Philadelphia and the Countryside - Press Room

Releases: Expanded View

Dec 14 2010

The President’s House: Slavery Timeline

This is a National Park Service/City of Philadelphia press release.

1619 Enslaved Africans brought to Jamestown, Virginia.

1641 Massachusetts legally recognizes slavery.

1662 Virginia law determines status of children will be same as that of the mother.

1684 Ship Isabella brings150 enslaved Africans to Philadelphia.

1705 Virginia law determines imported servants who were not Christians in native country are slaves; slaves are chattel property, and may be disciplined or killed without penalty.

1780 Pennsylvania passes the Gradual Abolition Act prohibiting importation of enslaved Africans into the state and guarantees future children of enslaved Pennsylvania mothers will be born free but indentured until age twenty-eight.

1783 Massachusetts abolishes slavery.

1787 Transporting enslaved persons into the Northwest Territory is banned.

1787 The Constitution states that Congress may not interfere with the slave trade until 1808. Pennsylvania legislature amends1780 Gradual Abolition Act; prohibits transportation of a pregnant enslaved woman out of state (so the child would be born enslaved) or separation of enslaved family members by more than ten miles; requires registration of the child of an enslaved mother within 6 months of birth.

1791 Washington circumvents law by transporting enslaved servants out of state before six-month residency in Pennsylvania.

1793 Fugitive Slave Act reinforces the Constitutional right of a slaveholder to recover a runaway slave.

1794 Slave Trade Act makes it illegal for American ships to engage in the slave trade and to sell enslaved people abroad.

1808 Children born after 1780 to enslaved Pennsylvania mothers are freed of their indentures under the 1780 Gradual Abolition Act.

1808 Congress bans international slave trade; smuggling continues.

1820 Missouri Compromise establishes boundaries of slavery in Louisiana Purchase territory.

1847 Pennsylvania legislature frees all enslaved in the state.

1850 Compromise of 1850 makes it easier for slaveholders to retrieve escapees.

1851 Largest trial for treason in U.S. history occurs in Philadelphia. Thirty-eight black and white Pennsylvanians attempt to prevent the seizing of suspected runaway slaves in Pennsylvania. One is found not guilty; charges against the rest are dismissed.

1857 Dred Scott Supreme Court decision rules Congress may not ban slavery in states or territories, and African Americans are not citizens.

1860 Federal census counts almost four million enslaved in the U.S.

1863 President Abraham Lincoln issues Emancipation Proclamation.

1865 The Thirteenth Amendment to abolishes slavery in the U.S.

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Related Releases

Jul 8 2016

16 Things To Know: African-American Philadelphia

From Colonial Through Modern Days In The City Of Brotherly Love & Sisterly Affection

Strength In Numbers:

  1. The 2010 U.S. Census reported 661,839—that’s 43.37%—of Philadelphians are African-American, the city’s second largest ethnic demographic. More recent estimates show this population has increased by approximately 1% in the past six years.
  2. The largest concentration—82%—of African-American Philadelphians live in North Philadelphia west of Germantown Avenue, Point Breeze in South Philadelphia, West Philadelphia and in parts of Southwest Philadelphia.
  3. Important African-American business corridors include 52nd Street between Walnut and
    Arch Streets and Baltimore Avenue between 40th and 52nd Streets, both in West Philadelphia; and Stenton Avenue between Broad Street and Walnut Lane and Ogontz
Jun 16 2016

Fact Sheet: 31 Top Philadelphia Region Attractions

* Note: Most attractions were listed in the Philadelphia Business Journal Book of Lists 2015. Those that were not are marked with an asterisk.

Historical Sites & Attractions:

  1. The African American Museum in Philadelphia*, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve, interpret and exhibit the heritage and culture of African-Americans. The museum takes a fresh and bold look at the stories of African-Americans and their role in the founding of the nation through the core exhibit Audacious Freedom. Other exhibits and programs explore the history, stories and cultures of those of African
May 23 2016

Fact Sheet: Historic Philadelphia Trail

The birthplace of the nation is rich in history—and plenty of it. This Historic Philadelphia Trail guides visitors to 24 essential sites in the area, which spans from the Delaware River to 7th Street and from Vine to Lombard Streets. This is the original city. It boasts serious historical cred, but it’s also home to buzzed-about restaurants and beer gardens, owner-operated boutiques and pushing-the boundaries art galleries.

