Celebrating the Life of Abolitionist James Forten
Forten’s Grandfather Freed Himself from Enslavement by Escaping to Philadelphia
James Forten (Sept. 2, 1766 – March 4, 1842) was born free to Thomas and Margret Forten. It’s believed that Forten’s grandfather freed himself from enslavement by escaping and finding refuge in Philadelphia. He was educated in a Quaker school that was created by white abolitionist, Anthony Benezet, but he had to leave in order to work full time to support his family. At nine years-old he became the man of the house after his father died.
Forten Joined the Continental Navy at 14
At only 14 years-old, he joined the Continental Navy as a privateer on the Royal Louis. For two years, Forten worked and studied the art of sail making by becoming an apprentice under the ship’s captain. Unfortunately, the Royal Louis was captured by the English and Forten was a prisoner of war by the age of 15.