In the early months of 1830, a young freed man from Baltimore named Hezekiel Grice was not satisfied with life in the North because of the "hopelessness of contending against oppression in the United States."
Grice wrote to a number of African-American leaders asking if freedmen should emigrate to Canada and, if a convention could be held to discuss the issue.
By September 15, 1830 the first National Negro Convention was held in Philadelphia.
An estimated forty African-Americans from nine states attended the convention. Of all the delegates present, only two, Elizabeth Armstrong and Rachel Cliff, were women.
Leaders such as Bishop Richard Allen were also present. During the convention meeting, Allen argued against African colonization but supported emigration to Canada. He also contended that, "However great the debt which these United States may owe to injured Africa, and however unjustly her sons have been made to bleed, and her daughters to drink of the cup of affliction, still we who have been born and nurtured on this soil, we whose habits, manners, and customs are the same in common with other Americans, can never consent to take our lives in our hands, and be the bearers of the redress offered by that Society to that much afflicted country."
By the end of the ten-day meeting, Allen was named president of a new organization, the American Society of Free People of Colour for improving their condition in the United States; for purchasing lands; and for the establishment of a settlement in the Province of Canada.
The aim of this organization was two-fold:
First, it was to encourage African-Americans with children to move to Canada.
Second, the organization wanted to improve the livelihood of African-Americans remaining in the United States. As a result of the meeting, African-American leaders from the Midwest organized to protest not only against slavery, but also racial discrimination.
Historian Emma Lapansky argues that this first convention was quite significant, citing, "The 1830 convention was the