Category: 1750 – 1799

December 25 1760- Jupiter Hammon

GM – FBF – Our story for today is about a person who was a black poet and 1761 became the first African-American writer to be published in the present-day United States. Additional poems and sermons were also published. Born into slavery, never was never emancipated. He was living in 1790 at the age of 79, and died by 1806. A devout Christian, he is considered to be one of the founders of African-American literature.

Remember – “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” – Jupiter Hammon

Today in our History – December 25, 1760 – Jupiter Hammon Publishes “An Evening Thought, by Christ, with Penitential Cries” 
Born in 1711 in a house now known as Lloyd Manor in Lloyd Harbor, NY – per a Town of Huntington, NY historical marker dated 1990 – Hammon was held by four generations of the Lloyd family of Queens on Long Island, New York. His parents were both slaves held by the Lloyds. His mother and father were part of the first shipment of slaves to the Lloyd’s estate in 1687. Unlike most slaves, his father, named Obadiah, had learned to read and write.

The Lloyds encouraged Hammon to attend school, where he also learned to read and write. Jupiter attended school with the Lloyd children. As an adult, he worked for them as a domestic servant, clerk, farmhand, and artisan in the Lloyd family business. He worked alongside Henry Lloyd (the father) in negotiating deals. Henry Lloyd said that Jupiter was so efficient in trade deals because he would quickly get the job done. He became a fervent Christian, as were the Lloyds.

His first published poem, “An Evening Thought. Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries: Composed by Jupiter Hammon, a Negro belonging to Mr. Lloyd of Queen’s Village, on Long Island, the 25th of December, 1760,” appeared as a broadside in 1761. 
Eighteen years passed before his second work appeared in print, “An Address to Miss Phillis Wheatley.” Hammon wrote this poem while Lloyd had temporarily moved himself and the slaves he owned to Hartford, Connecticut, during the Revolutionary War.

Hammon saw Wheatley as having succumbed to pagan influences in her writing, and so the “Address” consisted of twenty-one rhyming quatrains, each accompanied by a related Bible verse, that he thought would compel Wheatley to return to a Christian path in life. He would later publish two other poems and three sermon essays.

Although not emancipated, Hammon participated in new Revolutionary War groups such as the Spartan Project of the African Society of New York City. At the inaugural meeting of the African Society on September 24, 1786, he delivered his “Address to the Negroes of the State of New-York”, also known as the “Hammon Address.” He was seventy-six years old and had spent his lifetime in slavery. He said, “If we should ever get to Heaven, we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” He also said that, while he personally had no wish to be free, he did wish others, especially “the young negroes, were free.”

The speech draws heavily on Christian motifs and theology. For example, Hammon said that Black people should maintain their high moral standards because being slaves on Earth had already secured their place in heaven. He promoted gradual emancipation as a way to end slavery.[5] Scholars think perhaps Hammon supported this plan because he believed that immediate emancipation of all slaves would be difficult to achieve. New York Quakers, who supported abolition of slavery, published his speech. It was reprinted by several abolitionist groups, including the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery.

In the two decades after the Revolutionary War and creation of the new government, northern states generally abolished slavery. In the Upper South, so many slaveholders manumitted slaves that the proportion of free blacks among African Americans increased from less than one percent in 1790 to more than 10 percent by 1810. In the United States as a whole, by 1810 the number of free blacks was 186,446, or 13.5 percent of all African Americans.

Hammon’s speech and his poetry are often included in anthologies of notable African-American and early American writing. He was the first known African American to publish literature within the present-day United States (in 1773, Phillis Wheatley, also an American slave, had her collection of poems first published in London, England). His death was not recorded. He is thought to have died sometime around 1806 and is buried in an unmarked grave somewhere on the Lloyd property.

While researching the writer, UT Arlington doctoral student Julie McCown stumbled upon a previously unknown poem written by Hammon stored in the Manuscripts and Archives library at Yale University. The poem, dated 1786, is described by McCown as a ‘shifting point’ in Jupiter Hammon’s worldview surrounding slavery. Research more about Black writers during the revolutionary war and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

December 5 1784- Phillis Wheatly

GM – FBF – There are some stories in our History that need to be shared as much as possible. Today’s story is one of them. I was blessed to take some of my students from Trenton and Ewing to Houston, Texas and actually did one of our awards ceremonies honoring the late U.S. Congressman Mickey Leland who was from 5th ward of Houston. He was a graduate of Phillis Wheatley High School where we met the Leland family, Governor Ann Richards and the late U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Jordan. The students of Phillis Wheatley High School and our Trenton students did two community events – one serving meals at a soup kitchen and the second was clothing drive at Texas Southern University. We were amazed of how many of Phillis Wheatley’s writings that the students were exposed too. Enjoy!

