February 21, 1804 - Lemuel Haynes (1753–1833) ~ becomes the first Black minister to serve a congregation that includes whites in America. He also becomes the first Black person to receive an honorary degree from a White college, Middlebury College.
Lemuel Haynes, a patriot during the American Revolutionary War, understood the meaning of freedom. Abandoned as child by his Anglo mother and African father, Lemuel was raised on a farm in Massachusetts. He worked on the farm by day and spent time learning and studying in front of the fireplace at night. Lemuel was an indentured servant, which means he was able to earn his freedom by working for a number of years. When Lemuel became a free man at age 21 in 1774, one of his first choices was to join freedom's cause and serve in a military unit from Connecticut.
More than 5,000 African soldiers — both slave and free — fought in the American Revolutionary War. Lemuel not only fought on the battlefield, but he also wrote about freedom in poems and essays. Lemuel was inspired by the Declaration of Independence, and in 1776 he wrote an essay about the need to extend freedom to Africans. His essay was called, “Liberty Further Extended.”
After the American Revolutionary War, Lemuel returned to Massachusetts, where he studied Latin and Greek and taught school. He became a preacher and spent the next 50 years pastoring churches. Five of the churches he served included Anglo members. Many of Lemuel’s sermons were published during his lifetime, and the presidents of Yale University and Amherst College often sought his advice. He also received an honorary degree from Middlebury College.
TEXT CREDIT: whitehouse.archives.gov
IMAGE CREDIT: Sketches of the life and character of the Rev. Lemuel Haynes, A. M.: for many years pastor of a church in Rutland, Vt., and late in Granville, New-York. Author: Timothy Mather Cooley. Publisher: Harper, 1837. Original from: Princeton University. Digitized: Mar 19, 2008. Length: 345 pages. +sookie tex