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February 07, 2022

Lemuel Haynes

Many colonists were thrilled by the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson in 1776. Lemuel Haynes was somewhat less impressed. He responded by writing his own treatise in that same year titled, "Liberty Further Extended." As an African American and former indentured servant, he saw troubling inconsistencies between the claim that “all men were created equal” and the ongoing institution of slavery in America. Haynes referred to the book of Acts to make his case against slavery:

“It hath pleased god to ‘make of one Blood all nations of men, for to dwell upon the face of the Earth’ … And as all are of one Species … we may reasonably Conclude, that Liberty is Equally as pre[c]ious to a Black man, as it is to a white one, and Bondage Equally as intolerable to the one as it is to the other.” In addition to his passionate opposition to slavery, Haynes achieved a number of “firsts” in American history. He was the first ordained African American minister, the first to serve as the minister of a white American congregation, and the first to receive a Master of Arts degree.

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