Remember – “In every human Breast, God has implanted a Principle, which we call Love of Freedom; it is impatient of Oppression, and pants for Deliverance.” ― Phillis Wheatley

Today in our History – December 5, 1784 – Phillis Wheatley died.

Phillis Wheatley was the first African American poet to publish a book. She was born in 1753, in West Africa and brought to New England, enslaved, in 1761, where she was sold to John Wheatley of Boston. The Wheatleys took a great interest in Phillis’s education and precocity; Wheatley learned to read and write English by the age of nine, and she became familiar with Latin, Greek, the Bible, and selected classics at an early age. She began writing poetry at thirteen, modeling her work on the English poets of the time, particularly John Milton, Thomas Gray, and Alexander Pope. Her poem “On the Death of the Rev. Mr. George Whitefield” was published as a broadside in cities such as Boston, New York, and Philadelphia and garnered Wheatley national acclaim. This poem was also printed in London. Over the next few years, she would print a number of broadsides elegizing prominent English and colonial leaders.

Wheatley’s doctor suggested that a trip might improve her delicate health, so in 1771 she accompanied Nathaniel Wheatley to London. She was well received in London and wrote to a friend of the “unexpected and unmerited civility and complaisance with which I was treated by all.” In 1773, thirty-nine of her poems were published in London as Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. The book includes many elegies as well as poems on Christian themes; it also includes poems dealing with race, such as the often-anthologized “On Being Brought from Africa to America.” She returned to America in 1773.

After Mr. and Mrs. Wheatley died, Phillis was left to support herself as a seamstress and poet. It is unclear precisely when Wheatley was freed from slavery, although scholars suggest it occurred between 1774 and 1778. In 1776, Wheatley wrote a letter and poem in support of George Washington; he replied with an invitation to visit him in Cambridge, stating that he would be “happy to see a person so favored by the muses.” In 1778, she married John Peters, who kept a grocery store. They had three children together, all of whom died young.

Because of the war and the poor economy, Wheatley experienced difficulty publishing her poems. She solicited subscribers for a new volume that would include thirty-three new poems and thirteen letters, but was unable to raise the funds. Phillis Wheatley, who had once been internationally celebrated, died alone in a boarding house on December 5, 1784. She was thirty-one years old. Many of the poems for her proposed second volume disappeared and have never been recovered. Research more about this great American and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

November 16 1780- Paul Cuffe

GM – FBF – Today’s story is not talked about or shared with you in your history books and it should. As Americans last the two weeks we participated in our mid – term elections and I hope that you voted. Well, back when this country was at its Infancy a Black man went to his local legislators and asked for the right to vote or as you may have heard the term “Taxation without Representation”. Read the story and Enjoy!

Remember – “All free people are entitled to the vote, this is a true fact. If I have too I will die for this land but let me also cast a vote for my cause” – Paul Cuffe

Today in our History – November 16, 1780 – Paul Cuffe & other black taxpayers of Massachusetts protest to the state legislator for the right to vote.

Petition for Relief from Taxation
Submitted by and for Former Slaves of Dartmouth, Massachusetts
Paul Cuffe
Paul Cuffe was born a free child in 1759, on Chuttyhunk Island, Massachusetts, the son of a Native American mother and African father. His father, Kofi, was a member of the Ashanti tribe of West Africa, who was captured and brought to America as a slave at the age of ten. A skilled carpenter, Kofi (Cuffe) earned his freedom, and educated himself. Paul refused to use the name of his father’s owner, Slocum, and adopted his father’s given name, Cuffe (or Cuffee).

At the age of 16, following his father’s death, Paul Cuffe began his career as a common seaman on whaling and fishing boats. During the Revolutionary War he was held prisoner by the British for a time but managed afterward to start small-scale coastal trading. Despite attacks by pirates, he eventually prospered. He built larger vessels and successfully traded south as far as Virginia and north to Labrador. In later life he owned several ships which engaged in trading and whaling around the world.

