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American Racial History Timeline, 1550-1860


The term “negro” enters the English language from Spanish. (Jordan, 61)


The term “mulatto” enters the English language from Spanish. (Jordan, 61)


Twenty blacks brought by a Dutch ship to Virginia. Some blacks had arrived even earlier. (Davis, xi)


Pequot War in Massachusetts. (Jordan, 68)


First negroes arrive in New England aboard the slave ship Desire, perhaps as slaves. (Jordan, 67)


Linkage of race and slavery in the American colonies. (Brown and Stentiford, 223)


Evidence suggests that negroes are becoming enslaved in the tobacco colonies (Virginia, Delaware, Maryland). (Jordan, 44)


Three hundred negroes in Virginia – about 2 percent of the population. (Jordan, 73)


Rhode Island outlaws slavery but the law remains a dead letter. (Jordan, 70)


Negroes excluded from the Massachusetts militia. (Jordan, 71)


Enslavement of negroes starts appearing in the statute books of Virginia, Maryland and other colonies. (Jordan, 44)

Negroes excluded from the Connecticut militia. (Jordan, 71)


Maryland criminalizes intermarriage between white women and negro men. (Brown and Stentiford, 533)


Virginia passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 79)


Slave rebellion in Gloucester County, Virginia. (Brown and Stentiford, 223)


New England colonies begin enacting slave codes. (Brown and Stentiford, 223)

Maryland passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 79)


Bacon’s Rebellion in Virginia. (Klinker and Smith, 10)


Slaves increase in population from 4.6% in 1680 to over 20% in 1750; in the South from 5.7% to nearly 40%. (Klinker and Smith, 12)


Relatively few negroes in New England, not more than a few hundred in 1680 and not more than 3 percent of the workforce. (Jordan, 66)


Maryland passes another anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 79)


Four Quakers sign antislavery petition in Germantown, Pennsylvania. (Davis, xii)

Virginia Assembly declares that free negroes “ought not in all respects to be admitted to a full fruition of the exemptions and impunities of the English.” Variations of this guideline are accepted in every colony. (Jordan, 123)


Glorious Revolution in Britain. (Jordan, 289)


First laws appears in New England regulating the conduct of negroes. (Jordan, 71)


Virginia passes an anti-miscegenation law that prohibits all interracial liasons. (Jordan, 80)

Virginia requires manumitted negroes to leave the state. (Jordan, 124)


Maryland passes an anti-miscegenation law.


Negroes are now commonly being treated as chattel slaves. (Jordan, 44)

Negroes flooding into Virginia and Maryland. (Jordan, 73)

In the Southern colonies, free negroes are unable by law to testify against white persons. In New England, free negroes can testify against anyone. (Jordan, 123)


Southern colonies begin enacting slave codes. (Brown and Stentiford, 223)

Virginia Assembly declares negroes ineligible to hold public office. (Jordan, 126)

Virginia writes its slave code. Free negroes from raising their hand against whites. (Jordan, 73) Slaves forbidden to carry firearms, teaching slaves to read a crime. (Brown and Stentiford, 223)

Massachusetts adopts an anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 139)


Slave uprising in New York City. (Davis, xii)


North Carolina and South Carolina bar negroes from the polls; North Carolina does not continue the prohibition after the 1730s. (Jordan, 126)

North Carolina adopts an anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 139)


South Carolina adopts an anti-miscegenation law. (Jordan, 139)


South Carolina requires free negroes to leave the colony unless permitted to do so by special act of the assembly.


Virginia bars negroes from the polls. (Jordan, 126)

Virginia prohibits manumission of negroes. (Jordan, 124)


Pennsylvania adopts an anti-miscegenation law.


Stono slave rebellion in South Carolina. (Davis, xii)


Slave conspiracy uncovered in New York City. Many hanged and burned at the stake. (Davis, xii)


Massachusetts prohibits negroes from participating in a government lottery. (Jordan, 130)


British government sanctions slavery in Georgia, prohibited in 1735. (Davis, xii)

Georgia adopts an anti-miscegenation law after negroes are admitted into the colony. (Jordan, 139)


Quakers begin pre-Revolution antislavery agitation. (Jordan, 271)


Carl Linnaeus develops a simple classificatory system of races – Caucasian, Ethiopian, Mongolian, and American – based largely on external, visible factors. (Brown and Stentiford, 528)


The word and concept of “prejudice” comes into circulation in the years after 1760. (Jordan, 276)


Georgia restricts suffrage to white men. (Jordan, 126)


Virginia disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


Treaty of Paris ends the Seven Years War between Britain and France. (Nugent, 7)

Proclamation Line issued which prohibits American settlement in Transappalachia. (Nugent, 7)

The first known Asians arrive in the United States when a group of Filipinos known as the Louisiana Manila Men developed settlements in Louisiana. These individuals fail to attain U.S. citizenship, as the Naturalization Act of 1790 only granted citizenship to free whites. (Brown and Stentiford, 48)


Virginia establishes castration as the penalty for convicted black rapists of white women. (Jordan, 473)


Denial of negro mental inferiority becoming common place in antislavery circles. Benjamin Franklin thought Negroes “not deficient in natural Understanding,” though Alexander Hamilton seemed less certain when he remakred that “their natural faculties are perhaps probably as good as ours.” (Jordan, 282)


