James Forten was born to free African-American parents in Philadelphia in 1776. Forten was the co-founder of The Free African Society that was founded in 1786. The Free African Society was devoted to helping newly freed slaves that migrated to Philadelphia. The Free african Society helped Africans who were plagued with sickness, unemployment, ophaned or widowed. This organization was especially during the outbreak of yellow fever in 1793. This organization also educated its members at the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church at sunday school. The Free African Society helped many freed slaves gain slef-determination, self-reliance, and stability.
Forten also was known as a war hero. During the War of 1812, the British planned to attack Philadelphia. Forten along with people such as Richard Allen and Absalom Jones created a militia of 2,000 black men to provide protection along the barriers of Philadelphia. There were 2,000 black men lines against the Schukyill River.
Forten was a well known abolitionist, polition, as well as activist and was ever written about in FRedrick Douglass's "North Star" newspaper writing " shall speak of "great men," according to the common acceptation of the term. I had a letter of introduction to some "colored gentlemen" in this city, and as I have not hitherto in any city found any that have excelled them, I choose, in strict justice, to give them a prominent place in the catalogue. I am really serious, and mean what I say, although many readers who seem to believe more in skin depravity than in that of the heart, might conclude, from such an introduction, that I mean to trifle. One of those to whom I was introduced was Mr. James Forten"