Excerpt from The Freedmen's Book By Lydia Maria Francis Child Published 1866

James Forten

James Forten was born in 1766 nearly a hundred years ago. His ancestors had lived in Pennsylvania for several generations and so far as he could trace them they had never been slaves. In his boyhood the war of the American Revolution began. The States of this Union were then colonies of Great Britain. Being taxed without being represented in the British Parliament, they remonstrated against it as an act of injustice. The king, George the Third, was a dull obstinate man disposed to be despotic. The loyal respectful petitions of the Colonies were treated with indifference or contempt and at last they resolved to become independent of England.

He never drank any intoxicating liquor and was a steadfast supporter of the Temperance Society. Being of a kindly and humane disposition he espoused the principles of the Peace Society. His influence and pure example were also given to those who were striving against licentiousness. Indeed he was always ready to assist in every good word and work. He died in 1842 at the age of seventy six years. His funeral procession was one of the largest ever seen in Philadelphia thousands of people of all classes and all respect to his character.