Delaware forbids negroes from administering corporal punishment to whites. (Jordan,131)


New England slaves petition legislatures for freedom. Increasing numbers of antislavery tracts are published in America. (Davis, xii)


Rhode Island prohibits slave trade. (Jordan, 291)

Rhode Island raises a separate battallion of negroes to fight in the American Revolution; Georgia and South Carolina hold out to the end. (Jordan, 302)

Quebec Act infuriates American colonials which extends the southern border of Quebec to the Ohio River. (Nugent, 7)

1775-1783, American Revolution

Negro soldiers participate in virtually every major military action of the American Revolution. (Litwack, 12)

George Washington orders recruiting officers not to enlist “any deserter from within the Ministerial army, nor any stroller, negro, or vagabond.” (Klinker and Smith, 17)

5,000 negro soldiers participate in the American Revolution. (Brown and Stentiford, 281)


Johann Friedrich Blumenbach adds “Malayans” to Linnaeus’s racial classification system. (Brown and Stentiford, 528)

Battles of Lexington and Concord inaugurate the American Revolution. (Nugent, 14)

Lord Dunmore, royal governor of Virginia, promises freedom to any slaves who desert rebellious masters and serve in the king’s forces, an offer taken up by some eight hundred blacks. (Davis, xii)

The first secular antislavery organization is founded, The Society for the Relief of Free Negroes. (Jordan, 343)

Maryland and the Northern colonies do not officially bar negroes from the polls until the Revolution. (Jordan, 126)


Declaration of Independence describes Indians as “merciless Indian Savages.” (Nugent, 4)

Thomas Jefferson’s indictment of slavery is removed from the Declaration of Independence out of fear that the Southern colonies, especially South Carolina and Georgia, would refuse to sign. (Brown and Stentiford, 462)

Thomas Paine publishes incendiary pamphlet Common Sense. (Nugent, 7)


Vermont’s constitution outlaws slavery. (Davis, xii, Jordan, 345)

Americans defeat British at Saratoga. (Nugent, 17)

Georgia disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


The French forge an alliance with the Americans. (Nugent, 17)


As the American Revolution shifts to the Deep South, John Laurens of South Carolina proposes arming three thousand slaves with promise of freedom. The Continental Congress approves, but the South Carolina legislature rejects the proposal. (Davis, xii)

Thomas Jefferson’s revisal of the laws of Virginia calls for banishment of white women who have mulatto children: “If any white woman shall have a child by a negro or mulatto, she and her child shall depart the commonwealth within one year thereafter. If they shall fail so to do, the woman shall be out of the protection of the laws, and the child shall be bound out by the Aldermen of the county, in like manner as poor orphans are by law directed to be, and within one year after its term of service expired shall depart the commonwealth, or on failure so to do, shall be out of the protection of the laws.” (Jordan, 472)

South Carolina disenfranchies negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


Adoption of the Articles of Confederation. (Nugent, 7)


Pennsylvania adopts a gradual emancipation law. (Davis, xii, Jordan, 345)

Revolutionary era constitutions of Virginia, South Carolina, and Georgia exclude negroes from the franchise. (Jordan, 412)

An estimated 200,000 to 250,000 Indians are living east of the Misssissippi. By 1780, almost all Indians have been pushed west of the Appalachians. (Nugent, 10)


Thomas Jefferson writes his Notes on the State of Virginia.


Defeat of the British and Yorktown and surrender of Lord Cornwallis. (Nugent, 4)


Virginia legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 574)

British and Americans sign preliminary peace treaty. (Nugent, 4)


Treaty of Paris extends recognition to the United States as an independent nation. Acquisition of Transappalachia. (Nugent, 4)

In Massachusetts, the case of Commonwealth v. Jennison is interpreted as removing any judicial sanctions for slavery. (Davis, xii)

Kentucky and Tennessee no longer seriously contested betweem whites and Indians. (Nugent, 48)


The Pennsylvania Abolition Society is formed. (Davis, xii)

Connecticut and Rhode Island enact gradual emancipation laws. Congress narrowly rejects Jefferson’s proposal to exclude slavery from all Western territories after the year 1800. The New York Manumission Society is organized. (Davis, xii)


The New York assembly passes a gradual emancipation bill which would have barred Negroes from the polls and from marrying whites, but the state senate objected to the intermarriage clause because “in so important a connection they thought the free subjects of this State ought to be left to their free choice.” The New York assembly voted again to keep the anti-miscegenation clause, but ultimately receded on it. (Jordan, 741-472)

John Jay and Alexander Hamilton chair the New York Manumission Society. (Litwack, 14)


In Massachusetts, an act of 1786 voids marriages between whites and Negroes. (Jordan, 472)

Massachusetts legislature votes to expel all negroes who are not citizens of one of the states. (Litwack, 16)


Thomas Jefferson publishes Notes on State of Virginia, endorses racialism, negro intellectual inferiority, and calls for the colonization of free blacks to their native climate. (Jordan, 547)

The Constitution Convention agrees to count three-fifths of a state’s slave population in apportioning representation; to forbid Congress from ending the slave trade until 1808; and to require that fugitive slaves who cross state lines be surrendered to their owners. The Continental Congress enacts the Northwest Ordinance, prohibiting slavery in the territories north of the Ohio and east of the Mississippi rivers. (Davis, xiii)

