February 15, 2018 / A discussion on the history of African Americans in the Northwest Territory

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VINCENNES, Ind. - The rich history and contributions of African Americans in the American Frontier and in the Northwest Territory are demonstrated by the story of John Morris, a former slave and a charter member of Maria Creek Church. Identified in church records as “a man of color,” Morris was a freed slave whose name lives on in Vincennes University’s John Morris Residence Hall.

In A Conversation with Richard Day on Feb. 22, 11 a.m. (EST), Day will share his knowledge of John Morris and the Maria Creek Church. The presentation will be held VU’s Maria Creek Chapel, 36 E. Harrison St. There is no charge for admission and the public is invited to attend.

From its beginning in 1809, Maria Creek Church stood out. When Morris and 12 other founders created the Articles of Faith in 1809, one stated: “We believe that African slavery, as it exists in some parts of the United States, is unjust in its origin, oppressive in its consequences, and inconsistent with the spirit of the Gospel.” As a result, church founders would not allow slave owners to join the congregation.

A Conversation with Richard Day is sponsored by VU’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs and the Humanities Film and Lecture Series.


Richard Day is a lifelong resident of Vincennes. After graduating from Vincennes University and Indiana University with a master’s degree in English, he taught at VU, worked as a ranger at the George Rogers Clark National Historical Park, and served as a reference librarian at VU’s Lewis Historical Library.

Day has authored several books on Vincennes history and, for the past 20 years, he has been the historian at the Vincennes State Historic Sites, a part of the Indiana State Museum. The site is located on Harrison Street, adjacent to the Vincennes University campus.


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