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Alloron  

Stephanie Beswick

Sudanese leader, was the first prominent Bari private merchant, slave trader, and opportunist insurgent warlord. He rose to power during the 1860s by exploiting poisonous dynastic rivalries between Nyigilo and Subek, the royal sons of Lagunu, the unchallenged Bari leader in 1840, and their respective noble offspring. The faction of Nyigilo had enjoyed the support of Catholic missionaries up to their departure in 1860, but thereafter allied with the northern slave traders who at that time were establishing fortified trading operations throughout southern Sudan. It was to become an era, for the first time in Bari history, during which commoner traders such as Alloron found it possible to acquire economic and political power. However, the upstart was often reminded of his humble origins by the epithet “man without rain,” implying that he lacked the arcane fructifying powers of royalty.

The arrival of Turks northern Sudanese and Europeans ...

Article

Robert Ross

Griqua leader and hunter in the region that is present-day South Africa, was born around 1770. During the second half of the eighteenth century, his family was one of several families of mixed Khoekhoe and Dutch descent who came to prominence in the dry lands of Namaqualand and along the Gariep River, on the northern frontier of the Cape Colony. Among them were two brothers, known variously as Claas and Piet Bastard or Claas and Piet Barends (sometimes spelled Berends). They first appear in the archival record in the 1760s accompanying Dutch and French expeditions to the Gariep and as overseers on the farms of the Van Reenen family who were then the Cape s most important butchers In time the family grew in wealth prominence and size primarily on the basis of hunting stock farming and trading to the Cape so that it was able to acquire ...

Article

Kate Gigliotti-Gordon

Henry Clay was born in Hanover County, Virginia. His father, John, a Baptist minister, died in 1781. His mother married Henry Watkins the following year and followed her new husband to Kentucky. Henry Clay remained in Virginia, where he later studied law with George Wythe. Finishing his studies in 1797, Clay followed his family to Kentucky and settled outside of Lexington. There he married Lucretia Hart, the daughter of a prominent Kentucky businessman, on 11 April 1799 and purchased a plantation near Lexington, which he named Ashland. Clay and his wife had eleven children, although only four outlived their father. After a long and illustrious career, Clay died in Washington, D.C. He was buried in Lexington, Kentucky, where a statue to his memory stands.

Clay's national political career began in 1806 when the Kentucky legislature selected him to complete an unexpired term in the U S Senate ...

Article

Mark G. Emerson

Born in Lynn, Massachusetts, Charles Remond Douglass was the third and youngest son of Frederick and Anna Murray Douglass. Named for his father's friend and fellow black antislavery speaker Charles Lenox Remond, Charles attended the public schools in Rochester, New York, where the family moved in late 1847. As a boy, he delivered copies of his father's newspaper, North Star.

As a young man, Charles became the first black from New York to enlist for military service in the Civil War, volunteering for the Fifty-fourth Massachusetts Infantry Regiment. Unlike his brother Lewis, who also served in the Fifty-fourth and became a sergeant major in that regiment, Charles was unable to deploy with his fellow troops owing to illness. As late as November 1863 Charles remained at the training camp in Readville Massachusetts He ultimately joined another black regiment the Fifth Massachusetts Cavalry rising to ...

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

Caryn Cossé Bell

businessman, Civil War veteran, and Reconstruction politician, was the son of the influential Creole New Orleanian Joseph Dumas, one of the owners of the Dumas Brothers French Quarter clothiers, a firm that specialized in imported French cloth and luxury apparel. Joseph Dumas invested his share of the firm's profits in real estate and accumulated a considerable fortune in property holdings and slaves. In 1860 African American Louisianans like François and Joseph Dumas constituted the wealthiest population of free blacks in the United States.

Joseph Dumas's import business necessitated that the Dumas family sojourn frequently in France, and it was there that François, was born, raised, and educated. François arrived in New Orleans shortly before the Civil War to manage the family business. He married Marguerite Victoria Victor, and the couple had five children, three girls and two boys. By 1860 he had become one ...

Article

Son of a minor cacique (chief) of the Bahoruco (steep mountains in southeastern Hispaniola) and an orphan since the massacre of the Indian chiefs of Xaragua by Nicolas Ovando, Enriquillo had been raised by Dominican monks, who taught him to speak, read, and write Spanish.

