Part 1: 1450-1750
Part 2: 1750-1805
<--Part 3: 1791-1831
Part 4: 1831-1865

Narrative | Resource Bank | Teacher's Guide

Historical Document
"Address to the Free People of Colour of these United States"

Resource Bank Contents

Click here for the text of this historical document.

In September, 1830, Richard Allen and other free blacks issued a call "on behalf of the Coloured Citizens of Philadelphia, and addressed to their brethren throughout the U. States, inviting them to assemble... in the city of Philadelphia."

From September 20th to the 24th, thirty-eight delegates from eight states met at Bethel AME Church, in the first of a series of national conventions, to form the American Society of Free Persons of Colour. In accordance with the Constitution adopted by the group, a "Parent Society" was established in Philadelphia "under the patronage of the General Convention," and Richard Allen was elected President.

While the Society repudiated African colonization, the "Preamble" of the organization's Constitution announced its ambitious purpose of "purchasing land, and locating a settlement in the Province of Upper Canada."

In his "Address" to the assembled delegates, Allen declared: "However great the debt which these United States may owe to injured Africa, and however unjustly her sons have been made to bleed, and her daughters to drink of the cup of affliction, still we who have been born and nurtured on this soil, we whose habits, manners, and customs are the same in common with other Americans, can never consent to take our lives in our hands, and be the bearers of the redress offered by that Society to that much afflicted country."

Allen urged the formation of auxiliary societies throughout the United States, "to assist in [the] benevolent work" of establishing a Canadian colony. He also advised that delegates be sent to "the next Convention, to be held in Philadelphia the first Monday in June next."

In 1831, fifteen delegates from five states met again in Philadelphia's Wesleyan Church. Other Negro Conventions continued to meet up until and after the Civil War to address the issue of black freedom.

previous | next

Related Entries:
Richard Allen
Forten letter to Cuffe
Emma Lapsansky on the American Society of Free Persons of Colour
Julie Winch on black support for the ACS and the Bethel meeting

Part 3: Narrative | Resource Bank Contents | Teacher's Guide

Africans in America: Home | Resource Bank Index | Search | Shop

WGBH | PBS Online | ©