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Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia exhibit graphic featuring a portrait of James Forten.

When James Forten walked the streets of 1770s Philadelphia as a young man, he was surrounded by the sights and sounds of revolutionary transformation. He heard the words of the Declaration of Independence read aloud for the first time in 1776 before setting sail to fight for independence in 1781. Born a free man of African descent, Forten built upon his coming-of-age in a revolutionary city and his wartime experience to forge himself into a changemaker in Philadelphia and the young United States, becoming a successful businessman, philanthropist, and stalwart abolitionist.

Join us Feb. 11-12 for the opening weekend of our newest special exhibition Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, open from Feb. 11 through Nov. 26, 2023. Throughout the exhibit in the Museum's first-floor Patriots Gallery, visitors will be introduced to Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War and the women's suffrage movement. Using objects, documents, and immersive environments, Black Founders will explore the Forten family’s roles in the Revolutionary War, business in Philadelphia, and abolition and voting rights from 1776 to 1876.

The unique journey and exceptional story of this family of Revolutionaries explores the legacy of the American Revolution, the history of the American experiment of liberty, equality, and self-government, and the ongoing work to improve the nation’s dedication to the principle that “all men are created equal.”

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Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia exhibit graphic featuring a portrait of James Forten.
 

Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia

February 11 - November 26, 2023
In the upcoming 2023 special exhibition Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia, the Museum will introduce visitors to Forten and his descendants as they navigated the American Revolution and cross-racial relationships in Philadelphia to later become leaders in the abolition movement in the lead-up to the Civil War.
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Image 090420 Museum Galleries Photo Credit Jeff Fusco 2
Jeff Fusco 

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Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia exhibit graphic featuring a portrait of James Forten.
Feb 10
 

Member Preview of Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia Special Exhibit

February 10, 2022 from 10 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Join us for the Members-only preview of our new exhibition Black Founders: The Forten Family of Philadelphia. Members will enjoy refreshments in our member lounge as well as timed access to the exhibition before it opens to the public.
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