Cuffe was a devout and evangelical Quaker. At his home in Westport, Massachusetts, he donated a town school and helped support the teacher. It was quite possibly the first integrated school in the young republic. Later he helped build a new meeting house. Through his connections with Quakers in other cities he became involved in efforts to improve the conditions of African Americans. Strongly opposed to slavery and the slave trade, he joined other free African Americans in the Northern states in their abolitionist campaigns.

In 1780 he and his brother John petitioned the Massachusetts government either to give African and Native Americans the right to vote or to stop taxing them. The petition was denied, but the case helped pave the way for the 1783 Massachusetts Constitution, which gave equal rights and privileges to all (male) citizens of the state. This is a transcript of the petition submitted to the Massachusetts legislature.

To the Honorable Council and House of Representatives, in General Court assembled, for the State of the Massachusetts Bay, in New England:

The petition of several poor negroes and mulattoes, who are inhabitants of the town of Dartmouth, humbly showeth,—
That we being chiefly of the African extract, and by reason of long bondage and hard slavery, we have been deprived of enjoying the profits of our labor or the advantage of inheriting estates from our parents, as our neighbors the white people do, having some of us not long enjoyed our own freedom; yet of late, contrary to the invariable custom and practice of the country, we have been, and now are, taxed both in our polls and that small pittance of estate which, through much hard labor and industry, we have got together to sustain ourselves and families withall. We apprehend it, therefore, to be hard usage, and will doubtless (if continued) reduce us to a state of beggary, whereby we shall become a burthen to others, if not timely prevented by the interposition of your justice and your power.

Your petitioners further show, that we apprehend ourselves to be aggrieved, in that, while we are not allowed the privilege of freemen of the State, having no vote or influence in the election of those that tax us, yet many of our colour (as is well known) have cheerfully entered the field of battle in the defence of the common cause, and that (as we conceive) against a similar exertion of power (in regard to taxation), too well known to need a recital in this place.

We most humbly request, therefore, that you would take our unhappy case into your serious consideration, and, in your wisdom and power, grant us relief from taxation, while under our present depressed circumstances; and your poor petitioners, as in duty bound, shall ever pray, Paul Cuffe. Research more about the early black sons of Liberty and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!


GM – FBF – Today, I want to share with you a story that many do not know about or you may have taken for granted. I checked the history books of middle school and high school students of not only the state in question but surrounding states. The closest that I found was in the towns close to the United States border in Mexico in a few states. Enjoy!

Remember – “One day hundreds of years from now this great exploration will still have the bonds of all of the cultures here today and beyond.” – Antonio Mesa

Today in our History – September 4, 1781 – MEXACANS OF AFRICAN DECENT FOUND THE CITY OF LOS ANGLES SEPTEMBR 11, 1781.

The Los Angeles Pobladores, or “townspeople,” were a group of 44 settlers and four soldiers from Mexico who established the famed city on this day in 1781 in what is now California. The settlers came from various Spanish castes, with over half of the group being of African descent.

Governor of Las California’s, a Spanish-owned region, Felipe de Neve called on 11 families to help build the new city in the region by recruiting them from Sonora and Sinaloa, Mexico. According to a census record taken at the time, there were two persons of African ancestry, eight Spanish and Black persons, and nine American Indians. There was also one Spanish and Indian person, with the rest being Spaniards.
According to the efforts of historian William M. Mason, the actual racial makeup of the pobladores was perhaps more racially balanced than not. Mason wrote that of the 44, only two were White, while 26 had some manner of African ancestry and that 16 of the group were “mestizos” or mixed Spanish and Indian people.

Black Mexicans Luis Quintero and Antonio Mesa, the only two named on the 1781 census, married mixed women and bore several children between them.

The pobladores founded the city “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles sobre el Río Porciúncula” (Spanish for The Town of Our Lady Queen of the Angels on the Porciuncula River) that day, after some priests found the area 10 years prior. Another historian, Dr. Antonio Rios-Bustamante, states that Los Angeles’ original settlers were even more mixed than the census stated, but was that African, Indian and European ancestry was a hallmark.

