This Week In History

December 22, 1921

On Dec. 22, 1921, the first radio station license for a religious broadcaster in the U.S. was granted to the National Presbyterian Church of Washington, D.C.

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.

December 24, 1880

On December 24, 1880, Rev. Albert Barnes (shown at right) died. He was a prominent leader of the News School during the New School-Old School division from 1837 - 1869. His trial for heresy in 1836 by Old School elements and his subsequent acquittal helped to add to the bitter division between the two segments in the denomination. Born on Dec. 1, 1798, Rev. Barnes had graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1823 and ordained in 1835 by the Presbytery of Elizabethtown (New Jersey). Both an author and preacher, he was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown (NJ) from 1825 - 1830 and of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia (PA) from 1830 - 1867.

December 25, 1749

Colonial Christmas observations were varied. On Dec. 25, 1749, Finnish-Swedish naturalist Peter Kalm was in Philadelphia and noted in his diary: "Christmas Day. . . .The Quakers did not regard this day any more remarkable than other days. Stores were open, and anyone might sell or purchase what he wanted. . . .There was no more baking of bread for the Christmas festival than for other days; and no Christmas porridge on Christmas Eve! One did not seem to know what it meant to wish anyone a merry Christmas. . . .first the Presbyterians did not care much for celebrating Christmas, but when they saw most of their members going to the English church on that day, they also started to have services."