Black History and Women Timeline 1800-1859

African American History and Women Timeline

Sojourner Truth
Sojourner Truth. Hulton Archive / Getty Images

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1800

1801

1802

• Ohio Constitution adopted, outlawing slavery and prohibiting free blacks from voting

• James Callendar accused Thomas Jefferson of keeping "as his concubine, one of his own slaves" -- Sally Hemings. The accusation was first published in the Richmond Recorder.

• (February 11) Lydia Maria Child born (abolitionist, writer)

1803

• (September 3) Prudence Crandall born (educator)

1804

• (January 5) Ohio passed "black laws" restricting rights of free blacks

1805

Angelina Emily Grimke Weld born (abolitionist, women's rights proponent, sister of Sarah Moore Grimke)

1806

• (July 25) Maria Weston Chapman born (abolitionist)

• (September 9) Sarah Mapps Douglass born (abolitionist, educator)

1807

1808

• (January 1) importing slaves to the United States became illegal; about 250,000 more Africans were imported as slaves to the United States after slave imports became illegal

1809

• New York began recognizing marriages of African Americans

• African Female Benevolent Society of Newport, Rhode Island, founded

• Fanny Kemble born (wrote about slavery)

1810

1811

• (June 14) Harriet Beecher Stowe born (writer, author of Uncle Tom's Cabin)

1812

1813

1814

1815

• (November 12) Elizabeth Cady Stanton born (antislavery and women's rights activist)

1816

1817

1818

Lucy Stone born (editor, abolitionist, women's rights advocate)

1819

1820

• (about 1820) Harriet Tubman born a slave in Maryland (Underground Railroad conductor, abolitionist, women's rights advocate, soldier, spy, lecturer)

• (February 15) Susan B. Anthony born (reformer, abolitionist, women's rights advocate, lecturer)

1821

1822

1823

• (October 9) Mary Ann Shadd Cary born (journalist, teacher, abolitionist, activist)

1824

1825

• Frances Wright purchased land near Memphis and founded Nashoba plantation, buying slaves who would work to buy their freedom, become educated, and then when free move outside the United States

• (September 24) Frances Ellen Watkins Harper born in Maryland to free black parents (writer, abolitionist)

1826

• Sarah Parker Remond born (anti-slavery lecturer whose British lectures probably helped keep the British from entering the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy)

1827

1828

1829

• (1829-1830) when Frances Wright's Nashoba plantation project failed, amid scandal, Wright took the remaining slaves to freedom in Haiti

• race riots in Cincinnati resulted in more than half the African Americans in the city being forced out of town

1830

1831

• (September) men and women of the slave ship Amistad demand that the US recognize their freedom

• (-1861) Underground Railroad helped thousands of African American men, women, and children to freedom in the Northern states and Canada

1832

• Maria W. Stewart begins series of four public lectures on religion and justice, advocating for racial equality, racial unity and standing up for rights among African Americans.

• Female Anti-Slavery Society was founded in Salem, Massachusetts, by and for African American women

• Oberlin College founded in Ohio, admitting women and African Americans as students along with white men

1833

• Lydia Maria Child published An Appeal in Favor of the Class of Americans Called Africans

• American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) founded, with four women attending, Lucretia Mott spoke

• Lucretia Mott and others founded the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society

• Oberlin Collegiate Institute opened, the first coeducational college and the first to accept African American students (later renamed Oberlin College)

• Sarah Mapps Douglass founded a school for African American girls in Philadelphia

• in Connecticut, Prudence Crandall admitted an African American student to her girls' school, reacted to disapproval by dismissing the white students in February and, in April, reopened it as a school for African American Girls

• (May 24) Connecticut passed a law forbidding the enrollment of black students from outside the state without the permission of the local legislature, under which Prudence Crandall was jailed for one night

• (August 23) Prudence Crandall's trial began (see May 24). The defense used a constitutionality argument that free African Americans had rights in all states. The judgment went against Crandall (July 1834) but the Connecticut Supreme Court reversed the lower court's decision, though not on Constitutional grounds.

