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THE INDEPENDENT CHRONICLE AND THE UNIVERSAL ADVERTISER
Boston: Ebenezer Rhoades (for the proprietor) at the Printing-Office opposite the Court-House, Court-Street, vol. XXXII, number 1964, Monday, January 13 to Thursday, January 16, 1800
The front page of this issue begins with a eulogy for George Washington by the Rev. Richard Allen, pastor of the Bethel (Pennsylvania) African Methodist Episcopal Church. This church, founded by Allen and others in 1797, was the first Methodist church in the United States opened specifically for African Americans. Richard Allen was born into slavery in 1760. Benjamin Chew, a Quaker attorney, owned the Allen family, then sold the family to Stokeley Sturgis, a planter in Delaware. Allen was converted to Methodism by an itinerant preacher. Sturgis, apparently influenced by Allen, also became a Methodist. After his conversion, Sturgis offered to let his slaves buy their freedom. After working odd jobs for five years, in 1783, Allen purchased his own freedom for $2000. Through Methodist connections, he was invited to Philadelphia in 1786, where he joined a church and became active in teaching and preaching. A growing congregation of African Americans caused the white congregation so much discomfort that they began segregating seating and services. Allen and several others formed their own church in 1787. Allen opened a day school for African Americans and worked actively for abolition of slavery. His home was a stop in the Underground Railroad. Allen died in 1831. In his eulogy for George Washington, believed to be the first by a black minister for an American president, Allen wrote, “We, my friends, have a peculiar case to bemoan our loss. To us he has been the sympathizing friend and tender father. He has watched over us, and viewed our degraded and afflicted state with compassion and pity – his heart was not insensible to our sufferings.” This was part of a sermon he delivered on Sunday, December 29, 1799. Allen referred to the fact that Washington freed his slaves and asked that his congregation adhere to the “laws of the land” as Washington asked of United States citizens in his Farewell Address, “Your observance…will…greatly promote the cause of the oppressed…” Our copy inscribed by “Col. Whipple.” University of Utah copy gift of Dr. Ronald Rubin.
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