Published by: the Internet Public Library

Slavery and Religion in America:


A Time Line 1440-1866


1440's Portuguese begin to capture Africans off the coast of Mauritania and the Sengambia region.

1619 First Africans are brought to English colonies, in particular to Jamestown, Virginia.


1626 New Amsterdam is founded by the Dutch. Eleven Africans, all indentured servants, are among the settlers.

1638 The New England Slave trade begins in Boston Massachusetts.

1641 Jonathan Winthrop records first documented baptism of a slave in New England.

1660 Charles II of England urges the Council for Foreign Plantations to christianize slaves.

1661 Black Codes give statutory recognition to the institution of slavery in the colony of Virginia.

1664 The English take New Amsterdam and rename it New York.

1667 Virginia Assembly passes a law denying that baptism grants worldly freedom to slaves.

1680's Colonial governors in North America are instructed by England to convert slaves and Native-Americans to Christianity.

1681 Philadelphia is founded.

1688 Members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) protest slavery in Germantown, Pennsylvania.

1693 Society of Negroes is founded in Boston, Massachusetts.

1694 A group of ministers attempts to persuade the court of Massachusetts to pass a bill permitting slave holders to retain baptized slaves.

1700's Many North American slave holders fear that christianizing their slaves will lead to rebellion.

1701 Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts is established by the Church of England to send missionaries to the slaves in the North American colonies.

1706 Puritan leader Cotton Mather publishes The Negro Christianized, arguing that blacks are, indeed, human. He writes, "Man, Thy Negro is thy Neighbor."

1707 Isaac Watts publishes Hymns and Spiritual Songs.

1712 Slave insurrection in New York City.

1730-1824 The Ursuline nuns of New Orleans concentrate on a mission to black catholics of the area.

1734 The Great Awakening begins in Massachusetts. The movement spreads to other areas, encouraging new religious fervor among both blacks and whites. This movement encourages blacks to join the Methodist and Baptist Churches.

1750's-early 1800's. Black preachers minister to free and enslaved blacks. Small, independent, black congregations begin to emerge in the south.

1758 Probably the first recorded black congregation is organized on the plantation of William Byurd in Mecklenburg, Virginia. It is a baptist congregation.

1773-1775 The Silver Bluff Baptist Church in Silver Bluff, South Carolina is organized. This is the first separate black church in the United States and is lead by George Liele and David George.

1775 American Revolution (War of Independence) (1775-83) begins

1775 A group of Quakers organize the first Abolition Society in Philadelphia.

1776 Declaration of Independence

1777 Slavery is abolished in Vermont.

1778 Virginia prohibits external slave trade.

1780 Pennsylvania passes a law that allows for the gradual abolition of slavery.

1780-1810 Almost as many slaves are brought into the Unites States as had been brought in over the previous 160 years.

1783 American Revolution (War of Independence) ends

1783 Slavery abolished in Massachusetts

1784 Richard Allen and Absalom Jones are the first black men to be granted licenses to preach.

1784 "The Christmas Conference" of the Methodist Church passes a resolution against slave holding.

1786 1,890 of a total of 18,791 methodists are black.

1786 Richard Allen and Absalom Jones establish the Free African Society in Philadelphia. This is a response to the need to create a place of worship, social welfare, and community for free blacks in the area. Similar societies soon emerge in other cities.

1787 George Liele, an ex-slave from Georgia, brings the Baptist Church to Jamaica.

1787 Constitutional Convention

1788 Andrew Bryan, a slave, is ordained as a baptist minister. Bryan gains his freedom when his master dies, and becomes the minister of the First African Baptist Church of Savannah with a congregation of more than 500.

1790 The number of black methodists increases to 11,682.

1791 The Bill of Rights is added to the Constitution.

1793 An approximated 18,000 or 19,000 of a total of 73,417 baptists are black.




Andrew Bryan
Reprinted from
History of the First African Baptist Church
by E.K. Love, Savannah, George 1888





1794 Absalom Jones becomes pastor of St. Thomas' African Episcopal Church, organized on July 12 of that year. St. Thomas is received into the Episcopal Church on October 12.

