Who Was Frederick Augustus Hinton, An Early Advocate For Independent Black Presses?

Frederick Augustus Hinton


Frederick Augustus Hinton was born enslaved to unknown parents in Raleigh, North Carolina, and went on to become a barber, abolitionist, early advocate for independent Black presses, and founding member of the Colored Conventions movement. Hinton, who was twenty-one years old when he was emancipated in Philadelphia in 1825, quickly joined the city’s elite society of African American political activists. Within two years, he opened his “Gentleman’s Dressing Room” on South 4th Street, where he ran a successful hairdressing, wig-making, and perfume business.

In 1828, he married Eliza Howell, the daughter of wealthy oysterman and community leader Richard Howell of North Carolina. In 1829, Hinton became a member of St. Thomas African Episcopal Church, where he met other prominent Black families such as the Fortens, Purvises, Burrs, and Casseys.

Hinton was involved in all aspects of African American organizing in the 1830s and 1840s. He worked as a distribution agent for William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator in Philadelphia and served on committees to promote the abolitionist newspapers, the Rights of All (1829-30) and the Colored American (1837-41).


He helped found the Philadelphia Library Company of Colored Persons. In December 1833, he delivered “Eulogy on William Wilberforce, Esq.” in the Second African Presbyterian Church alongside Joseph Cassey, Robert Purvis, Jacob C. White, William Whipper, Thomas Butler, James McCrummell, and John D. Dupee.

Hinton was also a supporter of national Colored Conventions, which brought together African Americans from different states to discuss the race’s problems and prospects. He attended five of the first six national Colored Conventions, from 1830 to 1835, including the first, led by Bishop Richard Allen, in 1830, to discuss the issue of northern Black immigration to Canada as an alternative to the persecution they faced. Hinton, like many other Northern free Blacks, saw the American Colonization Society’s efforts to relocate African Americans to Africa as a ploy to strengthen slavery in the United States.

Hinton broke away from anti-colonizationists in the late 1830s to promote immigration to Trinidad and Liberia, outraged by the 1837 disfranchisement of Black Philadelphians and, more broadly, by the discrimination they faced. In 1838, he co-wrote the Appeal of Forty Thousand Citizens with Robert Purvis, which defended the accomplishments of Philadelphia’s people of color and urged white voters to reject the new constitution, which would deny free Blacks suffrage.

Hinton was a founding member of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society and a delegate to several of its conventions. Hinton, a longtime friend of William Lloyd Garrison and other white reformers, became disillusioned with the infighting and lack of progress of Garrisonian abolitionism in the 1840s and publicly denounced Garrison. Hinton also clashed briefly with abolitionists Robert Purvis and William Whipper over the language and policies of the American Moral Reform Society, which he helped found.

Hinton married Elizabeth S. Willson, a Georgia native, two years after his wife Eliza and their infant daughter died in 1835. (1814-1871). Joseph Willson, Hinton’s protégé and Elizabeth’s brother, wrote Sketches of the Higher Classes of Colored Society in Philadelphia (1841). Frederick A. Hinton’s only surviving child from his first marriage, Ada Howell Hinton (1832-1903), had opened her own school by 1849. Frederick A. Hinton died in the 1849 cholera epidemic at the age of 45.




Written by How Africa News

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