Historic Calendar of Events in RI, related to African American Heritage

June 16, 2008 at 3:21 pm (African Americans in RI, Research)

January 3, 1859 James Howland, the last slave in Rhode Island, dies in Jamestown.
January 9, 1901 Edward M. Bannister, well-known painter and philanthropist, dies in Providence.

January 12, 1914 First meeting of the Providence Branch NAACP, with Dr. Julius Robinson as the first President and Roberta J. Dunbar as Secretary.

January 14, 1790 African Union Society meets in Newport to prescribe burial procedures for Blacks.

January 18, 1867 A circular entitled “Famine at Home” read to the Freedman’s Aid Society in East Greenwich.

January 26, 1866 Mrs. Josephine Griffing, of East Greenwich, commended by the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen & Abandoned Lands.
January 28, 1849 Benjamin Burton of Newport goes to California to seek his fortune in the Gold Rush.

January 29, 1789 First meeting of the Providence Abolitionist Society.

February 1, 1836 Anti-Slavery Convention held in Providence.
February 2, 1778 The RI General Assembly passes legislation to raise a troop of Black Soldiers.
February 7, 1860 African Union Church established in Providence.
February 13, 1784 RI Assembly legislates that all children of slaves born after March 1 shall be born free.
February 19, 1672 A black servant to Samuel Reep complains to officials of Providence about his mistreatment at the home of Mr. Reep.
February 20, 1936 John Hope, President of Atlanta University and 1894 graduate of Brown University, dies.
February 23, 1784 RI General Assembly passes Negro Emancipation Act.
February 24, 1869 Shiloh Baptist Church in Newport first used for church purposes.

March 1, 1784 RI General Assembly passes law that henceforth, all Negroes born of slaves should be freed at the age of 21 for males and 18 for females.
March 3, 1744 Primus, a mulatto, and widow Hannah Toby, a Native American woman, both of South Kingstown, are married.
March 7, 1886 RI General Assembly passes school integration act.
March 9, 1819 African Meeting House opens in Providence.
March 10, 1808 African Benevolent Society opens the first African free school in America in Newport.
March 19, 1708 There are 426 blacks in Rhode Island, with 220 of this number residing in Newport.
March 22, 1746 James Hazard, a mulatto, and Sarah Sam, a Native American woman, marry in South Kingstown.
March 23, 1881 RI General Assembly recognizes marriages between blacks and whites.

March 26, 1848 In the first of several such acts, the RI General Assembly passes a fugitive slave law prohibiting assisting runaway slaves.

April 3, 1976 RI Black Historical Society’s first annual Edward M. Bannister Forum
April 12, 1810 Free African Colonization Society organized in Newport.
April 14, 1832 Eleanor Elldredge of Providence goes to court and successfully defends her brother against charges of assault.
April 18, 1788 William Dyre of South Kingstown files his will manumitting his Negro servant, Prince.
April 24, 1910 Rev. M.A. Van Horne, Pastor of Union Congregational Church in Newport for 29 years, dies in Antigua.

May 4, 1861 Moses Brown deeds his lot to build a meetinghouse at Congdon and Angell Streets in Providence.
May 5, 1885 Daniel Harry dies in Wakefield.
May 10, 1864 First Black Shiloh Church organized in Newport.
May 21, 1803 The “India Point” leaves Providence for Liverpool, England, with three Blacks in the crew.
May 22, 1885 The Narragansett Times carries story on burial of Daniel Harry in Peacedale.
May 24, 1918 The Narragansett Times reports Frederick Olney’s death.

June 1, 1874 Union A.M.E. Church organized in Providence.

June 5, 1880 The Providence Art Club founded in studio of Edward Bannister, famed landscape artist.

June 7, 1759 Silas Casey of East Greenwich and Abigail Coggeshall of North Kingstown marry.
June 10, 1772 Aaron Briggs participates in burning of British schooner “Gaspee” off Pawtuxet.

June 11, 1731 Phillip, Anthony, and Agnes Berkley are baptized by Henry Berkeley, son of the Bishop and philosopher of Whitehall, and are received into Trinity Church,

July 3, 1790 The Brown Fellowship Society was founded by “free Brown men” to give aid and comfort to one another in times of need.
July 9, 17777 Jack Sisson participates in capture of British General Prescott in Portsmouth.
July 10, 1891 Ruth E. Occomy, nurse and missionary, is born in Providence.
July 16, 1862 Frederick C. Olney, criminal lawyer, born in Wakefield.

July 21, 1903 George Downing, who donated land to the City of Newport, dies.

