James G. Birney
by R.D. Monroe, Ph.D.


 James G. Birney (1792-1857) was born in Kentucky to a family that owned a plantation and slave work force. He was educated at Transylvania College and the College of New Jersey, graduating from the latter. He studied law in Philadelphia, and eventually moved to Huntsville, Alabama, where for a time he owned a cotton plantation. Birney became an outspoken opponent of slavery. At first he favored gradual emancipation and colonization, working for a time as an agent of the American Colonization Society. Later, he embraced the call for immediate emancipation and was the corresponding secretary of the American Anti-Slavery Society. He was the presidential candidate of the Liberty party in 1840 and 1844.

Read the campaign biography:
Green, Beriah. Sketches of the Life and Writings of James Gillespie Birney. Utica, NY: Jackson and Chaplin, 1844.