Garnet's family was a strong advocate of education. He attended a school for African-Americans in New York and New Canaan, Connecticut. After studying at the Oneida Institute, he became a Presbyterian minister in 1812.
He was a successful minister and one of the most influential African-Americans of his time. However, his promising future came to a sudden halt in year later. In 1843 at a convention that was held for free men of color in Buffalo, New York changed his life .
Garnet made a speech to advocate a slave revolt. The speech disturbed a number of abolitionists who did not believe in violence. A vote was taken to decide which position the representatives would advocate. Some wanted to be violent and forceful, others wanted to use methods of nonviolence. The position that Garnet advocated failed by one vote. Although his speech attracted national attention, his popularity decreased.
After the Civil War, Garnet became active in politics. In 1881, he was appointed as Minister to Liberia. Unfortunately, he became ill and died in Monrovia a year after his appointment.
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