Connecticut State Temperance Society of Colored People Meeting

The Temperance movement was particularly popular in New England. The Beman family, descendants of Ceasar Beman, a Connecticut slave who won his freedom fighting in the revolutionary war, was very active in the cause. In 1833, Jehiel Beman founded the black Home Temperance Society of Middletown.

In 1836, he founded the Connecticut State Temperance Society of Colored People, and he later served as that organization’s president and general agent. In part because of the efforts of the Beman family, the temperance movement was especially strong among black people in Connecticut.

Of special note in this meeting documented below, the prayer was delivered by Reverend James W.C. Pennington. Pennington was born a slave in Washington County, Maryland. After escaping to Pennsylvania he moved on to New York in 1828. A blacksmith by trade, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut, and audited classes at Yale Divinity School from 1834 to 1839 – becoming the first black man to attend classes at Yale. He was subsequently ordained and became a teacher, abolitionist, and author.

He wrote The Origin and History of the Colored People in 1841, which has been called the first history of African Americans, and a slave narrative in 1850, The Fugitive Blacksmith. In 1849 the University of Heidelberg awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity.


The State Temperance Society of Colored People, met in the city of New Haven, Nov. 9th, 1836, in pursuance to notice which had been published in several journals. The Society was called to order at 4 o’clock, P.M. The President, Rev. Jehiel C. Berman, in the chair. Prayer by the president; after which, a committee of three was appointed to prepare and report the order of exercises for the evening meeting. Adjourned till 7 o’clock.

At 7 o’clock, the Society was called to order: the vice president, Mr. Henry Foster, took the chair. – The Committee then reported the resolutions, which were supported and adopted as follows:

  • Resolved, That we view the formation of a State Total Abstinence Society among us, as the precursor of better days in our moral and religious elevation.
  • Resolved, That we owe it to our friends, who plead our cause, and to our brethren ‘in bonds as feeling bound with them,’ to use our influence to do away the use intoxicating liquors from among us, as a common beverage.
  • Resolved, That it is the duty of all Christians to use their influence to promote the cause of temperance.
  • Resolved, That it is the duty of all parents to instruct their children, by precept and example, in the principles of total abstinence, and discountenance those shops kept by colored men where intoxicating liquors are sold.
  • Resolved, That in view of the degradation and misery to which the female sex have been subjected, in consequence of the use of intoxicating liquors, they are imperiously called upon the exert their influence to banish them from their social circles.

The above resolutions were supported by nine different gentlemen, from Hartford, Middletown, and New Haven, and unanimously adopted.

The sense of the meeting was then taken upon the principal of total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors, and decided by a large majority, that it is the only safe and consistent ground, which can be occupied by the friends of temperance.
The meeting then adjourned to meet at 9 o’clock, Nov. 10th.

The Society met as per adjournment, the vice president in the chair. Prayer by Rev. Mr. Pennington. The delegates then reported the progress of the total abstinence principles among the colored people of this State, which showed that much had been done to cheer the hearts, and encourage the friends of temperance to persevere, humbly relying upon the great Giver of all good, for aid to accomplish the work of reformation.

  • Voted, That a committee of three be appointed to prepare a constitution, and obtain subscribers to a Society, in the city of New Haven, to be auxiliary to the State Temperance Society of colored people.
  • Voted, That the annual meeting of this Society be held in the city of Norwich, Connecticut., on the 11th day of May, 1837.
  • Voted, That our thanks are due to our friends in this city, for the kind reception which we have received, and for the use of their church.
  • Voted, That the doings of this Society be published.

The Society then adjourned.

HENRY FOSTER, V. President
A.G. BEMAN, Secretary
New Haven, Nov. 10th, 1837.

All images included in blog posts are from either Accessible Archives collections or out of copyright public sources unless otherwise noted. Common sources include the Library of Congress, The Flickr Commons, Wikimedia Commons, and other public archives.

Related Posts

Tags: , ,

Stay Connected

Connect with Accessible Archives on Twitter, Facebook, or Linkedin to stay up to date on news and blog posts or get our latest blog posts by email.

Positive SSL