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Charles Rosenberg

landowner, businessman, and state legislator, was born enslaved in Dallas County Alabama, to parents named Sarah and Pete, who had been born in South Carolina. David, like his parents, was the property of a family named Abner. There is some dispute as to his birth date—some giving 1826 and others 1838—but the most reliable date appears to be December 1820, as suggested by a letter from his youngest daughter. It is not known when David took the Abner surname for himself, a common but by no means universal practice for formerly enslaved persons. He was sent to Texas in 1843, driving a covered wagon for the newly married daughter (Thelma) of the man who held title to him.

Her father considered his new son in law unreliable and entrusted David to get his daughter safely to her new home and manage ...

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Trevor Hall

Columbus’s voyage to the Americas and the beginning of the transatlantic slave trade from Spain to the Americas. Born near Valencia, Spain as Rodrigo de Borja, Alexander was a lawyer and administrator and a very wealthy man, who became a cardinal at the age of twenty-five. His father was Jofré Llançol and his mother Isabella de Borja, sister of Alfonso Borja, later Pope Callixtus III. Being born into the powerful Borja family gave Rodrigo Borja an uncle who was a pope and someone who guided his nephew to become Pope Alexander Vl. He acquired money and power as a result of his uncle being a pope. Alexander VI had a long relationship with Vannozza dei Cattanei, a Roman woman, who was the mother of his four children.

Alexander VI did not issue papal bulls that related directly to West Africans enslaved in Portugal Spain and Italy however his bulls influenced ...

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Enrico Ille

freed slave and Roman Catholic saint in Sudan, was born in the Darfur region near Agilerei Mountain, northeast of Nyala. Her father was a wealthy Daju (black African Muslim) who owned numerous cattle and a farm cultivated by servants. She had three brothers and four sisters, one of whom was kidnapped into slavery around 1874. Around 1876, Bakhita, which means “fortunate” in Arabic and is not her original name, was herself taken by slave traders; and after a failed attempt to escape, she was bought by a merchant in al-Ubayyid, where she served his two daughters. She was subsequently purchased around 1879 by an Ottoman army officer, who moved with his household to Khartoum in 1882 In this family she was treated brutally with whipping and scarification but several months afterward she was acquired by an Italian consular agent Callisto Legnani When he was forced by political ...

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Darryl E. Brock

was born in the village of Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, to a poor family on 23 February 1822. Born out of wedlock, he took his working-class mother’s last name, Baldorioty, and soon moved with her to San Juan. The noted Puerto Rican historian Cayetano Coll y Toste wrote of Baldorioty exhibiting a “happy conjunction” of Indian, Negro, and white blood. When the boy’s father, Don Juan de Castro of Cabo Rojo, rather tardily appeared to acquaint himself and change his son’s residence, the priest and benefactor Rufo Manuel Fernández advised against this, as young Román had already shown great scholarly promise.

Studying at El Colegio Seminario Conciliar Idelfonso, the island’s leading institution, and influenced by the renowned educator Rafael Cordero, Baldorioty secured a scholarship in 1846 to study physics and mathematical sciences at the University of Madrid There with the professor José Gualberto Padilla he founded La Sociedad de ...

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Bridget Brereton

was also known as Leonas Bath, Jonas Barth, and Muhammed Bath. It is not known when he was born, though it must have been in the last third of the eighteenth century, nor is his birthplace known. He claimed to have been the “Sultan of Yullyallhad” (or Fullyallhad), but this place name has not been identified. Most likely he was born in the region known to Europeans as Senegambia, the area between the Senegal and Gambia rivers, where the people known in the Caribbean as Mandingoes originated. He was probably a Mande speaker and may have belonged to the Susu ethnic group. He was certainly a Muslim and from an elite family, since he received an Islamic education as a boy and arrived in the Caribbean literate in Arabic.

Bath was captured either in 1804 or 1805 by non Muslim slave traders and brought to Trinidad as an enslaved ...

Article

Martha I. Pallante

Born to Lyman and Roxana Foote Beecher in Litchfield, Connecticut, Henry Ward Beecher was a member of one of the nation's most visible reform-minded families, and he would come to be acknowledged as one of nineteenth-century America's finest orators.

