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Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Photographs and Prints Division

Henry Highland Garnett

Garnett (1815-1882), a runaway, became a prominent abolitionist. He escaped from slavery in Maryland with his father in 1825. He later attended the African Free School in New York City and studied to become a minister at the Oneida Theological Institute. He then moved to Troy, New York, and in 1842 became the pastor of the town’s only black Presbyterian Church. By the 1850s, he was among the nation’s most prominent and outspoken abolitionists. He traveled to Germany, England, and Scotland, speaking against slavery. During the Civil War, he urged African Americans to serve in the Union Army. In 1865 he was the first African American to deliver a sermon before the United States House of Representatives. He later was appointed Minister to Liberia, where he died and was honored with a state funeral. He argued that freedom was not going to be given to blacks by sympathetic whites. "They are our allies," Garnett asserted "Ours is the Battle." 

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