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Henry Highland Garnet, first Black to speak in the
February 12, 1865
Henry Highland Garnet, first Black to speak in the Capitol, delivered memorial sermon on the abolition of slavery at services in the House of Representatives. Henry Highland Garnet was born a slave in New Market, Maryland, in 1815. He escaped in 1824 and made his way to New York where he studied at the Oneida Theological Institute in Whitesboro before becoming a Presbyterian minister in Troy, New York. Garnet joined the Anti-Slavery Society and became one of the organizations leading lecturers. However, in 1843 he was disowned by the society when he called upon slaves to murder their masters. Garnet served as a pastor in Jamaica (1853-56) but returned to the United States during the Civil War and demanded that Abraham Lincoln permit the enlistment of African-American soldiers. In 1864 Garnet was appointed pastor of the 15th Street Presbyterian Church in Washington. During this period he became the first African-American to deliver a sermon before the House of Representatives. He also worked for the Freedmen's Bureau, where he was involved in developing programs to help former slaves. In 1881 Henry Highland Garnet was appointed minister to Liberia. However, he died two months later on 13th February, 1882.
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