The U.S. Constitution specifically excludes Indian nations from inclusion in the American political system. Classified as foreign nations and “Indians not taxed,” the Constitution gave Congress exclusive jurisdiction for dealing with Indian tribes. (Brown and Stentiford, 579)

U.S. antislavery movement becomes interested in vindicating Negro mental equality in reponse to Jefferson’s racial theories in his Notes on the State of Virginia. Equalitarianism will become a standard theme of abolitionist literature during the 1790s. (Jordan, 445-446)

South Carolina bans slave importations. (Jordan, 318)

All the states have by now banned the slave trade. (Jordan, 342)

Northwest Ordinance prohibits slavery in the Northwest Territory. (Jordan, 322)

Delaware legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 347)

1789-1797, George Washington Adminstration


An “Address to the Public” by the Pennsylvania Abolition Society, signed by its president, Benjamin Franklin, declared that the chains which bound the slave’s body “do also fetter his intellectual faculties; and impair the social affections of his heart.” (Jordan, 447)

William Pinkney, a famous Maryland state legislator, attacks slavery by arguing that Negroes and whites were “endued with equal faculties of mind and body.” He goes on to state that Negroes are “in all respects our equals by nature; and he who thinks otherwise has never reflected, that talents, however great, may perish unnoticed and unknown, unless auspicious circumstances conspire to draw them forth, and animate their exertions in the round of knowledge.” (Jordan, 447)


National campaign waged to racially cleanse America of blacks, Virginia in particular, which contains 40% of America’s black population. (Jordan, 542)


New Jersey passes a law that allows all “qualified” inhabitants to vote. (Keyssar, 54)

Quakers and the Pennsylvania Abolition Society petition Congress to use its fullest constitutional powers to discourage slavery and slave trade; the petitions evoke angry debate and attacks on petitioners by congressmen from the Deep South. (Davis, xiii)

Charles Crawford attacks Jefferson’s racialism in his Observations Upon Negro Slavery.

The first federal naturalization law, the Naturalization Act of 1790, restricts American citizenship to “free white persons.” (Jordan, 341)

An estimated 61 to 66 percent of Americans are of English origin and between 80 and 84 percent of English-speaking origin. (Jordan, 339)

Maryland legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 347)

Proportion of Free Negroes:

Delaware: 30.5%
Maryland: 7.2%
Virginia: 4.2%
North Carolina: 4.8%
South Carolina: 1.7%
Georgia: 1.3% (Jordan, 407)


Haitian Revolution. (Nugent, 58)


Vermont admitted to the Union. (Keyssar, 352)


Kentucky admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 44)

Virginia legislature specifically declares castration to be a permissible punishment for any slave “convicted of an attempt to ravish a white woman.” (Jordan, 473)

Gilbert Imlay attacks Jeffersonian racialism in his A Topographical Descritpion of the Western Territory of North America. (Jordan, 441-442)

Eli Whitney’s invention of the cotton gin strengthens slavery. (Jordan, 316-317)

Virginia slave code restricts the right of free negroes to purchase servants only of their own complexion. (Jordan, 407)

Congress passes a federal militia law which includes only “white” men. (Jordan, 412)

Delaware disenfranchies negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


Congress enacts a fugitive slave law. (Jordan, 327)

Virginia prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)


Congress passes a law forbidding Americans from participating in the international slave trade. (Jordan, 327)


Before the mid-1790s many states extended to negro slaves the right of trial by jury in capital cases. Racial attitudes begin to harden again about ten years after the American Revolution. (Jordan, 403)

Treaty of Greenville. Indians cede title to 3/4ths of the future state of Ohio. (Nugent, 44)

Treaty of San Lorenzo. Acquisition of the Yazoo Strip (Southern Mississippi and Southern Alabama) from Spain. (Nugent, 100)


Decline of the first antislavery movement. (Jordan, 348)


Tennessee admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 44)

Maryland legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 347)

1797-1801, John Adams Adminstration


Connecticut adopts another gradual emancipation law. (Litwack, 3)


The Secretaries of War and Navy issue separate directives forbidding negro enlistment in the Marine Corps and on naval warships. (Litwack, 32)

Rhode Island passes a law that bans interracial marriage between blacks and whites. (Jordan, 472)

Kentucky legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 347)


New York adopts a law for gradual emancipation. (Davis, xiv)

Kentucky disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354))


Until the post Civil War-era, Northerners draw a sharp distinction between negro civic equality, of which they approved, and political and society equality, which they did not. (Litwack, 15)


41,085 negroes in Kentucky. (Brown and Stentiford, 437)

A slave conspiracy known as Gabriel’s Rebellion is foiled in Richmond, Virginia. (Hinks and McKivigan, xxxix)

Rhode Island legislature declares no paternity suits could be brought by Negro women against white men. (Jordan, 472)

South Carolina outlaws residence of free negroes. (Jordan, 399)

1801-1809, Thomas Jefferson Administration


Tennessee legislature authorizes private manumission of slaves. (Jordan, 347)

Maryland statute disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


James T. Callender makes his famous charge in the Richmond Recorder that it was “well known” that Thomas Jefferson kept Sally Hemmings, one of his slaves, as a concubine and had fathered children by her. (Jordan, 465)


Georgia relinquishes claim to Alabama and Mississippi in exchange for a promise by the Jefferson administration that the federal government would seek voluntary removal of Indian tribes within her boundries. (Howe, 256)

Negroes excluded from suffrage in the District of Columbia. (Jordan, 412)

Ohio disenfranchises negroes. (Jordan, 412) (Keyssar, 354)

Maryland disenfranchises negroes. (Jordan, 412)

Ohio abolishes slavery. (Litwack, 3)


The Louisiana Purchase doubles the territory of the United States and ultimately leads to an intense debate over the expansion of slavery into regions like Missouri; South Carolina responds by opening the way to importation of thirty-eight thousand slaves before 1808. (Davis, xiv)

South Carolina reopens the slave trade. (Jordan, 318)

Ohio admitted to the Union.


