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E. Beardsley

physician and professional leader, was born in Columbia, South Carolina, the orphaned son of unknown parents. As with many African Americans of the post–Civil War era, it was Reconstruction that gave McClennan a chance at a larger life. In 1872, at the height of Reconstruction in South Carolina (and thanks to the influence of a guardian uncle), he became a page in the black-dominated state senate. There he won the notice and friendship of the influential legislator Richard H. “Daddy” Cain. That fall Cain ran successfully for Congress, and in 1873, after McClennan passed a competitive examination, Cain appointed his young protégé to the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland.

Only the second African American student to enter Annapolis McClennan who was light skinned enough to pass for white but never denied his race found that the navy had made no accommodation to the new racial ...

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Laura M. Calkins

political activist, politician, and the first African American to matriculate at the University of Michigan, was born in Saint James Parish, near Charleston, South Carolina, to an elite family of free blacks. Reportedly orphaned as a youngster, Samuel was sent to Washington, D.C., as the ward of the white Presbyterian minister William McLane. The District of Columbia was home to a handful of private schools for blacks during the 1840s, though which Watson may have attended or for how long is unknown His academic accomplishments and private support were such however that at the age of seventeen he enrolled at the prestigious Phillips Academy at Andover Massachusetts Watson studied in the English department which emphasized teacher training rather than in the academy s classics program which prepared young men for study at elite colleges in New England Reportedly disillusioned over southern slavery and unhappy at ...