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Chronology of Historical Events

Most of the novel’s characters are real persons. Some are well known to general audiences, while others have received lesser attention in classroom textbooks, non-fiction books and in popular literature. The novel closely follows the flow of actual historical events so as to provide context for textbook learning and coursed outlines.

Chronology of Key Events in Philadelphia
and the Nation

The Post- Revolutionary War Period

1780 Pennsylvania enacts a law calling for the gradual abolishment of slavery.

1787 The Reverends Richard Allen and Absalom Jones organize the Free African Society to promote Negro improvement

1793 The United States Congress enacts the first Fugitive Slave Act

1794 The Reverend Richard Allen organizes Mother Bethel Church in Philadelphia

The Antebellum Period

1820 The United States Congress passes the Missouri Compromise

1829 David Walker publishes an anti-slavery treatise entitled An Appeal to the Colored People of the World

1830 First National Negro Convention (chaired by the Reverend Richard Allen) meets at Mother Bethel Church in Philadelphia

1831 Nat Turner leads slave revolt in Southampton, VA

1831 William Lloyd Garrison launches his abolitionist publication, The Liberator

1833 Negro and white abolitionists organize the American Anti-Slavery Society in Philadelphia

1834 Anti-Negro riots begin

1838 Pennsylvania Hall burned (May 17)
Shelter for Colored Orphans burned (May 18)

1842 Anti-Abolitionist and anti-Negro riots occur; African Presbyterian Church burned along with other colored meeting places.

1844 Anti- Irish Catholic riots occur

1848 William and Ellen Craft arrive in Philadelphia

1850 The U.S. Congress passes the Compromise of 1850 and a new Fugitive Slave Act

1852 The Institute for Colored Youth opens in Philadelphia at Sixth and Lombard Streets

1852 Publication of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s controversial book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

1854 Ashmun Institute (later named Lincoln University) opens in Oxford, PA

1854 Frances E.W. Harper publishes her, Poems on Miscellaneous Subjects

1857 The U.S. Supreme Court issues its judgment on the Dred Scott case

1858 Philadelphia operates its passenger cars for the first time (January)

1859 John Brown leads revolt at Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia

1860 Abraham Lincoln is elected President of the United States

The Civil War Years

1861 Confederate forces fire on Fort Sumter, a federally con-trolled garrison

1861 President Lincoln calls a special session of Congress to declare war on the Confederate states

1862 The Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest one-day battle of the Civil War

1862 The U.S. Congress authorizes the enlistment of Negroes for military service

1863 President Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation (January)

1863 The Battle of Gettysburg is fought (June)

1863 The Negro 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Regiment leads attack on Fort Wagner (July)

1863 Grand review of colored troops at Camp William Penn near Philadelphia (September 24)

1864 Massacre of Negro troops at Fort Pillow Tennessee (April)

1864 President Lincoln wins re-election (November)

The Reconstruction Era

1865 Confederate states surrender at Appomattox, VA ending the Civil War (April)

1865 President Lincoln is assassinated in Washington, D.C. (April)

1865 The Ku Klux Klan is formed

1865 Congress establishes the Freedman’s Bureau and passes the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery in the United States

1865 Many southern states begin to enact additional “black codes”, i.e., laws designed to maintain many of the pre-Civil war restrictions on African Americans. These laws denied Constitutional rights for African Americans and imposed harsh penalties for alleged crimes such as “seditious speeches,” “insulting gestures,” “vagrancy,” and curfew violations.

1868 Fourteenth Amendment is passed, stipulating, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty or property, without due process of law; nor deprive any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.

1870 Fifteenth Amendment is passed, extending voting rights to African Americans

1870 Colored Philadelphians organize a massive parade to Independence Hall to celebrate the Fifteenth Amendment. Angry mobs attack the procession and it is discontinued.

1871 Octavius V. Catto murdered in Philadelphia (October 10)

1876 Rutherford B. Hayes is declared the winner of the United States presidential election.





Key Historical Figures Cited in The Rains

Absalom Jones (1746-1818)

Richard Allen (1760-1831)

James Forten Sr. (1766-1842)

David Walker (1785-1830)

Lucretia Mott (1793-1880)

Dred Scott (1795-1858)

Levi Coffin (1798-1877)

Nat Turner (1800-1831)

John Brown (1800-1859)

Elijah P. Lovejoy (1802-1837)

Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)

William Lloyd Garrison (1805-1879)

Robert Purvis (1810-1898)

William T. Catto (1810-187?)

Theodore Parker (1810-1860)

Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896)

Henry Highland Garnet (1815-1882)

Frederick Douglass (1818-1895)

Charles L. Reason (1818-1893)

Harriet Tubman (1820-1913)

William Still (1821-1902)

William Craft (1821-1900)

Frances E. Watkins Harper (1825-1911)

Ellen Craft (1826-1891)

Ebenezer Bassett (1833-1908)

Fannie Jackson [Coppin] (1835-1913)

Jacob C. White Jr. (1837-1902)

Octavius V. Catto (1839-1871)

Richard T. Greener (1844-1922)

W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963)

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