New Jersey adopts a law for gradual emancipation. (Davis, xiv)

Both houses of the Virginia legislature adopt resolutions calling for removal of free Negroes. (Jordan, 565)

Clement Clarke Moore, a New York scholar of Hebrew with Federalist sympathies, attacks Jefferson’s racial views in his Observations upon Certain Passages in Mr. Jefferson’s Notes on Virginia, Which Appear to Have a Tendency to Subvert Religion. (Jordan, 442)

Ohio restricts immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)


Yet again, both houses of the Virginia legislature adopt resolutions calling for the removal of free Negroes. The resolution of 1805 instructed Virginia congressmen to press for a portion of the Louisiana Territory for settlement of free Negroes. (Jordan, 565)

Virginia revises penal code and abolishes castration. (Jordan, 473)


Hudgins v. Wright, the court decides that three generations of women with straight black hair were Indian, not black, and therefore free. (Brown and Stentiford, 535)

Virginia restricts the right of masters to manumit their slaves; free blacks must leave the state within one year. (Jordan, 574)

Ohio already prohibiting permanent residence of Negroes. (Jordan, 575)

Georgia enacts a mandatory death penalty for any Negro raping or attempting to rape a white woman. (Jordan, 473)

Waning of colonization movement. (Jordan, 565)


Slave trade abolished in the United States. (Hinks and McKivigan, xxxix)

Maryland prohibits permanent residence of free negroes. (Jordan, 575)

Louisiana prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Delaware bans racial intermarriage. (Jordan, 472)

Delaware prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)

New Jersey disenfranchises negroes. “No person shall vote in any state or county election for officers in the government of the United States or of this state, unless such person be a free, white male citizen.” (Keysser, 54)

Ohio restricts immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)


U.S. Congress outlaws participation in the African slave trade. (Davis, xiv)

Delaware rescinds ban on racial intermarriage owing to confusion in other matters of the law. (Jordan, 427)

Negroes excluded from suffrage in the Mississippi and Indiana territories. (Jordan, 412)

Kentucky prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

1809-1817, James Madison Administration


Maryland constitution disenfranchises negroes (Keyssar, 354)

South Carolina disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Reverend Samuel Stanhope Smith attacks Jefferson’s racialism in his An Essay on the Causes of the Variety of Complexion and Figure in the Human Species. He argues in a Boasian vein that the Negro skull and intellect has been deformed by his harsh environment. (Jordan, 443)

West Florida west of the Pearl River taken from Spain after uprising by American settlers. (Nugent, 100)

No slaves reported in New Hampshire. (Jordan, 345)

Proportion of Free Negroes:

Delaware: 75.9%
Maryland: 23.3%
Virginia: 7.2%
North Carolina: 5.7%
South Carolina: 2.3%
Georgia: 1.7% (Jordan, 407)

All Southern and two Northern states pass laws either restricting immigration of free Negroes, banning it altogether, or requiring emigration of emancipated slaves. (Jordan, 410)

Congress bans negroes from carrying U.S. mails. (Litwack, 31)


The German Coast Slave Insurrection erupts in Louisiana. (Hinks and McKivigan, xxxix)

Tecumseh attempts to rally the Indians of the Old Northwest and Old Southwest against the American advance. (Nugent, 47)

Delaware prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)


Louisiana admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 70)

Louisiana disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

James Madison’s war message references Indian attacks along the Northwestern frontier, “the warfare just renewed by the savages on one of our extensive frontiers – a warfare which is known to spare neither age nor sex and to be distinguished by features peculiarly shocking to humanity.” (Nugent, 82)

1812-1814, War of 1812

Negro soldiers participate in the War of 1812. (Brown and Stentiford, 281)


The rest of West Florida is taken from Spain in the “patriot war.” (Nugent, 100)


Creek War. (Nugent, 117)


Treaty of Fort Jackson. Creeks are forced to cede much of their land in Alabama and Georgia. (Nugent, 227)


Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, Tennessee, North Carolina and Pennsylvania prohibit or drastically restrict voting by negroes. (Jordan, 414)


Andrew Jackson defeats the British at the Battle of New Orleans. (Nugent, 74)


Bishop Richard Allen founds the African Methodist Episcopal Church. (Brown and Stentiford, 252)

Indiana admitted to the Union.

