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African-American Firsts in the 18th Century

By the 18th Century the 13 colonies were growing in population. To support this growth, Africans were bought to the colonies to be sold into enslavement. Being in bondage caused many to respond in various ways. 

Phillis Wheatley and Lucy Terry Prince, who were both stolen from Africa and sold into slavery, used poetry to express their experiences. Jupiter Hammon, never achieved freedom in his lifetime but use poetry as well to expose an end to enslavement. 

Others such as those involved in the Stono Rebellion, fought for their freedom physically. 

At the same time, a small yet vital group of freed African-Americans would begin to establish organizations in response to racism and enslavement.  

When Prince died in 1821, her obituary read, “the fluency of her speech captivated all around her.”  Throughout Prince’s life, she used the power of her voice to retell stories and defend the rights of her family and their property.

 In 1760, Jupiter Hammon published his first poem, “An Evening Thought: Salvation by Christ with Penitential Cries.”  The poem was not only Hammons first published work, it was also the first to be published by an African-American. 

As one of the founders of the African-American literary tradition, Jupiter Hammon published several poems and sermons. 

Although enslaved, Hammon supported the idea of freedom and was a member of the African Society during the Revolutionary War. 

In 1784, Prince Hall established the African Lodge of the Honorable Society of Free and Accepted Masons in Boston. The organization was founded after he and other African-American men were barred from joining a local masonry because they were African-American. 

The organization is the first lodge of African-American Freemasonry in the world. It is also the first organization in the United States with a mission to improve social, political and economic opportunities in society.

 In 1787, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen established the Free African Society (FAS). The purpose of the Free African Society was to develop a

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