My Contributions: In Harrisburg and across the nation, I spoke constantly about abolition, suffrage, and Black education. I read the Emancipation Proclamation in Harrisburg in 1868 in commemoration of the important declaration, and I inspired the formation of a Garnet League, which was dedicated to Black education.
My Legacy: I am remembered as a prominent advocacy figure for justice, freedom, and equality for people of color in the United States. The Garnet League that I helped to found was committed to fostering quality educational opportunities for African Americans across the country. I gave the now-famous “Address to the Slaves of the United States of America” speech at the National Convention held in Buffalo, New York, in 1843, which elicited even the attention of Frederick Douglass.
In My Words: “Think of the undying glory that hangs around the ancient name of Africa:—and forget not that you are native-born American citizens, and as such, you are justly entitled to all the rights that are granted to the freest. Think how many tears you have poured out upon the soil which you have cultivated with unrequited toil, and enriched with your blood; and then go to your lordly en- slavers, and tell them plainly, that you are determined to be free.” — Henry Highland Garnet, “Address to the Slaves of the United States of America,” 1843
Full Name: Henry Highland Garnet
Birth Date: December 23, 1815
Death Date: February 12, 1882
Place of Birth: Kent County, Maryland; born enslaved.
Places of Residence: William Spencer’s Plantation near Chesterville, Maryland; Whitesboro, New York; Liberia.
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Spoke at Wesley Union A.M.E. Zion Church and inspired the start of an extremely active Garnet League in Harrisburg. The Garnet League met in the Brotherly Love Lodge, No. 896, of the Grand United Order of Odd Fellows.
Family Members: Wife: Julia Ward Garnet. Children: Henry S. Garnet, Mary Garnet, James Garnet.
Education: African Free School. Oneida Institute.
Occupations: Worked on ships that went to Cuba as a teen. Minister. Abolitionist. Commissioner of the U.S. for Liberia
Church Membership: Liberty Street Negro Presbyterian Church in Troy, New York, in 1842; Shiloh Presbyterian Church, New York in 1850.
Activism: Member of the anti-slavery Liberty Party; extremely active in abolitionist work; inspired the formation of Garnet Leagues all over the country, including one in Harrisburg; inspired the start of the Henry Highland Garnet Literary Association in the basement of Capital Presbyterian Church.
Connections: Thomas Morris Chester, Annie E. Amos, and O.L.C. Hughes