1834

• (September 10) Prudence Crandall closed her school for African American girls in the face of harassment

• Maria Weston Chapman began her work as an abolitionist -- she's known for her work with the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society

1835

1836

• Angelina Grimké published her antislavery letter, "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South" and her sister Sarah Moore Grimké published her anti-slavery letter, "Epistle to the Clergy of the Southern States"

• Lydia Maria Child published her Anti-Slavery Catechism

• Maria Weston Chapman published Songs of the Free, and Hymns of Christian Freedom

• (-1840) Maria Weston Chapman edited the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society annual reports, titled Right and Wrong in Boston

• Fannie Jackson Coppin born (educator)

1837

• William Lloyd Garrison and others won the right of women to join the American Anti-Slavery Society, and for the Grimke sisters and other women to speak to mixed (male and female) audiences

• Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women held in New York

• Angelina Grimke published her "Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States"

• Charlotte Forten born (educator, diarist)

1838

• Angelina Grimke spoke to the Massachusetts legislature, the first woman to address an American legislature

• Grimke sisters published American Slavery as It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses

• Helen Pitts born (later, the second wife of Frederick Douglass) 

• (and 1839) Philadelphia Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women met in Philadelphia

1839

• (-1846) Maria Weston Chapman published Liberty Bell

• (-1842) Maria Weston Chapman helped edit The Liberator and Non-Resistant, abolitionist publications

• women permitted to vote for the first time at an annual convention of the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS)

1840

• Lucretia MottLydia Maria Child, and Maria Weston Chapman were the executive committee of the Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society

• World Anti-Slavery Convention in London would not seat women or allow them to speak; Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton met over this issue and their reaction led directly to organizing, in 1848, the first woman's rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York

• Abby Kelley's new leadership role in the American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) led some members to secede over women's participation

• (-1844) Lydia Maria Child and David Child edited Anti-Slavery Standard

1841

1842

• Josephine St. Pierre Ruffin born (journalist, activist, lecturer)

• Maria Weston Chapman organized the Anti-Slavery Fair in Boston

1843

• Sojourner Truth began her abolitionist work, changing her name from Isabella Van Wagener

• or 1845 (July 4 or 14) Edmonia Lewis born

1844

• Maria Chapman became an editor on National Anti-Slavery Standard

• Edmonia Highgate born (fundraiser, after the Civil War, for the Freedman's Association and the American Missionary Society, for educating freed slaves)

1845

• or 1843 (July 4 or 14) Edmonia Lewis born

1846

• Rebecca Cole born (second African American woman to graduate from medical school, worked with Elizabeth Blackwell in New York)

1847

1848

• (July 19-20) Woman's Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York, included among its attendees Frederick Douglass and other male and female antislavery activists; 68 women and 32 men signed the Declaration of Sentiments

• (July) Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery, returning repeatedly to free more than 300 slaves

1849

1850

• (around 1850) Johanna July born (cowgirl)

• Fugitive Slave Act passed by Congress

• (January 13) Charlotte Ray born (first African American woman lawyer in the United States and the first woman admitted to the bar in the District of Columbia)

• Hallie Quinn Brown born (educator, lecturer, clubwoman, reformer, Harlem Renaissance figure)

• Mary Ann Shadd and her family, free blacks, moved to Canada to avoid capture and enslavement under new US policies and laws

• (1850-1852) Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe ran as a serial in National Era

1851

• Sojourner Truth gave her "Ain't I A Woman" speech to a women's rights convention in Akron, Ohio, in reaction to male hecklers

• Harriet Tubman made her first trip back to the South to help members of her family to freedom; she made a total of 19 trips back to help slaves escape

1852

• (March 20) Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe published, in book form, in Boston, selling more than 300,000 copies the first year -- the book's success in highlighting the evils of slavery prompted Abraham Lincoln later to say of Stowe, "So this is the little lady who made this great war."

• Frances Wright died (writer about slavery)

1853

• Mary Ann Shadd Cary began publishing a weekly, The Provincial Freeman, from her exile in Canada

• Sarah Parker Remond tried to integrate a Boston theater and was hurt when a policeman pushed her. She sued the officer and won a $500 judgment.

• Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, New York

1854

• Francis Ellen Watkins Harper published Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects which included an anti-slavery poem, "Bury Me in a Free Land"

• Katy Ferguson died (educator; ran school in New York City for poor children)

1855

• Maria Weston Chapman published How Can I Help to Abolish Slavery

1856

• Sarah Parker Remond hired as a lecturer for the American Anti-Slavery Society

1857

• Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court declared that African Americans were not US citizens

1859

• Our Nig; Or Sketches from the Life of a Free Black by Harriet Wilson published, the first novel by an African American

• (June) Sarah Parker Remond began lecturing in England, Scotland, and Ireland for the American Anti-Slavery Society. Her lectures on slavery probably helped keep the British from actively entering the American Civil War on the side of the Confederacy.

• (October 26) Lydia Maria Child wrote to Governor Wise of Virginia, regretting the action of John Brown but asking for admission to nurse the prisoner. Published in the newspaper, this led to a correspondence that was also published.

• (December 17) Lydia Maria Child's response to a Mrs. Mason, who had defended the South's caring attitude towards slaves, included the famous line, "I have never known an instance where the 'pangs of maternity' did not meet with requisite assistance; and here at the North, after we have helped the mothers, we do not sell the babies."

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