Black History Timeline: 1700 - 1799

Site of Stono Rebellion, near Charleston, SC
Henry de Saussure Copeland hdes.copeland/ Flickr CC

Here is a timeline of Black history in the 18th Century.

The 1700s


The New York Assembly passes a law making it illegal for an enslaved African to testify against a White person. The law also prohibits enslaved people from gathering in groups larger than three in public. 


Elias Neau, a French colonist, establishes a school for free and enslaved Black people in New York City. 


The Colonial Virginia Assembly determines that servants who are brought into the colony who were not Christians should be considered enslaved. The law also applies to Indigenous peoples who were enslaved by colonists after being captured by other Indigenous tribes. 


South Carolina becomes the first English colony with a Black majority. 


A Pennsylvania law outlawing enslavement is overturned by Queen Anne of Great Britain. 

A public market trafficking enslaved people opens in New York City near Wall Street. 


On April 6, the New York City revolt of enslaved people begins. An estimated nine White colonists and countless Black people died during the incident. As a result, an estimated 21 enslaved Black people are hung and six committed suicide. 

New York City establishes a law preventing freed Black people from inheriting land. 


England has a monopoly on transporting captured African people to Spanish colonies in the Americas. 


Enslaved Africans are brought to present-day Louisiana. 


The French establish the town of New Orleans. Within three years, there are more enslaved African men than free White men residing in the city. 


South Carolina passes a law limiting the right to vote to White Christian men. 


A curfew is established in Boston for persons who are not White.

The Code Noir is created by the French colonial government. The purpose of the Code Noir is to have a set of laws for enslaved and free Black people in Louisiana. 


A revolt breaks out in Middlesex and Gloucester Counties in Virginia. The revolt is started by enslaved Africans and Native Americans.


Laws are established in South Carolina requiring those enslaved to wear specific clothes. Freed Black people must leave the colony within six months or be re-enslaved. 


Following the death of his enslaver, a Black person appeals to a Massachusetts Court and is granted his freedom.


Gracia Real de Santa Teresa de Mose (Fort Mose) is established in present-day Florida by freedom seekers. This will be considered the first permanent Black American settlement. 


The Stono Rebellion takes place on September 9. It is the first major revolt by enslaved people in South Carolina. An estimated 40 White and 80 Black people are killed during the revolt. 


An estimated 34 people are killed for their participation in the New York Slave Conspiracy. Out of the 34, 13 Black men are burned at the stake; 17 Black men, two White men, and two White women are hung. Also, 70 Black and seven White people are expelled from New York City. 


South Carolina bans teaching enslaved people to read and write. The ordinance also makes it illegal for enslaved people to meet in groups or earn money. Also, enslavers are allowed to kill those they enslave. 


Lucy Terry Prince composes the poem, Bars Fight. For almost one hundred years, the poem is passed down through generations in the oral tradition. In 1855, it was published. 


The first free school for Black American children in the colonies is opened in Philadelphia by Quaker Anthony Benezet. 


Benjamin Banneker creates one of the first clocks in the colonies. 


The first known Black church in North America is founded on the plantation of William Byrd in Mecklenburg, Virginia. It is called the African Baptist or Bluestone Church. 


The first narrative of an enslaved person is published by Briton Hammon. The text is entitled "A Narrative of the Uncommon Sufferings and Surprising Deliverance of Briton Hammon."


Jupiter Hammon publishes the first collection of poetry by a Black person. 


Voting rights are restricted to White men in the colony of Virginia. 


Crispus Attucks, a self-liberated formerly enslaved person, is the first resident of the British American colonies to be killed in the American Revolution


Phillis Wheatley publishes Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Wheatley's books are considered the first to be written by an African American woman. 

Silver Bluff Baptist Church is founded near Savannah, Georgia. 


Enslaved Black people appeal to the Massachusetts General Court arguing that they have a natural right to their freedom. 


General George Washington begins to allow enslaved and free Black men to enlist in the army to fight against the British. As a result, five thousand Black men serve in the American Revolutionary War. 

Black men begin participating in the American Revolution, fighting for the Patriots. Most notably, Peter Salem fought at the Battle of Concord, and Salem Poor at the Battle of Bunker. 

The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage begins hosting meetings in Philadelphia on April 14. This is considered the first meeting of abolitionists. 

Lord Dunmore declares that any enslaved Black people fighting for the British Flag will be freed. 


An estimated 100,000 enslaved Black men and women self-liberated during the Revolutionary War. 


Vermont abolishes enslavement. 


Paul Cuffee and his brother, John, refuse to pay taxes, arguing that since Black people cannot vote and aren't represented in the legislative process, they should not have to be taxed. 

The 1st Rhode Island Regiment is established and is comprised of free and enslaved Black men. It is the first and only Black military unit to fight for the Patriots. 


Enslavement is abolished in Massachusetts. Black men are also granted the right to vote. 

The first cultural organization established by Black people is established. It is called the Free African Union Society and is located in Rhode Island. 

Pennsylvania adopts the gradual emancipation law. The law proclaims that all children born after November 1, 1780 will be freed on their 28th birthday. 


Connecticut and Rhode Island follow Pennsylvania's suit, adopting gradual emancipation laws. 

The New York African Society is established by freed Black people in New York City. 

Prince Hall founds the first African American Masonic lodge in the United States. 


New York frees all enslaved Black men who served in the Revolutionary War

The New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves is established by John Jay and Alexander Hamilton. 


The U.S. Constitution is drafted. It allows the trading of enslaved people to continue for the next 20 years. In addition, it proclaims that those enslaved count as three-fifths of a person for determining population in the House of Representatives. 

The African Free School is established in New York City. Men such as Henry Highland Garnett and Alexander Crummell are educated at the institution. 

Richard Allen and Absalom Jones found the Free African Society in Philadelphia. 


The Brown Fellowship Society is established by freed Black people in Charleston. 


Banneker assists in surveying the federal district that will one day become the District of Columbia. 


Banneker's Almanac is published in Philadelphia. The text is the first book of science published by an African American. 


The first Fugitive Slave Act is established by U.S. Congress. It is now considered a criminal offense to help a freedom-seeking enslaved person.

The cotton gin, invented by Eli Whitney, is patented in March. The cotton gin assists in the boost to the economy and the trade of enslaved people throughout the South. 


Mother Bethel AME Church is founded by Richard Allen in Philadelphia. 

New York also adopts a gradual emancipation law, abolishing enslavement entirely in 1827. 


Bowdoin College is established in Maine. It will become a major center of abolitionist activity. 


The African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME) is organized in Philadelphia on August 23. 


Joshua Johnston is the first Black visual artist to gain popularity in the United States. 

Venture Smith's A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, Native of Africa but Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America is the first narrative written by an African American. Previous narratives were dictated to White abolitionists.