Tag Archives: African American History

A Good (Moral) Test

Mr. Dodd, an eminent minister, being solicited to play at cards, rose from his seat and uncovered his head.  Being asked what he was going to do, he replied-

“To crave God’s blessing.”

The company exclaimed, “We never asked the blessing on such occasions.”

Then said he, “I never engage in anything but on what I can beg of God to give his blessing-‘In all thy ways acknowledge Him.'”

Apply this mode of settling moral questions to Slavery, rum drinking, rum selling, beer brewing, going with a majority in religion or politics, and to any and everything else, and what would be the result?

In the year 1828, we put the question to Richard Furman, D.D., of Charleston, South Carolina, on hearing him assert that slaveholding was sustained by the Bible.

“Can you pray God to continue it, and to spread it through the earth?” He sat silent, and the company sat silent. Try this test everywhere.

Christian Contributor


Collection: African American Newspapers
Date: September 7, 1848
Title: A Good Test
Washington, D.C.

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Storming Fort Wagner

Nancy Shively on the Massachusetts 54th Regiment at Fort Wagner

Today, July 18th, marks the anniversary of the Civil War battle in which the legendary Massachusetts 54th Regiment heroically led a Union assault on Fort Wagner, SC. My first acquaintance with this regiment was through the Academy Award winning movie Glory. (If you haven’t seen it run…do not walk… to the nearest video store/computer and rent/download it. It is one the best of the many Civil War movies out there. )

For the uninitiated, the 54th Mass was one of the first all-black units to serve in the Civil War. They distinquished themselves in the ultimately unsuccessful assault on Fort Wagner while singlehandedly putting to rest any lingering doubts the US Army might have had about African Americans’ abilities as soldiers. Sadly the 54th sustained many casualties in the battle including their white commander Col. Robert Gould Shaw.


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Guerrero was a Spanish slave ship which wrecked in 1827 on a reef near the Florida Keys with 561 Africans aboard

A Crime Against God and Man

Via The London News and The National Era

The Transport of the Africans to the French West Indies

The great irregularity of the West African mail steamers has of late interrupted the current of the history of the notorious Regis contract for supplying the French West Indies with purchased Africans. The last arrivals, however, put us in possession of some additional facts quite conclusive as to the character of this traffic.

Subsequently to the news that the Portuguese authorities had refused to allow the French purchase of negroes within the limits of the province of Angola, our readers may recollect that advices from the West Indies announced the arrival in the French Antilles of one of M. Regis’s ships with a cargo of 800 Africans, 100 of whom lost their lives in an attempt to land them. But hitherto there has been nothing positively known as to where this unhappy batch of negroes was obtained. (more…)

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Reverend Lemuel Haynes

The Death Of Reverend Lemuel Haynes in 1833

The following item appeared in The Liberator a month after Reverend Hayne’s death in 1833.

This eminent servant of God, died in Granville, N.Y. on the 28th of September, aged 80 years. He was born in Hartford, Conn. and brought up in a pious family in Granville, in this State. He was there converted and when he was about 27 years old, he began the work of the ministry. He preached five years in Granville, Mass.– about three years in Torringford, Conn.– nearly or quite thirty years in Rutland, Vt.– about three years in Manchester, Vt. and eleven years in the place where he died.

We shall never forget the man who is the subject of this notice. We have seen him in the pulpit and at his own house and amidst his family. and we can truly say he seemed ever like a man of God. There was something peculiarly touching in the manner in which he invited sinners to the only refuge. He was original in his ideas– gentle in his reproofs and powerful in his rebukes. His talent at satire was prodigious, and when he found it necessary to employ it, his opponents would shrink away before him and leave him master of the field. His discourse on universal salvation preached immediately after the conclusion of a sermon by Hosea Ballou, in his own pulpit, is a wonderful illustration of this remark.


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The Origins of Isaac Knapp’s ‘The Negro Pew’

This call for stories and experiences by Christian churchgoers appeared in several issues of The Liberator while Isaac Knapp gathered material for his book.

Knapp’s completed book, based on his call for words on the topic, was titled  The ‘Negro Pew': Being an Inquiry Concerning the Propriety of Distinctions in the House of God, on Account of Color and was published in Boston later in 1837.

The Negro Pew

It is intended, as soon as practicable, to publish a work with the above title, designed to show that the practice of making invidious distinctions in the House of God, is inconsistent with the Nature and Principles of the Gospel of Christ; injurious to the feelings, interests, and Souls of those who are affected by it; a reflection upon the Character of Christianity, and calculated to promote Infidelity: with answers to the common objections against breaking down these distinctions.

The Author, wishing to illustrate the subject with facts, would request his colored brethren to communicate such facts respecting their treatment in this respect, as they may have in their possession.

Address Isaac Knapp, at the Anti-Slavery Office, 46 Washington-street. All communications should be accompanied with responsible names, who can testify to every particular as stated.

Background Notes

The 1740s Great Awakening resulted in a great number of black converts, most of whom were slaves. The informal services of the Baptists and Methodists attracted the most blacks. Many black Christians moved towards Methodism because of its early antislavery position. By 1786, blacks made up about 10 percent of the Methodist church in the United States.

Isaac Knapp's The Negro Pew

Isaac Knapp's The Negro Pew

Although whites and blacks often worshiped together in the 18th century, blacks church attendees enjoyed no real freedom or equality–in the North or South. Most churches used a segregated seating system with the seating for blacks called the “Negro Pew” or the “African Corner“.

Such discrimination motivated blacks, where possible, to organize their own churches, though white leaders actively opposed that. On the eve of the American Revolution, the first black congregations appeared.

Isaac Knapp was an abolitionist publisher. When he was still a young printer he partnered with William Lloyd Garrison to found “The Liberator.”

Knapp became a publisher specializing in works on abolitionism and feminism. He published the Grimke sisters and several slave narratives. He was also one of the founders of the New England Anti-Slavery Society.


Collection: The Liberator
Publication: The Liberator
Date: January 2, 1837
Title: The ‘Negro Pew’
Location: Boston, Massachusetts

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