Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland to freedom in Philadelphia; she will return to the South 19 times to help slaves escape via the Underground Railroad.
The Maryland Supreme Court establishes a "Separate but Equal" doctrine in rejecting a suit for a black girl to attend a white school.
Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel, published on March 20, focused national attention on the cruelties of slavery.
The nation's first college for African-Americans Ashmun Institute(later Lincoln University) is established in Pennsylvania.
Booker Taliaferro Washington was born. Founder of Tuskegee Institute and leading African-American spokesman of his day.
The United States Supreme Court rules in "Dred Scott vs Sandford" that blacks "had no rights the white man was bound to respect" and abrogates all restrictions on slavery in the territories.
John Brown's raid. On October 16-17, John Brown raided the federal arsenal at Harper's Ferry, Virginia to obtain arms for a slave insurrection. Brian was hanged for the attempt which was considered treason.
The last slave ship arrives. During this year, the last ship to bring slaves to the United States, the Clothilde, arrived in Mobile Bay, AL.