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David Dabydeen

Africanservant who served and died in Henbury, Bristol. Africanus was the servant of Charles William, Earl of Suffolk and Bindon. The Earl married into the Astry family of Henbury House. Africanus, who was named after an ancient Roman general, was a symbol of their wealth. He, like other servants of African origin who worked in aristocratic homes, was a novelty who, besides doing domestic chores, also functioned as a showpiece for wealthy guests.

In the 18th century thousands of male and female slaves arrived in Britain to become servants of the rich minority They mainly came from the New World rather than directly from Africa The common erroneous belief was that Bristol slavers brought Africans back and kept them chained in the Redcliff caves before shipping them across the Atlantic The truth was that most African slaves were part of the triangular trade being transported from ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Revolutionary War sailor, is known for his service on the Continental navy sloop Ranger under Captain John Paul Jones. A story passing as truth has been written about Scipio Africanus stating that he was a slave owned by Jones and accompanied him on the ships he commanded. In fact virtually nothing is known about Africanus except for the fact that he was a free man when he enlisted to serve on board the eighteen-gun Ranger for one year while she was building at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sometime between March and July 1777.

While we know little about Scipio Africanus the man some guesses as to his servitude and character may be ventured That he was a slave prior to his naval service as suggested by his first name is likely Classical Roman names such as Scipio Cato and Caesar were commonly given at birth by owners to slaves ...

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Juan Angola Maconde

hero of the “Chaco War” (an armed conflict between Bolivia and Paraguay over the oil-rich Gran Chaco region, which lasted from 1932 to 1935), was born on 29 June 1906 in the hacienda (plantation) of Coscoma, Coripata Township, in the Nor Yungas Province of the department of La Paz, Bolivia. His parents were Tomás and Rosa Peralta Andavérez, and he had three siblings: Zenón, Valentina, and Alzira. The hacienda belonged to José Gamarra Zorrilla, a landowner nicknamed “the King of Coca.” In the early twentieth century, Coscoma had a significant Afro-descendant presence, but by the latter half of the twentieth century (and continuing into the early twenty-first century), Afro-descendants were a minority in relation to the Aymara indigenous population with whom they coexisted. In 1911 at the age of 5 Andavérez fled with his parents from the plantation where they worked motivated by the ill treatment they suffered ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Mexico, Oswego County, New York. Unrecorded in the 1850 federal census, the names of Anderson's parents are confirmed to be unknown. However, likely candidates are Samuel and Mary Anderson, the only black or “mulatto” family recorded living in Oswego County in the 1840 (town of Granby) and 1850 (town of West Oswego) censuses. Samuel Anderson was a native of Bermuda, and his wife, Mary, was a New York native. Bruce Anderson does appear in the 1860 census, listed as a fourteen-year-old “mulatto” residing in Johnstown, New York, on the farm of Henry Adams and his daughter Margaret; he was likely a simple laborer. How he came to live with the Adams family is unknown, but Anderson would remain a resident in the area—except during the time of his Civil War service—for the remainder of his life.

While some ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Korean and Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor winner, was born in Winnboro, South Carolina, the son of Frizell Anderson, a carpenter, and Blanche Rabb Anderson, a homemaker. Webster's parents had seven children, daughters Frances, Alberta, Marjorie, and Marie, and sons Frizell Jr., Webster, Billy, and Larry.

In 1953, Anderson was drafted by the Army to serve in the Korean War. Although racism suffused the armed forces despite President Harry Truman's executive order to integrate the military, Anderson's initial Army experiences were largely positive. He would later tell his son Davis that joining the Army was “a good thing for him.” He believed that his white commanding officers as much as his fellow soldiers “helped pave the way” for his military career (Anderson). Webster enjoyed a happy private life too, marrying Ida Davis in 1959 In their ...

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Jeffery Othele Mahan

soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming, to Manuel Caldera and Beulah Baker. After the deaths of his parents, Vernon and his sisters, Irma and Katherine, were raised by their maternal grandparents, Joseph Samuel Baker, a retired brakeman for the Union Pacific Railroad, and Dora Lucas. Although his grandparents never officially adopted him, Vernon took the surname Baker and did not know his original surname until later in life. Baker was educated at various elementary and secondary schools, including two years at Father Flanagan's Boys Home in Omaha, Nebraska. Baker finally earned his high school diploma at Clarinda, Iowa, in 1939.

After graduation, Baker returned to Cheyenne, where he found work at the army depot at night doing maintenance, repair, and cleaning jobs. Baker was rejected on his first attempt to join the army. Finally in June 1942 he enlisted and was ...

Article

Jason Philip Miller

servant of Lieutenant Colonel William Washington (1752–1810), hero of the Battle of Cowpens in 1781, is a figure largely lost to history, known exclusively for a single act of heroism for which he has been sometimes celebrated as an early black American patriot and hero of the Revolutionary War.

