Tennessee State Library and Archives


Year State and National Events Slavery and Racial Issues African American Institutions and Accomplishments
1710   Slaves make up more than 1/6 of the population of Philadelphia.  
1712   Nine whites are killed during a New York slave revolt;  21 slaves are executed.  

Georgia is founded.  It is the only colony that ever specifically attempts to make slavery illegal.


Slaves revolt in Stono, South Carolina: 25 whites are killed before the revolt is suppressed


Suspicious fires and rumors of slave conspiracies cause widespread panic in New York: 31 black slaves and five whites are executed.

1749   The Georgia Trustees petition King George II to permit them to repeal the colony’s prohibition against slavery.  By October he agrees.  
1751   Slavery becomes legal in Georgia.  

Landon Carter, a Virginia plantation owner, begins his journal, providing a record of plantation life and the Colonies’ movement toward revolution.


John Woolman, a New Jersey Quaker, initiates a campaign to convince other Friends to give up their slaves.

1754 French and Indian War begins between England and France    

Georgia prohibits slaves from working as carpenters, masons, bricklayers, plasterers, or joiners.

1760     Jupiter Hammon, a New York slave, publishes the poem, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ, with Penitential Cries.”

Boston Massacre – British troops fire on Americans

Crispus Attucks, a runaway slave, is the first person killed in the Boston Massacre.

Quakers open a school for black students in Philadelphia.   William Penn holds monthly meetings for blacks, advocating emancipation.

1773   Massachusetts slaves petition the state legislature for their freedom. Phyllis Wheatley, a Boston slave, publishes Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, the first book by an African American.

The American Revolution begins.

The first abolitionist society in the United States is organized in Philadelphia. 

The Royal Governor of Virginia issues the first mass emancipation of slaves, offering freedom to slaves who will serve in the Army.

The Virginia House of Burgesses threatens all rebelling slaves with a death sentence.
1776 The Declaration of Independence is adopted.


1777   Vermont becomes the first American colony to abolish slavery. Slaves can be found in the Pennsylvania census through 1850.  
1779   Slavery is declared unconstitutional in Massachusetts, yet the state constitution (1780) does not specifically prohibit slavery. Around 5,000 African American soldiers participate in the American Revolutionary War.

Robert, James Robertson’s black servant, is among the small party of explorers who select the Fort Nashborough site.

The American Revolution ends


The U.S. Constitution, with three clauses recognizing slavery, is completed in Philadelphia and sent out to the states for ratification.

Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush join the Pennsylvania Abolition Society and help to write its constitution.

The African Methodist Episcopal church is founded in Philadelphia. In 1816, Richard Allen will become the first bishop of the A.M.E. Church.


The US Constitution is approved; George Washington is elected President; first session of Congress

1790 Jefferson proposes a SW Ordinance like the NW Ordinance, but Congress will not prohibit slavery in U.S. territory south of the Ohio River.    
1791 The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments to the Constitution, are ratified The Haitian war of independence begins when over 100,000 slaves rise up against the greatly outnumbered French planters. The population of the Tennessee Territory is 35,691; of those, 3,417 (9.6 percent) are black.

President George Washington appoints Benjamin Banneker, an African American scientist, to the commission that surveys the District of Columbia. 
1793   The first Fugitive Slave Law requires runaway slaves to be returned to their owners.  

Eli Whitney patents the cotton gin, making cotton both easier and faster
to process and revitalizing the demand for slave labor in the cotton fields.

Robert “Black Bob” Renfro, still a slave, is licensed by Davidson County “to sell Liquor and Victuals” in his own tavern.

1797 John Adams is inaugurated the nation’s second President (1797-1801).    
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