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Central Pennsylvania's journey
from enslavement to freedom

Link to Enslavement in Pennsylvania section. Link to the Anti-Slavery and Abolition Section.

Link to the Free Persons of Color -- 19th Century History Section.

Link to the Underground Railroad Section.
link to The Violent Decade Section Link to the US Colored Troops Section
Link to Harrisburg's Civil War Section Link to Century of Change -- the 20th Century Section
Link to the Letters Archive Link to Read The Year of Jubilee

Site News

Baseball season is here. Harrisburg has a wonderful legacy of Negro Leagues baseball teams. Read "Blackball," the detailed article by Ted Knorr and Calobe Jackson, Jr. here: Blackball in Harrisburg.

Just uploaded--"1700 and 1726 Acts for the Regulation of Negroes." Full text of the harsh "Black Codes" passed in colonial Pennsylvania to regulate free Blacks and enslaved persons. Check it all out here: 1700 and 1726 Acts for the Regulation of Negroes.

New Section--"Former Slaves." News items about formerly enslaved African American residents. Check it out here:
News headline of death of formerly enslaved person.

Newly restored: Photos and video from Harrisburg's 2010 "Grand Review of Colored Troops." Check it out here:
African American Civil War re-enactors parade on Front Street.  USCT Re-enactor at the Harris-Cameron mansion.


On This Date

March events important to local African American history (see the whole year)

March 2, 1867: Congress passes the Reconstruction Act

March 3, 1865: The Freedman’s Bureau is established by Congress to provide assistance to freed slaves.

March 4, 1837: An anti-abolition meeting is held at the Unitarian Church to elect delegates to the May 1837 state Integrity of the Union Convention, at the Dauphin County Courthouse.
A discussion of the Anti-Abolition movement in Harrisburg may be found here.

March 5. 1770: The infamous Boston Massacre occurs. The first person to be killed by British troops is Crispus Attucks, a 47 year-old seaman living in Boston. Attucks had escaped from slavery in Framingham twenty years before his martyrdom.

March 6, 1857: Chief Justice Roger B. Taney delivers the Supreme Court decision against Dred Scott, a slave seeking his freedom, and declaring that Congress had no power to prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States. Writing for the majority decision, Justice Taney wrote that African Americans "had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it."

March 7, 1756: The enslaved man of Andrew Lycan, of Wiconisco, helps defend the farm from an attack by hostile Native American raiders. The un-named slave was then entrusted to evacuate the wounded to safety in Hanover Township when the attack threatened to overwhelm the defenders.
For more on how enslaved persons suffered in wartime, see this section.

March 9, 1820:
The Elizabeth, or the “Mayflower of Liberia,” arrives in Sierra Leone carrying 86 free African Americans who will begin a colony on the coast of Liberia under the auspices of the American Colonization Society.

March 10, 1858: John Brown meets with Henry Highland Garnet, William Still, and other African American leaders at the Philadelphia home of Stephen Smith.
Read a detailed account of John Brown's recruiting efforts in central Pennsylvania here.

March 10, 1913: Harriet Tubman dies.

March 20, 1852:
Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a novel by Harriet Beecher Stowe, is published in Boston with great fanfare. It had previously been serialized in the National Era, an abolitionist newspaper, but huge public demand led to its appearance in book form. The first edition of five thousand copies sold out in two days.

March 26, 1726: “An Act for the Better Regulation of Negroes in this Province,” is passed in Philadelphia. Designed to calm white fear of a growing African population, the law was a fully defined set of Black Codes that prohibited blacks from drinking, marrying whites, loitering, hiring out their own time, sheltering other Blacks, congregating in groups larger than four persons, carrying weapons, and traveling without a pass. Penalties included a return to enslavement.
Read the entire text of the act here.

March 30, 1870:
The Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution is ratified, protecting the right to vote for African Americans.


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