Henry Highland Garnet

Henry H. Garnet
Motto henry highland garnet original.jpg
Born(1815-12-23)December 23, 1815
DiedFebruary 13, 1882(1882-02-13) (aged 66)
Alma materOneida Institute
OccupationMinister (Christianity), Abolitionist

Henry Highland Garnet (December 23, 1815 – February 13, 1882) was an African-American abolitionist, minister, educator and orator. Having escaped with his family as a child from slavery in Maryland, he grew up in New York City. He was educated at the African Free School and other institutions, and became an advocate of militant abolitionism. He became a minister and based his drive for abolitionism in religion.

Garnet was a prominent member of the movement that led beyond moral suasion toward more political action. Renowned for his skills as a public speaker, he urged black Americans to take action and claim their own destinies. For a period, he supported emigration of American free blacks to Mexico, Liberia, or the West Indies, but the American Civil War ended that effort. In 1841 he married abolitionist Julia Williams and they had a family. Stella (Mary Jane) Weems, a runaway slave from Maryland, lived with the Garnets. She may have been adopted by the Garnets or worked as a governess for them. When Henry would preach against slavery he would bring up Stella. Stella would talk about her own experiences and about her family still enslaved in Maryland. While on a trip preaching in England Garnet was hired by a Scottish church as a missionary. They moved to Jamaica in 1852. However, they were not there long when the family came down with yellow fever. Stella died and was buried there. Garnet and his family, though sickened, boarded a ship for America. After the war, the couple worked in Washington, DC.

On Sunday, February 12, 1865, he delivered a sermon in the U.S. House of Representatives, "the first colored man who has on any occasion spoken in our National Capital",[1] on the occasion of Congress's passage on January 31 of the Thirteenth Amendment, ending slavery.

  1. ^ Garnet, Henry Highland (1865). A memorial discourse; by Henry Highland Garnet, delivered in the hall of the House of Representatives, Washington City, D.C. on Sabbath, February 12, 1865. With an introduction, by James McCune Smith, M.D. Philadelphia: Joseph M. Wilson. Archived from the original on May 14, 2020. Retrieved September 8, 2019.