In Los Angeles, the El Pueblo de Los Angeles State Historic Park honored the pobladores in the 1950s with a plaque, but it was mysteriously removed. In a Los Angeles Times report, it was suggested that the removal of the plaque was racially motivated. However, in 1981 during the city’s bicentennial, the plaque was replaced. Research more about the start of the “City of Angles” and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

August 22 1791- Toussaint L’Ouverture

GM – FBF – On this day in our History, the peoples of a small Island refused to be treated like slaves and fought for their freedom. Since this was the first time it has happened successfully in the Western Hemisphere, the word got out to other European slave owners to start taking harsher measures toward their property or they too will be in battled with the Africans. Once this Island nation was free an embargo went out to most countried not to conduct any trade with them. As you know if you live on an Island trade is Important to your survival. Let’s take a closer look at this story. Enjoy!

Remember – “Citizens, not less generous than myself, let your most precious moments be employed in causing the past to be forgotten; let all my fellow-citizens swear never to recall the past; let them receive their misled brethren with open arms, and let them, in future, be on their guard against the traps of bad men.” – Toussaint Louverture

Today in our History – August 22, 1791 – “The “Night of Fire” in which slaves revolted by setting fire to plantation houses and fields and killing whites. 
Known to his contemporaries as “The Black Napoleon,” Toussaint L’Ouverture was a former slave who rose to become the leader of the only successful slave revolt in modern history that created an independent state, the Haitian Revolution.

Born into slavery on May 20, 1743 in the French colony of Saint Dominque, L’Ouverture was the eldest son of Gaou Guinon, an African prince who was captured by slavers. At a time when revisions to the French Code Noir (Black Code) legalized the harsh treatment of slaves as property, young L’ Overture instead inspired kindness from those in authority over him. His godfather, the priest Simon Baptiste, for example, taught him to read and write. Impressed by L’Ouverture, Bayon de Libertad, the manager of the Breda plantation on which L’Ouverture was born, allowed him unlimited access to his personal library. By the time he was twenty, the well-read and tri-lingual L’Ouverture—he spoke French, Creole, and some Latin—had also gained a reputation as a skilled horseman and for his knowledge of medicinal plants and herbs. More importantly, L’Ouverture had secured his freedom from de Libertad even as he continued to manage his former owner’s household personnel and to act as his coachman. Over the course of the next 18 years, L’Ouverture settled into life on the Breda plantation marrying fellow Catholic Suzanne Simon and parenting two sons, Isaac and Saint-Jean.

The events of August 22, 1791, the “Night of Fire” in which slaves revolted by setting fire to plantation houses and fields and killing whites, convinced the 48-year-old L’Ouverture that he should join the growing insurgency, although not before securing the safety of his wife and children in the Spanish-controlled eastern half of the island (Santo Domingo) and assuring that Bayon de Libertad and his wife were safely onboard a ship bound for the United States.

Inspired by French Revolutionary ideology and angered by generations of abuse at the hands of white planters, the initial slave uprising was quelled within several days, but ongoing fighting between the slaves, free blacks, and planters continued. Although he was free, L’Ouverture joined the slave insurgency and quickly developed a reputation first as a capable soldier and then as military secretary to Georges Biassou, one of the insurgency’s leaders. When the insurgency’s leadership chose to ally itself with Spain against France, L’Ouverture followed. Threatened by Spain and Britain’s attempts to control the island, the French National Convention acted to preserve its colonial rule in 1794 by securing the loyalty of the black population; France granted citizenship rights and freedom to all blacks within the empire.

Following France’s decision to emancipate the slaves, L’Ouverture allied with France against Spain, and from 1794 to 1802, he was the dominant political and military leader in the French colony. Operating under the self-assumed title of General-in-Chief of the Army, L’Ouverture led the French in ousting the British and then in capturing the Spanish controlled half of the island. By 1801, although Saint Dominque remained ostensibly a French colony, L’Ouverture was ruling it as an independent state. He drafted a constitution in which he reiterated the 1794 abolition of slavery and appointed himself governor for “the rest of his glorious life.”

L’Ouverture’s actions eventually aroused the ire of Napoleon Bonaparte. In 1802 Napoleon dispatched his brother-in-law, Charles Leclerc, to capture L’Ouverture and return the island to slavery under French control. Captured and imprisoned at Fort de Joux in France, L’Ouverture died of pneumonia on April 7, 1803. Independence for Saint Dominque would follow one year later under the leadership of Jean-Jacques Dessalines, one of L’Ouverture’s generals. Research more about this Island and its people and share with your babes and make it a champion day!

