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Robert Fay

Blanche Kelso Bruce's professional career followed the arc of Reconstruction history. Bruce escaped from slavery during the Civil War (1861–1865). He moved south after the war to capitalize on opportunities for economic and political advancement that were newly available to African Americans there. His political fortunes waned after the late 1870s, when Southern Democrats regained control of politics and blacks were again relegated to second-class status socially and politically.

Bruce was born a slave in rural Farmville, Virginia, but his childhood differed from that of most other slave children. His owner, Pettus Perkinson regarded him more as a son than as a slave A favored playmate of Perkinson s son Bruce was educated by the Perkinson tutor and rarely worked in the fields He lived in Missouri at the outbreak of the Civil War and escaped to Lawrence Kansas There he tried to enlist in the Union ...

Article

William C. Harris

a slave. The identity of his father is unknown, but he took the surname of the man who owned his mother before he was born. His childhood as a slave on a small plantation, first in Virginia, then briefly in Mississippi, and finally in Missouri did not significantly differ, as he later recalled, from that of the sons of whites. This relatively benign experience in slavery perhaps owed a great deal to the fact that he was the light-skinned favorite of a benevolent master and mistress. He shared a tutor with his master's son and thus obtained the education that prepared him for later success. During the Civil War, despite the benevolence of his owner, he fled to freedom in Kansas, but after slavery was abolished he returned to Missouri, where he reportedly established the first school in the state for blacks, at Hannibal.

After the war Bruce briefly attended ...

Article

Lois Kerschen

from Mississippi. Blanche Kelso Bruce, the son of a black mother and white planter father, was born into slavery in Prince Edward County, Virginia. He escaped in 1861 while in St. Louis and in 1869 went to Mississippi, where over time he served as a supervisor of elections, the tax collector, the superintendent of schools, the sergeant-at-arms of the Mississippi State senate, the county assessor, and a member of the Board of Levee Commissioners of the Mississippi River. His public service brought him sufficient wealth to buy a large plantation in Floreyville. Bruce sided with other prominent blacks in their belief that freedmen should earn the money to buy land rather than receive acreage as a form of compensation.

When asked in 1873 to head the Republican ticket as a candidate for governor because of his popularity as sheriff of Bolivar County Bruce declined Instead he was elected ...

Article

Christopher Bates

Andrew Johnson was born in Raleigh, North Carolina. His parents, Mary and Jacob, were barely literate and scratched out a living by working for a local inn. With Jacob Johnson's death in 1812, the family's financial situation became dire, and Mary struggled to support Andrew and his brother, William, before finally binding young Andrew in the apprenticeship of a tailor at the age of thirteen.

Johnson spent several years learning his trade before leaving Raleigh for Greeneville, Tennessee. There he established his own tailoring shop and also met Eliza McCardle, whom he married in 1827 Eliza took responsibility for her husband s education teaching him arithmetic and reading to him The future president eager to put his newfound knowledge to use and hone his natural rhetorical skills made his shop into an informal gathering place for political discussion Enthralled and energized by these exchanges Johnson sought ...

Article

Robert Fay

Hiram Revels, the son of former slaves, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina. He studied at several seminaries in Indiana and Ohio before becoming a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME). During the American Civil War Revels helped to organize African American regiments in Maryland and ...