1794 Richard Allen founds Mother Bethel.

1797 The number of black methodists increases to 12,215. Most of these black members are in Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina.

1799 Second Great Awakening begins with the Cane Ridge camp meeting. The meeting takes place in Kentucky and embraces African-Americans. Many slaves convert to Christianity.

1800 Gabriel's Rebellion is attempted in Richmond, Virginia. Gabriel, the Black Sampson, uses Old Testament themes to as inspiration to rise up against slavery. Slave revolts in South Carolina, North Carolina, George, Louisiana and Mississippi follow.

1800 The state of Virginia passes a law forbidding African-Americans to assemble between sunset and sunrise for religious worship or for instruction.

1800 The Great Awakening moves to the frontier.

1801 John Chavis, a "free negro", is appointed by the Presbyterian General Assembly to work in Virginia and North Carolina to serve as a missionary to other African-Americans.

1805 The North Joy Street African Baptist Church of Boston is organized.

1807 The African Union Church, the earliest black methodist church, is incorporated in Wilmington, Delaware.



1812 War of 1812 begins

1812 "Free negro" and baptist preacher Joseph Willis forms Louisiana's first baptist church at Bayou Chicot. He serves as pastor and helps organize other baptist churches in the area.

1814 African Methodist Episcopal Church forms in Philadelphia

1816 Several african methodist churches meet at Bethel church in Philadelphia in April and form the African Methodist Episcopal Church.

1818 Louisiana Baptist Association forms; Joseph Wills serves as the Association's first moderator.

1821 The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church is organized on June 21. AME Zion forms a new denomination with members from New Haven, Philadelphia and Long Island.

1822 Denmark Vesey, a methodist and a former slave to Captain Joseph Vesey, leads a slave insurrection in South Carolina. Vessey and his men are arrested before they have a chance to put their plan into action.

1827 First African-American newspaper, Freedom's Journal, begins publication in New York.



Section from Slave Trade Map of Equatorial Afircaa as the piece appeared in the English Abolitionist periodical, The Anti Slavery Reporter and Aborigines Friend, Series IV No. 8-9, 1881-1882.

1829 David Walker publishes and the first edition of his Appeal to the Coloured Citizens of the World and distrubutes the work to African-Americans in the south. This revolutionary literature warns against the work of white plantation missionaries.

1830 Second Great Awakening ends

1830's-1840's There is increased concern among white church men about the religious well-being of slaves in the south. This concern leads to plantation missions.

1830-1880 The two Marie Laveaus, mother and daughter, lead voodoo cults in New Orleans, Louisiana.

1831 Nat Turner, a baptist slave preacher, leads a revolt in Southampton County, Virginia, killing at least 57 whites.

1838 Presbyterians divide over slavery.

1844 Methodists divide over slavery.

1852 Harriet Beecher Stow's Uncle Tom's Cabin is published.

1852 Jossiah Priest publishes Bible defence of slavery.



1856 Booker T. Washington is born in Franklin County, Virginia, on April 5. Washington later becomes a leader in the educational, social and political realms of African-American life.

1857 On March 6, the Supreme Court decides that an African-American cannot be a citizen of the U.S., and has no rights of citizenship.

1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th President on November 6.

1861 Civil war begins

1862 Slavery is abolished in the District of Columbia.

1863 The Emancipation Proclamation takes effect January 1, legally freeing slaves in areas of the South in rebellion.

1865 On January 31, Congress approves the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery in the United States.

1865 Civil War ends

1865 President Abraham Lincoln is assassinated.

1866 The African Union Church unites with the First Colored Methodist Protestant Church forming the African Union First Colored Methodist Protestant Church of America.



Bibliography
Southern, Eileen. The Music of Black Americans; A History Second Edition, New York: W. W. Norton and Co., 1983.

Raboteau, Albert J. Slave Religion; the "Invisible Institution" in the Antebellum South. New York: Oxford University Press, 1980.

Wilmore, Gayraud S. Black Religion and Black Radicalism; an Interpretation of the Religious History of Afro-American People. Second Edition, Revised and Enlarged. Maryknoll: Orbis Books. 1996.


Created by Carrie Bickner. Copyright 1998.

Last updated April 15, 1998