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  central pennsylvania african american history for everyone
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A 1919 street map of the old Eighth Ward, home to many Harrisburg Blacks until it was razed for an extension of Capitol Park.State historical marker for Underground Railroad activity in Harrisburg's Tanner Alley neighborhood, located at Walnut Street near Fourth.

Rising Free

African American History
in South Central
Pennsylvania:
the 19th Century

Harrisburg's Role on the
Trail to Freedom ~ part 1
by T. R. McIntosh
 Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, February 2002

 

T. R. McIntosh --"Mac"-- taught in the Harrisburg School District for more than forty years before his recent retirement.  Decrying the lack of references to ethnic minorities and women in his school social studies texts, Mac supplemented his teachings with material from his extensive reference collection.  The following reference article was produced as a supplement to his session on Harrisburg's developing anti-slavery role at the February 2002 Underground Railroad and Abolition Seminars at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. 

significant dates

1775
Manumission Society (later Pennsylvania Abolition Society) founded, mostly by Quakers.
1780
Pennsylvania General Assembly commits the state to the eventual abolition of slavery in this state.
1787
Pennsylvania Abolition Society asks Benjamin Franklin, Delegate to the Constitutional Convention, to include abolition of the slave trade in the new Constitution.
1788
New Constitution includes three references to slavery:
"Three-fifths" compromise, end of the slave trade by 1808, fugitive slave return provision.
1790
First U.S. Census figures:
State listed about 10,000 Negroes, about one-fourth free
Philadelphia listed 1630 Negroes, only 210 slaves
1810-1850
Estimated 100,000 slaves escaped on the Underground Railroad.
Estimated value of $30,000,000.
Included Harriet Tubman, famous Conductor, who made 19 trips to the South and aided more than 300 slaves to escape, including her mother and father.
1816
Foundation of the American Colonization Society to deport freed American slaves to Africa. Eventually led to the foundation of Liberia in Africa.
1830
William Lloyd Garrison lectured in Philadelphia and engendered strong Abolitionist movement.
1832-1849
Five anti-Negro riots in Philadelphia to oppose and protest Abolitionist movement.
1833
Foundation of American Anti-Slavery Society and Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society.
1836
Beginning of anti-slavery newspaper, known as National Enquirer and Constitutional Advocate of Universal Liberty in Philadelphia, patterned after The Liberator, founded in Boston in 1831 by William Lloyd Garrison. Title converted to Pennsylvania Freeman in 1838 when James Greenleaf Whittier became the editor.
1837
Convention in Harrisburg to organize the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society.
1838
Burning of Pennsylvania Hall in Philadelphia, erected by Abolitionists (Black and White, male and female), only four days after it was opened.
1840
Foundation of Liberty Party to oppose slavery. Ran candidates in elections until disbanded in 1847.
1847
Frederick Douglass and William Lloyd Garrison lectured in Harrisburg and received a rather rough reception.
1850
The Federal Fugitive Slave Law polarized the Pro-Slavery and Anti-Slavery factions in the United States and was one of the steps toward the terrible Civil War.

Go to:
Significant Dates for  Harrisburg and Dauphin County (part 2)
Bibliography on Pennsylvania African-American History
Bibliography on Harrisburg & Dauphin County

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Original material on this page copyright 2003-2004 Afrolumens Project
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This page was updated October 13, 2004.