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Bill Nasson

farmer, general, and first prime minister of the Union of South Africa, was born on 27 September 1862 near Greytown in the British colony of Natal. His paternal grandfather, Philip Rudolph Boot (or Both), was of German settler descent and had participated in the 1830s Boer Great Trek into the interior. The son of migrant trekkers Louis Botha and Salomina van Rooyen, Louis was the ninth of thirteen children. In 1869, the Botha family left Natal and settled on a farm near Vrede in the Orange Free State, where Louis lived until the age of twenty-two. Earlier, he had been schooled at a local German mission where he received only a very basic education.

Botha’s minimal formal learning proved to be no handicap to the development of his exceptional aptitude for fieldcraft and understanding of the working of the highveld terrain. In 1886 he settled on his ...

Article

J. Todd Moye

civil rights activist, was born Mae Bertha Slaughter to Isaiah (“Zeke”) Slaughter and Luvenia Noland, sharecroppers, on the Smith and Wiggins Plantation in rural Bolivar County, Mississippi. Mae Bertha and her four brothers and sisters were expected to join their parents in the cotton fields as soon as they were old enough to pick bolls at harvest time.

The Slaughter children attended all-black, separate and unequal schools during “split sessions” that were scheduled around the planting, chopping, and harvest seasons in the cotton calendar. After Zeke Slaughter left the family, nine-year-old Mae Bertha began working for wages in the cotton fields at thirty cents an hour to help support the family. When she was sixteen years old, in 1939, she married Matthew Carter. Their family, which would eventually include thirteen children, began sharecropping for themselves. From 1956 to 1965 they lived and worked on the Pemble plantation ...

Article

Thomas Clarkin

politician, was born in Iberville Parish, Louisiana, the son of Antoine Dubuclet Sr., a plantation owner, and Rosie Belly. The Dubuclets were members of the gens de couleur libre, the class of free blacks permitted certain social and legal rights not typically accorded blacks in the antebellum South. Dubuclet's father owned slaves and a share of a plantation. After his father's death in 1828, Dubuclet remained on the plantation, while his mother and siblings moved to New Orleans. He learned the family business and prospered, owning more than one hundred slaves and an estate valued in 1864 at $94,700. Such substantial holdings made Dubuclet the wealthiest of Louisiana's free blacks and more successful than many white planters.

Dubuclet s fortunes suffered during the Civil War a time of economic chaos in Louisiana The demise of slavery meant the end of ready and inexpensive labor a ...

Article

Harmony O'Rourke

Cameroonian politician, educator, and farmer, was born Ngu Foncha in the fondom (similar to the concepts of kingdom or chiefdom) of Nkwen, of the colonial Southern Cameroons, to Foncha, a prince of the fondom, and his fourth wife, Ngebi. Though his father never became the fon (king or chief) of Nkwen, the boy Ngu grew up in the Nkwen palace precincts. He attended a Christian mission at Big Babanki, where he was baptized in 1924 and took the name John. In 1926 he went to the Bamenda Government School, where he impressed a Nigerian teacher, who enrolled him in Calabar’s St. Michael’s School. In 1934, Foncha returned to Cameroon to serve as a teacher but headed back to Nigeria in 1936 to seek further training at the Saint Charles’ Teachers Training College at Onitsha. From 1939 to 1947 Foncha taught in Njinikom Cameroon a stint that was ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

sharecropper and communist martyr, was born in Tallapoosa County, Alabama, a white majority county in the state's eastern piedmont. One of fifteen children, Gray was born into a family with a strong radical tradition. His father, whose name and occupation are unknown, was the son of Alfred Gray, an African American state legislator in Perry County, Alabama, during Reconstruction who famously vowed to fight for the Constitution “until hell freezes over.” A critic of both white racism and the inadequacy of the Freedmen's Bureau, Alfred Gray recognized that his outspoken militancy came at a price. “I may go to hell,” he told an interracial gathering in Uniontown in 1868 my home is hell but the white man shall go there with me Kelley 39 Ralph Gray who was only one year old when Reconstruction ended in Alabama grew up hearing stories of his grandfather s radicalism But ...

Article

Hassoum Ceesay

also called Tamba Jammeh, a Gambian colonial chief, farmer, and political figure, was born probably in 1880, to Jatta Selung Jammeh, a Serere-Mandinka, and Awa Job, a Wollof in the Baddibu district of Gambia. He retired in 1964 and died on 13 October 1987. When the British colonialists declared a colonial protectorate in Gambia in 1893, Jatta Selung was allowed to become the first chief of the Illiasa district. His son, Mama Tamba, attended the Muhammedan School in Bathurst (now Banjul) from 1905 to 1913. Soon after, he was employed as a scribe in his father’s court. In 1925, he was appointed deputy chief, as his father was infirm. Mama Tamba Jammeh became chief of Illiasa on 28 February 1928.