Though slavery had been slow to find a foothold in Great Britain's New World holdings, by 1776 the practice had become widespread and existed in all thirteen colonies Despite this and despite the paradox of slaves who were noncitizens fighting in a war for national independence black people were quick to join the national debate about the direction in which Americans ought to go Sensing advantage the British sought to exploit this moment by offering freedom to the slaves of the rebels in the southern colonies hoping to arouse fears among slaveholders of slave revolts Thousands of ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Saint Mary's County, Maryland. He was likely enslaved for most or perhaps all of his life prior to his military service. The 1860 Federal Census Slave Schedules for Saint Mary's County indicate that one J. A. Barnes owned eight slaves aged four to thirty, one of them a fourteen-year-old boy who was probably William Henry Barnes. How he came to join the Union Army is unknown; Barnes may have been freed prior to the war, or he may have run away from his master to seek military service. Whatever the circumstance, Barnes enlisted in the 38th U.S. Colored Troops (USCT) regiment at Norfolk, Virginia, on 11 February 1864, stating his age as twenty-three and his occupation as that of a farmer.

The 38th USCT spent its first months after its formation stationed in the area of Norfolk ...

Article

Frank N. Schubert

Horace W. Bivins was born on May 8, 1862, on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay at Pungoteague, Accomack County, Virginia. His parents, Severn S. and Elizabeth Bivins, were farmers; he worked with them during his childhood. In 1862 his father had financed the first church and schoolhouse for freed slaves built on Virginia's Eastern Shore. Bivins enrolled at Hampton Institute in June 1885. He studied briefly there and at Wayland Seminary in Washington, D.C., before enlisting in the Tenth United States Cavalry in November 1887. He joined the regiment at Fort Grant, Arizona Territory, in time to participate in skirmishes with Apaches following the end of the Apache Wars (1848–1886).

Bivins was a remarkable marksman one of the best in the army He won several medals in the military competitions that took place at various army subdivision headquarters The headquarters represented military departments ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

Civil War and Indian Wars soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was born in Prince George County, Maryland. Nothing is known of his early life; he was likely born enslaved, but if so, the circumstances in which he gained his freedom are unknown. His military service began when he enlisted in the Union Army from St. Mary's County, Maryland, on 5 February 1864. Boyne served in Battery C of the 2nd U.S. Colored Light Artillery and saw action in and around Richmond, Virginia, during the last year of the Civil War at Wilson's Wharf and City Point. Boyne and his regiment were subsequently sent westward, and he ended the war stationed in Texas. In March 1866 Thomas Boyne was discharged from the army at Brownsville Texas as his regiment like all other volunteer regiments that served in the Civil War black and white was disbanded when the army ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, was a veteran of the Indian Wars and the Spanish-American War. Brown was born in Spotsylvania, Virginia, but nothing is known about his early life. He was in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, by 1880, when he enlisted in the U.S. Army with the 24th Infantry Regiment.

The 24th Infantry Regiment in which Benjamin Brown enlisted in 1880 was one of four black units in the U.S. Army at this time, which, along with the 25th Infantry and 9th and 10th Cavalry regiments, were collectively known as the “Buffalo Soldiers.” These units, consolidated from the original six that were authorized by Congress as part of the regular army in 1869 were originally manned by black Civil War veterans as well as freed slaves and free blacks and led by white officers These units would subsequently prove their worth many times over in the western ...

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Stephen L. Harris

a sergeant in the 369th U.S. Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division (provisional), was one of the first World War I recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross, America's highest military award, second only to the Medal of Honor. Captured German dispatches reported his heroic action, commenting on his “blood-thirstiness.” Little is known about Butler's life, however. He was from Salisbury, Maryland, where in the early 1900s he was known as “a slight, good-natured colored youth [who] until a few years ago was a jack of trades in a little Maryland town” (New York Times, 28 Apr. 1919). He moved to New York City and in 1916 enlisted in the old 15th New York Regiment, the state's first all-black National Guard regiment. In 1917 he went overseas with the 15th and after it was renumbered the 369th Infantry fought in all its battles on the Western Front where he ...

Article

Dalyce Newby

William Harvey Carney was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Carney and Ann, a former slave. Little is known of his early years. As a young boy he expressed an interest in the ministry, and at the age of fourteen, in 1854, he attended a covertly run school under the tutelage of a local minister. Later he moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he took odd jobs in the hope of saving sufficient funds to acquire his religious training.

In 1862, despite strong opposition, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the recruitment of African American troops. Parties attempting to suppress the bill argued that African Americans were incapable of being trained, that in battle they would cower from the enemy, and that arming them was tantamount to giving them the means for insurrection. In January 1863Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts was authorized to ...

Article

Dalyce Newby

soldier, was born in Norfolk, Virginia, the son of William Carney and Ann, a former slave. Little is known of his parents or of his early years. As a young boy he expressed an interest in the ministry and, at the age of fourteen, attended a covertly run school under the tutelage of a local minister. Later he moved to New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he took odd jobs in the hope of saving sufficient funds to acquire his religious training.

