Humanities › History & Culture Black American Firsts of the 18th Century Share Flipboard Email Print History & Culture African American History The Black Freedom Struggle Major Figures and Events Important Figures Civil Rights The Institution of Slavery & Abolition Segregation and Jim Crow American History African History Ancient History and Culture Asian History European History Genealogy Inventions Latin American History Medieval & Renaissance History Military History The 20th Century Women's History View More By Femi Lewis African American History Expert M.S.Ed, Secondary Education, St. John's University M.F.A., Creative Writing, City College of New York B.A., English, City College of New York Femi Lewis is a writer and educator who specializes in African American history topics, including enslavement, activism, and the Harlem Renaissance. our editorial process Femi Lewis Updated November 01, 2020 By the 18th century, the 13 colonies were growing in population. To support this growth, Africans were bought to the colonies to be sold into enslavement. Being in bondage caused many to respond in various ways. 01 of 12 Black American Firsts in the 18th Century Public Domain Phillis Wheatley and Lucy Terry Prince, who were both stolen from Africa and sold into enslavement, used poetry to express their experiences. Jupiter Hammon, never achieved freedom in his lifetime but use poetry as well to expose an end to enslavement. Others such as those involved in the Stono Rebellion fought for their freedom physically. At the same time, a small yet vital group of freed Black Americans would begin to establish organizations in response to racism and enslavement. 02 of 12 Fort Mose: The First Black American Settlement Public Domain In 1738, Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose) is established by freedom seekers. Fort Mose would be considered the first permanent Black American settlement in the Americas. 03 of 12 Stono Rebellion: September 9, 1739 Public Domain The Stono Rebellion takes place on September 9, 1739. It is the first major revolt by enslaved people in South Carolina. An estimated 40 White and 80 Black Americans are killed during the revolt. 04 of 12 Lucy Terry: First Black American to Compose a Poem Public Domain In 1746 Lucy Terry recited her ballad "Bars Fight" and became known as the first Black American woman to compose a poem. When Prince died in 1821, her obituary read, “the fluency of her speech captivated all around her.” Throughout Prince’s life, she used the power of her voice to retell stories and defend the rights of her family and their property. 05 of 12 Jupiter Hammon: First Black American Published Poet Public Domain In 1760, Jupiter Hammon published his first poem, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries.” The poem was not only Hammon's first published work, but it was also the first to be published by a Black American. As one of the founders of the Black American literary tradition, Jupiter Hammon published several poems and sermons. Although enslaved, Hammon supported the idea of freedom and was a member of the African Society during the Revolutionary War. In 1786, Hammon even presented “Address to the Negroes of the State of New York.” In his address, Hammon said, “If we should ever get to Heaven we shall find nobody to reproach us for being black, or for being slaves.” Hammon’s address was printed several times by North American 18th-century anti-enslavement groups such as the Pennsylvania Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery. 06 of 12 Anthony Benezet Opens First School For Black American Children Public Domain Quaker and anti-enslavement activist Anthony Benezet founded the first free school for Black American children in the colonies. Opened in Philadelphia in 1770, the school was called the Negro School at Philadelphia. 07 of 12 Phillis Wheatley: First Black American Woman to Publish a Collection of Poetry Public Domain When Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral was published in 1773, she became the second Black American and the first Black American woman to publish a collection of poetry. 08 of 12 Prince Hall: Founder of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge Public Domain In 1784, Prince Hall established the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston. The organization was founded after he and other Black American men were barred from joining a local masonry because they were Black Americans. The organization is the first lodge of Black American Freemasonry in the world. It is also the first organization in the United States with a mission to improve social, political and economic opportunities in society. 09 of 12 Absalom Jones: Co-Founder of the Free African Society and Religious Leader Public Domain In 1787, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen established the Free African Society (FAS). The purpose of the Free African Society was to develop a mutual aid society for Black Americans in Philadelphia. By 1791, Jones was holding religious meetings through the FAS and was petitioning to establish an Episcopal Church for Black Americans independent of White control. By 1794, Jones founded the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas. The church was the first Black American church in Philadelphia. In 1804, Jones has ordained an Episcopal Priest, making him the first Black American to hold such a title. 10 of 12 Richard Allen: Co-Founder of the Free African Society and Religious Leader Public Domain When Richard Allen died in 1831, David Walker proclaimed that he was one of “the greatest divines who has lived since the apostolic age.” Allen was enslaved from birth and purchased his own freedom in 1780. Within seven years, Allen and Absalom Jones had established the Free African Society, the first Black American mutual aid society in Philadelphia. In 1794, Allen became the founder of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). 11 of 12 Jean Baptiste Point du Sable: First Settler of Chicago Public Domain Jean Baptiste Point du Sable is known as the first settler of Chicago around 1780. Although very little is known about du Sable’s life before settling in Chicago, it is believed that he was a native of Haiti. As early as 1768, Point du Sable ran his business as a fur trader at a post in Indiana. But by 1788, Point du Sable had settled in present-day Chicago with his wife and family. The family ran a farm that was considered prosperous. Following the death of his wife, Point du Sable relocated to Louisiana. He died in 1818. 12 of 12 Benjamin Banneker: The Sable Astronomer Benjamin Banneker was known as the "Sable Astronomer." In 1791, Banneker was working with surveyor Major Andrew Ellicot to design Washington D.C. Banneker worked as Ellicot's technical assistant and determined where the surveying of the nation's capital should begin. From 1792 to 1797, Banneker published a yearly almanac. Known as "Benjamin Banneker's Almanacs," the publication included Banneker's astronomical calculations, medical information, and literary works. The almanacs were bestsellers throughout Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Virginia. In addition to Banneker's work as an astronomer, he was also a noted North American 18th-century Black activist.