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Barbadoes, James G.

Barbadoes, James G.

c. 1796
January 22, 1841

Little is known about the birth or early life of the abolitionist James Barbadoes. By 1830 he was living in Boston and had emerged as a leader of the Boston African-American community, supporting himself as a clothes dealer and barber. He was a leader with David Walker in the Massachusetts General Colored Association, founded in 1826, and served as its secretary. In 1831 he was delegate to the Convention of the People of Color, in Philadelphia.

Barbadoes was an associate and admirer of the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison (18051879), and he named a son after him. He was one of three blacks among the founders of Garrison's American Anti-Slavery Society, established in Philadelphia in 1833, and he served on its board of managers from 1833 to 1836. In 1834 he helped organize the annual meeting of the New England Anti-Slavery Society, where he spoke of his recent efforts to free his brother, Robert, from prison. A free man born in Boston Robert Barbadoes had been kidnapped in New Orleans, jailed, and threatened with slavery. It took five months of agitation by Barbadoes, and letters from the governor of Massachusetts, for him to be released.

Barbadoes was opposed to African-American colonization of Africa, and he publicly supported Garrison against conservative abolitionists within the American Anti-Slavery Society on this and other issues, including women's rights. However, after his involvement in a project in 1840 to recruit free black settlers to British Guiana, Barbadoes became interested in leaving the United States. Shortly afterward, he emigrated with his family and a group of other blacks to Jamaica, intending to farm silkworms. However, two of his children died of malaria soon after they arrived, and Barbadoes himself perished of the same disease the following year.

See also Abolition; Slavery


Aptheker, Herbert, ed. A Documentary History of the Negro People in the United States. New York: Citadel, 1951.

Horton, James, and Lois Horton. Black Bostonians, rev. ed. New York: Holmes & Meier, 1999.

Quarles, Benjamin. Black Abolitionists. New York: Oxford University Press, 1969.

lydia mcneill (1996)
Updated bibliography

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