Indiana abolishes slavery. (Litwack, 3)

Indiana disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Virginia state legislature overwhelmingly endorses colonization of free blacks in West Africa. In the next few years, the legislatures of Maryland, Kentucky, Tennessee, and six northern states follow Virginia’s example in endorsing colonization; so did the national governing bodies of the Presbyterian, Methodist, Baptist, and Episcopal denominations. (Howe, 261-262)

20% of free blacks remain favorably disposed to emigration during the years from 1817 to the Civil War. (Howe, 263)

Choctaw cession in West Alabama. Creek cession in North Alabama. Chickasaw cession in West Alabama. (Howe, 354)

American Colonization Society formed to promote the colonization of free blacks in Africa. (Davis, xiv)

The legislatures of fourteen states endorse negro colonization. (Litwack, 24)

The Virginia House of Delegates resolves (137 to 9) that the governor correspond with the U.S. president concerning a suitable territory for the colonization and removal of free Negroes. (Jordan, 565)

1817-1825, James Monroe Administration

Under the Monroe administration, Secretary of War John C. Calhoun encourages gradual resettlement of Southern Indian tribes across the Mississippi. (Howe, 255)


New York adopts a law that frees all remaining slaves in 1827. (Davis, xiv)

Mississippi admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 225)

Mississippi disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Indiana passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)


Creek cession in Georgia. Chickasaw cession in Tennessee and Kentucky. (Howe, 354)

Black males lose the right to vote in Connecticut. (Howe, 497)

First Seminole War. (Nugent, 122)

Illinois abolishes slavery. (Litwack, 3)

Connecticut disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Illinois disenfranchises negroes (Keyssar, 354)

Georgia prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)


Maine admitted to the Union. (Litwack, 31)

Alabama admitted to the Union.

Alabama disenfranchises negroes (Keyssar, 354)


The Missouri Crisis, followed by the Compromise of 1820 and further debate over Missouri’s constitution, which restricts entry of free blacks and mulattos. (Davis, xiv)


Adams-Onís Treaty. Acquisition of Florida by the United States. (Nugent, 96)

Appropriation from the Monroe administration supports the American Colonization Society.

Alabama admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 225)

Cherokee cession in North Carolina (Howe, 354)

In the states admitted after 1819, every one but Maine disenfranchised blacks. (Howe, 497)


Maine admitted to the Union.

By 1820, free negroes could not exercise certain rights and privileges guaranteed to American citizens and aliens. (Litwack, 33)

Congress authorizes the citizens of Washington, D.C. to elect “white” city officials and to adopt a code governing free negroes and slaves. (Litwack, 31)

New Jersey, Maryland, and Connecticut had allowed free negroes to vote during the first years of independence, but restrict suffrage to whites before 1820. (Keyssar, 55)

Missouri forbids “free negroes and mulattoes from coming to and settling in this State.” Provokes controversy in Congress. Several northern states had accorded citizenship to their black residents. (Howe, 155-156)

Choctaw cession in Mississippi. (Howe, 354)

South Carolina prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Congress passes the Missouri Compromise prohibiting slavery north of the southern border of the new state of Missouri. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

American Colonization Society makes its first attempt at African colonization by setling 86 negroes and their families on Sherbro Island off the west coast of Africa. (Brown and Stentiford, 59)

The U.S. government announces that “No negro or mulatto will be received as a recruit of the Army.” (Brown and Stentiford, 281)


Missouri admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 128)

Missouri disenfranchies negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

New York eliminates property qualification for white men; black men are required to have a net worth of $250 to vote, negroes effectively disenfranchised. (Howe, 239)

The U.S. Navy helps the American Colonization Society purchase land from indigenous Africans adjacent to Sierra Leone to found Liberia. The capital, Monrovia, is named in honor of President James Monroe. (Howe, 262)

Creek cession in Georgia. (Howe, 354)

Maine passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

American Colonization Society establishes the colony of Liberia on the west coast of Africa. (Brown and Stentiford, 59)


Slave conspiracy of Denmark Vesey, perhaps the largest in U.S. history, is foiled in Charleston, South Carolina. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv) Vesey plots to kill all the whites of Charleston. (Howe, 162)

The American Colonization Society, acting with federal assistance, establishes the colony of Liberia on the west coast of Africa for the resettlement on that continent of the American negro. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Black males lose the right to vote in Rhode Island. (Howe, 497)

Mississippi prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)


Seminole cession in North Florida. (Howe, 354)


Ohio state legislature passes a resolution proposing African colonization linked with gradual emancipation. The resolution is soon seconded by seven other free states and Delaware. (Howe, 265)

Elizabeth Heyrick anonymously publishes the pamphlet Immediate, not Gradual Emancipation. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

1825-1829, John Quincy Adams Administration


Indian Removal in the Old Southwest (Five Civilized Tribes) and Old Northwest (Shawnees, Sac and Fox, Potawatomies, Miamis). In 1825, the War Department estimated that more than 50,000 Indians were in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi. By 1838, more than 80,000 Indians had been removed to Oklahoma, Kansas, and Nebraska. As of 1855, only 8,500 Indians lived east of the Mississippi. The Old Southwest together with Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana were basically Indian free by 1842. (Nugent, 229)


The first minstrel shows appear. (Howe, 639)


Senator Rufus King of New York proposes an African colonization program to be funded by Western land sales. (Howe, 264)


Creek cession in Georgia. (Howe, 354)

North Carolina prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Florida Territory prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)


Gradual emancipation comes to an end in New York. Slavery abolished. (Howe, 174)

