ABOVE PHOTO: Everett Historical / shutterstock
By A. G. Miller
1619: Twenty slaves of African descent are sold in Jamestown, Virginia — the first Africans sold on American shores.
1701: The Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG) begins missionary work among Native Americans and, later, African slaves. Overall, this Anglican organization is not a success among either group.
1730: John Wesley comes to Georgia with the SPG as a missionary to the Native Americans and African slaves. When his missionary efforts prove ineffective, he returns to England.
1739-41: George Whitefield’s preaching tour of the colonies inaugurates the Great Awakening.
1758: The first recorded Black congregation organizes on the plantation of William Byrd, near Mecklenburg, Virginia.
1773: Black Baptists found a church on the plantation of George Galphin, at Silver Bluff, South Carolina.
1773: Phillis Wheatley’s “Poems on Various Subjects Religious and Moral” is published in London.
1775: War breaks out between Great Britain and its 13 American colonies.
1776: Black Baptist churches organize in the Virginia cities of Williamsburg and Petersburg.
1776: The Declaration of Independence acknowledges “certain inalienable rights… life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
1780: The Methodist denomination requires all its itinerate preachers to set their slaves free.
1783: Jarena Lee (1783-85?) is born free in Cape May, New Jersey. Known for her powerful preaching and missionary work, she traveled great lengths to do so. In 1827, for instance, she traveled 2,325 miles and delivered 178 sermons.
1782: George Liele leaves for Jamaica
1783: The Revolutionary War ends on September 3.
1784: The first General Conference (the Christmas Conference) of the newly formed Methodist Episcopal Church forbids its members to own slaves.
1787: Absalom Jones and Richard Allen lead a small group of Africans out of Philadelphia’s St. George Church after being forced to give their seats to White congregants. (Some scholars argue this occurred in 1792).
1787: Philadelphia Blacks, including Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, organize the Free African Society as a burial society and support organization for widows and orphans.
1788: Andrew Bryan, born a slave in 1737, organizes the first African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia. By 1800, the church had 700 members. Bryan’s mentor was another slave preacher, George Liele, who had escaped slavery during the Revolutionary War, settled in Jamaica, and organized the first Black Baptist church in the Caribbean Islands.
1789: The U.S. Constitution declares slaves “three-fifths persons.”
1791: The Bill of Rights passes.
1793: The Fugitive Slave Act allows slaveholders to reclaim runaway slaves in free states.
1794: Richard Allen purchases a lot at the corner of Philadelphia’s Sixth and Lombard Streets, moves a blacksmith shop to the site, and invites Bishop Francis Asbury to dedicate it as a worship center named Bethel Church.
1794: Lemuel Haynes becomes first Black pastor to lead a White congregation, in Rutland, Vermont.
1794: Absalom Jones helps found and then becomes pastor of the African Episcopalian Church of St. Thomas, the first Black Episcopal church in America.
1801: The Cane Ridge Revival inaugurates the Second Great Awakening.
1804: The Republic of Haiti is established as result of an eight-year war between rebelling slaves and France.
1805: Joy Street African Baptist Church organizes in Boston.
1807: The first Black Presbyterian church (in New York City) installs John Gloucester, a former slave, as its founding pastor.
1807: British Parliament abolishes the slave trade; the United States bans the importation of slaves.
1809: The Abyssinian Baptist Church is founded.
1813: The Union Church of Africans (now called the Union American Methodist Episcopal Church) breaks with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Led by Peter Spencer, the new denomination was concentrated mainly in Delaware and Maryland.
1815: Elders of St. George’s Church take the leadership of Richard Allen’s Bethel Church to court, hoping to maintain control of the operations of the Black Methodist congregation. They lost before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court January 1, 1816.
1816: John Stewart begins missionary work among Ohio’s Wyandot Indians.
1816: The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) organizes in Philadelphia with Richard Allen consecrated as its first bishop.
1819: Jarena Lee, one of the premiere Black female preachers, begins her preaching career.
1820: The Missouri Compromise prohibits slavery in all states north of 36 degrees 30 minutes north latitude (except Missouri).
1822: The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church (AMEZ) organizes in New York City with James Varick as its first bishop.
1822: The First Colored Presbyterian Church of New York is founded with Samuel Cornish as pastor.
1822: An insurrection planned by Denmark Vesey, a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church of Charleston, is discovered in Charleston, South Carolina.
1823: Julia A. J. Foote, the daughter of former slaves from Schenectady, New York, becomes a powerful preacher within the AMEZ Church, helping the denomination to be the first Black church to ordain a woman as elder 75 years later.
1827: Samuel Cornish founds Freedom’s Journal, the first Black abolitionist newspaper.
1829: David Walker, a freeborn South Carolina African-American, publishes his critical essay against American racism, “Walker’s Appeal in Four Articles, Together With a Preamble to the Colored Citizens of the World, But in Particular and Very Expressly to Those of the United States of America.”
1829: The Catholic religious order Oblates, Sisters of Providence, organizes to educate “free children of color” in Baltimore. Sister Mary Elizabeth Lange, a free Black, is appointed as superior general.
1830: James Augustine Healy, the first Black Roman Catholic priest in the United States, is born to an Irish father and a mulatto slave mother. He and his brothers and sisters rose to several prominent positions within American Catholicism. Because of their light complexion they were able to move in the White world undetected as having African ancestry. Patrick Frances Healy (1834-1910) was the first Black Jesuit, the first black to earn a doctorate, and the second president of Georgetown University. Eliza [Sister Mary Magdalen] (1846-1918) was an educator and later became convent superior of Villa Barlow at St. Albans in Vermont. She was transferred to the College of Notre Dame as superior on Staten Island during the last year of his life. Hugh, born in 1832, was also ordained a priest and died in his early 20s.
1830: The American Society of Free Persons of Color for Improving their Condition in the United States meets at Richard Allen’s Bethel AME Church in Philadelphia. These conventions, which were dominated by Black ministers, were an attempt by the free Black community to strategize ways to end slavery in America and to end discrimination by whites in the North.
1831: Nat Turner leads an insurrection in Southampton Virginia. At least 57 whites are killed before the revolt is put down.
1831: William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing his abolitionist newspaper, The Liberator.
1834: Ohio’s Providence [Baptist] Association organizes.
1834: Great Britain abolishes slavery throughout the Empire.
1836: [Baptist] Union Association of Ohio is formed.
1837: Amanda Berry Smith (1837-1915) is born in Long Green, Maryland. After the death of her husband in 1869, she began to preaching before mixed audiences in the South during Reconstruction and North. In 1878, Smith was invited England where she ministered for two years, then went to India for a year. She then spent eight years of ministry in West Africa, starting in 1881, before she returned to the United States.
1839: Illinois’s Wood River [Baptist] Association is established.
1842: Sisters of the Holy Family, The Catholic religious order, is founded by Henriette Delille, a free French mulatto woman who worked among the poor Black citizens of New Orleans.
1843: Black Presbyterian pastor Henry Highland Garnet gives a fiery “Address to the Slaves,” in which he calls for slaves to rebel.
[Part two of this article will be published in the SUN next week]