Black & Native Heritage Talcott St. Church Timeline
Rev. James Pennington The Amistad Trial
The Underground Railroad Augustus Washington
James Mars Rebecca Primus
The Eastons Ann Plato
John Hooker What’s Next
The Reverend James Pennington


Activist, Reverend, Writer, and Abolitionist

The Reverend James W.C. Pennington was born in 1807. Born a slave in Maryland to Tighlin Frisby after Frisby’s father passed away, he and his siblings and mother lived on one plantation and his father, Basil, on another. He had witnessed brutal beatings both on his father and other slaves.

On October 22, 1827, Pennington escaped to freedom along the Underground Railroad, a harrowing journey in which he was captured more than once before finally making it to Pennsylvania.

After taking shelter with a Quaker farmer who gave Pennington his first reading lessons, he made his journey up north and advanced quickly in his ability to read, write, and speak of God’s message.

Soon after becoming a pastor, he was called on to officiate the wedding of Frederick and Anna Douglass. He later attended Yale Divinity School for four years as a non-matriculated student, the first black man to attend.

Pennington served as Reverend at Talcott Street Church from 1840-1847, 1853, 1856-1857, becoming well-known in the community and abroad, preaching in various places in the United States and Europe.

Pennington wrote his biography, The Fugitive Blacksmith, Or Events in the History of James W.C. Pennington, in 1849.