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Clifton H. Johnson

clergyman and abolitionist, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of Jehiel C. Beman, a clergyman. Nothing is known of his mother. He grew up and received a basic education in Middletown, Connecticut, where his father was pastor of the African church. A Wesleyan University student, L. P. Dole, volunteered to tutor Beman after the university refused his application for admission because he was an African American. Dole and Beman suffered ridicule and harassment from other students, and an anonymous threat of bodily harm from “Twelve of Us” caused Beman to give up the effort after six months. He went to Hartford, where he taught school for four years, and around 1836 he briefly attended the Oneida Institute in New York.

Beman was ordained as a Congregational minister in 1839. At about this time he married a woman whose name is not known. In 1841 ...


David Dabydeen

Social reformer and active fighter for the abolition of slavery. Thomas Fowell Buxton was born at Castle Hedingham, Essex, to an Anglican family. Despite this, his mother was a member of the religious Society of Friends, and Buxton soon became acquainted with Quakerism. Through the Society of Friends he became closely connected to the Gurney family, who were Quakers, and later married one of the Gurney daughters, Hannah. The Quakers were renowned for their social reformation campaigns, and Buxton became heavily involved in many of these movements, most notably with one of the Gurney daughters, Elizabeth Fry, to whom he provided financial support for her prison reform work. In 1818 he was elected member of Parliament for Weymouth and worked, within the House of Commons, for the abolition of the slave trade. He helped William Wilberforce with the founding of the Society for the Mitigation and Gradual ...


Chernoh M. Sesay

abolitionist and founder of the first black Freemasonic lodge, probably received his manumission from William Hall, a Boston leather-dresser, and his wife Susannah in 1770. No extant material confirms Hall as the Barbados son of a white father and a mother of mixed racial heritage, as most of his published biographies state, or as an emigrant to Boston any time before 1760, or as a preacher in a Cambridge church. The slave released by William Hall, only described as Prince, probably went on to become Prince Hall, a Boston leather worker, who, having organized the first black Freemasonic lodge, garnered respect from Boston luminaries and deference from his northern black peers and organized one of the country's oldest African American institutions.

Marriage records show that one or several Prince Halls had several wives. Hall, while a servant to William Hall, married Sarah Richie also ...


Raymond James Krohn

George Luther Stearns was born in Medford, Massachusetts. He was the eldest son of Luther Stearns, a physician who graduated from Harvard twice—with honors in 1791 and then from the medical school in 1811—and Mary Hall Stearns. George received his formal education at home, where his father established a preparatory school for boys. After his father's death in 1820, however, his studies ceased. Several years later, at the age of fifteen, he started his career in business. His first job was as a clerk in a dry goods store in Vermont. Next, in 1827, he worked in a Boston ship chandlery warehouse. He became an independent linseed oil manufacturer in Medford in 1835, and in 1842 became a partner in a different Boston chandlery company Most successfully he turned to producing lead pipe and the financial gains he received in that venture enabled Stearns ...


Donald Yacovone

educator, reformer, abolitionist, and businessman, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, one of ten children of Elizabeth Miller White, a seamstress, and Jacob Clement White Sr. (1806–1872). His father, a prominent abolitionist, barber, dentist, free produce storekeeper, and successful businessman, became one of the city's wealthiest African Americans. He invested in real estate in Pennsylvania and New Jersey and became president of the Benezet Joint Stock Association and owner of Mount Lebanon Cemetery, the foundation of the family's wealth. White's father was greatly respected by the city's black community and became active in the Moral Reform Society and executive secretary of the Philadelphia Vigilance Committee—his wife founded a female auxiliary to help raise funds for the committee. Jacob Jr. regularly saw his parents assist fugitive slaves, many passing through his Philadelphia home.

White grew up a prominent member of the city s black elite groomed ...