John Browns Convention, 1858

Plaque at First Baptist Church, 135 King Street East, Chatham

An historic meeting took place in the First Baptist Church here when white abolitionist John Brown from Kansas (1800-1859) met with black colleagues. Brown had spoken in a number of churches and met with other abolitionists in towns throughout the area. The last of his Canada meetings in 1858 took place at the First Baptist Church, which is considered one of the stations on the famous Underground Railroad. In the final sessions of John Browns Convention, as it became known, Brown with his colleagues, including Mary Annn Shadd Cary, drafted a Provisional Constitution for the People of the United States, preliminary to the establishment of an anti-slavery government. This was prior to the historic 1859 raid at Harper's Ferry. The American Civil War soon followed.