In 1862, despite strong opposition, Abraham Lincoln signed a bill authorizing the recruitment of African American troops. In January 1863Governor John Andrew of Massachusetts was permitted to raise a black regiment. Since the black community was relatively small in that state, recruiters turned to enlisting men from other states, using such prominent abolitionists as Frederick Douglass, William Lloyd Garrison, and Wendell Phillips as recruiting ...

Article

Glenn Allen Knoblock

a sailor during the War of 1812, fought in the Battle of Lake Erie with Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry. Little is known about Collins's personal life although it is possible he was born into slavery in Newport, Rhode Island, or the surrounding area. As of the 1790 Census there were still over nine hundred slaves in the state, which pursued a policy of gradual emancipation after 1784. Hannibal may have been a slave for less than a decade of his life, although this is not certain. The 1810 Federal Census does detail two white Collins families in Newport that either owned slaves or had black persons residing in their household; the entry for John Collins details just one person of color in his household, whereas that of Job Collins details seven Although not specifically identified as such these individuals may have been slaves However the same census ...

Article

Cudjoe  

D. A. Dunkley

otherwise known as Captain Cudjoe, was a leader of the Leeward Maroons, so named because they were situated in the wind-sheltered mountainous area known as the Cockpit Country in western Jamaica. The Windward Maroons were on the opposite side of the island, in eastern Jamaica. Cudjoe was born around 1690, though some researchers have dated his birth at 1680. He was born after the island became a colony of the English, who captured it from the Spanish in 1655. Cudjoe began life in the parish of St. James, the eastern part of which would form the parish of Trelawny in 1771. His name is sometimes written as “Cudjo” or “Kojo” and corresponds to the West African Ashanti name “Kodjó” and the Akan name “Kwadwó” or “Kwadjó.” The latter is the Akan word for Monday, with the ending dwó or djó associated with peace.

In their oral ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

World War II coastguardsman and medal winner, was born and raised in New York, possibly in the borough of Manhattan. Nothing is known of David's early life.

While it is uncertain whether Charles David Jr. joined the coast guard prior to the war, or after the attack on Pearl Harbor, his rating at the time of his death suggests that he voluntarily enlisted late in 1941 or early 1942. By late 1942 David had joined the crew of the coast guard cutter Comanche a 165 foot long vessel that carried a crew of about six officers and sixty enlisted men As an African American David was assigned the only rating that blacks were allowed to hold at the time that of steward s mate with promotion available to steward It was the job of the stewards and stewards mates to serve the ship s officers help to prepare ...

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Glenn Allen Knoblock

World War II coastguardsman and medal award winner, is a man about whom little personal information is known. A native of Attalla, Alabama, he entered the coast guard at Baltimore, Maryland, on 12 July 1941. Like all African Americans who joined the coast guard at this time DeYampert was assigned the rating of mess attendant (a designation changed during the early war years to steward's mate and steward), which meant that his job was to serve a ship's officers their meals and to take care of their quarters and other personal chores. Demeaning as such work might be, the steward's rating was at the time DeYampert's only available option. By the end of World War II things would change, but only to a small degree; of the just over five thousand African Americans who served in the coast guard during the war years, 63 percent served as stewards.

DeYampert ...

Article

Álvaro Pereira do Nascimento

and combatant in the Paraguayan War (1864–1870, also known as the War of Triple Alliance), who became a symbol of bravery. He was killed at the famous Battle of Riachuelo (1865) after dispatching two Paraguayan soldiers. Subsequently, naval officers and journalists made the simple sailor into a hero of the Brazilian empire. Since then, he has been revered as an example of dedication to the navy from the nineteenth century to the present.

Although some intellectuals have attempted to reconstruct Dias’s early years, they have largely failed. What is known is that Dias was born to Maria Pulcena Dias and Manoel Dias at some point in the late 1830s in the southern Brazilian province of Rio Grande do Sul. Dias’s service record provided only a summary description of him: pardo-escuro dark brown in color with black eyes and brown hair and of short stature His ...

Article

Michael F. Knight

soldier and Civil War Medal of Honor recipient, was born a slave in Howard County, Maryland. Little is known of his early life, but according to an 1867 slave compensation claim, Edward Rider Jr., of Baltimore, Maryland, bought Decatur Dorsey from the state of Maryland in June 1861. Following his purchase by Rider, Dorsey's status as slave or freedman is not clear from surviving records, but it seems likely he ran away from his master sometime between 1861 and 22 March 1864, when he enlisted as a private in Company B, Thirty-ninth United States Colored Troops (USCT). On his enlistment papers he describes himself as a free laborer. He stood six feet tall, with black eyes and hair, and was twenty-five years old at the time of enlistment.

Military life in the Thirty ninth USCT agreed with Dorsey A private in March he was promoted to ...