Politics and Government

Early Political Activities

What African Americans were involved in political gatherings of the Liberty Party?

In 1843 Henry Highland Garnet, Charles B. Ray, and Samuel Ringgold Ward were the first blacks to participate in a national political gathering, the convention of the Liberty Party. Garnet (1815–1882) was pastor of a New York Presbyterian church and preached a social gospel. In that year he attended the Convention of Free Men held in Buffalo, New York, and outlined a brilliant plan for a general slave strike. Ray (1807–1886), one of the convention’s secretaries, was a minister best known for his work as publisher of The Colored American and as president of the New York Society for the Promotion of Education among Colored Children. Ward (1817–1866), who led a prayer at the convention, was the leading black abolitionist before Frederick Douglass.

Along with Charles B. Ray and Samuel Ringgold Ward, Presbyterian pastor Henry Highland Garnet was one of the first black men to attend a national political gathering.


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