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Michael C. Miller

The son of Jonathan Andrew, a farmer and storeowner, and Nancy Green Pierce, a schoolteacher, John Andrew was born in Windham, Massachusetts (in the part of the state that became Maine in 1820). He attended Bowdoin College and graduated in 1837. He moved to Boston, where he entered the law and became active in politics. An idealistic lawyer, devoting much of his early career to pro bono work for prisoners and blacks, he made a name for himself fighting fugitive slave laws. He considered the abolitionist John Brown a hero and arranged for his defense counsel after Brown was caught at Harpers Ferry in 1859. In politics he was active with the “Young Whigs,” an antislavery splinter group that became the Free-Soil Party. He served a term in the Massachusetts legislature (1857).

During the 1860 elections Andrew was the head of the Massachusetts delegation ...

Article

Thomas Adams Upchurch

Born in New Hampshire during the same year Frederick Douglass is thought to have been born in Maryland, Benjamin Franklin Butler led a life parallel to Douglass's in several respects. The two shared mutual respect, friendship, and a working relationship. It is unclear when the two men first met, but they interacted frequently from 1866 to 1890 and almost always agreed on racial issues.

Butler first received national acclaim for his military exploits during the Civil War, but he also made his mark in the political arena afterward. Contemporaries found his penchant for changing his political allegiance enigmatic. He supported the Democrats before the war, the Republicans during Reconstruction, the Democrats again briefly thereafter, and finally various third parties for the last decade of his life. As a Union general, Butler was considered a maverick by the Lincoln administration. In 1861 he unilaterally declared that slaves who sought refuge ...

Article

Sean Patrick Adams

Stephen Grover Cleveland came of age in western New York after the premature death of his father, a Presbyterian minister. He became involved in the Democratic Party at an early age and, after becoming a lawyer in 1859, served in a number of local offices in Buffalo. Having quickly developed a reputation as a reformer and party official willing to take on corruption in public affairs, Cleveland successfully campaigned to become mayor of Buffalo in 1881. Just two years later he entered the statewide spotlight and was elected governor of New York. In that position Cleveland continued his crusade for political reform. His attempt to clean up New York City's municipal government garnered the ire of the powerful and corrupt Tammany Hall political machine, but Cleveland survived attacks on both his policies and character to emerge as one of the leading reformers of the Gilded Age.

In 1884 ...

Article

Peter D. Fraser

was born on either 5 June or 15 August 1803 in Demerara, British Guiana, now Guyana. He was the second of three children and the younger son of John Douglas, a merchant from Glasgow, Scotland, and the “Creole,” almost certainly a free colored woman, Martha Ann Ritchie, later surnamed Telfer (?–1839?). The two were never married. Genealogical research suggests that Martha Ann Ritchie was born in Barbados. Ritchie and her mother were both slave owners until slavery was ended in 1834. His father married in 1809, but moved Douglas and his siblings to Scotland, where he attended preparatory school in Lanark and learned French. Douglas and his elder brother Alexander then went to Canada, where they were apprenticed to the North West Company, which soon merged with the Hudson’s Bay Company—both were fur-trading concerns. Moving westward, he reached the Pacific Coast for the first time in 1826 ...

Article

Diane L. Barnes

Rutherford Birchard Hayes was born in Delaware, Ohio, two months after his father's death. Educated at Kenyon College and Harvard Law School, Hayes became a practicing attorney in Fremont (Lower Sandusky), Ohio, but in the early 1850s moved his law office to Cincinnati, where he gained a reputation as an able defense attorney. In 1852 he married Lucy Ware Webb, with whom he had eight children, although three did not survive to adulthood.

During the Civil War, Hayes began his military career with a political appointment as a major in the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry and soon rose to regimental colonel. By the time he resigned his commission at the end of the war, he had attained the rank of major general. While still on active military duty in 1864, Hayes was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1866 Not long ...

Article

Wesley Borucki

nineteenth president of the United States (1877–1881), who ended Reconstruction. Rutherford Birchard Hayes's father, Rutherford, died two months before his birth in Delaware, Ohio, and his mother, Sophia, raised him on the family farm with the help of her brother Sardis Birchard. Hayes attended Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio, graduating as valedictorian in 1842. He studied law at Harvard and began his practice in Fremont, Ohio, in 1845. Hayes moved in 1849 to Cincinnati, where he joined the Republican Party in the 1850s, attracted by its antislavery principles.

Hayes rose to the rank of major general during the Civil War. His service was so distinguished that he won election to Congress in 1864 without campaigning. He was elected governor of Ohio an unprecedented three times from 1867 to 1875 and received the Republican presidential nomination in 1876.

The Democratic governor Samuel Tilden ...

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

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was the free-born son of a wealthy white planter, William Pinchback, and his longtime mistress, an emancipated slave named Eliza Steward. William Pinchback's family successfully challenged his will after his death in 1848, leaving Eliza and their five children destitute. Fearing that Pinchback's relatives would attempt to enslave them, Eliza moved the family to Cincinnati, where Pinchback attended Gilmore's High School.

In 1862, after working as a steward on a Mississippi riverboat, Pinchback joined the Union Army in New Orleans He recruited and commanded a company of the Corps d Afrique a Louisiana cavalry unit Initially all of the Corps d Afrique s officers were black The black officers learned however that their commissions were subject to qualification examinations All of the black officers except Pinchback were replaced by white officers When authorities repeatedly ignored Pinchback s demands for equal treatment ...

Article

Eric R. Jackson

politician, editor, and entrepreneur, was born Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback in Macon, Georgia, the son of William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry. Because William Pinchback had taken Eliza to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to obtain her emancipation, Pinckney was free upon birth.

In 1847 young Pinckney and his older brother Napoleon Pinchback were sent to Cincinnati to be educated. When his father died the following year, Eliza and the rest of the children fled Georgia to escape the possibility of reenslavement and joined Pinckney and Napoleon in Cincinnati. Because the family was denied any share of William Pinchback's estate, they soon found themselves in financial straits. To help support his family, Pinckney worked as a cabin boy on canal boats in Ohio and later as a steward on several Mississippi riverboats. In 1860 he married Nina Emily Hawthorne ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, who became the first black governor in the United States and the only African American to hold a governorship during Reconstruction, was born in Macon, Georgia, to William Pinchback, a Mississippi plantation owner, and Eliza Stewart, a former slave of mixed ancestry who had been freed just before her son's birth. In 1847 Pinchback and his older brother moved to Cincinnati to attend boarding school. Upon William Pinchback's death, his heirs threatened Eliza with reenslavement, and she fled Georgia to join her sons in Ohio. The family was denied any inheritance and soon found themselves in financial straits.

At the age of twelve with his elder brother unable to cope with the sudden responsibility Pinchback became the chief supporter of his family He worked as a cabin boy on canal boats in Ohio and later as a steward on several Mississippi riverboats He learned the ...

Article

Dinah Mayo-Bobee

William Henry Seward, one of seven children born to the slaveholders Samuel Sweezy Seward and Mary Jennings Seward, became one of the most prominent antislavery politicians of the antebellum period. Trained as a lawyer, Seward served in the New York State Senate from 1830 to 1834 and was elected governor of New York in 1839. While he was governor, Seward signed legislation that protected the rights of New York's black citizens. The laws provided for jury trials in runaway cases, helped recover persons kidnapped into slavery, guaranteed education to black children, and freed slaves brought into the state. After leaving the governor's office in 1843, Seward continued his antislavery activism. In 1846 he defended Henry Wyatt and William Freeman African Americans charged with murder in Auburn New York In each case Seward defended the accused on the ground of insanity but public outrage and hostility over the ...