Black History Timeline: 1700-1794

18th CENTURY

1700 Pennsylvania legalizes slavery. After 1700, when Pennsylvania was not yet 20 years old, blacks, free or slave, were tried in special courts, without the benefit of a jury. The goal of this anti-slavery society was to have the passage of high duties placed on the importation of slaves.

The only poem that has survived,  Bars Fight  is a true story about the killing of two white families by Native Americans. - Lucy Terry Prince

The only poem that has survived, Bars Fight is a true story about the killing of two white families by Native Americans. - Lucy Terry Prince

1702 New York passes An Act for Regulating Slaves. Among the prohibitions of this act are meetings of more than three slaves, trading by slaves, and testimony by slaves in court.

1703 Connecticut assigns the punishment of whipping to any slaves who disturb the peace or assault whites.

1703 Rhode Island makes it illegal for blacks and Indians to walk at night without passes.

1746 Lucy Terry, Prince an enslaved person in 1746, becomes the earliest known black American poet when she writes about the last American Indian attack on her village of Deerfield, Massachusetts. Her poem, Bar's Fight, is not published until 1855.

1753 Benjamin Banneker designed and built the first clock in the British American colonies. He also created a series of almanacs. He corresponded with Thomas Jefferson and wrote that "blacks were intellectually equal to whites". Banneker worked with Pierre L'Enfant to survey and design a street and urban plan for Washington, D.C.

1760 Jupiter Hammon has a poem printed, becoming the first published African-American poet.

 1773 Phillis Wheatley's  book Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral is published, making her the first African American to do so.

1787 Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory. The U.S Constitution states that Congress may not ban the slave trade until 1808.

1774  The first black Baptist congregations are organized in the South: Silver Bluff Baptist Church in South Carolina, and First African Baptist Church near Petersburg, Virginia.

Silver Bluff Baptist Church

Silver Bluff Baptist Church


1775   The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes Unlawfully Held in Bondage holds four meetings. It was re-formed in 1784 as the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, and Benjamin Franklin would later be its president.


 1776–1783 American Revolution

Thousands of enslaved blacks in the South escape to British lines, as they were promised freedom to fight with the British. In South Carolina, 25,000 enslaved blacks. One-quarter of those held, escaped to the British or left their plantations. After the war, many blacks are evacuated with the British for England; more than 3,000 Black Loyalists are transported with other Loyalists to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, where they are granted land. The others went to Jamaica and the West Indies. Around 8–10,000 were evacuated from the colonies in these years as free people, about 50 percent of those slaves who defected to the British and about 80 percent of those who survived. Many free blacks in the North fight with the colonists for the rebellion.

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 1777  July 8 – The Vermont Republic abolishes slavery. They were the first future state to do so. No slaves were held in Vermont.

 1780 Pennsylvania becomes the first U.S. state to abolish slavery.

 1781  A woman by the name of Elizabeth Freeman tried suing for her freedom in the state of Massachusetts. In the court case Brom & Bett v. Ashley, under the state constitution of 1780, she become the first slave in the state to win her freedom.

1783  Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court affirmed that Massachusetts state constitution had abolished slavery. It ruled that "the granting of rights and privileges [was] wholly incompatible and repugnant to" slavery, in an appeal case arising from the escape of former slave Quock Walker. When the British left New York and Charleston in 1783, they took the last of 5500 Loyalists to the Caribbean, along with some 15,000 slaves.

 1787   Slavery is made illegal in the Northwest Territory. The U.S Constitution states that Congress may not ban the slave trade until 1808.

1787 The Northwest Ordinance bans the expansion of slavery into U.S. territories north of the Ohio River and east of the Mississippi River.

 1788  the U.S Constitution is ratified and when it comes to congressional representation and tax apportionment, they put in a fugitive slave law declaring that slaves are three-fifths human. This mandate further reinforces political power away from slaves.

 1790–1810 Manumission of slaves

Following the Revolution, numerous slaveholders in the Upper South free their slaves; the percentage of free blacks rises from less than one to 10 percent. By 1810, 75 percent of all blacks in Delaware are free, and 7.2 percent of blacks in Virginia are free.

 1793, Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin. This effected slavery.

1793 A federal fugitive slave law is enacted, providing for the return slaves who had escaped and crossed state lines.

1794  Eli Whitney is granted a patent on the cotton gin. This enables the cultivation and processing of short-staple cotton to be profitable in the uplands and interior areas of the Deep South; as this cotton can be cultivated in a wide area, the change dramatically increases the need for enslaved labor and leads to the development of King Cotton as the chief commodity crop.

1794  the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, with Absalom Jones, and the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, with Richard Allen, the latter the first church of what would become in 1816 the first independent black denomination in the United States.


Work Cited

Black History & Civil Rights Movement Timeline. https://www.infoplease.com/history/black-history/timeline-key-moments-in-black-history

Potter, Joan (2002). African American Firsts. Kensington. pp. 295–296.

Slavery and the Making of America . Timeline | PBS. https://www.thirteen.org/wnet/slavery/timeline/1694.html

Timeline of African-American history - Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_African-American_history

Talk:Timeline of African-American history/Archive 1 .... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Timeline_of_African-American_history/Archive_1

The American Revolution and Slavery", Digital History. Retrieved March 5, 2008.

Why Do So Few Blacks Study the Civil War? - Democratic .... https://www.democraticunderground.com/10021915738

18th Century Civil Rights timeline | Timetoast timelines. https://media.timetoast.com/timelines/18th-century-civil-rights