Michigan Territory restricts immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)

Fouding of America’s first negro newspaper, Freedom’s Journal. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Several slave states begin to invest in Liberia. They organize themselves independently of the ACS and established colonies in an effort to transport free negroes to Liberia. Approximately 11,000 negroes relocated before the movement ended. (Brown and Stentiford, 59)


Moses Elias Levy, the most prominent Jewish abolitionist in the United States, publishes his Plan for the Abolition of Slavery. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Abolitionist Benjamin Lundy begins publication of his newspaper, The Genius of Universal Emanicpation. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

1829-1837, Andrew Jackson Administration


Illinois passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)


170,130 negroes in Kentucky. (Brown and Stentiford, 438)

By 1830, whether by legislative, judicial, or constitutional action, negro slavery had been virtually abolished in the North. Of the 3,568 negro remaining in bondage, two-thirds resided in New Jersey. (Litwack, 14)

Indian Removal Act passes Congress. The Senate approved it by a vote of 28-19. Nearly every New England senator voted against, nearly every southern one voted for. (Nugent, 225)

Treaty of Dancing Rabbit Creek. Choctaw cession in Mississippi. (Howe, 354)

Georgia extends state law over the Cherokee Nation. (Howe, 414)

Mexico suspends immigration from the United States. Anglos outnumber Hispanics in Texas two to one. (Howe, 659-660)

Virginia constitution disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)


Cherokee Nation v. Georgia, John Marshall rules that the Cherokees are a “domestic dependent nation,” not a sovereign state. (Howe, 355)

William Lloyd Garrison begins publishing The Liberator, an abolitionist newspaper, in Boston. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

After 1831, abolitionists would vigorously denounce colonization. (Litwack, 27)

Before it is crushed, Nat Turner’s Rebellion leads to the death of sixty whites in Southampton County, Virginia. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Tennessee prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)


Worcester v. Georgia, U.S. Supreme Court strikes down anti-Cherokee statutes, but Georgia is supported by Andrew Jackson and the Democratic majority in Congress. (Nugent, 225)

Following the Nat Turner slave rebellion, Virginia debates colonization of slaves and free blacks abroad. Both sides in the debate agree that Virginia should be a “white man’s country.” (Howe, 326)

Seminole cession in South Florida. (Howe, 354)

Creek cession in East Alabama; given land in Oklahoma. (Howe, 354)

Chickasaw cession in North Mississippi. (Howe, 354)

Georgia holds a lottery that raffles off unoccupied Cherokee lands to white ticket holders. (Howe, 415)

Founding of the New England Anti-Slavery Society (NEASS) in Boston. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Alabama prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Formation of racially integrated Boston Female Anti-Slavery Society. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)


Kentucky legislature passes a law banning slave imports. (Brown and Stentiford, 437)

American writer Lydia Maria Childs publishes An Appeal in Favor of That Class of Americans Called Africans. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Lucretia Mott and other women, both negro and white, form the Philadelphia Female Anti-Slavery Society. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

The American Anti-Slavery Society (AASS) is founded in Philadelphia; the group favors the immediate emancipation of American slaves. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)


Tennessee disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Massachusetts repeals its anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)


Second Seminole War. (Howe, 516)


Treaty of New Echota. Cherokee cession in Northwest Georgia, South Tennessee, Northeast Alabama. Cherokees trade their ancestral homeland for $5 million dollars and land in Oklahoma. (Howe, 415)

Black males lose the right to vote in North Carolina. (Howe, 497) The word “white” is added to North Carolina’s constitutional requirement. (Keyssar, 55)

Texas Revolution begins. In the U.S., supported by the South and West, criticized in the Northeast. (Howe, 661-662)

Texas legalizes slavery and declares free blacks have no rights. (Nugent, 152)

An extensive postal campaign by the American Anti-Slavery Society uses the postal system to send abolitionist literature throughout the country and especially into the south. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Alexis de Tocqueville, a French traveller in the United States of the 1830s, publishes his Democracy in America, in which he calls slavery “evil.”


Arkansas admitted to the Union. (Keyssar, 342)

Arkansas disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Second Creek War. U.S. Army used to deport Creeks to Oklahoma. (Howe, 417)

Anglos outnumber Hispanics ten to one in Texas. (Howe, 660)

Battle of the Alamo. (Howe, 665)

Goliad Massacre. (Howe, 665)

Texas independence declared. Anglo-Texans almost exclusively Southerners and wage race war against mestizos. Northerners regard Texas as an outpost of slavery. Their opposition prevents the annexation of Texas under the Van Buren administration. (Howe, 665-666, 670)

Southern members of the House of Representatives force passage of the Gag Rule; barring petitions relating to slavery to be read in the House. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

Founding of the New York Committee of Vigilance, one of the most radical negro abolition societies in the United States. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

In its decision on Commonwealth v. Aves, the Massachusetts Supreme Court sets an important precedent by declaring that slavery cannot exist in Massachusetts except as it is regarded by the U.S. Constitution; thus, any slave brought to the state was immediately freed and the only slaves that could exist in Massachusetts were fugitive slaves whose return was mandated by the federal Fugitive Slave Act. (Hinks and McKivigan, xl)

1837-1841, Martin Van Buren Administration


Michigan admitted to the Union.

