Forging Freedom: Formation of Philadelphia's Black community.
What I found most intriguing about this book is the chronology of the subject matter. Winner of the 1988 Book Prize of the Society for Historians of the Early Republic. Forging Freedom: The Formulation of Philadelphia's Black Community,1720-1840.
This is a compelling book. One can't help but have a sense that no stone was left unturned by Gary B. Nash. In documenting the chronology of events leading up to the Freedom and the formation of Americas first Black Society. Here in Philadelphia.
Most of us are aware of
Philadelphia's role in the formulation
of the United
States of America, yet how many of us know of the process that transformed
Blacks from slavery to a society of free people here in Philadelphia.
In these pages I reviewed the book
Black Jacks which led me to this
exciting discovery of African-American's Philadelphia roots. Now with
heightened curiosity, in my search, for Saint Thomas Episcopal Church,
(The first church built for Blacks and financially supported by Black Jacks). I discovered Forging Freedom. I would soon discover this authoritative source that pulls it all together.
Forging Freedom; The Formulation of Philadelphia's Black Community,1720
-1840." by Gary B. Nash.
It has not been easy for historians to recognize how vibrant
and multifaceted were the Northern urbane centers of Black
life in the antebellum period. Mostly they have focused on
what happened to Black communities, not what transpired
The traditional approach to Black urban history
to see the city as venues of discrimination and impoverish-
ment where and almost pathological disintegration of Black
families and social life occurred....
A community was forged
in Philadelphia -- not only a geo-
graphic clustering of former slaves but also a community
of feeling and consciousness. Once formed it could not be
obliterated, whatever the magnitude of hostility toward it's
It is no coincidence that from
Black Philadelphia came the
most vigorous protest against the white movements begin-
ning in 1817 to recolonize free Blacks in Africa.
Nor was it happenstance that this city was home of the
first African Protestant Episcopal Church the, first African
Methodist Church, The first African Presbyterian Church,
and the first African Baptist Church in the North and the
first fully independent Black religious denomination in the
hemisphere -- the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
This segment of our web site will also take a general look at some of the
Historic African-American Philadelphia institutions. The following which I will
refer to as firsts, were in the fore-front of this emerging society. The struggle
toward freedom saw the emergence of an organization called the "Free
African Society," An organization dedicated to the mutual aid of Black
society. Two principals of this organization: Absalom Jones and Richard
Allen would play very prominent roles in the nurturing of this new society.
When Blacks folk sought to have a place of worship of their own, with the
financial help of friends, the Saint Thomas Episcopal Church was built and
former F.A.S member Absolom Jones became Reverent of the church. The
name Saint Thomas Episcopal was not automatic; however.
Understand that a vast number of the emerging society lodged
-- if you will -- at St. George's Methodist church. Allen himself a Methodist
was reserved on the the naming of the church. This lead to Richard Allen
breaking ranks and forming "The African Methodist Episcopal Church"
(A.M.E) -- the name carries an obvious intent. A.M.E, referred to fondly as
"Mother Bethel" is the oldest piece of property continually owned by
African-American in the United States.