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 James Forten Sr.

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James Forten Sr.

Birth
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Death 4 Mar 1842 (aged 75)
Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Lebanon Lot 26
Memorial ID 7175674 View Source
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Entrepreneur, Abolitionist, Inventor. A pioneering figure of Philadelphia's African-American community, Forten was a leader of reform movements long before the emergence of Frederick Douglass. He was born to free parents in Philadelphia, and served as a powder boy on an American ship during the Revolutionary War in America (1775 to 1783). Forten was captured in the war - at the age of 15- and spent seven months on a British prison ship. In 1786 he got a job in a Philadelphia sailmaking shop; Forten rose to foreman two years later and became owner of the business in 1798. Around this time he invented and perfected a sail designed to make the guiding of ships easier. A successful businessman, Forten amassed a fortune over $100,000. He also took an active intrest in politics and campaigned for temperance, women's suffrage and equal rights for African-American's. In 1800 he organized a petition calling for Congress to emancipate all slaves. During the War of 1812, Forten helped recruit about 2,500 African-Americans as part of a force to defend Philadelphia against a British invasion. In 1817 Forten joined with A.M.E. bishop Richard Allen to form the Convention of Color. The organization argued for the settlement of escaped slaves in Canada. In 1833 Forten helped to form the American Anti Slavery Society. During the 1830's, he contributed much money to noted abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison and to Garrison's antislavery newspaper, The Liberator. During Forten's life time he spent over half of his $300,000 fortune to finance different crusades for abolitionists' activities and he also helped runaway slaves seeking freedom in the north. Forten died in Philadelphia in 1842, with many mourning the loss of a great businessman and passionate fighter of social reform.

Bio by: Curtis Jackson


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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: Curtis Jackson
  • Added: 10 Feb 2003
  • Find a Grave Memorial 7175674
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7175674/james-forten : accessed ), memorial page for James Forten Sr. (2 Sep 1766–4 Mar 1842), Find a Grave Memorial ID 7175674, citing Eden Cemetery, Collingdale, Delaware County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Find a Grave .