Events

1652

On the 19th of May the Colony of Rhode Island enacts a law abolishing African slavery, stating Whereas, there is common course practiced amongst English men to buy Negers, to that end that they may have them for service or slaves forever: for preventing such practices among us, let it be ordered that no black mankinde or white being forced by covenant bond, The law is largely unenforced

1663


Colony of Rhode Island Royal Charter is adopted granting, to hold forth a lively experiment, that a most flourishing civil state may stand and best be maintained, and that among our English subjects, with a full liberty in religious concernments and that true piety rightly grounded upon gospel principles, will give the best and greatest security to sovereignty, and will lay in the hearts of men the strongest obligations to true loyalty."

1703


The Rhode Island General Assembly adopts an early Negro Code to restrict activities of free and servant Negros and Indians stating, If any negroes or Indians either freemen, servants, or slaves, do walk in the street of the town of Newport, or any other town in this Colony, after nine of the clock of night, without certificate from their masters, or some English person of said family with, or some lawful excuse for the same, that it shall be lawful for any person to take them up and deliver them to a Constable.

1776


Reverend Samuel Hopkins of Newport publishes, A Dialogue Concerning the Slavery of the Africans: Showing it to be the Duty and Interest of the American States to Emancipate All Their African Slaves that year and dedicates the book to members of the Continental Congress.

1778

The 1st Rhode Island Regiment is reformed including 132 enslaved and free African and Indian men. Later to be called the Black Regiment they fight with great valor in the Battle of Rhode Island in August 1778

1780

Rhode Island General Assembly enacts a law granting the gradual emancipation of slaves. Slaves born before 1784 were to remain slaves for life

1784

A group of free African men meet in the Newport home of Abraham Casey and form the Free African Union Society, the first such society in America

1789

In a July 27, 1789 letter, Anthony Taylor, President and Salmar Nubia, Secretary of the Newport Free African Union Society invite Providence Free African men to form a similar society stating, Being strangers and outcasts in a strange land, attended with many disadvantages and evils, with respect to living, which are like to continue on us and on our children while we and they live in this Country.

1790

The Providence Society for Promoting the Abolition of Slavery is incorporated

1797

The Hiram Lodge No.3 is chartered in Providence, which becomes the second African heritage Lodge of Freemasonry in America