African-American Church Leader
Henry Foster played a very important role in Hartford’s African-American community as well as the first African-American congregation at the Talcott Street Church. He called on a meeting to give a presentation of the claims of the Colored American in the first Colored Congregational Church in Talcott street. The meeting raised aware of “the necessity to subvert prejudice in their own power, and to support the ‘Colored American’ to make it into effect for their society, from both political and religious perspective.”
Henry Foster is identified as the president of the Connecticut State Temperance Society of Colored Americans. Henry Foster’s group tended to defend and sustain the interests of the colored population, against the foul aspersions, a character they shall use money to sustain it.
He was also a member of the first African-American congregation at the Talcott Street Church, known today as the Faith Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. Henry Foster leveraged his connections in the church to facilitate fugitive slaves and networked with David Ruggles, who harbored fugitive slaves in New York City. “By previous notice, a public meeting was convened on the evening of May 18, 1840 in the colored Congregational church, on Talcott Street. The prayer for the group was delivered by Rev. J.W.C Pennington.” This meeting was addressed by Mr. David Ruggles. Mr. Henry Foster was a member of the Connecticut State Temperance Society of Colored Americans.
Foster was also an educator in Hartford, in which he helped managing the applicants for teaching for the young gentleman of color to learn reading, writing, spelling, grammar and so on. He noticed the deficiency of the local education, in which African American children were not able to be placed under any kind of elementary education. Thus, he was passionately raised the emergency of the necessity of local education
Ruggles and Foster aided many slaves who escaped north to Springfield, Massachusetts, where they resided with Reverend Osgood, whose Underground Railroad stop was nicknamed, “Prophet’s Chamber.” For instance, James L. Smith’s escape narrative explained these key players on his route north.
In William Green’s narrative, David Ruggles, in New York, “was active in procuring material aid for and in giving [African American] good advice”. Green was directed to Springfield by Dr. Osgood from Hartford. Due to the fact that Henry Foster had connections with both David Ruggles and Dr. Osgood, he is most likely to the person undocumented at the Hartford station also due to the time match between Henry Foster and William Green.
The Liberator was an anti-slavery newspaper. Henry Foster was mentioned in the Liberator as an important agent for UGRR.
Henry Foster was an active temperance member and reformer who helped fugitive slaves in Hartford, Connecticut. “The temperance movement in the United States became a national crusade in the early nineteenth century with supporters of the movement objecting to alcohol’s destructive effects on individuals and communities. Supporters believed that the consumption of alcohol was responsible for personal and societal problems, including physical violence and unemployment.” The State Temperance Society of Colored People met in the city of New Haven, Nov. 9th, 1836, in pursuance to notice which had been published in several journals. Foster was also noted as being a leader among the temperance society, The National Temperance and Moral Reform Convention Of The Colored Inhabitants of the United States. The Society was called to order at 4 o’clock, P.M. The President, Rev. Jehiel C. Berman, in the chair. Prayer by the president; after which, a committee of three was appointed to prepare and report the order of exercises for the evening meeting. Adjourned till 7 o’clock. At 7 o’clock, the Society was called to order: the vice president, Mr. Henry Foster, took the chair.
He was invited by the National Reform Convention of the Colored Inhabitants of the United States of America as the representative from Hartford, Connecticut. This National convention was called for freedom for African American, and the necessity to gain back the rights, happiness and life of the slave.
There is meeting addressed by Mr. David Ruggles of New York on the subject of human rights. J.W.C Pennington, Henry Foster, and James Marks to be a committee to report on the subject of a National Convention. This is a evidence that Henry Foster knows David Ruggles, which was an abolitionist at the time. The meeting addresses strongly against slave owners at the time. And it states that the meeting of a Convention of the colored American of the free States, and these meetings should be held in August at some central place. “Mr. Foster contended that we have come to a crisis when we must ACT for ourselves, or suffer. To talk about waiting till our friends get right, is nonsense.”
“Reverend James Pennington: A Voice for Freedom” By Stacey Close for Connecticut Explored.