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Susan Bragg

tailor, store owner, and newspaper editor, was born in Pennsylvania, to parents whose names and occupations are now unknown. Little is known about Anderson's early life except that he was a member of the Masonic Fraternity, ultimately gaining appointment as Deputy Grand Master of the Grand Lodge for the State of Pennsylvania. Anderson migrated west in the waning days of the California gold rush and in 1854 set up a tailor shop and clothing store in San Francisco. There he plunged into the city's small but energetic black community, a community linked by both the mining economy and by shared protest against injustices in the new state of California.

Anderson soon became a regular contributor to political discussions at the recently organized Atheneum Institute, a reading room and cultural center for black Californians. In January 1855 he and other prominent African Americans joined together to call ...

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Bertis English

political activist and journalist, was a slave who belonged to an influential antebellum lawyer from South Alabama. Little else is known about his life prior to the Civil War; however, it is known that during the early years of the Civil War, Berry was sent to toil in a hazardous saltworks that the Confederacy operated in Clarke County. Berry survived three years of intense labor there, and he emerged from the ordeal more experienced, as well as more militant, than many of the other African Americans he knew. After moving to the Gulf Coast city of Mobile, Berry became a member of the vanguard of black leaders who would help the state's black masses achieve legal and psychological freedom in the aftermath of the Civil War.

The Union victory and the federal effort to alter the legal status of black people deepened white Alabamians resistance to change State lawmakers were ...

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Michael J. Ristich

journalist, musician, and politician, was born James Henri Burch in New Haven, Connecticut, to Charles Burch, a wealthy black minister, and his wife. Burch was the sole black student at Oswego Academy in New York, where he was trained in journalism and music. He lived in Buffalo, New York, before the Civil War, where he became involved in the antislavery movement and taught music. Burch became an active member in the Garnet League, which championed the rights of former slaves. Upon moving to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Burch quickly worked his way in the political circles of Louisiana, serving in the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Louisiana Senate.

At age thirty two with his father s encouragement Burch left the North for Louisiana to aid and educate free blacks during Reconstruction Soon thereafter Burch began directing the local school for blacks and began his rise through the Louisiana state ...

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Michael J. Ristich

physician, editor, abolitionist, activist, and Reconstruction politician, was a native of Virginia who migrated to New Orleans, determined to fight the disenfranchisement of blacks. Nothing is known of Cromwell's upbringing and childhood except that he was born free. Educated in Wisconsin, Cromwell also spent time in the West Indies before settling in New Orleans in 1864. Cromwell was an outspoken proponent of black rights, known for employing controversial rhetoric, and was not averse to the idea of a race war between blacks and whites during Reconstruction.

In 1863, the militant Cromwell wrote to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, seeking to raise black troops in the North. Cromwell moved to New Orleans in January of 1864 and quickly entered the political circles of Louisiana participating in a number of pivotal events that helped shape the politics and civil rights of Reconstruction Louisiana Although never serving in ...

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Mary L. Young

educator, writer, and publisher, was born William Henry Harrison Tecumseh Zachary Taylor Holtzclaw in Roanoke, Alabama, the oldest of twelve children born to Jerry Holtzclaw, a farmer, and Addie Holtzclaw, a food preparer. Despite their poverty the Holtzclaw family had a strong craving for education. Although Holtzclaw's father had little education, he taught him the basic principles of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Knowledge of arithmetic enabled Holtzclaw to calculate his daily pay for picking cotton. Before he was old enough to attend school himself, Holtzclaw often followed his older sister to school, where he so impressed the teacher that he was invited to become a kind of honorary student. Much later, at his father's urging, Holtzclaw applied for admission to Tuskegee Institute and was accepted in 1889.

There he established a close relationship with Booker T. Washington the Institute s famed director and ...

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Sholomo B. Levy

bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and grand master of the Prince Hall Masonic Lodge, was born in Kennet Township, Pennsylvania, the son of Levi Hood and Harriet Walker. James and his eleven siblings lived so close to the Delaware border, where most blacks were still enslaved, that he could say he “slept in Pennsylvania and drank water from a Delaware spring” (Martin, 23–24). Levi Hood was a minister of the Union Church of Africans in Delaware and used his small farm in Pennsylvania as a stop on the Underground Railroad for escaping slaves. Harriet Walker had been a member of Richard Allen's Bethel Church in Philadelphia, which in 1816 became the mother congregation of the African Methodist Episcopal AME Church Though not an ordained minister the public role that she played in her husband s church as an exhorter was unique ...

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Baptist minister, educator, and independent political leader, was born into slavery in North Carolina. Pattillo's father was a white farmer, his mother a black slave. During Reconstruction Pattillo drove wagons and worked in a sawmill factory to support his mother in Granville County, North Carolina. At the age of seventeen Pattillo joined the General Association of the Colored Baptists of North Carolina to expand the black-led church, which only after Emancipation had become a visible institution in the South. In 1870 he met and then married Mary Ida Hart, who came from an antebellum free African American family in an adjacent county. The couple, both of whose names appear on titles for land they purchased, went on to rear twelve children.

