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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• Ohio Constitution adopted, outlawing slavery and prohibiting free Black people 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 (North American 19th-century Black activist, writer)


• (September 3) Prudence Crandall born (educator)


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


Angelina Emily Grimke Weld born (North American 19th-century Black activist, women's rights proponent, sister of Sarah Moore Grimke)


• (July 25) Maria Weston Chapman born (North American 19th-century Black activist)

• (September 9) Sarah Mapps Douglass born (North American 19th-century Black activist, educator)


• New Jersey passes legislation restricts the right to vote to free, white, male citizens, removing the vote from all African Americans and women, some of whom had voted before the change


• (January 1) importing enslaved people to the United States became illegal; about 250,000 more Africans were imported to the United States after it became illegal to do so


• New York began recognizing marriages of African Americans

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

• Fanny Kemble born (wrote about enslavement)


• The Congress bans employment by the U.S. Postal Service of any African Americans


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


• Boston incorporates African American schools into the city's public school system




• (November 12) Elizabeth Cady Stanton born (anti-enslavement and women's rights activist)




Lucy Stone born (editor, North American 19th-century Black activist, women's rights advocate)



• (about 1820) Harriet Tubman enslaved from birth in Maryland (Underground Railroad conductor, North American 19th-century Black activist, women's rights advocate, soldier, spy, lecturer)

• (February 15) Susan B. Anthony born (reformer, North American 19th-century Black activist, women's rights advocate, lecturer)


• New York state ends property qualifications for white male voters but keeps such qualifications for African American male voters; women are not included in the franchise

• Missouri removes the right to vote from African Americans


• Rhode Island removes the right to vote from African Americans


• (October 9) Mary Ann Shadd Cary born (journalist, teacher, North American 19th-century Black activist, activist)



• Frances Wright purchased land near Memphis and founded Nashoba plantation, purchasing enslaved people 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, North American 19th-century Black activist)


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


• New York State ends the practice of enslavement



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

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

• the first permanent order of African American Catholic nuns is founded, the Oblate Sisters of Providence, in Maryland



• (September) enslaved men and women of the ship Amistad demand that the U.S. recognize their freedom

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

• Jarena Lee publishes her autobiography, the first by an African American woman

• North Carolina bans the teaching of any enslaved person to read and write

• Alabama bans preaching by any African Americans, free or enslaved


• 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


• 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.


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

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

• New York absorbs African American schools into the public school system

• South Carolina bans teaching any African Americans in the state, free or enslaved



• Angelina Grimké published her anti-enslavement letter, "Appeal to the Christian Women of the South" and her sister Sarah Moore Grimké published her anti-enslavement 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)


• 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)


• 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


• (-1846) Maria Weston Chapman published "Liberty Bell"

• (-1842) Maria Weston Chapman helped edit The Liberator and Non-Resistant, North American 19th-century Black activist publications

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


• 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



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

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


• Sojourner Truth began her North American 19th-century Black activist work, changing her name from Isabella Van Wagener

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


• 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 formerly enslaved people)


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


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



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

• (July) Harriet Tubman gains her freedom, returning repeatedly to free more than 300 freedom seekers



• (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 Black people, moved to Canada to avoid capture and enslavement under new U.S. policies and laws

• Lucy Stanton graduated from Oberlin Collegiate Institute (now Oberlin College), the first African American woman to graduate from college

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


• 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 freedom seekers to safety


• (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 enslavement prompted Abraham Lincoln later to say of Stowe, "So this is the little lady who made this great war."

• Frances Wright died (writer about the system of enslavement)


• 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, and later that year performed before Queen Victoria


• 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 a school in New York City for poor children)

• Sarah Emlen Cresson and John Miller Dickey, a married couple, found Ashmun Institute, to educate African American men; this later becomes Lincoln University


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


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


• Dred Scott decision of the Supreme Court declared that African Americans were not U.S. citizens


• "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 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 toward enslaved people, 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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