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Robert C. Hayden

physician, was born in New York City, the son of George DeGrasse, a prosperous landowner, and Maria Van Surly. After obtaining his early education in both public and private schools in New York City, he entered Oneida Institute in Whitesboro (near Utica), New York in 1840. Oneida was one of the first colleges to admit African Americans, nurturing a strong antislavery stance. In addition to welcoming black students to its campus, the institute invited abolitionists as lecturers and provided both a manual arts and an academic program.

In 1843 DeGrasse attended Aubuk College in Paris, France. Returning to New York City in 1845, he started medical training through an apprenticeship with Dr. Samuel R. Childs. After two years of clinical work and study under Childs, DeGrasse was admitted into the medical studies program at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, in 1847 Finishing his ...

Article

Scott A. Miltenberger

James Forten was born into a free black family in Philadelphia. When he was eight he began working alongside his father at a sail loft owned by Robert Bridges. While working with his father, Forten attended the Quaker abolitionist Anthony Benezet's school for free blacks. With the death of his father, Forten, at age ten, ended his formal schooling and worked in a grocery store to support his mother.

When the Revolutionary War broke out, Forten convinced his mother to let him fight. He joined the crew of the American privateer vessel Royal Louis as a powder boy Captured by the British he languished on a prison ship for several months before being released Following the war he spent a year in England and upon returning to Philadelphia worked as a sailmaker s apprentice for Bridges s firm There he invented and perfected gear that made ...

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Leslie Alexander

as a free man. There is some dispute about the exact year of his birth. Census data indicates he was born in 1800, while his death certificate states that he was born in 1791. However, the timeline of his activism supports the evidence that Jennings was born in 1791, since it appears he had reached adulthood by 1810. Nothing is known about his parents or his early life, but by 1820 he had married an emancipated woman named Elizabeth (maiden name unknown, 1798–1873) and was making his living as a tailor. On 3 March 1821 Jennings became the first black man in the United States to hold a patent after he created an innovative dry cleaning process called dry scouring which earned him a substantial income His wife Elizabeth also was a committed abolitionist who played a central role in the formation of the ...

Article

Keay Davidson

physician, was born in Hagerstown, Maryland, the son of John C. Peck and Sally or Sarah (maiden name unknown), free blacks who lived in Carlisle, Pennsylvania. John Peck, who worked as a preacher, wig maker, and barber, campaigned against slavery and worked with the Underground Railroad. Peck's mother was a member of the Carlisle Methodist Church. He had at least one sibling, Mary, born in 1837. That same year the family moved to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. From 1841 to 1844 Peck attended the Collegiate Institute at Oberlin, Ohio.

During the 1840s medicine was a virtually all-white profession. The first African American to receive a formal medical degree, James McCune Smith, had obtained his MD in 1837 from the University of Glasgow in Scotland. Peck was the first African American to receive a medical degree at a recognized American medical school.

In 1843 Rush Medical College in ...

Article

Aaron Myers

The son of national deputy Antônio Pereira Rebouças, André Rebouças was born in Cachoeira, Bahia. After studying math and engineering at Rio De Janeiro's military school, he traveled and studied in Europe. Upon returning to Brazil, he became an adviser and strategist during the Paraguayan War (1864–1870). Rebouças then supervised several engineering projects, including the construction of railroads and docks in Rio de Janeiro. Rebouças's engineering achievements won him the respect of the royal family. He later became a professor of botany and math at the city's Polytechnic School, where he established an abolitionist society in 1883.

Rebouças conducted most of his abolitionist work behind the scenes, rarely addressing audiences. He organized abolitionist meetings and associations, and inspired readers with his antislavery literature and propaganda. Rebouças cofounded the Sociedade brasileira contra a escravidão (Brazilian Antislavery Society) in Rio de Janeiro in 1880 ...

Article

Cecily Jones

African‐Americanabolitionist and women's rights campaigner born in Salem, Massachusetts, to John and Nancy Lenox Remond, free middle‐class Blacks. Despite her family's wealth, racial discrimination within the northern segregated school system meant that she received a limited education and she was primarily self‐educated. Raised in a family that included many abolitionists, Remond learned from childhood of the horrors of slavery and witnessed many incidents involving the Underground Railroad. Her parents played host to many of the movement's leaders, including William Lloyd Garrison and Wendell Phillips, and to more than one fugitive slave.

At the age of 16 Remond began to join her brother Charles Lenox Remond, the leading abolitionist of his day, on anti‐slavery lecture circuits across northern states. A vociferous opponent of both slavery and of the racial segregation that existed in the ‘free’ North, in 1853 she successfully won a case for damages for ...

Article

The daughter of a free black immigrant and granddaughter of a black veteran of the American Revolution, Sarah Parker Remond was born into a family that would not tolerate the injustices of slavery and inequality. When Salem's high school would not admit Sarah, the family moved to Newport, Rhode Island, until her graduation. Dedicated to education and political activism for both sexes, her mother, Nancy Remond, was a founder of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society.

In July of 1842, at the age of sixteen, Sarah joined her brother Charles Lenox Remond on the antislavery lecture circuit. She not only spoke out against slavery, but also challenged segregation in churches, theaters, and other public places. In 1856 she began touring the Midwest as a lecturer with the American Anti-Slavery Society and won acclaim as a persuasive speaker Also concerned with the rights of women Remond was a ...

