Photo of the Week
—– February 7, 2020 —–
FROM THE SCHS LIBRARY ARCHIVES
“Our History, Our Heritage, Our People”
Henry Highland Garnet, From Slave to Ambassador
by Wendy Polhemus-Annibell, Head Librarian
Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1882): A Journey from Slave to Abolitionist to U.S. Ambassador
My whole life is consecrated to the cause of Liberty.
Wherever my lot shall be cast, I shall feel free
to raise my feeble voice for equal justice.
— Henry Highland Garnet, 1846
Although one of the most well-known African Americans of the nineteenth century, Henry Highland Garnet, sadly, is little remembered today. Even less remembered are his connections to Long Island and Suffolk County. As a young fugitive slave and an outspoken abolitionist, Garnet was given shelter by sympathizers on Long Island for several years. Quakers in Westbury took him in, and later they arranged for him to go farther east and be apprenticed to Epenetus Smith of Smithtown.
Despite his birth into the bondage of slavery, the loss of a limb, and the persistent discrimination and bigotry he faced, Garnet went on to achieve great successes: he was an effective orator and writer, a prominent clergyman, an educator, and a diplomat. He was also one of the first African Americans to be appointed as a U.S. ambassador.
Henry Highland Garnet has the notable distinction of being the first African American to speak at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. On Sunday, February 12, 1865, within days of Congress’s adoption of the 13th Amendment banning slavery, Rev. Garnet delivered a sermon in the Hall of the House of Representatives entitled “Let the Monster Perish” (go here to read it).
Beyond the Gates: A new exhibit in our Gish Gallery, Feb. 2 – June 25, 2022.
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