Michigan disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

The Anti-Slavery Convention of American Women holds its first meeting in New York. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)

An angry mob in Illinois murders abolitionist publisher Elijah P. Lovejoy as he attempts to prevent destruction of his press. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)


Trail of Tears. Deporation of Cherokees to Oklahoma. (Howe, 416)


Pennsylvania restricts voting rights to whites. (Keyssar, 55)

David Ruggles publishes the first negro magazine in the U.S., the Mirror of Liberty. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)


Texas ethnically cleanses Creeks, Cherokees, and other Indians from east Texas. (Nugent, 155)

Formation in the United States of the antislavery Liberty Party. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)

Abolitionists Theodore Dwight Weld, Angelina Grimke Weld, and Sarah Grimke publish their antislavery pamphlet, American Slavery As It Is: Testimony of a Thousand Witnesses. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)

Led by Joseph Cinque, one of their numbers, the Africans being carried to slavery aboard the Spanish ship Amistad, rise against their captors and seize control of the vessel; the ship is intercepted by the American navy and taken to New London, Connecticut, in August. (Hinks and McKivigan, xli)


Minstrel shows explode in popularity. (Howe, 639)


Iowa constitution includes anti-miscegenation clause. (Farnam, 216)

Texas prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Brothers Lewis and Arthur Tarpan found the American and Foreign Anti-Slavery Society. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

The New York Legislature enacts a law requiring jury trials for negroes accused of being fugitives from slavery. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

U.S. Circuit Court Judge Andrew T. Judson rules that the Amistad mutineers are not slaves. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

1841, William Henry Harrison Administration

1841-1845, John Tyler Administration


U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in the Amistad case. (Howe, 521)

In the wake of the Dorr Rebellion, Rhode Island adopts a “Law and Order” constitution that enfranchises taxpaying negro males. (Howe, 602)

Former president John Quincy Adams delivers final arguments before the Supreme Court in defense of the thirty-four negro captives from the Amistad. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that the Amistad captives were never legally slaves and thus are free to return to Africa. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

A slave insurrection erupts aboard the Creole, an American trading vessel carrying tobacoo and slaves to New Orleans. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)


The Anglo-American Webster-Ashburton Treaty establishes the Africa Squadron, an American naval squadron charged with patrolling the west coast of Africa to intercept any American vessels illegally engaged in the slave trade. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)


4,291 American negroes have settled in Liberia; over ten thousand more would come before the Civil War. (Howe, 262)

Arkansas prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Missouri prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 199-200)

Reverend Stephen Symonds Foster publishes The Brotherhood of Thieves, or a True Picture of the American Church, a searing indictment of American evangelical Christians for their complicity in the sin of slavery. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)


The continuous efforts of Congressman John Quincy Adams, a former president of the United States lead to the repeal of the Gag Rule. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

Ralph Waldo Emerson gives an important speech (commemorating the tenth anniversary of emancipation in the British West Indies) affirming the human dignity of negroes. (Howe, 625)

Secretary of State John C. Calhoun signs a treaty of annexation with Texas. It is later defeated in the Senate by Northern Whigs, 35-16. (Howe, 679)

Oregon bans free black settlers. (Nugent, 175)

Rhode Island passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)


New York, Ohio, Indiana, and Wisconsin reaffirm racial exclusion of negroes from the polls in constitutional conventions or popular referenda. (Keyssar, 55)


Florida admitted to the Union. (Keyssar, 342)

Florida disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Annexation of Texas, a large slave state, under John Tyler. (Davis, xiv, Howe, 699)

Texas admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 155)

Texas disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Former slave Frederick Douglass publishes his influential Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, Written by Himself. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

Abolitionist Lysander Spooner publishes the first part of his famous work, The Unconstitutionality of Slavery; the second part of the work appears in 1847.

1845-1849, James K. Polk Administration

1846-48, Mexican War

The Mexican War leads to the annexation of much Western territory, including California, thereby igniting much controversy over the expansion of slavery. (Davis, xiv)

Negro soldiers do not participate in the Mexican War. (Brown and Stentiford, 281)


Wilmot Proviso passed repeatedly by the House of Representatives. Called the “White Man’s Proviso,” Wilmot’s declared purpose was to “preserve free white labor a fair country, a rich inheritance, where the sons of toil, of my own race and own color, can live without the disgrace which association with negro slavery brings free labor.” Endorsed by ten Northern state legislatures. (Howe, 767-768)


War breaks out between the United States and Mexico. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

The American Missionary Association (AMA) is organized to provide benevolent and educational assistance to negroes and Indians. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

Iowa admitted to the Union.

Iowa disenfranchises negroes (Keyssar, 354)

Michigan passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)


Missouri bans all free black settlers. (Howe, 157)

Former slave Frederick Douglass publishes the first issue of his abolitionist newspaper, North Star. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)

Liberia, the West African colony of resettled negroes, becomes independent. (Hinks and McKivigan, xlii)


Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo is signed, ending the Mexican-American War and transferring large tracts of territory from Mexico to the United States. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii) Mexican Cession of the American Southwest. (Nugent, 187)

Wisconsin admitted to the Union.