The new chief of Illiasa embodied tradition modernity sagacity and innovation At a time when only European colonial officials could afford cars Mama Tamba ...

Article

Amy Speckart

Edward Lloyd V owned Wye Plantation in Talbot County, Maryland, when Frederick Douglass lived there for two years as the property of the plantation's clerk and head overseer, Aaron Anthony. In addition to being a farmer and slaveholder, Lloyd had a lengthy political career in state and federal office.

At the time of his death, Lloyd owned more land and slaves than anyone in Talbot County. His holdings included twelve thousand acres of land and more than six hundred slaves. Lloyd and his family lived on a plantation, along with one-third of their enslaved labor force and several employees; their estate also included approximately ten outlying farms. Wheat was the plantation's major cash crop. Distributed over the farms in 1826 were approximately 500 cattle 370 hogs 700 sheep 140 horses and 4 mules Lloyd was one of a handful of wealthy farmers in early nineteenth century Maryland who ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

slave driver, farmer, and Democratic Party activist was born a slave probably in Washington County Mississippi The names of his parents are not recorded On the eve of the Civil War and only sixteen he was working as a driver of slaves on a Delta plantation a position generally reserved for experienced laborers in their thirties or forties That Lucas achieved such a position at such an early age is suggestive of his willingness to work hard and to both obey and command authority Drivers enjoyed a fair degree of autonomy in their work and occupied a difficult middle position between their fellow slaves and those who owned them but most understood that the needs and desires of their owners came first Though some drivers interceded to protect the slaves from harsh treatment by white overseers or masters a minority abused their position by seeking sexual favors ...

Article

Rosalyn Mitchell Patterson

minister, carpenter, and civil rights activist, was born Walter Melvin Mitchell, the eldest child of Minnie Mitchell, a homemaker, and an unknown father, in rural Greene County, Georgia. Mitchell was told by relatives that his father was Fate Buice, the son of a white planter in the community where his mother lived. Although Buice never openly acknowledged Mitchell as his son, he maintained contact with Mitchell over the years. In the mid-1920's Buice traveled nearly a hundred miles from Greene County to Augusta, Georgia, to hear Mitchell preach at the historic African American Springfield Baptist Church. Mitchell's early life was greatly influenced by his grandfather, Pano Mitchell who maintained a strong affinity for the land and his African heritage Mitchell and his five sisters and brothers attended the local school through the sixth grade the highest grade available for African Americans in that ...

Article

Harvey Klehr

Communist Party leader, was born near Marion, Alabama, on a tenant farm worked by his parents, whose names are unknown. His father died when Perry was a small child, and he was raised by his uncle, Stokes King, and an aunt. He attended a rural school sporadically, receiving about fifteen months of formal education. By the time he was ten, he was working in the cotton fields. He moved on to a sawmill and then a pipe foundry before deciding to leave the South when he was eighteen.

Perry embarked on the life of an itinerant worker, traveling around the United States in search of work. He reached California in 1920 and used it as his base for the next twelve years Most winters he worked at a cottonseed oil mill in Los Angeles In the summers he went on the road as a harvest hand following ...

Article

Susan M. Reverby and Elizabeth Sims

farmer, civil rights activist, and lead plaintiff in the lawsuit against the government in the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, was born in Notasulga, Alabama, the third child of six children of Lucius and Alma Pollard. The Pollard family owned and farmed their land in the Notasulga area, just outside of Tuskegee, for generations after the Civil War. As with many farmers, they often needed to secure liens, with their animals as the collateral, in order to complete their crop. In the early 1900s the family began to buy more acreage, and by 1908 Pollard s father was farming 160 acres and was the first black man in the county to own a mechanical cotton picker Pollard learned early how to horse and cattle trade and to build upon his family s farming skills He was educated in the Shiloh School one of the earliest Rosenwald schools built ...

Article

Jeremy Rich

Beninese trader and political leader, was born in the mid-nineteenth century in the kingdom of Dahomey (present-day Benin). His father Padounou Houénou was a leading adviser to Gele, king of Dahomey from 1858 to 1887. His son eventually would follow his father’s career in trade, since Padounou’s main task was to watch over European and Afro-Brazilian traders in the southern port city of Porto-Novo, a vassal of Dahomey. Unfortunately, Tovalou-Quenum’s father backed a rival heir of Glélè to Kondo, the future king of Dahomey. Kondo (later known as Behanzin) had Padounou jailed as a result, and he died in prison in 1887 Tovalou Quenum first chose to settle in Ouidah in part to avoid the court intrigues that had brought so much adversity to his father By the late 1880s Tovalou Quenum had become one of the most wealthy and innovative businessmen in the city Later he moved ...