa. His mother's name is unknown. He was named after a distinguished Massachusetts jurist, Theodore Sedgwick, whose defense of a slave woman against her master's claim of ownership had effectively abolished slavery in that state.

Wright received a good education in spite of rejection by a number of colleges to which he applied. After several years at New York's African Free School, he was admitted into Princeton Theological Seminary in New Jersey in 1825 at the age of twenty-eight. Well treated there by both fellow students and faculty, he graduated in 1828 thus becoming the first African American to complete a theological seminary program That same year Wright ...