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Jason Philip Miller

servant of Lieutenant Colonel William Washington (1752–1810), hero of the Battle of Cowpens in 1781, is a figure largely lost to history, known exclusively for a single act of heroism for which he has been sometimes celebrated as an early black American patriot and hero of the Revolutionary War.

Though slavery had been slow to find a foothold in Great Britain's New World holdings, by 1776 the practice had become widespread and existed in all thirteen colonies Despite this and despite the paradox of slaves who were noncitizens fighting in a war for national independence black people were quick to join the national debate about the direction in which Americans ought to go Sensing advantage the British sought to exploit this moment by offering freedom to the slaves of the rebels in the southern colonies hoping to arouse fears among slaveholders of slave revolts Thousands of ...

Article

John Gilmore

Domestic servant to Samuel Johnson. He was born a slave in Jamaica, but his date of birth and original name are unknown. He was brought to England by Richard Bathurst, formerly a planter in Jamaica, who had him baptized and who gave him the name by which he is known. Bathurst sent him for some time to a school at Barton in Teesdale in Yorkshire, and his will (dated 1754) left Barber his freedom and £12.

By this date, probably in 1752, Barber had entered the service of Samuel Johnson, who was a friend of Bathurst's son (also Richard). The exact date, and how old Barber was at the time, are uncertain, but he was probably still a young boy. In 1756 he ran away and worked for about two years for a London apothecary though he returned to visit Johnson regularly during ...

Article

Brian Tong and Theodore Lin

retiring room attendant, activist, most renowned for winning the 1873 Supreme Court Case Railroad Company v. Brown, was born Katherine Brown in Virginia. There are many variations of her name; in some documents, she is referred to as “Catherine Brown,” “Katherine Brown,” “Kate Brown,” or “Kate Dodson.” In the New York Times article “Washington, Affairs at the National Capital,” her name appears as “Kate Dostie.” Very few records of Brown's life survive today; as a result, much of her childhood and personal life remains unknown.

Kate Brown's recorded personal life begins with her marriage to Jacob Dodson. Jacob Dodson had a colorful past. Born in 1825, Dodson was a freeman. He spent most of his early life as a servant for the Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, but in 1843 Dodson began to accompany John C. Fremont, son-in-law of Senator Benton ...

Article

Timothy J. McMillan

slave, janitor, magistrate, teacher, principal, and the first black elected official in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, was born Wilson Swain at the home of University of North Carolina president David Swain in Chapel Hill. His father was (Doctor) November Caldwell, a slave of the former university president Joseph Caldwell; his mother was Rosa Burgess, a slave of Swain's. Under the law and practice of slavery in North Carolina, children took on the surnames of their owners, not of their fathers. As a child Wilson Swain was a personal servant to Robert Swain, his owner's son, and then as a young teenager he was an apprentice to the University of North Carolina's chief gardener, Mr. Paxton. In violation of law and custom, but due, no doubt, to the university atmosphere, he was taught to read and write.

As an adult Wilson Swain served the University of North Carolina ...

Article

Jessica Swanston Baker

was born on 26 August 1767 on Mountravers plantation, in the Leeward Caribbean island of Nevis. Like many African slaves in the Americas, Coker left no written accounts of her own, and all that is known about her has been derived from business and personal records left by her owner and later employer John Pinney (1740–1818), who inherited Mountravers in 1762. It should be noted that the vast majority of information currently known about Frances Coker has been gathered via archival research of the Pinney family records, carried out by Christine Eickelmann and David Small. Eickelmann and Small’s larger project aimed to provide a revisionist history that shed light on slavery’s role as integral to the prosperity of John Pinney. Pinney was a British plantation owner and important figure in the history of Bristol, one of the most active British slaving ports of the eighteenth century.

Frances ...

Article

David Owusu-Ansah

Asante royal servant and military leader, led expeditions in Gyaaman in 1817–1818 and against the Danes and their local allies in the Accra Plains (in present-day Ghana) in 1826.

Opoku Frefre was born at the village of Anyatiase that belonged to the Oyoko Abohyen Stool of Kumasi. There is no information about Opoku Frefre’s father, but his mother is identified as one Ama Nyaako Pakyi. In the Asante Collective Biographical Project (1979 the historians Ivor Wilks and Thomas McCaskie identified Opoku Frefre s three wives as Abena Twewaa of Kumasi Apirade Abena Aninwaa of Kumasi Apentansa and Ama Nifa of Adwoko Buoho By these marriages Opoku Frefre fathered sixty three sons and an unknown number of daughters one of whom was said to have become a favorite wife of Asantehene Osei Tutu Kwame d 1823 Opoku Frefre served the Golden Stool of Asante in both civil and ...

Article

Joe  

Glenn Allen Knoblock

survivor of the battle of the Alamo, was a slave about whom little is known. He was living with his master in Harrisburg, Texas, in May 1833 and was sometimes rented out as a laborer. One man that rented him was a young lawyer named William Barret Travis. Having arrived in Texas in 1831, Travis was undoubtedly in need of hired help while establishing his law practice. He purchased Joe on 13 February 1834, while living in San Felipe. The time that Joe was owned by Travis, though short, came during the most legendary time in Texas history.

Joe's specific activities from 1834 to 1836 are unknown that Joe would remain a slave he likely knew well as his master was occupied during his first years in Texas working to gain the return of runaway slaves harbored at the Mexican garrison at Anahuac However Joe s ...