The first women’s rights convention held in the United States, the Seneca Falls Convention, meets in Seneca Falls, New York. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

The Free Soil Party is established in Buffalo, New York, by antislavery members of the Whig and Liberty parties. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Congressman David Wilmot of Pennsylvania introduces into Congress a measure to ban slavery in all territories gained from Mexico. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Wisconsin disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Illinois prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)

The discovery of gold in California leads to the first large-scale arrival of Asians in the United States. (Brown and Stentiford, 48)

1849-1850, Zachary Taylor Administration


Oregon Territory prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)


Martin R. Delany leads a “Back to Africa” movement.

Acquisition of the Guano Islands. (Nugent, 240)


The federal census first begins taking note of mulattoes. (Brown and Stentiford, 534)

Origin of “separate but equal” doctrine in Robert v. the City of Boston. (Brown and Stentiford, 106)

Former slave Harriet Tubman becomes a conductor on the Underground Railroad in Maryland. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

With assistance from other abolitionists, illiterate former slave Sojournor Truth publishes her memoirs, The Narrative of Sojournor Truth: A Northern Slave. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

In a speech delivered on a debate on the Compromise of 1850, Senator William H. Seward speaks of a “higher law” beyond the Constitution, i.e., God’s law, that demands no compromise with slavery. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Congress passes the Compromise of 1850, a series of measures designed to compose differences between the North and South over the disposition of the new Western territories won from Mexico; the Compromise features passage of a new, more stringent Fugitive Slave Law, replacing the act of 1793. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii) Creates the territories of Utah and New Mexico. (Nugent, 218) The Compromise of 1850 denies negroes the right to jury trials and banned them from testifying in legal proceedings. (Brown and Stentiford, 463)

California admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 218)

California disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

California passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 creates a federal bureaucracy to the facilitate the capture and return of escaped slaves. (Howe, 654)

Congress appoints three commissioners “to free the land west of the Cascades entirely of Indian title and to move all the Indians to some spot to the east.” (Nugent, 186)

Virginia constitution disenfranchises negroes. (Keyssar, 354)

Kentucky legislature legalizes slave importation. (Brown and Stentiford, 437)


New Iowa constitution omits its anti-miscegenation clause. (Farnam, 216)

Indiana prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)

Iowa Territory prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)

Former slave Sojournor Truth delivers her famous speech, “Ar’nt I a Woman?,” at the women’s convention in Ohio. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Ontario becomes the first terminus of the Underground Railroad in the 1850s. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

The so-called Jerry Rescue, involving the forcible rescue by northern abolitionists of an escaped slave being returned to the South, occurs in Syracuse, New York. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)


Indiana passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Utah Territory passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Harriet Beecher Stowe publishes her controversial novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)


Gadsden Purchase, acquistion of Southern Arizona and New Mexico. (Nugent,236)


George Fitzhugh publishes his first proslavery book, Sociology for the South, or the Failure of Free Society. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Founding of the Republican Party. (Brown and Stentiford, 678)

Congress passes the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which organized the two territories by applying the principle of popular sovereignty to determine if a state was to be free or slave; the measure effectively repealed the Missouri Compromise of 1820. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Escaped slave Anthony Burns is arrested in Boston under the provisions of the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850; despite demonstrations on his behalf, Burns is returned under guard to Virginia, although Boston abolitionists later purchase his freedom. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)


Only five states do not discriminate against negroes in voting rights: Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire.  These states contain only 4% of America’s free black population. Negroes also prohibited from voting in U.S. territories. (Keyssar, 55)

Kansas Territory passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Washington Territory passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Spurred by the arrest in Boston and return to captivity of escaped slave Anthony Burns, the Massachusetts Legislature passes a state personal liberty law to thwart future efforts to return escaped slaves in Massachusetts to bondage. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliii)

Two years of violence, known as “Bleeding Kansas,” erupts in Kansas Territory as pro- and anti-slave forces fight one another for control of the territorial legislature and thus the right to determine the status of slavery in the territory. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)


American pacifist Elihu Burritt publishes A Plan for Brotherly Co-Partnership of the North and South for the Peaceful Extinction of Slavery. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)

Proslavery Missourians destroy the free-soil town of Lawrence, Kansas, in an episode that becomes known as the “sack of Lawrence.” (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)

Abolitionist John Brown and his sons murder five proslavery settlers at Pottawatomie Creek in Kansas in retaliation for the sack of Lawrence. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)


George Fitzhugh publishes his most famous proslavery volume, Cannibals All! or Slaves Without Masters. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)

Hinton Rowan Helper publishes his controversial book, The Impending Crisis of the South and How to Meet It, which decries the economic effects of slavery on the South and vehemently attacks the region, the Democratic Party, and negroes. (Hinks and McKivigan, xliv)

Dred Scott decision denies citizenship to blacks and denies Congress the right to legislate regarding slavery in the territories. (Davis, xv)

Oregon Territory prohibits immigration of free negroes. (Farnam, 220)


Lincoln-Douglas debates in Illinois. (Davis, xv)

Minnesota admitted to the Union.

Segregation in baseball begins when the National Association of Baseball Players includes in its constitution a clause excluding “persons of color” from playing. (Brown and Stentiford, 585)


Oregon admitted to the Union. (Nugent, 186)

New Mexico Territory passes an anti-miscegenation law. (Farnam, 216)

Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species. (Howe, 466)

John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, followed by his execution. (Davis, xv)