The ninth of ten children, who included the author Harriet Beecher Stowe and the educator Catherine Beecher, Henry grew up questioning the faith his father passionately espoused. Hoping to inspire his son, Lyman Beecher sent him to the Mount Pleasant Classical Academy in Amherst, Massachusetts, in 1827. There Henry committed to becoming a minister. He attended Amherst College (1830–1834) and Lane Theological Seminary in Ohio (1834–1837). After serving as a the pastor for two Congregational churches in Indiana, at Lawrenceburg and Indianapolis, he was called to the pulpit of the Plymouth Church in Brooklyn, New York, in 1847.

By the time Beecher returned to ...

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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 ...

Article

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 ...

Article

Maurice Jackson

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 ...

Article

Bilali  

Allan D. Austin

Muslim leader and plantation manager, was born in Africa, sold into slavery, and transported to the Bahamas and then to Sapelo Island, Georgia. His name is also given as Bilali Mahomet and Bul‐Ali. Almost nothing is known about Bilali's life in Africa, but his fellow Fula or Peul (originally Malian) friend, Salih Bilali, who was enslaved on the neighboring island of Saint Simons, said that Bilali came from the village of Timbo, in Futa Jallon (later Guinea). This was an important Muslim educational and political community and the homeland of another Fula, Ibrahima abd al‐Rahman, who was enslaved in Mississippi. Bilali's strict adherence to Muslim ways and the book he wrote in Arabic show that he paid attention to his teachers in Africa. In the Bahamas Bilali married at least one of his four known wives before being brought to Georgia around 1802 He had a ...

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Darshell Silva

a Quaker, was born a slave near Rancocas, New Jersey, and was sometimes known as William Bowen or “Heston.” His owner treated him well, and Boen was allowed to learn to read and write. As a boy, Boen was afraid of dying during an Indian attack because of all of the stories circulating among the neighbors about others that were killed by Indians. Whenever he worked in the woods alone, he was on constant guard for Indian arrows. He felt he was not yet ready to die until he accepted what was within him that made him do good and reject evil, as the Quakers he was growing up around had done. The Society of Friends is a Christian sect founded by George Fox in 1660 that rejects formal sacraments a formal creed priesthood and violence They are also known as Quakers and are recognized by their plain speech ...

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Penny Anne Welbourne

Born a slave in Rancocas, New Jersey, William Boen belonged to a Quaker master. As a young man he met and became friends with John Woolman, the Quaker minister known for his continuing efforts to end slavery. It was most likely Woolman who encouraged Boen to attend worship at the Mount Holly Monthly Meeting of the Society of Friends. Anecdotes and Memoirs of William Boen, a Coloured Man, Who Lived and Died Near Mount Holly, New Jersey. To which is Added, The Testimony of Friends of Mount Holly Monthly Meeting Concerning Him was a memorial written by Quakers from Mount Holly for Boen, who was a member of the Society of Friends from 1814 until his death in 1824 The authors of the memorial stated that although they rarely felt called upon to record the virtues of any of this afflicted race of people they thought Boen ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

was born in Charles City County, Virginia, the son of Abraham Brown, and his wife Sarah Brown. (The elder Abraham Brown called himself “Abraham Brown, Jr.” in a 1789 will, but Abraham Brown, Sr. was his uncle, not his father). The Browns were descended from William Brown, born around 1670, sometimes referenced in Virginia court records as “William Brown Negro.” Arthur Bunyan Caldwell, in History of the American Negro and his institutions, briefly refers to the family history being traceable back to England, but provides no details.

The Browns had been free for over a century, and many had owned enough property to be taxable, when Abraham Brown was born. Several had owned title to enslaved persons; Abraham owned three in 1810. His father at various times owned both slaves and indentured servants, including one John Bell, indentured in 1771 Abraham Brown Jr ...

Article

Will Gravely

African Methodist Episcopal minister and bishop, was born of mixed parentage in Charleston, South Carolina, where he spent his early and middle years. Apparently self-educated, he worked as a boot maker and shoe repairman; he married Maria (maiden name unknown), with whom he had six children. Associated with the city's community of free people of color, Brown earned a reputation for assisting slaves in purchasing their freedom and for teaching and advising both free and enslaved African Americans in the region.

Soon after his religious conversion and his joining of the Methodist Episcopal (ME) Church, Brown was licensed to preach. In that role he had greater access to the slave population as well as to groups of free African Americans. As the number of blacks grew, both generally and within the African church in Charleston, Brown emerged as their leader. As a result of an 1816 dispute over a ...

