Skip to main content

Hege Library & Learning Technologies

North Carolina Quakers, Anti-Slavery, and the Underground Railroad: 1492-1799



General African American Timeline

Local Quaker & African American Timeline




Pedro Alonso Niño was the black navigator who sailed to the New World with Christopher Columbus on his first expedition.




1526 Slave revolt in San Miguel de Gualdape. Slaves were victorious. (Sapelo Island, Georgia)




Twenty Africans were brought to the English colony at Jamestown on a Dutch ship as indentured servants.




First Friends arrive in eastern North Carolina.




William Edmundson, a Friends minister from   Ireland, holds first documented religious service in   North Carolina.  Quakerism’s founder, George Fox,   visits later that same year.




First monthly meeting held in North Carolina by the Society of Friends.





First written record of Friends in North Carolina.


1695  -1696




Quaker John Archdale serves as governor of the   Carolina colony.




North Carolina Yearly Meeting is established.




The New York Slave Revolt of 1712 is suppressed. Enslaved and free blacks, living in close proximity, are able to easily conspire against the harsh treatment of slaves. In the aftermath, severe and cruel punishments are meted out.




The 1733 St. John Slave Revolt was an insurrection that was suppressed. At the time, St. John was in the Danish West Indies, it is now St. John, United States Virgin Islands.




Stono Rebellion occurs as armed slaves revolt in Stono, South Carolina killing about 20 whites. It was the largest slave rebellion in Colonial America. During the rebellion, over 40 slaves were killed. This event led to passage of the Negro Act of 1740 by the South Carolina legislature that restricted slave assembly, education, and movement. But it also lead to a moratorium of 10 years for importation of slaves,  implemented penalties for harsh treatment of slaves, and required approval from the state legislature for slave manumissions.




The New York Conspiracy of 1741 is suppressed. Fires had been set in the city, within the British colony, by poor blacks and whites.
(a.k.a. Negro Plot of 1741 or Slave Insurrection of 1741)




Lucy Terry becomes known as the first known African American poet in her "Bars Fight" poem that tells about the Native American raid on her Deerfield village in Massachusetts. This poem was orally passed down until it was published in 1855.

John Woolman visits North Carolina




Friends from eastern North Carolina, Pennsylvania,   Virginia, and Nantucket Island migrate to piedmont   region of North Carolina.




Some Considerations on the Keeping of Negroes was published by John Woolman, a Philadelphia Quaker.




54 African-Americans are listed in Guilford County (NC) colonial records as its first known recording of numbers.




The Philadelphia Yearly Meeting pronounces that those participating in the slave trade are sinning.




"Bluestone" Church or the African Baptist Church becomes the first known black church in North America when it is founded on William Bird's plantation. It was near to the Bluestone River, in Mecklenburg County, Virginia.




Slave trading for a profit is condemned by the North Carolina Yearly Meeting.




 "Absalom (negro slave to Mr. Wynkoop) and Mary (Do. to S. King)" were married at St. Peter's Anglican Church in Philadelphia on January 4, 1770. They were slaves owned by the neighboring Wynkoop and King families, members of this church. The slave, Absalom, later was known as Absalom Jones. He worked to gain the freedom of his wife first so that their children would be free. Children's status was based on the status of the mother . . . if she was free or a slave, the children followed this condition.

North Carolina Yearly Meeting adopts a statement   condemning the importation of slaves, restricting    purchase, and encouraging Friends to watch over   the morals of any slaves already owned but still    stops short of outright condemnation.




Crispus Attucks was an escaped slave of Wampanoag (Native American) and African descent. During the Boston Massacre, he is the first person to be shot by British Redcoats in the American Revolution and to die in the battle for American independence.




Buying and selling slaves without permission from the meeting is prohibited by the North Carolina Yearly Meeting. They look at how to advise Friends when they want to free their slaves.




Phillis Wheatley publishes the first book by an African American. "Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral" is published in England. Although she was a slave at the time, she had been educated by her owner, John Wheatley, and his family.

The Society of Friends welcomes George Walton, of Perquimans County, North Carolina, as a Quaker.




Slave traders are disowned by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
After Quaker Thomas Newby requests advice about freeing his slaves, the North Carolina Yearly Meeting decides that any Friends wanting to free their slaves must receive this permission from their monthly meetings.




Quakers in Guilford County free their slaves with many becoming vocal opponents of slavery.