Here is the 24-stop essential guide, available at

  1. Visitors can head to the Independence Visitor Center to pick up their timed tickets to Independence Hall and get expert Philly tips.
May 19 2016

Historic Philadelphia Timeline, 1681 To 1801


  • King Charles II grants William Penn the Charter of Pennsylvania, which includes an immense tract of land as settlement of a debt owed to Penn’s father, Admiral William Penn. The King names the colony Pennsylvania in honor of Admiral Penn. William Penn begins plans for his “holy experiment” and hopes it will be the “seed of a nation.” His Commonwealth will assure religious tolerance, fair trials, freedom of speech and enlightened laws.


  • William Penn leaves England, sets sail across the Atlantic and arrives in Philadelphia, his “City of Brotherly Love.” Find more information at the Philadelphia History Museum,
May 15 2016

Aspiring Citizens Get Study Help With New Americans Walking Tour

Candidates For Citizenship Can Boost Their Knowledge In The Places Where It All Happened

Prepping for the U.S. citizenship test can be a daunting venture, but Philadelphia’s self-guided New Americans Tour not only makes it easier, it makes it a whole lot more fun. With approximately half of the answers to the 100-question citizenship test study guide rooted in Philadelphia, the city is like a living study guide where aspiring citizens and others curious about U.S. history can visit the sites and attractions where so many key historic events took place. Most sites are located within the boundaries of the original city known as Historic Philadelphia and are easily accessible by foot. The tour

Apr 12 2016

African-American Story In Historic Philadelphia

America’s Most Historic Square Mile Tells A Rich Story About Free Blacks, Enslaved Africans And African-Americans

Historic Philadelphia, the site of the original city and often called America’s most historic square mile, reveals early chapters in the nation’s history, including the challenges, injustices, accomplishments and contributions of Africans and African-Americans.

The African Methodist Episcopal (A.M.E.) Church, which was founded in Philadelphia, celebrates its 200th anniversary in 2016. Taking place July 3-5, bicentennial events include a major gospel concert; a social justice forum; a tribute to Sarah Allen, the church’s founding mother; and an ecumenical worship service. Then congregants participate in the A.M.E. general conference, July 6-13 in Philadelphia, complete with an unveiling of the Bishop

Oct 9 2015

150 Years Since The 13th Amendment Passed: Historic Philadelphia's African-American Experience Is More Moving Than Ever

America’s Most Historic Square Mile Tells A Rich Story About Free Blacks, Enslaved Africans And African-Americans

Philadelphia reveals undertold chapters in the nation’s history, including the challenges, injustices, accomplishments and contributions of Africans and African-Americans during the United States’ early years. This year, the National Constitution Center commemorates the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery (the original document is on display) and the beginning of the Reconstruction Era.

Visitors to America’s “Most Historic Square Mile” can discover the more complete story of African-Americans at these moving sites:

Museums & Attractions:

  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia, founded in 1976, is the first institution built by a major U.S. city to preserve,

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Dec 15 2010

President's House Opens On Independence Mall In Philadelphia

Much-Anticipated Site Honors Lives of Enslaved Africans in Presidential Household

This is a National Historical Park/City of Philadelphia press release.

The President’s House: Freedom and Slavery in the Making of a New Nation
opens today in Philadelphia after more than five years of development. The commemorative, open-air installation marks the site where the nation’s first two presidents, George Washington and John Adams, served their terms of office and began to shape the executive branch of government. However, the most compelling and controversial aspect of the site is that it pays tribute to nine documented enslaved persons of African descent who were part of the Washington household. The inclusion of the

Dec 14 2010

The President’s House: House Timeline

This is a National Park Service/City of Philadelphia press release.

Before For hundreds of years before 1630, Algonquian peoples resided here.
1682 The city of Philadelphia founded.
1767 House built by Mary Lawrence Masters, a rich the widow of a former mayor and slaveholder.
1772 House is a wedding present to daughter Polly and slave owning Lieutenant Governor Richard Penn.
1777 Headquarters of General Sir William Howe, a slave owner and leader of British forces, during the British occupation of Philadelphia.
1778 Headquarters of slave owning Major General Benedict Arnold whose betrayal of the Revolution begins here.
1782 Financier and