As happened with most Indians at the time, Enriquillo was given as a slave to a brutal Spaniard, Valenzuela, who abused him and tried to rape Enriquillo's young wife. Enriquillo escaped with his family, taking with him some Indian slaves, determined, like himself, to live free or die in the attempt.

Valenzuela pursued the fugitives with a troop of twelve armed Spanish soldiers and attacked Enriquillo s encampment Two Spaniards were killed others were wounded and Valenzuela was captured by Enriquillo s men On setting his old master free the rebel cacique sent him away with those words Thank God I am a Christian ...

Article

Stephen L. Harris

soldier, politician, civil servant, and a guiding force in the establishment of the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, was born in Springfield, Ohio. Educated in that state, he also studied law in Ohio.

Early in his career Fillmore allied himself with Asa Bushnell, who succeeded William McKinley as governor of Ohio. Following a lynching in Urbana in 1897 Bushnell then running for reelection as governor failed to send state troops to protect a black man accused of rape Bushnell s failure to save the defenseless man outraged African Americans who believed the governor allowed the lynching fearing a backlash by white voters if he intervened At the time of the lynching Fillmore worked for Bushnell in the office of the secretary of state He was also a major in the Ninth Ohio Battalion of the Ohio National Guard then one of four black military units in ...

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

Marcelo Ahumada

a free person of color who briefly claimed the title of governor of Santiago del Estero, a province currently located in northeastern Argentina. No information is known about his family or about his death. There are, however, various references to his participation in the so-called civil wars that affected the Argentine provinces between 1820 and 1860. Luna was the protagonist of a singular event that brought him into the office of the governor of the province of Santiago del Estero from 15 to 17 April 1831. He distinguished himself as a boyero and picador de carreta (a boyero is the person charged with overseeing the pastoring of cattle, and a picador de carreta is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the carts the vehicles pulled by horses or mules used for transport He worked in the fields of the Palacios a powerful and wealthy family in ...

Article

Born in Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), Albert John Luthuli was educated at the mission school in which he later taught (1921–1936). The son of well-respected Zulu parents, Luthuli was elected chief of the Zulu Abasemakholweni ethnic group in Groutville in 1936. He joined the African National Congress, a black political group, in 1946 and took an increasingly active role in campaigns to abolish Apartheid, the system of racial segregation in South Africa. In 1952 he was removed as chief by the South African government, which opposed his activities, and was forbidden to enter major South African cities and towns for one year. That same year he was elected president-general of the African National Congress. Because of his continued political activities, he was restricted to his farm in Groutville for two years in 1953, and again in 1959 for five years For ...

Article

Dorothy C. Woodson

South African teacher, Zulu chief, political leader, and Nobel Peace Prize winner, was born in Rhodesia around 1898 of South African (Zulu) parentage. His mother, Mtonya Gumede, was born and raised in the Royal Kraal of Cetshewayo, the Zulu king. His father, John Luthuli, was the elected chief of Groutville, home of the Umvoti Mission, an American Board of Commissioners station near Stanger, north of Durban, in what is now Kwa-Zulu Natal. He attended various local schools and was later awarded a two-year teacher-training scholarship at Adams College. Luthuli remained at Adams as a teacher, becoming one of only two African teachers at the school, the other being Z. K. Matthews (1901–1968). He married Nokukhanya Bhengu in 1927, and they had seven children.

In 1936 Luthuli reluctantly left Adams College and returned to Groutville after being elected to the chieftainship of the Umvoti Mission Reserve during which time he ...

Article

Peter Limb

Albert John (“Mvumbi”) Lutuli (1898–1967) was a distinguished South African political leader who led opposition to apartheid in the 1950s and early 1960s. He was President of the African National Congress (ANC), a Zulu chief, teacher, and the first African awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. His political thought combined Christianity, African nationalism, and liberalism in a form typical of the ANC of the time.

Lutuli was born in 1898 to Zulu parents in Bulawayo in what is now Zimbabwe but moved back to South Africa where he received a mission education at Groutville School and Ohlange Institute near Durban Natal The young Lutuli soon became imbued with the Christian ethics that would guide his life His early years were also marked by commitment to the teaching discipline and his love of Zulu culture and soccer After qualifying as an elementary school teacher from Edendale Methodist ...

