"Thanks be to God, there is a buoyant principle which elevates the poor down-trodden colored man above all this:—It is that there is society which regards man according to his worth; it is the fact, that when he looks up to Heaven he knows that God treats him like a moral agent, irrespective of caste or the circumstances in which he may be placed."



Reverend Theodore Sedgwick Wright, a Presbyterian pastor, helped form the American Anti-Slavery Society, the leading national organization in the nineteenth century to abolish slavery. The group included both men and women, white and black, and various Christian denominations, like Presbyterian and Quaker. Their Christian faith united them in their fight to free and dignify African American slaves.


Born to free parents, Wright received an education at the “African Free School,” founded in 1785 by Quaker Christians who wanted to educate former slaves and freed slaves. Wright offered up his house in New York to shelter escaped slaves as part of the Underground Railroad. 


Wright was the first African American to complete theological studies at a seminary in the U.S., graduating from Princeton Theological Seminary in 1829 (also the first African American to graduate from there). Wright fought against the practice of slavery based on his Christian beliefs that it was a moral sin.


In an essay in William Lloyd Garrison’sLiberator” newspaper, Wright wrote about the role of faith in the fight against slavery: “Blessed be God for the principles of the Gospel [the teachings of Jesus]. Were it not for these, and for the fact that a better day is dawning, I would not wish to live. Blessed be God for the anti-slavery movement. Blessed be God there is a war waging with slavery…”

Theodore S. Wright

Theodore S. Wright

Lithograph portrait of Rev. Theodore Sedgwick Wright. Lithograph by G.S.W. Endicott