Wellington Delaney Moses

Wellington Delaney Moses Seaman's Papers

Wellington Delaney Moses Seaman's Papers.  The National Archives and Records Administration; Washington, D.C.; Proofs of Citizenship Used to Apply for Seamen's Certificates for the Port of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1792-1894. Ancestry.com. U.S., Citizenship Affidavits of US-born Seamen at Select Ports, 1792-1869. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010. This document lists Moses as being a native of Massachusetts but the 1852 California State Census names the West Indies as his birthplace.

Wellington Delaney Moses, born in the West Indies in around 1815, exhibited the mobility and political activism associated with Black mariners in the nineteenth-century. Although it is unclear how much time he spent at sea, a seamen's certificate from 1836, places him in Philadelphia around age twenty-one.[1] Notably, this certificate asserts Moses's free status as a native of Nantucket, Massachusetts.) Living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and New York City prior to becoming a seaman, his highly mobile occupation carried him to San Francisco where he appears on the state census in 1852. [1]

While residing in the Bay Area he solely represented Santa Clara County in the 1855 convention and while at this convention was appointed to a committee in charge of organizing the proceedings of the convention.[3] This prominent role in the convention demonstrates not only his natural leading ability, but also exhibits his true passion concerning the issue of testimony that the convention was centered around. While also in attendance of the 1856 convention Moses was appointed to the committee on nominating officers, again illustrating his prominent role as a leader of the conventions.[4] 

While Moses does not make an appearance in the final convention of 1857 it can be said that in this instance his nomadic inclinations were due to a loss in faith in the work being done in California.[5] The lack of proper treatment given to Blacks in an area believed to be immune was continually disheartening. Local Blacks who were also extremely disheartened by the racist treatment nominated Moses to the Pioneer Committee that investigated the possibility of Black migration to Victoria, Vancouver Island, in 1858.[6] Moses visited Victoria and felt as though it would fit the needs of many Blacks living in California.[7] Once resettled in Victoria, Moses set up two small buisnesses and remained a prominent figure in the newly formed Victorian Black community.  Along with other Black migrants, he continued to challenge racial segregation and discrimination in British Columbia.


[1] Seaman's Certificate.  Ancestry.com. U.S., Citizenship Affidavits of US-born Seamen at Select Ports, 1792-1869. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2010, Accessed January 10, 2017.

[2] "California State Census, 1852," database, FamilySearch(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:V4N6-25P : 7 November 2014), W D Moses, San Francisco, California; citing p. 750, State Archives, Sacramento; FHL microfilm 909,232. Ancestry.com accessed September 24, 2016.

[3] "Proceedings of the First State Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of California. Held at Sacramento Nov. 20th 21st, and 22d, in the Colored Methodist Chuch [sic]." Omeka RSS. Accessed April 24, 2016. http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/265.

[4] "Proceedings of the Second Annual Convention of the Colored Citizens of the State of California, Held in the City of Sacramento, Dec. 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th, 1856." Omeka RSS. Accessed April 24, 2016. http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/266.

[5] "State Convention of the Colored People of California, San Francisco, October, 1857." Omeka RSS. Accessed April 24, 2016. http://coloredconventions.org/items/show/267.

[6] Bill Gallaher, A Man Called Moses: The Curious Life of Wellington Delaney Moses (Victoria, B.C.: TouchWood Editions, 2003), accessed April 24, 2016. 

[7] "Letter from Wellington D. Moses, Jacob Francis, Fortune Richard, William Brown, and Richard H. Johnson to James Douglas," Black Abolitionist Papers, accessed April 24, 2016.

Written by Gabriel Barrett-Jackson. Taught by Sharla Fett, History 213, Occidental College, Spring 2016.