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Garnet Henry Highland: the first black to deliver a sermon in the chamber of the

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Henry Highland Garnet was an African-American abolitionist born circa December 23, 1815, in Kent County, Maryland. Born as a slave, Garnet and his family escaped to New York when he was about 9 years old. In the 1840s and decades afterward, he became an abolitionist. His "Call to Rebellion" speech in 1843 encouraged slaves to free themselves by rising up against owners. Seen as a radical, he became a controversial figure within the abolitionist movement. Garnet became the first black speaker to address Congress in 1865. He worked in a government post in Liberia in 1881 and died there a few months later, on February 13, 1882.

 

A tireless activist in the fight to end slavery, Garnet worked with the likes of William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass. He became well-known for his skills as an orator. In 1843, Garnet gave one of his most famous speeches, usually referred to as the "Call to Rebellion," at the National Negro Convention. Rather than try to sway whites to end slavery, he encouraged the slaves to obtain their freedom themselves by rising up against their owners. This was a radical idea at the time, and both Douglass and Garrison opposed it. The convention refused to endorse Garnet's speech after taking a vote on the matter.

 

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