Born in Trenton, New Jersey during the year 1817, William Lambert was the son of a freeborn mother and a slave father who later bought his freedom. At a young age, Lambert received his education from traditional school branches taught by Quakers who held abolitionist principles.
Introduced to many anti-slavery concepts at a young age after Abner Hunt Francis Quaker schoolmaster took him under his wing, Lambert traveled to Buffalo, New York advocating and rallying for the abolition of slavery.
At the young age of 23, Lambert arrived in Detroit Michigan during the year 1840 as a cabin boy on a steamboat and soon began his tailoring and dry cleaning business. While residing in Detroit, Lambert used his prior understanding of civil rights and the anti-slavery movement to became an advocate on suffrage for the black men of Michigan.
As an activist, he became the founder and organizer of the Colored Vigilant Committee, one of Detroit’s first civil rights organizations, and helped to organize the first State Convention of Colored Citizens in Michigan where he was elected chair. He addressed the controversy in regards to voting rights, not only for the black man, but for all beings regardless of race or class.
Due to the racist climate during the nineteenth century, many abolitionist groups in Detroit at the time excluded blacks, which caused Lambert to privately engage in much of his work. He soon claimed his role as president and creator of a secret organization called African American Mysteries: Order of the Men of Oppression.
Lambert, along with historical figures John Brown and militant abolitionist Leader Henry Highland Garnet, encouraged slaves to rise against their masters. Lambert had also assisted many fugitive slaves to escape to Windsor, Canada via Detroit’s and Lambert’s segment of the underground railroad; a measure that ultimately ensured them their freedom.
Lambert’s contribution towards ensuring the rights of blacks through his abolitionist and civil rights work helped to reshaped future events that have taken place throughout history. An abolitionist, civil rights activist, and Trenton Native, William Lambert’s commitment will forever live on.