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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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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 ...

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Caryn E. Neumann

John Murray, the fourth Earl of Dunmore, who was renowned for offering freedom to slaves willing to serve in the British forces during the American Revolution, was born in Perthshire, Scotland. After a brief military career during the Seven Years' War, he entered politics. In 1770 he was appointed governor of the colony of New York. Despite achieving some successes there, Dunmore moved to Virginia in 1771 to pursue greater economic opportunities.

Dunmore's charm and skill at claiming western lands for Virginians made him personally popular with the colonists and blinded him to rising political tensions. He firmly believed that most Virginians were loyal to the Crown and that troublemakers could be easily contained. In April 1775 Dunmore seized powder from the public magazine at Williamsburg Virginia and threatened to raise a slave army against anyone who challenged his right to do so At that point he began to ...

Article

Alexander J. Chenault

politician, state senator, and first black governor of New York State, was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Basil Paterson and Portia Paterson. His father was a political powerhouse in Harlem, serving as state senator, deputy mayor, and secretary of state. As an infant, David developed an infection that left him completely blind in his left eye and with severely limited vision in his right eye. Shortly thereafter, the family moved to the suburban town of Hempstead, New York, which allowed him to get a regular public education instead of special education classes he would have been limited to in New York City.

Paterson fought hard throughout his childhood to overcome his disability and earn the respect of his peers refusing to learn to read Braille or use a cane or seeing eye dog As a sixth grader at Hempstead s Fulton School Paterson sat in the ...

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Beverly Morgan-Welch

governor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, was born in Chicago, Illinois, the only son of Emily Wintersmith Patrick and Laurdine (Pat) Patrick, a musician. Reared on the south side of Chicago by his mother, since his parents separated when he was four, and with his sister, Rhonda Patrick-Sigh, he attended Chicago Public Schools. Challenged by poverty and always seeking educational opportunities, his mother supported his application to A Better Chance, an organization dedicated to securing positions in independent and public schools for children of color. In 1970 Milton Academy in Massachusetts became the springboard for his stellar academic career. He graduated from Harvard University in 1978 cum laude with an AB in English and American Literature, becoming the first member of his family to receive a college degree, and Harvard Law School in 1982 During the intervening year between college and law school he worked ...

Article

Caryn E. Neumann

first black governor of Massachusetts. Born on the South Side of Chicago, Deval Patrick grew up in poverty. He won a scholarship to a Boston preparatory school and then progressed through a bachelor's program at Harvard College in 1978 before graduating from Harvard Law School in 1982. He then became a staff lawyer with the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund from 1983 to 1986. In 1984 he married the labor attorney Diane Bemus. The couple, who live in the wealthy Boston suburb of Milton, have two daughters, Sarah and Katherine.

Patrick served as a partner in the Boston law firm Hill & Barlow from 1986 to 1994 before becoming the assistant U.S. attorney general for civil rights. In 1997 Patrick left public service to spend three years as a partner in the law firm of Day Berry Howard He next spent a year as vice president ...

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 ...

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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 ...

Article

Elon A. Kulii

assistant attorney general of Alabama, member of the Alabama legislature, circuit judge, and governor of Alabama. George Corley Wallace Jr. will long be remembered as one of the staunchest supporters of segregation, white supremacy, and the rights of the southern states. He was born in Clio, Alabama, to George Corley Wallace and Mozell Wallace. He attended the public schools of Alabama and entered the University of Alabama's law school. To support himself he worked various part-time jobs. In 1942 he graduated from law school, and soon thereafter he joined the U.S. Army, serving during World War II. After the war ended, Wallace was honorably discharged from the army and returned to civilian life with his wife Lurleen and his daughter Bobbie Jo. He was given a job by Governor Chauncey Sparks as assistant attorney general Sparks had promised Wallace a job in the state capital as payback ...

Article

Margaret E. Edds

governor of Virginia, was born Lawrence Douglas Wilder in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Robert J. Wilder Sr., a door-to-door insurance salesman, church deacon, and a strict disciplinarian, and Beulah Richards, an occasional domestic and mother of ten children, including two who died in infancy. Wilder's paternal grandparents, James and Agnes Wilder, were born in slavery and married on 25 April 1856 in Henrico County Virginia north of Richmond They were later sold separately and on Sundays James would travel unsupervised to neighboring Hanover County to visit his wife and children According to family lore he was so highly regarded that if he returned late the overseer would feign punishment by beating on a saddle Agnes Wilder a house servant learned to read while overhearing the lessons of a handicapped child for whom she cared Less is known of the origins of Wilder s ...

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Rachelle Gold

governor of Virginia and mayor of Richmond. Born in Richmond, Lawrence Douglas Wilder was named after the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass and the famous African American poet Paul Laurence Dunbar. Wilder grew up in a large family as one of eight children, and he and his siblings attended segregated public schools. He graduated in 1951 from Virginia Union University, a historically black college in Richmond, with a degree in chemistry. During the Korean War, Wilder served in the U.S. Army and won the Bronze Star for heroic acts in battle. Back in Richmond after the war, Wilder worked as a chemist in a state coroner's laboratory.

With help from the GI Bill, Wilder attended law school at Howard University, and after he earned his degree in 1959 he passed the Virginia bar. He married Eunice Montgomery in 1958; they had three children and divorced in 1978 Soon ...

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L. Douglas Wilder has served his home state of Virginia as state senator, lieutenant governor, and governor. A native of Richmond, Virginia and the son of an insurance agent and a domestic worker, Wilder has made a career of conciliating tensions between the races.

Douglas Wilder was educated at the historically black Virginia Union University and graduated from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 1959. He was always aware of the political possibilities of his own success. He received the Bronze Star for bravery in the Korean War, and he used his recognition to fight successfully for the promotion of passed-over African American military commanders. His law practice made him a millionaire, and he parlayed his money and influence into a campaign for state senator in 1969 Wilder s success as a Democrat in a largely white Republican state flows from his position as ...