Tag Archives: Abolition

Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race


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Between 1500 and the 1860s, Europeans and Americans forcibly removed approximately 12 million African people from the African continent, transported them to the Americas, and enslaved them.

Why did Europeans and Americans enslave Africans? How did they justify their actions?

In this episode of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History, Katharine Gerbner, an Assistant Professor of History at the University of Minnesota and author of Christian Slavery: Conversion and Race in the Protestant Atlantic World, leads us on an exploration of ways Christianity influenced early ideas about slavery and its practice (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018). You can listen to the podcast here: www.benfranklinsworld.com/206

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Proposals Sought for Sojourner Truth Monument


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The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) has announced a request for proposals (RFP) from potential private sector partners to design, build and install a monument in commemoration of famed abolitionist and suffragette Sojourner Truth.

The monument of Sojourner Truth will be sited at the Walkway Over the Hudson along the Empire State Trail in Ulster County, where she was born. Truth was born into slavery circa 1797, sold three times, and ultimately escaped to freedom in 1826. She went on to become a noted abolitionist and women’s rights advocate until her death in 1883. Continue reading

An 1836 Utica Fugitive Slave Escape and Rescue


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The Hayden BuildingActivist, historian, author, and Utica native Deirdre Sinnott is set to present “Underground Railroad: The 1836 Escape, Arrest, and Rescue in Utica of George and Harry Bird” on Wednesday, September 26th at 5:30 pm at the Oneida County Historical Society.

The presentation is the culmination of extensive research by Sinnott and local Oneida County historians to demystify the 180-year-old story of two enslaved men who were encouraged by their dying mistress to run from their home in Woodstock, VA and find the path from slavery to freedom. Continue reading

Frederick Douglass and the July 5th Movement


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Frederick Douglass“The Fourth of July is yours, not mine. You may rejoice, I must mourn.”

These were Frederick Douglass’ unyielding words from his momentous “Fifth of July Speech”* to the Ladies Anti-Slavery Society in Rochester’s Corinthian Hall in 1852.

Douglass had been asked to speak on Independence Day but with entrenched slavery supported by the recently adopted Fugitive Slave law, how could he? After all, he declared with authority, “What have I, or those I represent, to do with your national independence? Are the great principles of political freedom and natural justice, embodied in the Declaration of Independence, extended to us….I am not included within the pale of this glorious anniversary.” But he was included “within the pale” of another anniversary which was annually observed by African Americans in the State, and it was a chief reason why he chose to speak the following day. During this pre-war period, the July 5th Movement captured and shaped blacks’ identity as a cohesive, active community. Continue reading

Abolition Hall of Fame Weekend Planned


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2016 Induction Webber Stewart LandThe National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) commemoration ceremonies for the 2016 inductees will be held Saturday, October 21, 2017 at NAHOF, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road, Peterboro NY.

The inductees are Rev. John Gregg Fee, Beriah Green, Angelina Grimké, and James W.C. Pennington. This is the last year of the two year induction-commemoration cycle. Beginning in 2018 inductions and commemorations will be completed in one year.

At 3 on Saturday, October 21 Christopher L. Webber, who nominated Pennington to the Hall of Fame, will present James W.C. Pennington: Pastor and Abolitionist for the Abolition Symposia. Webber, the author of American to the Backbone: The Journey of James W.C. Pennington from Slavery to World Leader, will use his research to present Pennington’s remarkable story. Pennington was born in slavery in Maryland in 1808. At the age of 19, scared and illiterate, James escaped from slavery. Moving finally to Brooklyn he found work as a carriage man and took advantage of night schools. In 1829 Pennington participated in the first Negro National Convention of which he became the presiding officer in 1853. Pennington served congregations in Long Island, Hartford, and Manhattan and traveled three times to England, Scotland, and the continent of Europe as an anti-slavery advocate. He was so respected by European audiences that the University of Heidelberg awarded him an honorary doctorate, making him the first person of African descent to receive such a degree.  Pennington was accepted as the first black student at the Yale Divinity School and was accepted for ordination in the Congregational Church. April 26, 2014 Yale University celebrated the opening of the James W.C. Pennington Christian Ministry Center. Continue reading

Emancipation Day at the Gerrit Smith Estate Saturday


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emancipation weekendOn August 5th the 8th Annual Peterboro Emancipation Day at the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark (GSENHL) will address the land grant project which became known as “Timbuctoo.”

This last day of the exhibit Dreaming of Timbuctoo will open at 9 am. The exhibit includes Smith’s deed book of 119 pages listing, by county, the people who received land gifts.

In 1846 abolitionist Gerrit Smith recruited thirteen men to find 3,000 free black men to receive 40 acres of land each, in order to enfranchise them in New York State. Rev. Henry Highland Garnet from Troy mobilized the most grantees. Dr. James McCune Smith and Charles B. Ray found more than 1,000 African-American males from New York City to acquire land from Smith. Rev. Jermain Wesley Loguen was an active abolitionist in Syracuse, and as Smith’s agent he encouraged men from the Central New York region to make the trek northward. After Rev. Loguen toured the settlements he published his account in Frederick Douglass’ The North Star which recognized the worth of the land Smith was granting. Continue reading

John Brown Day Saturday in Lake PLacid


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john brown livesAaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club; immigrant-rights organization Migrant Justice; and Don and Vivian Papson, founders of the North Country Underground Railroad Historical Association, will receive Spirit of John Brown Freedom Awards at the John Brown Day celebration on Saturday, May 6, at 2 pm.

The annual event, which is organized by North Country-based human rights and freedom education project John Brown Lives!, will be held at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid. The public is welcome. Continue reading

Gerrit Smith, John Brown, and the Crusade for Social Reform


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gerrit smithPeterboro NY will launch its 2017 Crusade for Social Reform at 1 pm on Saturday, March 11, with the annual celebration of Gerrit Smith’s birthday, held at the Smithfield Community Center, 5255 Pleasant Valley Road.

Born March 6, 1797, Gerrit Smith, who lived and worked his entire adult life in Peterboro, was known for his philanthropy and activism for equality. Norman K. Dann PhD, researcher and author of Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform will introduce the 19th century Smith family activities, and then volunteers from the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum (NAHOF) will explain the 2017 programs that will continue the quest for human rights in the 21st Century. Continue reading