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Steven J. Niven

slave and medical pioneer, was born in the late seventeenth century, probably in Africa, although the precise date and place of his birth are unknown. He first appears in the historical record in the diary of Cotton Mather, a prominent New England theologian and minister of Boston's Old North Church. The Reverend Mather notes in a diary entry for 13 December 1706 that members of his congregation purchased for him “a very likely Slave; a young Man who is a Negro of a promising aspect of temper” (Mather, vol. 1, 579). Mather named him Onesimus, after a biblical slave who escaped from his master, an early Christian named Philemon.

This biblical Onesimus fled from his home in Colossae (in present-day Turkey) to the apostle Paul who was imprisoned in nearby Ephesus Paul converted Onesimus to Christianity and sent him back to Philemon with a letter which ...

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Joann Buckley

then part of the Danish Virgin Islands, to William Wilson and Charlotte Petersen. His mother died when he was only five years old. He was the last of eight children and was raised by his older sister Alice, a dressmaker. His early education was at Danish schools in Frederiksted, St. Croix. In 1905 he emigrated to the United States and lived with older siblings in the New York area. He was one of four black graduates of Jersey City High School in 1910. He had the highest grade point average in his class—93.84 percent.

In 1910 Wilson was accepted into a special program that enabled students to complete their A.B. at Columbia College in New York City and medical degrees at Columbia’s College of Physicians and Surgeons in six years. After graduating in 1916 he obtained a one year internship at Freedman s Hospital in Washington DC When ...