Posts with this label: African Americans
Showing posts with label African Americans. Show all posts

4.29.2018


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First African American Suffragists Part 1

African American Women in the Suffrage Movement

White women and African Americans have often had common political interests, but the alliance of their goals has not always been easy. As the women's suffrage movement gained popularity in the last half of the nineteenth century, African American women were increasingly ignored.

African American Suffragists in Texas
Members of the Texas Federation of Colored Women's Clubs
This organization, which worked for women's suffrage, was founded in 1905.

After the Civil War, women's suffrage supporters organized the American Equal Rights Association (AERA). By 1870, this organization had split into two groups: the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA). In 1890, the AERA and the NWSA united, becoming the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), and its members realized that they would gain greater support if they excluded African American women from their organization.

12.31.2017


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Black Women Writers of the 19th Century II

Black Women Writers Through Civil War and Reconstruction

Harriet Wilson's novel Our Nig
The nineteenth century was a formative period in African-American literary and cultural history. Law and practice forbade teaching blacks to read or write. Even after the American Civil War, many of the impediments to learning and literary productivity remained. Nevertheless, more African-Americans than we yet realize turned their observations, feelings, and creative impulses into poetry, short stories, histories, narratives, novels, and autobiographies.


Harriet Wilson (1825-1900)

Considered the first female African-American novelist, Harriet Wilson has also been called the first African-American of either gender to publish a novel on the North American continent. Her novel Our Nig, or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black was published anonymously in 1859 in Boston, Massachusetts; it was not widely read. In 1982, scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr. discovered the novel and documented it as the first African-American novel published in the United States.

3.05.2017


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Anna Murray Douglass

Wife of Former Slave Frederick Douglass


Anna Murray Douglass was an American abolitionist, member of the Underground Railroad, and the first wife of orator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass. Her life illustrates the challenges faced by women who marry famous men.

Image: Anna Murray Douglass

Early Years
Anna Murray was born free to Bambarra and Mary Murray in Denton, Maryland in 1813. Anna was ambitious; by the age of 17 she had moved to Baltimore and established herself as a laundress and housekeeper and was earning a decent income, especially for someone so young.

1.25.2017


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The Forten Sisters

The Forten Women of Philadelphia


The Fortens were one of the most prominent black families in Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Wealthy sailmaker James Forten and his wife Charlotte Vandine Forten headed the family; their daughters were: Margaretta, Harriet, and Sarah. The Fortens were active abolitionists who took part in founding and financing at least six abolitionist organizations. The Forten sisters were educated in private schools and by private tutors.

Image: Sisters by Keith Mallett

Margaretta Forten (1806-1875)

Margaretta was an African American abolitionist and suffragist. She worked as a teacher for at least thirty years. During the 1840s she taught at a school run by Sarah Mapps Douglass; in 1850 she opened her own school. Margaretta never married and lived with her parents as an adult. In time, she took on the responsibility of running of her parents' home on Lombard Street in Philadelphia, caring for her elderly mother and bachelor brothers Thomas and William.

11.12.2016


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Slaves in the White House I

Slaves and Presidents Living in the White House

Construction on the President's House began in 1792 in Washington, DC, a new capital situated in a sparsely settled region far from a major population center. Eleven U.S. presidents were slaveholders. Seven of those owned slaves while living at the White House: Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, Andrew Jackson, John Tyler, James K. Polk, and Zachary Taylor.


Image: Black cook working in the White House kitchen
Damp and moldy, the ground floor was a difficult place for the White House staff to work and live.
Photograph by Frances Benjamin

Slave Quarters at the White House

Not only did enslaved men and women work in the White House, but they also lived there; most often in rooms in the basement. Open at ground level on the south, the basement had windows on the north facing an area that was entirely hidden from view except from the kitchen. This vaulted corridor once accessed a forty-foot kitchen with large fireplaces at each end, a family kitchen, an oval servants hall, the steward's quarters, and the servants' bedrooms.

9.28.2016


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Black Women Writers of the 19th Century

African-American Women Authors in Antebellum America



Image: Middle-class black women who loved to read did not have many role models.
Credit: Jeffrey Green

Prior to the Civil War, the majority of African-Americans living in the United States were held in bondage. Although law forbade them, many found a way to learn to read and write. More African-Americans than we could have imagined published poetry, biographies, novels and short stories.

