Richard Allen (1760-1831)
Richard Allen was born a slave in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He purchased his freedom as a young man, and joined St. George's Methodist Church where he experienced discrimination. He, therefore, left St. George's and formed the Free African Society with Absalom Jones and other free blacks. The Free African Society, the first known organization to be founded by blacks, sought to further the social, political, and religious freedoms of blacks in Philadelphia, which led to the formation of Bethel Methodist Episcopal Church in 1794. Richard Allen was elected the Church's first bishop in 1816. Although he opposed the Back-to-Africa movement, Richard Allen formed a movement in 1830 to promote blacks settling in Canada. In 1833, the autobiography of Richard Allen, entitled "The Life, Experience, and Gospel Labors of the Rt. Reverend Richard Allen," was published. During the yellow fever epidemic of 1793, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen helped set up relief measures for the citizens of Philadelphia.