Having taught himself how to read and write, Pattillo received a permit to preach in 1874 and quickly gained a reputation as a convention ...

Article

Steven J. Niven

educator, journalist, and feminist, was born Sarah E. C. Dudley in New Bern, North Carolina, one of the nine children of Edward Dudley, a politician, and Caroline Dudley, a teacher, whose maiden name is unknown. Both of Sarah's parents had been born in slavery, but both had learned to read and write and were determined that their daughter should learn to do so at the earliest opportunity. Alongside her mother-in-law—for whom Sarah had been named—Caroline Dudley began educating Sarah in her home, teaching the child how to read and write by the time she was six. As a Republican representative in the North Carolina state legislature from 1870 to 1874 Edward Dudley worked to make such opportunities available to all black children as well as his own daughter By the time Sarah was of school age the legislature had established a new graded public ...

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Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback was the free-born son of a wealthy white planter, William Pinchback, and his longtime mistress, an emancipated slave named Eliza Steward. William Pinchback's family successfully challenged his will after his death in 1848, leaving Eliza and their five children destitute. Fearing that Pinchback's relatives would attempt to enslave them, Eliza moved the family to Cincinnati, where Pinchback attended Gilmore's High School.

In 1862, after working as a steward on a Mississippi riverboat, Pinchback joined the Union Army in New Orleans He recruited and commanded a company of the Corps d Afrique a Louisiana cavalry unit Initially all of the Corps d Afrique s officers were black The black officers learned however that their commissions were subject to qualification examinations All of the black officers except Pinchback were replaced by white officers When authorities repeatedly ignored Pinchback s demands for equal treatment ...

Article

Daniel W. Hamilton

Reconstruction politician, civil rights leader, and murder victim, was born free in Kentucky, the child of parents of mixed ethnicity whose names are unknown. When he was a child Randolph's family moved to Ohio, where he was educated in local schools. In 1854 he entered Oberlin College's preparatory department, before attending the college from 1857 to 1862. At Oberlin Randolph received instruction both in the liberal arts and at the college's theological seminary. Soon after graduation he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister. During the Civil War Randolph served as a chaplain in the Twenty-sixth Colored Infantry, which was dispatched to Hilton Head, South Carolina, in 1864.

After the war ended in 1865 Randolph applied for a position with the Freedmen s Bureau He was not initially given an appointment but was instead sent to South Carolina by the American Missionary Association a ...

Article

Julia Sun-Joo Lee

slave, minister, and author, was born at Brandon Plantation in Prince George County, Virginia, one of eighty-one slaves owned by Carter H. Edloe. The names of his parents are unknown. Randolph's father was a black slave-driver owned by George Harrison, whose plantation was adjacent to Edloe's. His mother was a slave and a devout Christian.

Randolph's father died when he was ten years old, leaving his mother with five children. Randolph's oldest brother, Benjamin, unsuccessfully tried to run away and was eventually sold to a Negro-trader, who sent him south to work on the cotton and sugar plantations. Randolph never saw him again. Randolph was a sickly child who, at the age of ten or eleven, felt he was called by God to preach to other slaves. He taught himself to read the Bible and, eventually, how to write. Edloe died in 1844 ...

Article

Connie Meale

physician, newspaper proprietor, and Republican Party activist, was born in St. James Parish, Louisiana, the son of Louis Roudanez, a wealthy French merchant, and Aimée Potens, a free woman of color. Roudanez was raised in New Orleans as a member of the city's free black elite, but in 1844 he left to pursue a professional education in France. In 1853 the faculty of medicine at the University of Paris awarded him a degree in medicine. He graduated with a second medical degree from Dartmouth College in 1857, and soon after he returned to New Orleans to open his own office. In the same year he married Louisa Celie Seulay; their union produced eight children.

Roudanez continued to build his medical practice during the Civil War and Reconstruction but like other free men of color in New Orleans upon federal occupation of south Louisiana ...

Article

Sholomo B. Levy

minister and author, was born a slave in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the son of Fanny and Nathan Snowden, slaves belonging to Nicolas Harden and Ely Dorsey, respectively. John's maternal grandmother, Sarah Minty Barrikee, was stolen from a coastal African village in Guinea in 1767 or 1768. There she had a husband and child whom she never saw again. The Hardens were Catholic and introduced her to Christianity through their Catholic faith. Sarah regaled her children and grandchildren with stories about Africa and the traditions of her people until her death in 1823 or 1824. Thomas Collier a white Englishman was John s maternal grandfather Family lore has it that only the anti miscegenation laws of the period prevented them from marrying Little is known of John s paternal lineage except that his paternal grandfather was a slave named John Snowden and ...