On April 9, 1816, representatives of Methodist congregations organized the African Methodist Episcopal Church during a meeting at Bethel African Methodist Church in Philadelphia. The movement began in 1787, when a number of black members of the Methodist Church withdrew as a result of racial discrimination, forming a separate congregation.
Richard Allen, Absalom Jones and others established the new congregation, calling it the Free African Society. Some congregations of the African Methodist Episcopal Church emerged in Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Chicago and Detroit before the Civil War, but the denomination also reached California in the 1850s. After the war, new congregations formed in Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana and South Carolina.