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Jonathan Brennan

John Caesar was born in the mid-eighteenth century and joined the Seminole nation in Florida, one of the many groups of African-Seminole Indians who fought to maintain an autonomous and independent nation. There are few written records of the early life histories of the many escaped Africans and American Indians in the maroon communities across the Americas, and Caesar's life was no exception. By the time his exploits were recorded in U.S. military records, Caesar was well acculturated to Seminole life and politics, and thus he had likely been a long-time member of the Seminole nation. His work as an interpreter between Native Seminoles and the U.S. military, however, reveals his early upbringing among English-speaking Americans. He grew up in a time of intense conflict between the Seminoles and European colonists, and had become a seasoned war veteran by the time of the Second Seminole War (1835–1842 ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

sailor and classics professor, political activist and first black president of Atlanta's Clark University, was born on St. Martin's in the Caribbean, the son of William Crogman, Sr. and Charlotte Chippendale. A small tropical island in the West Indies' northern Leewards, St. Martin's was occupied jointly by two colonial powers in William Crogman's childhood days, and its sugar plantations had kept slave labor alive. While the French in the North abolished the “peculiar institution” in 1848, the Dutch in the South followed suit only in 1863 Observing slavery intact may have alerted young Crogman to the necessity of serving his race while the reality of at least a partial abolition increased his confidence that even the most adverse circumstances could be overcome However before an ambitious intellectual career catapulted W H Crogman to the top of the African American Talented Tenth he would roam the world ...

Article

Michele Valerie Ronnick

professor of ancient Greek, philologist, ordained Methodist minister in the Colored Methodist Episcopal (CME) Church, and missionary to the Congo, was born in Hephzibah, Georgia, not far from Augusta, to Gabriel and Sarah Gilbert. His parents were field hands, and scholars are not certain whether John was born free or enslaved. Some sources give his birth date as 6 July 1864. As a child he was eager to learn, but he had to mix long hours of farm work with brief periods of school. At last overwhelmed by poverty he was forced to withdraw from the Baptist Seminary in Augusta. After a three-year hiatus from schooling he resumed his work when Dr. George Williams Walker, a Methodist pastor who had come to Augusta to teach in 1884, and Warren A. Candler pastor of Augusta s St John Church offered him assistance With the help ...

Article

Lisa E. Rivo

Edward Rose may have been born in Kentucky, near Louisville, most likely of African, Indian, and white ancestry. The date of his birth remains unknown, as do the names and occupations of his parents. It is possible that Rose was born a slave. The details of Rose's life have been gleaned from the narratives and records of others, including Washington Irving who claimed that after leaving home as a teenager Rose became a kind of roving bandit one of the gangs of pirates who infested the islands of the Mississippi plundering boats as they went up and down the river waylaying travelers as they returned by land from New Orleans plundering them of their money and effects and often perpetuating the most atrocious murders It appears that Rose left New Orleans after the police broke up his gang eventually settling in St Louis where in the spring of ...

Article

Donna Tyler Hollie

educator, author, editor, and first professional African American classical scholar, was born in Macon, Georgia, the only survivor of three children of Jeremiah Scarborough, a railroad employee, and Frances Gwynn, a slave. His enslaved mother was permitted by her owner, Colonel William de Graffenreid, to live with her emancipated husband. Jeremiah Scarborough was given funds to migrate to the North by his emancipator, who left $3,000 in trust for him should he decide to move to the North. Not wanting to leave his enslaved wife and son, he chose to remain in Macon. According to the Bibb County, Georgia, census of 1870, he had accumulated $3,500 in real property and $300 in personal property.

The Scarboroughs were literate and encouraged their son s academic development They provided a variety of learning experiences for him they apprenticed him to a shoemaker and ...

Article

Mathias Hanses

educator and first black university classicist in the state of Virginia, was born in Richmond, Virginia, apparently to a single mother. In April 1865, when Williams was three years old, Richmond fell to Union troops under Ulysses S. Grant, mere days before the South's ultimate surrender at Appomattox. Retreating Confederates set fire to their capital, but the two-day blaze presented Richmond's black population with some unprecedented prospects. Williams was among the first generation of Southern blacks to gain legal access to public schools, and his mother put enough trust in his talent to enroll him early on. Upon his graduation from Richmond Normal School in 1877, Williams was awarded a gold medal for his superior scholarship and conduct, as well as a silver medal for excellence in orthography. These early successes prefigured the steep rise to prominence of a life cut short in its prime.

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