December 23, 1815
On December 23, 1815, Henry Highland Garnet (shown below) was born a slave in Kent County, Md. Escaping to freedom in 1824, he would be educated at Oneida Institute (Whitesboro, NY) and served as a minister beginning in 1840 at the Liberty Street Presbyterian Church in Troy, NY, (1840 - 1848) and later churches in New York City (September 1856 - 1864 and then 1869 - 1881, Shiloh Presbyterian Church) and Washington, DC (1864 - 1869, Fifteenth St. Presbyterian Church). Garnet was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1842. He was a fiery opponent of slavery and was opposed for national leadership of the black community by Frederick Douglass, who advocated less violent actions. On February 12, 1865, Rev. Garnet was invited to address the U.S. House of Representatives at the U.S. Capitol. The first speech by an African-American to Congress, the appearance by Rev. Garnet was arranged by President Abraham Lincoln. In 1881, he was appointed diplomatic minister to Liberia, which was founded by free blacks from America and promoted by the American Colonization Society, which was founded and led by many Presbyterians. He died two months after arriving in Liberia on February 13, 1882.