Article

Karen Jean Hunt

abolitionist, physician, and feminist, was born in Salem, Massachusetts, the daughter of John Remond and Nancy Lenox. Her father, a native of Curaçao, immigrated to the United States at age ten and became a successful merchant. Her mother was the daughter of African American Revolutionary War veteran Cornelius Lenox. Remond grew up in an antislavery household. Her father became a life member of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society in 1835, and her mother was founding member of the Salem Female Anti-Slavery Society, which began as a black female organization in 1832. Sarah's brother, Charles Lenox Remond, was a well-known antislavery lecturer in the United States and Great Britain.

Sarah Parker Remond attended local public schools in Salem until black students were forced out by committee vote in 1835 Determined to educate their children in a less racist environment the Remond family moved ...

Article

Alonford James Robinson

John Sweat Rock, the son of free blacks, was born in Salem, New Jersey. He attended common schools in his hometown until the age of nineteen, when he was given the opportunity to study medicine with two white physicians in the area. After being trained by a white dentist, Rock earned his medical degree in 1852 from the American Medical College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

By 1855 Rock relocated to Massachusetts, where he became one of the first African American members of the Massachusetts Medical Society. While in Boston, Rock supported the abolitionist movement, providing medical treatment to Fugitive Slaves. He was a participant in the 1855 abolitionist campaign to desegregate the city's public schools and spoke at the 1858 Faneuil Hall commemoration of Crispus Attucks Day.

Rock later earned a law degree and was admitted to the Massachusetts Bar on September 14, 1861 As an active ...

Article

John Stauffer

abolitionist and physician, was born in New York City, the son of slaves. All that is known of his parents is that his mother was, in his words, “a self-emancipated bond-woman.” His own liberty came on 4 July 1827, when the Emancipation Act of the state of New York officially freed its remaining slaves. Smith was fourteen at the time, a student at the Charles C. Andrews African Free School No. 2, and he described that day as a “real full-souled, full-voiced shouting for joy” that brought him from “the gloom of midnight” into “the joyful light of day.” He graduated with honors from the African Free School but was denied admission to Columbia College and Geneva, New York, medical schools because of his race. With assistance from black minister Peter Williams Jr., he entered the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1832 and earned his BA ...

Article

John Stauffer

James McCune Smith was born in New York City as the son of slaves; all that is known of his parents is that his mother was, in his words, “a self-emancipated bond-woman.” His own liberty came on 4 July 1827, when the Emancipation Act of New York officially freed the state's remaining slaves. Smith was fourteen at the time and a student at the Charles C. Andrews African Free School no. 2, and he described that day as a “real full-souled, full-voiced shouting for joy” that brought him from “the gloom of midnight” into “the joyful light of day.” He graduated with honors from the African Free School but was denied admission to Columbia College and Geneva, New York, medical schools because of his race. With assistance from the black minister Peter Williams Jr. he entered the University of Glasgow, Scotland, in 1832 at the age of nineteen ...

Article

Gary L. Frost

Lewis Temple was born in Richmond, Virginia. Nothing is known about his parents or about any formal education he might have had. According to one biographer, he was unable to sign his name. Sometime during the 1820s, Temple migrated to the whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where he married Mary Clark, a native of Maryland, in 1829. Their first child, Lewis Jr., was born in 1830, followed by a daughter, Nancy, in 1832. Several years later, a third child, Mary, was born, but she died at the age of six.

What little is known about Temple suggests that he was a resourceful and principled individual Whether he escaped Virginia as a slave or left as a freeman is uncertain but in any case he had a better life in Massachusetts than the one he would have led in Richmond apparently finding work in New ...

Article

Gary L. Frost

blacksmith, abolitionist, and inventor, was born in Richmond, Virginia. Of his parents and formal education, nothing is known; according to one biographer, he was unable to sign his name. Sometime during the 1820s Temple migrated to the whaling town of New Bedford, Massachusetts, where in 1829 he married Mary Clark, a native of Maryland. In 1830 their first child, Lewis Jr., was born, followed by a daughter, Nancy, in 1832. Sometime later, a third child, Mary, was born; she died at age six.

What little is known about Temple suggests a resourceful and principled individual Whether he escaped Virginia as a slave or left as a freedman is uncertain but in any case he had a better life in Massachusetts than the one he would have led in Richmond apparently finding work in New Bedford soon after his arrival Town records indicate that ...

Article

Deborah H. Barnes

Originally called Araminta, Harriet Ross Tubman was born on the Brodas plantation, Dorchester County, Maryland. She was disabled by narcoleptic seizures throughout her life after sustaining a severe injury to her head during her youth. Despite this frailty, Tubman's considerable strength and endurance were legendary. As a field slave, she mastered the secrets of woodcraft and navigation–skills that ensured her success as a conductor for the Underground Railroad. After her escape in 1849, Tubman returned to the South over fifteen times to rescue more than two hundred slaves. She successfully freed all of her family and never lost a single passenger during any of her escapes. More than forty thousand dollars was offered for her capture.

Tubman was a pivotal character in the war against slavery, first with the Underground Railroad, later with the Union army. She joined forces with the leading abolitionists of the day: William Still ...