James William Charles Pennington (1809-1870) was an African American orator, minister, and abolitionist. Pennington was born a slave in Washington County, Maryland. After escaping to Littlestown, Pennsylvania, Pennington moved to New York in 1828. A blacksmith by trade, he settled in New Haven, Connecticut, and audited classes at Yale Divinity School from 1834 to 1839, becoming the first black man to attend classes at Yale. He was subsequently ordained and became a teacher, abolitionist, and author. He wrote The Origin and History of the Colored People in 1841, which has been called the first history of African Americans, and a slave narrative in 1850, The Fugitive Blacksmith. In 1849 the University of Heidelberg awarded him an honorary doctorate of divinity.