James G. Birney

Son of a wealthy Kentucky slaveowner, James Gillespie Birney (1792-1857) moved to Alabama in 1818. There, he served one term in the state legislature and helped shape the antislavery features of the state's new constitution. Birney was a leading colonizationist and advocate of gradual emancipation from the mid-1820s to 1834, when he publicly endorsed immediate emancipation and freed his six slaves. He published the antislavery newspaper, the Philanthropist, first in Kentucky and then Ohio. Birney served as executive secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society in the late 1830s, and then as the Liberty party's presidential candidate in 1840 and 1844. Betty Fladeland, James Gillespie Birney: Slaveholder to Abolitionist (New York, 1969); NCAB, 2:312-13; DAB, 2:291-94.

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