August 3 1777- Booker T. Washington

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to share with you the story of Blacks serving in the American Revolutionary War. Growing up in Trenton, N.J. where General Washington crossed the Deleware River on Christmas night in 1776. Many say that Prince Whipple was the Black on the boat of Washington in that famous painting. It was not Prince for he was one of Washington’s aid’s and stayed on the Pennsylvania side of the Deleware River that evening holding papers and a lantern. Prince did get some action in battle and I want to tell you of one of those exploits. Enjoy!

Remember – “…we find him choosing the better part and Crispus Attucks, a Negro, was the first to shed his blood on State street, Boston, that the white American might enjoy liberty forever, though his race remained in slavery.” – Booker T. Washington

Today in our History – August 3,1777 – African American’s Captures British General Prescott.

African Americans continued to serve in the colonial militias, and some, like Prince Whipple, an African American man in Lieutenant Colonel Barton’s Rhode island army, showed great daring and bravery. Early morning August 3, 1777, Colonel Barton conceived a plan to capture British Major General Prescott, commander of the Royal Army at Newport, Rhode Island, to effect a trade for a captured American general.

Leading an army of forty men in two boats, Barton landed five miles from Newport and advanced on foot to the headquarters of General Prescott, where the colonel, with a stout African American close behind him, and another at a small distance, confronted and then overwhelmed a sentry. While the other men surrounded the house, an African American man named Prince Whipple, instantly thrust his head through the panel door, and seized his victim, Prescott while in bed. While Colonel Barton received an elegant sword for his exploits, Prince, the actual captor of the general, received nothing. In that sense, Prince Whipple was not exceptional. African Americans played a pivotal, decisive role in battles only to have that role forgotten afterward.

Prince Whipple (1756 – 1797)

Prince Whipple had been part of a wealthy (perhaps even a royal) African family. When he was ten, he was sent by his family to America for an education; but while on the voyage, he was shanghaied by the ship’s treacherous captain and sold into slavery in Baltimore. He was bought by New Hampshire ship captain William Whipple, a famous leader in that State.
William Nell, in his 1852 The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution, tells the early story of Prince in America:

As was customary, Prince took the surname of his owner, William Whipple, who would later represent New Hampshire by signing the Declaration of Independence. When William Whipple joined the revolution as a captain, Prince accompanied him and was in attendance to General Washington on Christmas night 1776 for the legendary and arduous crossing of the Delaware. The surprise attack following the crossing was a badly needed victory for America and for Washington’s sagging military reputation. In 1777, [William Whipple was] promoted to Brigadier General and [was] ordered to drive British General Burgoyne out of Vermont.

An 1824 work provides details of what occurred after General Whipple’s promotion:

On [his] way to the army, he told his servant [Prince] that if they should be called into action, he expected that he would behave like a man of courage and fight bravely for his country. Prince replied, “Sir, I have no inducement to fight, but if I had my liberty, I would endeavor to defend it to the last drop of my blood.” The general manumitted [freed] him on the spot.

Prince Whipple did enter the service of America as a soldier during the Revolution and is often identified in a number of early paintings of the War, including that of General Washington after crossing the Delaware. In fact, many identify Prince Whipple as the man on the oar in the front of the boat in the famous crossing of the Delaware picture painted in 1851. Although Whipple did not actually cross the Delaware with Washington in the manner depicted, he was representative of the thousands of black patriots who did fight for American independence – and of the many African Americans who did cross the Delaware with Washington.

Prince Whipple fought in the Battle of Saratoga in 1777 and the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778. He directly attended General Washington and the general staff throughout the Revolution, serving as a soldier and aide at the highest levels. Research more about the Black “Son’s of Liberty” and share with your babies. Make it a champion day!

July 13 1787 – The Northwest Ordinance Passed

GM – FBF – Today, I want talk about a Congressional law which kept African slaves in check. When if fact, slavery was officially barred from the new western states in 1787. In fact it did not happen in this case or in later years, The Louisana Purchase also did nothing for the Africans. Don’t forget the Dread Scott case that went to The Supreme Court.
Enjoy and learn!

Remember – If we give them (Slaves) an opportunity to be part of America, it will strive forward for another 100 years. – Thomas Jefferson

Today in our History – July13, 1787 – The Northwest Ordinance, passed. Incorporating the Western Territories.

