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Black Wealth and the 1843 National Colored Convention


Source: The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Photography Collection, The New York Public Library. "Presby'n [Presbyterian] Church, Lafayette St." The New York Public Library Digital Collections.

By 1843, free and fugitive Black delegates and attendees had gathered at national colored citizens conventions for over a decade to organize for social, political, educational and labor rights. On August 15, fifty-eight delegates and a lively audience convened at Park Presbyterian Church in Buffalo, New York to consider "their moral and political condition as American citizens." Undoubtedly, the 1843 National Colored Convention is best known for the Black reverend and activist Henry Highland Garnet's speech, "Address to the Slaves of the United States" and the heated debates about slave insurrection that ensued. This exhibit offers readers greater exposure to the debates, people and places that were also central to the political event. Black convention delegates highlighted the economic progress of Black communities around the country. Entrepreneurial pursuits, occupations and personal wealth were thought to reflect Black people's agency and place within American society. From Black women's economic prosperity to statistical reports, this exhibit acquaints readers with the connection between Black political organizing and Black wealth. Seated in a culture of free Black life, the convention is an exemplary testament to Black people's fight for the recognition of their humanity and prosperity. 

This online exhibition features the narratives, economic dispositions and cultural assets of communities connected to the 1843 convention. It especially highlights Black women's often unrecognized contributions to the colored conventions movement.

Use the right-hand menu bar to navigate exhibit pages. The exhibit includes:

  • A roll of delegates and the role of the Committee on Delegates
  • A survey of news coverage reviewing convention proceedings
  • Biographical entries on people, institutions, and culture 
  • Interactive tables and maps that visualize convention trends 

Credits and Citations

Curator: Sarah Patterson, PhD candidate in English and Co-Coordinator, the Colored Conventions Project

Undergraduate Researchers: Nathan Nikolic, Gwen Meredith, Caleb Trotter, Gerti Wilson, and Ariana Woodson

The Colored Conventions Project proudly partners with national and local teaching partners and student contributors to bring the buried history of nineteenth-century Black political organizing to digital life. See attribution lines at the bottom of exhibit pages to learn more about contributors. Browse the curriculum, Colored Conventions in a Box to get involved in contributing to the CCP's online exhibitions. 

Special thanks to Gale®, part of Cengage Learning, for granting permission to host digital images of newpapers in its database, 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. Some examples of Gale materials included in this exhibit:


Cleveland Daily Herald

Emancipator and Free American


From Gale. 19th Century U.S. Newspapers. ©2008 Gale, a part of Cengage Learning, Inc.  Reproduced by permission.


The Colored Conventions Project