11.28.2014


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Mary Peake

Teacher of Runaway Slaves at Fortress Monroe

pioneer teacher in the Civil War
Mary Peake was a teacher, best known for starting a school for the children of former slaves in the summer of 1861, under the shade of a tree that would become known as the Emancipation Oak in present-day Hampton, Virginia. This makeshift outdoor classroom provided the foundation of what would become Hampton University.

Early Years
In 1823, Mary Smith Kelsey was born free in Norfolk, Virginia. Her father was an Englishman "of rank and culture" and her mother was a free woman of color, described as light-skinned. When Mary was six, her mother sent her to the town of Alexandria (then part of the District of Columbia) to attend school while living with her aunt Mary Paine.

3.18.2014


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Women Slaves in Colonial Virginia

African American woman in front of slave cabin

Women Slaves in the Colony of Virginia

Slavery is a civil relationship in which one person has absolute power over the fortune, life and liberty of another. Chattel slavery further defines that relationship with the added dimension of ownership as personal property (chattel), in which the chattel can be bought and sold as if they were commodities. Chattel slavery was legal in the American colonies from the mid-17th century to the end of the Civil War in 1865.

A slave is a human being who is forced to obey the commands of others, and to work for nothing. A chattel slave is an enslaved person who is owned forever and whose children and children's children are automatically enslaved as well. A chattel slave has no rights, and is no longer viewed as a human being, but as an object used to accomplish a task, like any other tool.

2.18.2013


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Sojourner Truth

image of an itinerant Methodist preacher who became a leader in 19th century social reforms movements
Sojourner Truth was an African American abolitionist and women's rights activist who escaped from slavery in New York in 1826. She began as an itinerant preacher and became a nationally known advocate for equality and justice, sponsoring a variety of social reforms, including women's property rights, universal suffrage and prison reform.

She was born Isabella Baumfree in 1797 on the estate of Colonel Johannes Hardenbergh in Swartekill, a Dutch settlement in upstate New York. She was one of 13 children born to Elizabeth and James Baumfree, who were slaves on the Hardenbergh plantation. Both the Baumfrees and the Hardenberghs spoke Dutch in their daily lives. After the colonel's death, ownership of the Baumfrees passed to his son Charles.

2.08.2013


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Maria Stewart

First African American Woman to Lecture in Public

Maria Stewart was an essayist, lecturer, abolitionist and women's rights activist. She was the earliest known American woman to lecture in public on political issues. Stewart is known for four powerful speeches she delivered in Boston in the early 1830s - a time when no woman, black or white, dared to address an audience from a public platform.

Early Years
She was born free as Maria Miller in 1803 in Hartford, Connecticut. All that is known about her parents is their surname, Miller. At the age of five, she lost both her parents and was forced to become a servant in the household of a white clergyman. She lived with this family for ten years.

9.08.2012


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Rebecca Jackson

Founder of a Black Shaker Community

Little is known of the early life of Rebecca Cox Jackson (1795-1871), a free black woman who became an elder in the Shaker religion, which was founded by Mother Ann Lee just before the Revolutionary War. At age 35 Jackson underwent a religious conversion during a thunderstorm, after which she became an itinerant preacher and established a black Shaker community in Philadelphia in 1859. There are no known images of Rebecca Cox Jackson.

a Shaker church and its parishioners
Image: African American Church in Philadelphia by Pavel Petrovich Svinin, 1815

Rebecca Cox was born on February 15, 1795 to a free family in Hornstown, Pennsylvania and lived until the age of three or four with her grandmother, who died when Rebecca was seven. From the time she was ten, she was responsible for the care of two younger siblings. Rebecca's mother died when she was thirteen, and she was taken in by her brother Joseph Cox, a thirty-one-year old African Methodist Episcopal minister, a widower and father of six children.

8.03.2012


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Jane Johnson

North Carolina slave who was freed in Philadelphia

Slave Freed by Abolitionists in Philadelphia

Jane Johnson (1820-1872) was a slave whose escape to freedom was the focus of precedent-setting legal cases in 19th century Philadelphia. Safeguarded by Philadelphia abolitionists after her escape in 1855, Johnson later settled in Boston. There she married, and sheltered other fugitives slaves. Her son Isaiah served in the American Civil War with the 55th Massachusetts Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops.

Jane Johnson is believed to have been born into slavery as Jane Williams in or near Washington, DC, the daughter of John and Jane Williams; the exact year of her birth is unknown. Virtually nothing is known of her early life, which she presumably spent on Virginia plantations; it is believed that she lived for part of that time in Caroline County and had several owners.