Under the Treaty of Paris (1783) which ended the Revolutionary War, Britain relinquished to the United States a large tract of land west of the Appalachian mountains, doubling the size of the new nation. How would this territory be incorporated into the United States? Congressional debates about the division and government of the new territories resulted in precedents which were followed throughout the settlement of the west.

Congress Discusses Slavery in the Western Territories
[Detail] Resolution for the Exclusion of Slavery in Future States. New York: s.n., 1785. Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

In 1783, Congress formed a committee to “prepare a plan for the temporary government of the western territory.” Thomas Jefferson, chairman of the committee, delivered a report in March 1784 proposing the division of the land into ten territories, and their eventual admission to the Union on an equal footing with the original thirteen states. In addition, Jefferson proposed the prohibition of slavery in any of the new states. Congress rejected Jefferson’s ban on slavery, but in 1785 Rufus King attempted to restore it, offering the displayed resolution. Congress, once again, rejected the proposal by a slight margin. Slavery was officially barred from the new western states in 1787.

Congress Decides How to Divide the Western Territories
[Detail] An ordinance for ascertaining the mode of disposing of lands in the Western Territory. New York : s.n., 1785. LC copy annotated by Rufus King and by an unknown hand, with some changes reflected in the ordinance passed May 20 (cf. JCC 477). Library of Congress, Rare Book and Special Collections Division.

Congressman David Howell of Rhode Island complained that America’s new western territories were “the most complicated and embarrassing Subject before Congress since peace has taken place.” Deliberation over what to do with the territory continued for several years, but on May 18, 1785, a burst of activity resulted in a proposal for the orderly settlement of the western public lands. Rufus King of Massachusetts, a key figure in the debate, made many of the notations that appear in the document’s margins. Congress adopted the final version of the Land Ordinance of 1785 on May 20.

Congress Determines How New States Can Enter the Union
In 1787, Congress was approached by agents of the Ohio Company, a group of New England Revolutionary War veterans seeking to purchase vast tracts of western land. The prospect of earning real revenue for the western territories inspired Congress to resolve the long debate over the west; the Northwest Ordinance, passed on July 13, 1787, provided for a government in the western territories, created a procedure for the formation of states, established a formal method for the new states to enter the union as equals, guaranteed the inhabitants civil and religious liberties, and prohibited slavery. The president of Congress, Arthur St. Clair, was named first governor of the territory. Research more about this Territorel event and others which held Balec people and share with your babies. Make it a champon Day!

July 3 1775- Prince Hall And Fourteen Other Blacks Were Initiated Into British Military

GM – FBF – Today, I would like to tell you a story about a “Secret Society”, One that goes back from across the waters and back to Europe and Africa. Many of you have family members who are and were part of this organization. Enjoy!

Remember – ” Let us have two houses of knowledge, that will give a foundation. – Prince Hall

Today in our History – July 3,1775 Prince Hall and fourteen other Blacks were initiated into British Military Lodge No. 441 of the Masons at Fort Independence, Massachusetts. Hall was a leather-dresser and caterer. On July 3, 1775, African Lodge No.1 was organized in Boston by a group of Black Masons.

Throughout North America, the Caribbean and Europe there are Freemasons whose lineage began here in Boston in 1775, when Prince Hall and 14 other freed black men secured a charter to join the international association.

The history of the Prince Hall Masons is exceptional, especially given the time in this country when the Lodge was founded.

On March 6, 1775, Prince Hall and 14 freed black men were made Masons by Worshipful Master John Batt of Army Lodge No. 441 of the 38th Regiment of Foot of the British Army. The Army Lodge’s Charter was under the Grand Lodge of Ireland Constitution.

As a new Master Mason, Prince Hall petitioned membership in the Masonic Lodges headed by colonists, but all his petitions were rejected. When the British Army left Boston in 1776, this Lodge, No. 441, granted Prince Hall and his brethren authority to meet as African Lodge No. 1 (Under Dispensation), to go in procession on St. John’s Day, and as a Lodge to bury their dead; but they could not confer degrees nor perform any other Masonic “work.”