Article

Milton C. Sernett

clergyman, was born at Goose Creek, South Carolina, about sixteen miles from Charleston. His slave parents’ names are unknown. George Liele, the itinerant African American Baptist minister from Savannah, Georgia, baptized Bryan in 1782. Bryan married Hannah (maiden name unknown) about nine years after his conversion. Jonathan Bryan, Andrew's master and a New Light Presbyterian sympathetic to the evangelical movement in the South, allowed him to exhort both blacks and whites. About 1790 a white landowner allowed Bryan to build a wooden shed on the outskirts of Savannah at Yamacraw. There Bryan held religious meetings for African Americans, both slave and free, between sunrise and sunset. When white opposition arose, Bryan and his hearers retreated to the nearby swamp to conduct their religious activities.

The evangelical revivals fostered by the Second Great Awakening drew blacks and whites together into common religious circles. In 1788Abraham Marshall ...

Article

Genevieve Skinner

Civil War veteran, preacher, and teacher, was born free to an English sea captain and an African American mother on a ship sailing on the Atlantic Ocean. When Angus was two years old, his father died, and Angus and his mother were sold into slavery in Virginia, and later taken to Kentucky. He spent a majority of his early years in Virginia and learned how to read prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, an illegal pursuit for slaves. In 1864, now enslaved in Kentucky, at the age of sixteen Burleigh ran away from his master and enlisted in the Union Army at Frankfort, Kentucky. Upon enlisting Burleigh was trained at Camp Nelson in Kentucky, which was one of the largest areas for gathering African American soldiers during the Civil War. Burleigh became a sergeant with Company G 12th United States Colored Troops U ...

Article

David R. Maginnes

Burns, Anthony (31 May 1829?–27 July 1862), fugitive slave and pastor, was born in Stafford County, Virginia; his parents (names unknown) were slaves of the Suttle family. Burns’s father had died during his infancy. Influenced by his devout mother, he converted to the Baptist faith and later became an unofficial preacher to other slaves. Burns’s owner, Charles F. Suttle, farmed in Stafford until 1852, when he moved to Alexandria to become a commission merchant. Suttle prospered and sufficiently distinguished himself that both communities elected him to various offices.

Intelligent and sensitive Burns taught himself to read and write with the help of two sympathetic young white women who dared ignore Virginia s law against teaching blacks and some white schoolchildren in return for amusing them and doing them small favors From age seven he was hired out annually to employers in Stafford County as well as nearby ...

Article

Albert J. Von Frank

fugitive slave, born in Stafford County, Virginia, was the youngest of thirteen children. His mother, whose name is not recorded, served as cook for John and Catherine Suttle of Stafford Court House. His father, third husband of Anthony's mother and another of the Suttle slaves, quarried sandstone for the construction of federal buildings in Washington, D.C. Financial reversals following the death of John Suttle impelled Catherine to move the family to Aquia Creek and to sell off a number of slaves, including five of Anthony's siblings. When Catherine died, her son Charles Francis Suttle, by then a dry-goods merchant in Falmouth, mortgaged the remaining slaves and began hiring them out. For two years, 1847–1848, Anthony worked for William Brent, a Falmouth grocer and close friend of Suttle's. In 1849 refusing a third year with Brent and threatening to escape unless his refusal was honored he was ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

The debate over slavery in America was already filled with acrimony and violence when Anthony Burns, a black fugitive slave, was arrested in Boston, Massachusetts, for violating the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850. Just four years after the controversial law was passed, the Burns case, as it is known, sparked outrage among abolitionists throughout New England.

After being arrested in May 1854 Burns was placed in leg irons, as authorities prepared to return him to servitude in Richmond, Virginia. His arrest, however, galvanized New England abolitionists already opposed to the Fugitive Slave Act. Two days after Burns was imprisoned, abolitionists stormed the courthouse in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the former slave forcibly, and a deputy was killed.

Fearing more violence federal officials sent armed military troops to defend the courthouse while Burns was ordered returned to his owner in Virginia When the day came to send ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

merchant, public official, religious leader, and longtime state legislator, was born in Perquimans County, North Carolina, the eldest son of free, mixed-race parents John Cail (Cale) and Elizabeth Mitchell, a homemaker, who were married in 1827. His father worked as a miller, later as a fisherman, and moved his large family—as many as nine children—to Edenton in nearby Chowan County in the 1850s. Little is known of Hugh Cale's early life or education, although he had learned to read and write by the end of the Civil War.

After the Union army occupied much of northeastern North Carolina in early 1862, Cale began working as a manual laborer for federal installations at Fort Hatteras and Roanoke Island. In 1867 he moved to Elizabeth City North Carolina where he commenced a singularly successful career as a grocer and held a number of local offices during and after ...