Honoring the first Ordained African American Minister in the United States

Published: Sep. 8, 2018 at 9:42 PM EDT
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A new historical marker was revealed in West Rutland Saturday morning.

Community members gathered in West Rutland Saturday morning to celebrate their history.

"Our first marker ever - we thought we would make a big deal out of having it," said Michelle Jagodzinski of the West Rutland Historical society.

The new roadside historical marker honors Lemuel Haynes - The first Ordained African American Minister in the United States.

"Let us remember that 230 years ago the people of West Rutland opened their hearts to a black preacher and their lives were enriched for doing this forever," said Reverend Bill Whiteman.

Haynes was born in West Connecticut and moved to Vermont at the age of 34. He preached for over Three Decades in a predominantly white communities in Vermont starting multiple churches in Rutland and Addison counties.

"We probably say his sermons were more like theological lectures then the sermons that we we would have today," said Rev. Whiteman.

In 1776 Haynes wrote "liberty Further Extended."

In the essay -- he writes 'liberty should be extended to all."

That piece is considered one of the most compelling arguments against slavery during the Revolutionary era -- and the first written by an African American.

"Here in West Rutland he was known for his Kindness, his sense of humor, his pastoral care," said Rev. Whiteman.

And now, a monument where anyone can stop by and learn more about him.

"It just brings the town a lot more knowledge of its history," said Jagodzinski.

Haynes historical marker is now the 247th here in Vermont. It is also being added to the African American trail as well.