Besides Hall, the other black Masons were Cyrus Forbes; Bristol Stenzer; Thomas Sanderson; Prince Taylor; Cato Gardner; Boston Smith; Peter Best; Fortune Howard; Prince Reed; John Carter; Peter Freeman; Benjamin Tyler; Cuff Bufform; and Richard Tilledge. For eight years these brethren, together with others who had received their degrees elsewhere, assembled and enjoyed their limited privileges as Masons.

Thirty-three Masons were listed on the rolls of African Lodge No.1 on Jan. 14, 1779. Finally on March 2, 1784, Prince Hall petitioned the Grand Lodge of England, through a Worshipful Master of a subordinate Lodge in London (William Moody of Brotherly Love Lodge No. 55) for a warrant or charter. On Sept. 29, 1784 a charter was issued to the African Lodge, making it a regular Lodge with all the rights and privileges of any Lodge in the world.

The Warrant to African Lodge No. 459 of Boston is the most significant and highly prized document known to the Prince Hall Masonic fraternity. It was delivered in Boston on April 29, 1787 by Captain James Scott, brother-in-law of John Hancock and master of the Neptune. African Lodge of Boston became the “Mother Lodge” of the Prince Hall Family.

All of this took place at a time in American history when it wasn’t safe for black men to be speaking with, much less asking for favors from, the British.

But it was also a time when free black men very much needed a means by which to advance the cause of black equality. Boston was a major port for selling slaves in the North. Black Codes were enacted by all the colonies, curtailing the movement of blacks, both free and slave, especially after dark.
Prince Hall looked to the Fraternal Order of Free and Accepted Masons because the chief purpose of Freemasonry is benevolence and charity to all mankind. Hall was convinced that Freemasonry’s ideals for the betterment of man made it an ideal organization to advance the cause of black equality in the colonies.

Today, the Prince Hall Masonic Order spans across all 50 states in the U.S. as well as Lodges in Canada, the West Indies, the Bahamas, Europe, and Asia. There are over 250,000 Prince Hall Masons worldwide, working in more than 5,000 Lodges that can trace their roots to African Lodge No. 459 which, as the Prince Hall Grand Lodge of Massachusetts, is located here in Boston, at 24 Washington St. in Grove Hall. Research more about The Masonic Order and sahre with your babies. Make it a champion day!

June 5 1783- Oliver Cromwell

GM – FBF – Today I travel back to my family and friends in Central N.J. for they can go visit this place in Burlington. The story of this great American Revolutionary fighter. Or reach out to our TCHS Brother Algernon Ward Jr.who does a lot of historical reenactments. This patriot served with General George Washington and was on the boat that crossed the Delaware River on that cold Christmas night to take the City of Trenton back from the “Red Coats” hands. Enjoy!

Remember – “No one battle or war will give all negro’s their freedom but if we start now to show that we are Americans, I know that day will come.” – Oliver Cromwell

Today in our History – June 5, 1783

Oliver Cromwell, soldier in the Revolutionary War, receives an honorable discharge and the Badge of Merit from George Washington.

Oliver Cromwell was no ordinary soldier of the American Revolution. This military hero’s discharge was signed by General George Washington “stating that he was entitled to wear the badges of honor by reason of his honorable services.”

Cromwell’s story first appeared in a newspaper interview conducted when he was 100 years old by a reporter of the Burlington Gazette (Burlington, New Jersey) in 1905, which was reprinted by the Trenton Evening Times. As the newspaper article noted: “though feeble, his lips trembling at every word, when he spoke of [General George] Washington his eyes sparkled with enthusiasm.”

The archive of old newspapers in GenealogyBank is packed with thousands of these firsthand accounts of military service in the Revolutionary War, adding a personal touch to the facts of many of these early American military battles.

In that 1905 interview, Cromwell told of his Revolutionary War service crossing the Delaware “with his beloved commander…on the memorable Christmas night [in] 1776.”

The old newspaper article adds that Cromwell: “took part in the battle of Trenton, and helped to ‘knock the British about lively at Princeton.’ He also fought at the Revolutionary War battles of Short Hills, Brandywine, Monmouth and Springfield, where he was severely wounded, and saw the last man killed at York town.”

A few days after Cromwell’s death, the local Burlington Gazette published an editorial calling for the erection of a monument in honor of the Revolutionary War hero.

“And thus, one by one, the men who purchased with their blood the liberty we now enjoy, are going off the stage…We suggest whether it would not be proper to erect some suitable monument over his grave…it will be pleasant to know that the people of Burlington felt sufficient interest in him, to mark the spot where his ashes are buried.”