4.01.2011


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Sally Hemings

Thomas Jefferson slave who gave birth to his children

Thomas Jefferson's Slave and Mistress

Sally Hemings was the daughter of Elizabeth Hemings and, allegedly, John Wayles, Thomas Jefferson's father-in-law - Elizabeth Hemings and her children did live at John Wayles' plantation during his lifetime. In 18th-century Virginia, children born to slave mothers inherited their legal status, therefore Elizabeth and Sally Hemings and all their children, were legally slaves, even when the fathers were their white masters.

If Sally Hemings' father was John Wayles, she would have been the half-sister of Thomas Jefferson's wife, Martha Wayles Jefferson. After Wayles died in 1773, Martha inherited the Hemings family; when Martha died in 1782, she left the Hemings family to Thomas Jefferson.

2.11.2011


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Elizabeth Freeman

Massachusetts slave who sued for her freedom in court and won

Black History Month: Massachusetts Slave

Mum Bett was among the first black slaves in Massachusetts awarded freedom in court under the 1780 constitution, and a decision that slavery was illegal. Her county court case, decided in August 1781, was cited as a precedent in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court appeal review of the Quock Walker case. When the state Supreme Court upheld Walker's freedom under the constitution, it was considered to have informally ended slavery in Massachusetts.

When Elizabeth Freeman was nearly 70 years old, Susan Ridley Sedgwick painted a miniature portrait of her in watercolor on ivory. Sedgwick was the young wife of Theodore Sedgwick, Jr., whose father had represented Freeman in her claim for freedom from slavery under the Massachusetts Constitution of 1780.

12.30.2008


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Jenny Slew

statue of female slave 18th century

Illegally Enslaved Woman

Jenny Slew was born circa 1719 to a free white woman and an enslaved black man. That fact would become the core of an historical legal case forty-six years later in Ipswich, Essex County, Massachusetts Bay Colony. Jenny contended that her parents had married and established a home and family. Jenny Slew had been raised free and lived all her life as a free woman, but in 1762 she was kidnapped and enslaved by John Whipple.

In most of the colonies, she would not have been able to turn to the law for help. As a slave, she would have been banned from the courts. However, by that time in Massachusetts an enslaved person could bring a civil suit.

9.26.2008


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Lucy Terry

colonial New England slave

African American Poet


The baby whose slavery name would become Lucy Terry was born in Africa around 1724. Slave traders sold her in Rhode Island – which dominated the colonial American slave trade – in about 1730. During the period when Lucy arrived, the rum-slave-molasses traffic from Newport or Bristol to Africa and the West Indies was in its early development.

Early Years
It is highly likely that Lucy was taken from Rhode Island to Enfield, Connecticut, which would explain why she was known as Lucy Terry. Since most blacks weren't named until they were purchased and transported to their owners, Lucy probably came to be called Terry through an association with Samuel Terry, one of the early settlers and founders of Enfield.

1.30.2008


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Dorothy Creole

colonial women slaves

Slave in New Amsterdam

Dorothy Creole was one of the first black women in the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam on the island of Manhattan. She was African, but she came from a world where West Africans and Europeans had been trading for two centuries and their cultures had mixed. She may have spoken Spanish or Portuguese, in addition to her African language. The name Creole may have begun as a descriptive term used by Europeans, and later developed into a surname.

Dorothy might have arrived in 1627, when records indicate that three enslaved women were brought into New Amsterdam, which was little more than a muddy village with thirty wooden houses and a population of less than two hundred people. All slaves brought into the colony during its early years were the property of the Dutch West India Company, the founder and owner of the Colony.

1.28.2008


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Elizabeth Key

female slave in the Virginia Colony who won her freedom from slavery in court

First African Woman to Win Her Freedom in Court

Elizabeth Key was the first woman of African ancestry in the American colonies to sue for her freedom from slavery and win. Elizabeth Key won her freedom and that of her infant son on July 21, 1656 in the colony of Virginia, in one of the earliest freedom suits in the colonies. She sued based on the fact that her father was an Englishman and that she was a baptized Christian.

Born in Warwick County, Virginia in 1630, Elizabeth Key was the illegitimate daughter of an enslaved black mother and a white English planter father, Thomas Key, who was also a member of the Virginia House of Burgesses. She spent the first several years of her life with her mother.