Tennessee State Library and Archives


Year State and National Events Slavery and Racial Issues African American Institutions and Accomplishments
1826   By this time, 2,638 African Americans have migrated to Liberia.  


Freedom’s Journal, the first black newspaper, is published in New York City.

1829 Andrew Jackson is inaugurated the nation’s 7th President (1829-1837).

Following a race riot in Cincinnati, Ohio, more than 1,000 African Americans leave the city for Canada.


The first national African American convention meets in Philadelphia to discuss the abolition of slavery.

1831 The Virginia legislature considers a petition to emancipate Virginia’s slaves.  A motion to reject it outright is defeated. William Lloyd Garrison publishes the first issue of the Liberator, an abolitionist journal.

Nat Turner leads a band of 40 slaves through Southampton County VA, killing at least 55 people before being caught and executed.
1832 President Jackson vies with SC Senator John C. Calhoun about a state’s rights to nullify federal law.  South Carolina threatens to secede.

Jackson issues the Nullification Proclamation, declaring that states’ rights justify neither nullification nor secession.
1833 John C. Calhoun and Henry Clay persuade Congress to pass the Compromise Tariff, which slowly lowers the duties on cotton.   Oberlin College in Ohio is one of the first colleges to admit both women and African American students on an equal footing with white men.

Approximate birth year of Davidson County Representative Sampson W.Keeble first African American elected to the TN General Assembly.
1834 Tennessee’s Constitutional Convention.  Andrew Johnson attempts to limit representation in the General Assembly to whites.   Black Baptists in Ohio form the Providence Baptist Association; a group in Illinois will later form the Wood River Baptist Association.
1835     Birth year of Davidson County Representative Thomas A. Sykes born in North Carolina, parents unknown.

The Cherokee census of North Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, and Georgia lists 16,542 Cherokee and 1,592 slaves (not identified by race).
1836 Arkansas is admitted to the Union as a slave state.  It is positioned to balance Michigan, which enters as a free state.   “Free Frank” McWorter becomes the first African American to found a town when he records the plat of New Philadelphia, Illinois.
1837 Martin Van Buren, a Democrat, defeats Whig candidate William Henry
Harrison to become the nation’s 8th President (1837-1841).
1838   Frederick Douglass escapes from slavery in Baltimore.  
1839   Slaves revolt against the crew of the slave ship Amistad.  Captured by the U.S. Navy two months later, they are jailed in CT, where slavery is legal.  
1840     Sarah Estell, a free black businesswoman, opens a successful ice cream parlor  and catering business in Nashville.
1841 William Henry Harrison is inaugurated the nation’s ninth President.  He develops pneumonia during his inauguration and dies a month later.

Although the Constitution is vague about succession, John Tyler defies a power grab by the cabinet and has himself sworn in as President. 
The U.S. Supreme Court finds that the Amistad mutineers are the victims of kidnapping and thus within their rights to free themselves as they did.

Slaves on the slave ship Creole overpower the crew and sail the ship to the Bahamas, whose government grants them asylum and freedom.
Approximate birth year of Tipton County Representative John W. Boyd.
1842     Joseph Jenkins Roberts becomes the first non-white governor of Liberia.
1843   The Methodist Episcopal Church splits over a promised edict forbidding members to own slaves.  
1844   The Methodist Episcopal church splits a second time over slavery issues; the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, becomes a separate entity.  
1845 Florida is admitted to the Union as a slave state, paired with Iowa, which enters as a free state.     

Tennessean James K. Polk is inaugurated as the nation’s 11th President (1845-1849).

Texas is annexed and admitted to the Union as a slave state; Wisconsin’s
admission in 1848 is seen as balance.  Mexico declares war on the US.
  Macon B. Allen from Massachusetts becomes the first African American lawyer admitted to the bar.

Frederick Douglass publishes his biography, Narrative of the Life of
Frederick Douglass.

1846 Mexican forces attack American troops near the Rio Grande, beginning the Mexican War.

The U.S. Congress declares war on Mexico. 

The Wilmot Proviso bans slavery in the territory acquired in the Mexican war.  The Senate blocks it, but North-South tensions escalate.
  Approximate birth year of Hamilton County Representative William C. Hodge, born in North Carolina.
1847     The legislature of Liberia declares itself an independent state.  Joseph Jenkins Roberts is elected its first president.
1848 The Free Soil Movement is organized in the US.  Its members are antagonistic toward the extension of slavery into the territories. 

The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ends the Mexican War.  Mexico must yield nearly half of its territory to the U.S. in exchange for $15,000,000.
  Birth of Fayette County Representative Monroe W. Gooden, probably
near Somerville, TN.
Birth of Shelby County Representative Greene E. Evans in Fayette County, TN.
1849 Zachary Taylor, a hero of the Mexican War, is inaugurated the nation’s twelfth President. Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland but will return to the South nineteen times, bringing out more than 300 slaves. Birth year of Shelby County Representative Thomas F. Cassels, born in Ohio.   His parents are believed to have been “free persons of color.”
1850 The Compromise of Congress debates the status of slavery in the new territories.  One plan, “Popular Sovereignty,” permits local governments to determine slavery.

Delegates from nine Southern states meet in Nashville to discuss their concerns and call attention to Southern grievances.

Falling ill with gastroenteritis after a 4th of July celebration, President Zachary Taylor becomes the second President to die in office. 

Millard Fillmore is inaugurated the nation’s 13th President (1850-1853).

US Sept. 9-20  President Fillmore signs the five bills making up the Compromise of 1850. 1850 reduces the Southern passion for regional unity, but a second Nashville Convention affirms their right to secede.
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