The reprint in the Trenton Evening Times notes: “Unfortunately no such monument was ever erected and there is nothing to indicate the last resting place of Oliver Cromwell.”

Oliver Cromwell lived in a different time and place, and life was more difficult than it would have been for him now. He was African American, one of the many that served in the American Revolution. Though honored by General Washington, his pension was revoked by a local pension agent. “Tears fell from his eyes when he told of his discharge being taken from him by the pension agent.”

In 1984, a plaque was placed on the property where his home once stood.His grave has been located in the cemetery at Broad Street Methodist Church in Burlington, New Jersey. The local historical society was named in his honor in 1983.

Oliver Cromwell (1752-1853), one of “the men who purchased with their blood the liberty we now enjoy,” was “respected by our citizens” then and remembered to this day. Research more about the blacks who fought in the American Revolution and share wit your babies. Make it a champion day!

February 20, 1794-Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church

GM – FBF – Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Remember – “No one should negotiate their dreams. Dreams must be free to flee and fly high. No government, no legislature, has a right to limit your dreams. You should never agree to surrender your dreams.” – Jesse Jackson

Today in our History – February 20, 1794 – Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church, the first African Methodist Episcopal Church in the nation, was founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1794 by Richard Allen, a former slave. Allen founded Mother Bethel AME after the church he had been attending, St. George’s Methodist Episcopal Church (MEC) in Philadelphia, began segregating its parishioners by race.

The perceived need to segregate white and black parishioners at St. George had its roots, ironically, in the preaching of Richard Allen who had been an itinerant preacher and in 1786 began preaching a 5 a.m. sermon at St. George. Allen’s sermons proved so popular with black Philadelphians that St. George soon became overcrowded. As black attendance at the church increased, however, so too did race prejudice. When the ruling body at St. George decided that blacks should be segregated and seated in a newly constructed balcony, Allen and his followers decided it was time to leave and start a new church.

With financial assistance from individuals such as Dr. Benjamin Rush and President George Washington, Allen purchased a piece of land at 6th and Lombard streets in Philadelphia. He also bought an old blacksmith shop and moved it to the 6th and Lombard location. The Blacksmith Shop Meeting House, as the structure came to be called, was remodeled into a house of worship and dedicated on July 29, 1794. The pastor of St. George, the Reverend John Dickins, suggested that the new church should be called “Bethel” for the gathering of thousands of souls. The church still carries this name today.

Just one year after its founding, Bethel’s congregation numbered 121. Ten years later, in 1805, the congregation had grown to 457, and the church decided to expand. Two lots adjoining the original 6th and Lombard site were purchased and a new building was constructed to replace the original Blacksmith Shop Meeting House.

Although technically still part of the predominantly white Methodist Episcopal Church, the Bethel congregation limited membership to “descendants of the African race” in an attempt to retain a degree of autonomy. Limiting membership to African Americans, however, did not quell disagreements between Bethel and the Methodist Episcopal Church over issues such as the choice of pastors and property ownership. The courts ultimately decided in favor of independence for Bethel, and in 1816, the 1,300 member congregation joined with black congregations from Baltimore, Maryland, Salem, New Jersey, and Attleborough, Pennsylvania to form the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. Allen served as the first bishop for the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

Bethel AME Church has a long history of engagement with civil rights issues. In 1795 the church provided refuge to thirty runaway Jamaican slaves. In 1817 Bethel hosted a meeting where approximately 3,000 people of African descent protested the formation of the American Colonization Society (ACS), which sought to resettle free blacks from the United States to Sierra Leone. The church provided financial support to the Underground Railroad, and following the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, it helped ex-slaves who began migrating to Philadelphia. Lucretia Mott, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King have been among the many distinguished leaders who have spoken at Bethel AME.

In 1953 the word “Mother” was added to the church’s name and women were permitted to participate in the business of the church corporation for the first time. The church has been remodeled twice since 1805, the last time in 1889 when it moved to its current location on the Southeast corner of Sixth and Alfred (now Addison) Streets. Mother Bethel still has a vibrant congregation today. Research more about early African American Churchs and their role in the communities that they served and share with your babies. I will not be able to respond to any posts today speaking at Georgia Southern University. Make it a champion day!