Article

Lee Cassanelli

freed slave and leader of a confederation of maroon settlements in Somalia, was born a Yao in Mozambique in the 1830s; his original name was Makanjira. Most of what we know of his life comes from oral traditions collected in the early twentieth century. He was captured by the armed raiders of Tippu Tip (the famed East African slaver), transported by sea to southern Somalia, and sold into the local plantation economy. Beaten and left to die by his owners after attempting to escape, he was rescued and restored to health by a Muslim sheikh from the coastal town of Brava (Baraawe), who gave him his first qurʾanic lessons and subsequently his freedom.

Makanjira took the name Nassib (“good fortune”) and moved to the town of Hindi, one of several dozen settlements of former slaves who had escaped from Somali plantations to seek refuge in the thick forests (gosha ...

Article

James Mouthaan

was born a slave and purchased along with his family by Colonel Jeremiah Wadsworth, who was the wealthiest man in Connecticut before the Revolutionary War. Wadsworth later served as a representative to the Continental Congress during the war and the United States House of Representatives after it. There are no records of Nott’s date or place of birth or of his childhood.

During the Revolutionary War Peleg Nott drove a provisions cart while Colonel Wadsworth served as Congress’s commissary general. Nott’s success as a cart driver in the war led to his appointment as supervisor at his master’s farm in West Hartford. Wadsworth’s evident trust in Nott’s capabilities elevated the slave’s prestige within the small community.

In 1780 Peleg Nott ran for the position of black governor of Connecticut a leadership position with roots in the early colonial experience of Africans in the state but which had little political ...

Article

Toko  

Jeremy Rich

Very little is available about his early life Some traditions collected by researchers in the twentieth century suggest Toko was a slave or of partial slave descent Whether he was born on the coast of the Gabon Estuary or came from another part of the country Toko managed to become a prominent trader by the early 1840s He belonged to the Agakaza clan of the Mpongwe community that dominated trade on the northern bank of the Gabon Estuary Within Mpongwe society many people of partial or full slave descent could own slaves themselves and act relatively independently of their masters Toko s success in business made him one of the wealthiest Mpongwe men in the entire community Mpongwe merchants held a monopoly on direct access to visiting European Brazilian Cuban and São Tomean ships seeking slaves exotic woods ivory and other natural resources Toko lived near the village of Glass ...

Article

Godfrey Muriuki

was a major Kikuyu trader and leader in Kenya. By the 1880s the Kikuyu who had migrated from Murang’a had occupied Kiambu and reached the outskirts of what is now Nairobi. The frontier was a land of opportunity. Individuals were able to acquire land from the Dorobo, or Athi, through purchase, conquest, or creating family relationships through adoption. Kiambu had rich volcanic soils, and the area was blessed with plenty of rain. Being expert agriculturalists, the Kikuyu made full use of the newly acquired virgin land to grow plenty of foodstuffs. And by coincidence, their expansion coincided with the arrival of trading parties from Mombasa on their way to the interior.

The region between the coast and the highlands was barren, or nyika. Consequently caravan parties of Arabs and Swahili could not obtain provisions until they reached Machakos and Kikuyu land For this reason the frontier of Kikuyu ...

Article

Jean Ouédraogo

princess, ruler, and military leader, was born in Gambaga of the Dagomba country of northern Ghana. Her father was Naba Nedga and her grandfather Naba Gbewa of Pousga. An intrepid warrior, she married a hunter named Rialle late in life after fleeing the Dagomba. From their union was born a son named Ouedraogo, who is credited by historians with founding the sprawling medieval empire of the Mossi. Grief-stricken upon learning of the news of Ouedraogo’s death on the battlefield near Ouagadougou, Yennenga and Rialle both died within weeks and were buried in Zambanlga, Rialle’s native village.

It may never be possible to definitively elicit the facts dates and events surrounding the life of Yennenga Nonetheless the relevance and continued importance of their matriarch to the Mossi and to West Africa more generally cannot be overstated Despite the variations in the main narrative whose twists and turns remain rooted in the ...