James Forten

James Forten (September 2, 1766 – March 4, 1842) was an African-American abolitionist and wealthy businessman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Born free in the city, he became a sailmaker after the American Revolutionary War. After an apprenticeship, he became foreman and bought the sail loft when his boss retired. Based on equipment he developed, he built a highly profitable business. It was located on the busy waterfront of the Delaware River, in the area now called Penn's Landing.

Forten used his wealth and standing to work for civil rights for African Americans in the city and nationally. Beginning in 1817, he opposed the colonization movements, particularly that of the American Colonization Society. He affirmed African Americans' claims of a stake in their nation of the United States, arguing for gaining civil rights in this country. He persuaded William Lloyd Garrison to an anti-colonization position, and helped fund his newspaper The Liberator (1831-1865), frequently publishing letters on public issues. He became vice-president of the biracial American Anti-Slavery Society, founded in 1833, and worked for national abolition of slavery, and for black education and temperance. His large family was also devoted to these causes, and two daughters married the Purvis brothers, who used their wealth as leaders for abolition.

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Black History

American History

Economic History

Early and Antebellum America (1789-1860)

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