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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave and minister, was born in Maryland. The names of his parents are unknown. For the first twenty-five years of his life Cooper was known as “Notly.” He escaped to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, around 1800 and took the name John Smith. Employed at a lumberyard, he married a free black woman and had four children. Around this time Cooper's identity was betrayed by a friend. He was separated from his family and sent to Washington, D.C., to be sold at auction. He managed to escape and, with the help of a friend, return to Philadelphia, where he was reunited with his family. Still in danger of recapture, Cooper concealed himself at the home of a Quaker, where he stayed for a week while his master attempted to locate him.

Cooper fled to New Jersey where he was hired by a farmer His whereabouts were again discovered and Cooper escaped by ...

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James Phillip Jeter

newspaper publisher, was born in Baltimore, Maryland, the only son of Benjamin Murphy Jr., a whitewasher, and Susan Coby. John Henry Murphy was born a slave, and the Baltimore Afro-American, the newspaper that he guided to prominence during the first two decades of the twentieth century, described Murphy's educational attainment as “limited.” A short man, he walked with a limp, the result of a childhood horseback riding incident that left one leg longer than the other. Freedom for the Murphys came through the Maryland Emancipation Act of 1863.

Despite his limp Murphy answered Abraham Lincoln's call for troops and joined the Union army during the Civil War. He enlisted as a private in Company G of the mostly black Thirtieth Regiment of the Maryland Volunteers—an infantry unit—on 18 March 1864. During his twenty-one months in uniform he served under General Ulysses S. Grant ...

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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 ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

journalist and educator, was born in Brandenburg, Kentucky, a son of the slaves Henry and Frances Steward, who were freed before the Civil War. In about 1860, the Stewards moved to Louisville, where William attended a private school run by the Reverend Henry Adams, pastor of the First African Church, who became one of the strongest influences in young Steward's life.

As a young man, Steward served as a schoolteacher at Frankfort and Louisville, before working for railroad companies, and in 1876 he became the first African American letter carrier for the Post Office Department in Louisville An active member of the Fifth Street Baptist Church in Louisville he was longtime secretary of the General Association of Colored Baptists of Kentucky He also became active in local Republican politics becoming the first black man to serve as a city precinct judge of registration and elections ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

editor, federal official, Republican activist, and state legislator, was born in Henderson, North Carolina, the son of a slave woman of whom nothing is known but that she was owned by Capt. D. E. Young, a wealthy farmer. His father, who was never named publicly, was described as a prominent white resident of Henderson who financed his son's education. Although little is known of his early life before 1865, James Young attended the common schools of Henderson after the war, and in 1874 he entered the private Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In early 1877 Young left Shaw to accept a position as messenger in the office of Col. J. J. Young, the U.S. collector of internal revenue for the Raleigh district, and thus began a lengthy, intermittent career in federal service. In 1881 he married his first wife, Bettie Ellison ...