Massachusetts passes the first law in the colonies allowing slavery under specified conditions. Takes position as the center of New England slave trading.


Margaret Brent requests the right to vote before the Maryland General Assembly, becoming both the first woman in the English North American colonies to appear before a court of law and to request the right to vote.


John Richardson converts Mary Starbuck to Quakerism; she converts much of Nantucket.


William Gayer frees Africa and provides him property and stock.


Nantucket Monthly Meeting declares “buying slaves and keeping them term of life is not agreeable to Truth,” one of the earliest statements against slavery by Quakers in New England.


Elihu Coleman writes and publishes a pamphlet against the “Anti-Christian Practice of Making Slaves of Men.”


4,500 slaves in Massachusetts.


Prince Boston, an enslaved man, returns from a whaling voyage and claims his lay from Capt. Elisha Folger.


Declaration of Independence is written. Slavery is the most contentious issue during the drafting and is eventually left out of the document, even though Thomas Jefferson, the author, predicts that the issue of slavery will split the nation.


Massachusetts Constitution is adopted. Women lose the right to vote when the state’s Constitution is ratified on June 15. Massachusetts courts uphold the position that the Constitution effectively conflicts with slavery, making it illegal.


Three court cases collectively known as The Walker Case effectively end slavery in the Commonwealth through the courts. Massachusetts does not explicitly forbid slavery until the ratification of the 13th Amendment at the end of 1865.


Paul Cuffe, son of a formerly enslaved African man and a Wampanoag woman, runs British and Continental blockades to bring food and goods to Nantucket residents.


Land purchased on and around York and Pleasant streets that would become known as “New Guinea,” a neighborhood of African Americans, Wampanoag, Cape Verdean Portuguese, and the Irish.


Haiti declares independence and abolishes slavery.


Absalom F. Boston commands the Industry, the first known whaling ship with an all-Black crew.

Arthur Cooper, a fugitive from slavery, and family are protected from Virginia slave-hunters by people of color in the New Guinea neighborhood.


The African School is erected at Five Corners, two years before the first public school opens.


Anna Gardner becomes the teacher for the African School, housed in the African Meeting House, for students through middle-school-age.


Eunice Ross, at Anna Gardner’s prompting, sits for the exam to enter the public high school. She is refused “on account of her color.” Anna Gardner quits, is disowned by the Quaker monthly meeting,
and becomes Secretary of the Nantucket Anti Slavery Society.

Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton are barred from attending the World Anti-Slavery Convention, held in London. This prompts them to hold a Women’s Convention in the U.S.


Anna Gardner helps organize the first Nantucket Anti-Slavery Convention, which William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass attend. Douglass gives his first speech to an integrated audience.


The second Nantucket Anti-Slavery Convention is held, Douglass speaks again, as does Rev. Stephen S. Foster, who is pelted with rotten vegetables and eggs, following a fiery speech condemning the
American clergy for their complicity in the institution of slavery.


More than 100 Nantucketers of color, as well as over 100 white residents, sign petitions to the Massachusetts General Court (the Legislature) to allow children of color to attend all levels of public school together with white children. Some 350 white Nantucketers sign petitions in opposition.


The first students of color enroll at Nantucket High School.


Seneca Falls, New York, is the location for the first Women’s Rights Convention. Elizabeth Cady Stanton writes “The Declaration of Sentiments,” creating the agenda of women’s activism for decades to come.


Worcester, Massachusetts, is the site of the first National Women’s Rights Convention. Frederick Douglass, Paulina Wright Davis, Abby Kelley Foster, William Lloyd Garrison, Lucy Stone, and Sojourner Truth are in attendance. A strong alliance is formed with the Abolitionist Movement.

Maria Mitchell becomes the first woman member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Worcester, Massachusetts, is the site of the second National Women’s Rights Convention. Participants included Horace Mann, New York Tribune columnist Elizabeth Oaks Smith, and Reverend Harry Ward Beecher, one of the nation’s most popular preachers.

At a women’s rights convention in Akron, Ohio, Sojourner Truth, a formerly enslaved woman, delivers her now memorable speech, “Ain’t I a Woman?”


The Emancipation Proclamation ends slavery as of January 1, 1863, in the states that had seceded from the Union. The main effect was to free immediately all escaping slaves who arrived in non-slaveholding states.


Passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, making slavery illegal throughout the United States.

General Order #3 is issued by Major General Gordon Granger, freeing slaves in Texas, the last state to capitulate in the Civil War.

The Nation is founded as a successor to William Lloyd Garrison’s The Liberator, which closed after ratification of the 13th Amendment.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony form the American Equal Rights Association, an organization dedicated to the goal of suffrage for all regardless of gender or race.


Sorosis established in NYC, and Caroline Seymour Severance establishes the New England Woman’s Club in Boston. The “Mother of Clubs” sparked the women’s club movement, which became a useful organizing tool for political activists.

The 14th Amendment is ratified. “citizens” and “voters” are defined exclusively as male.


The American Equal Rights Association is wrecked by disagreements over the 14th Amendment and the question of whether to support the 15th Amendment, which enfranchises Black American males
while avoiding the question of woman suffrage entirely.

Wyoming Territory is organized with a woman suffrage provision.

Louis I abolishes slavery in all Portuguese territories and colonies.


Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony found the National Woman Suffrage Association (NWSA), a more radical institution, to achieve the vote through a Constitutional amendment as well as push for other woman’s rights issues. NWSA was based in New York.

The 15th Amendment gives Black men the right to vote. NWSA refused to work for its ratification and instead the members advocate for a 16th Amendment that would dictate universal suffrage. Frederick Douglass broke with Stanton and Anthony over the position of NWSA.

Lucy Stone, Henry Blackwell, Julia Ward Howe, and other more conservative activists form the American Woman Suffrage Association (AWSA) to work for woman suffrage through amending individual state constitutions. AWSA was based in Boston.


Susan B. Anthony votes illegally and is arrested.

Nantucket Sorosis established by Maria Mitchell.


Colorado is the first state to adopt an amendment granting women the right to vote.


The National Association of Colored Women is formed.


In January, President Woodrow Wilson announces that woman suffrage was urgently needed as a “war measure.”


Originally written by Susan B. Anthony in 1878, the federal woman suffrage amendment is passed by Congress and sent to the states for ratification.


On August 26, the 19th Amendment is signed into law.


Out of 955 ballots cast on Nantucket in the presidential election, 340 of them are by women.


Anne Ring becomes first woman elected to the Nantucket Board of Selectmen. The next one, Esther Gibbs, is elected in 1973.


Matilda McCrear, the last known survivor of the transatlantic slave trade, dies in Selma, Alabama, at age 83. A member of the Yoruba people, McCrear was captured as a child alongside her mother and sister and brought to the U.S. on the last known slave ship, Clotilda.


The Little Rock Nine integrate all-white Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas.


The Civil Rights Act passes.

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