Free blacks are allowed to join the Continental Army in a policy reversal by George Washington. As a consequence of this, 5,000 African Americans join the army. Lord Dunmore, the royal Governor of Virginia, promises to free slaves who fight for the British side.

Slaveholding is renounced by the North Carolina Yearly Meeting.
George Walton recommends that friends avoid Night Patrol duty.
A provisional government is established by revolutionaries in north Carolina.




The Declaration of Independence is signed without words condemning slavery due to pressure from southern slave-owners. Nonetheless, it is adopted by the Continental Congress stating that all men are endowed with a right to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Slave owners are disowned by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.
Ten slaves are manumitted by Thomas Newby.




Eastern North Carolina Friend Thomas Newby and   ten other Friends free approximately 40 slaves, drawing the attention of the courts and the North    Carolina General Assembly.




"An Act to Prevent Domestic Insurrections" is adopted by the North Carolina General Assembly. It authorizes the re-enslavement of slaves who are improperly manumitted.  This law tightens manumission procedures, including   prohibition except for meritorious services as established by courts and mandating seizure of any “illegally” freed slaves.




Lawyers are hired by the North Carolina Yearly Meeting for the defense of manumitted slaves.




In North Carolina, Perquimans and Pasquotank county courts order the resale of slaves manumitted by Friends.




The decision of Perquimans and Pasquotank county courts is reversed by the North Carolina superior court in a finding that "Act to Prevent Domestic Insurrections" violate protection against ex post facto prosecutions.


1778 -1782


George Walton is a member of the Standing Committee of the North Carolina Yearly Meeting.


1778 -1779


George Walton acts as clerk of the Standing Committee.




Committee on the North Carolina legislature reports “the conduct of the said Quakers in setting   their slaves free when our open and declared    enemies were endeavoring to bring about an Insurrection and the Slaves, was highly criminal and reprehensible.”




The seizure and sale of improperly manumitted slaves is legalized by the North Carolina General Assembly.




Some African Americans join the Revolutionary forces at the Battle of Guilford Courthouse.

The disownment of slave owners is authorized at the North Carolina Yearly Meeting.




The Congress of the Confederation is petitioned by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to end the importation of slaves.




Ratification of the U.S. Constitution with stipulations that the slave trade will not be banned until 1808. In addition, it rules that states are required to help recover fugitive slaves, and that slaves are counted as three-fifths of a man to allot for representation in the House of Representatives.




African Free School is founded in New York City by the New York Manumission Society and educates future leaders.




Richard Allen and Absalom Jones lead the founding of the Free African Society of Philadelphia. They and other free blacks wanted to create a non-denominational religious organization to serve the African American community.






In the Northwest Territory, slavery is to be illegal.




The Congress of the Confederation is petitioned by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to end the importation of slaves.




North Carolina's "Act to Prevent Domestic Insurrections" is strengthened by an amendment that makes it easier to re-enslave improperly manumitted slaves.




The U.S. Congress is petitioned by the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting to amend the U.S. Constitution by immediately abolishing slave importation.




George Walton is disowned by the Society of Friends for habitual inebriation. He dies that same year.




Benjamin Banneker is appointed to assist with the survey of Washington, DC by President George Washington. The first almanac by an African American is published by him.     




The Haitian Revolution is led by a former slave, Toussaint L'Ouverture.  Although he is betrayed and captured in 1802, Haiti becomes independent from France in 1804. This terrifies the Southern states and leads to a slow-down in the importation of slaves to the United States




First Fugitive Slave Act is passed by Congress. It is now illegal to harbor escaped slaves and requires that they are returned across state lines.




Eli Whitney invents the cotton gin that leads to a boom in cotton cultivation and slavery in the South.                




In Philadelphia, during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793, Benjamin Rush (an African American doctor) encouraged other blacks to aid black and white individuals who were sick. It was his belief that African Americans were immune to Yellow Fever. The Free African Society of Philadelphia responded with assistance.




Mother Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church is founded in Philadelphia by Richard Allen.




The Free African Society was the site where Absalom Jones began holding religious services in 1791. Growing from this, the African Church in Philadelphia was founded in 1792. Jones petitioned for acceptance of the church as an Episcopal parish, and in 1794, it became the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, the first black church in Philadelphia.




Freed slaves are required to post bond in North Carolina.




A debate over the Fugitive Slave Law takes place in the U.S. House of Representatives due to a petition from four former slaves who were freed by North Carolina Quakers.





A petition from the Philadelphia Yearly Meeting concerning North Carolina's manumission laws causes the U.S. House of Representatives to take up the debate.