July 24, 1935 Charles Battle, author of Negroes on Aquidneck Island, dies.
July 28, 1778 The newly recruited RI Black Regiment is sent to General Sullivan’s army in Providence for its first missions.
July 29, 1765 The Nicholas Brown Co. sent the ship “Sally” to Africa; 109 of the 167 Africans died on the return voyage to RI. http://www.projo.com/extra/2006/slavery/day4/

August 3, 1805 Daniel Rodman born in Wakefield.
August 8, 1864 The RI Association of freedmen formed. http://www.rihs.org/mssinv/Mss664.htm

August 12, 1776 Caesar Lyndon’s picnic in Portsmouth. http://www.projo.com/extra/2006/slavery/text/day3.htm
August 17, 1906 Oliver Burton, Newport civic leader, policeman, and businessman, born.
August 23, 1772 Mingo, a Negro belonging to Col. Silas Niles, and Dinah, a Negro belonging to Jeremiah Niles, Esq., marry in South Kingstown.
August 30, 1835 The Free Will Church splits from the African Union Meeting House in Providence an erects a church on Pond Street.
August 31, 1821 African Union Meeting House opens in Providence on Meeting and Congdon Streets.

September 2, 1787 Dr. Will Thornton of the West Indies African Union Society arrives in Providence.

September 3, 1887 Rev. Van Horne speaks at dedication of Lenthal School in Newport.

September 3, 1912 Josephine Silone Yates, first Black graduate of Rogers High School, Newport, dies.

September 6, 1750 RI General Assembly passes law that any White householder who allowed a slave to engage in “dancing, gaming, or any other diversions whatsoever” was subject to a fine of 50 pounds or 1 month in jail.
September 7, 1839 First Public School for Blacks opened in Providence.
September 7, 1861 London Weeden dies in South County.
September 10, 1839 The Underground Railroad is set up in Newport and Providence.
September 14, 1977 Bethel A.M.E. Church burns in Providence.
September 15, 1940 James N. Williams becomes Executive Secretary of newly established Providence Urban League.
September 16, 1793 William Robinson of Portsmouth is named Executor in the estate of Quoco Robinson, a Black man, in South Kingstown.
September 21, 1831 Snowtown riot at foot of Olney Street in Providence.

October 1, 1868 Rev. M.A. Van Horne, pastor of Union Congregational Church, arrives in Newport.
October 3, 1835 George McCarthy sold several Meeting Street lots to local Providence citizens.
October 5, 1827 Harmony Lodge formed in Providence.

October 6, 1776 Caesar Lyndon marries Sarah Searing.
October 6, 1885 Benjamin Burton, early Black businessman in Newport, dies.
October 8, 1841 Blacks petition in RI for right to vote at People’s Convention.
October 8, 1894 Mt. Olivet Baptist Church organized in Newport.
October 11, 1839 Two-thirds of Blacks in Providence live in their own homes.
October 12, 1856 Thomas Howland becomes the first Black wardsman from Providence.
October 17, 1736 William Enos and Sarah Lad marry in South Kingstown.
October 18, 1824 “Hardscrabble Riots” racial riots in Providence. http://thephoenix.com/Providence/News/13888-Memorializing-the-1824-Hardscrabble-race-riot-take/?rel=inf
October 20, 1841 George Fayerweather dies in Kingston.
October 21, 1841 Blacks owned grocery stores, candy stores, shoe repair shops and clothing stores in Rhode Island.
October 22, 1792 Isaac Rice, who landscaped Touro Park in Newport and used his home in Newport as a station on the Underground Railroad, born in Narragansett.
October 24, 1899 Emma Elmira, a Black, marries Henry van Tassel, a White, in Newport.
October 26, 1763 Rev. Marmaduke Brown, rector of Trinity Church, opens a school for colored children in Newport.
October 27, 1887 Rev. Van Horne states that three-fourths of the Black population in Newport are small property owners.
October 28, 1779 RI Legislature passes an Act prohibiting the sale of slaves outside the state against the will of the slave, “unless he proves to be a person of bad character.”
October 29, 1865 Freedmen’s Aid Society is organized in Greenwich.

November 1, 1868 Rev. Van Horne becomes pastor of Union Congregational Church, Newport.
November 10, 1780 African Union Society, first organization of free Blacks in America, founded in Newport.
November 10, 1975 Rhode Island Black Heritage Society receives its own charter.
November 23, 1842 Town Act for “Colored Suffrage” in Middletown, RI.
November 27, 1842 The Dorr Rebellion resulted in the Legal Party pushing through a new constitution that gave Blacks in RI voting privileges.

December 6, 1805 Sloop Juliet sets sail from Newport to Africa with complement of Black crewmen.
December 8, 1840 Meeting Street Church is established in Providence.
December 9, 1781 RI’s General Nathanael Greene tells the Governor of South Carolina that slave enlistments are necessary to protect that state’s territory.

December 11, 1755 There are 1,234 Blacks in Newport; one in three persons in Washington County is black; there are 418 Blacks to 712 Whites in Charlestown, RI.
December 17, 1843 Frederick Douglass speaks at the Little Compton Abolitionist Society.

December 21, 1807 A number of colored people meet at the home of Abraham Casey on Levin Street in Newport to discuss the plans of the African Union Society.
December 28, 1976 Grace Anderson Gibbs of Providence celebrates her 105th birthday.


  1. Reza Rites said,

    This information is great! Extrememly interesting and very significant. This really is an exciting initiative!!

    – Reza Rites

  2. Marilyn R. said,

    Really nice site. Take a look at art+history blog for an Edward Bannister connection.

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