Throughout Trenton’s long and rich history, there have been many insightful, innovative and free flowing individuals who have made a huge impact not only on the city itself, but also on the people who call it home. One of those individuals was Sampson Peters, a founding member and minister of the Religious Society of Free Africans of the City of Trenton, and predecessor to Mount Zion A.M.E. (African Methodist Episcopal) Church.
Born into slavery in 1771 in the area now referred to as East Windsor, Peters was exposed to Methodism at a young age. This in turn sent him down the path towards greater religious understanding and the teachings of God.
As a grown man, according to trentonhistory.org, “Peters was manumitted in 1802 and moved to Trenton, where he established a cooper shop. Peters’ shop served as the first meeting place of the Religious Society of Free Africans of the City of Trenton until around 1819, when the first church building was erected on Perry Street.” Reputable historians and other sources claim that Peters’ cooper shop was located somewhere in the area of South Trenton, which was known as Bloomsbury back then.
In 1830 Peters was able to attend the first ever Convention of the American Society of Free Persons of Color, which was held in Philadelphia. During his lifetime, Peters was a functioning member of the Philadelphia Conference of the A.M.E church. Traveling far and wide on the church circuit, he helped to organize the Mount Pisgah A.M.E church in Princeton, 1832.
Peters was also an avid abolitionist and as such, he was extremely vocal with his views against the American Colonization Society. A society whose goal was to return free African Americans and slaves back to Africa.
Peters passed away in 1845 at the age of 74. Though it is unclear as to how he passed away, most historians believe it was simply from old age. If you would like more information on Sampson Peters please visit the Trenton Historical Society’s website at http://trentonhistory.org.