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Wallace Hettle

sailor, poet, Civil War soldier, and newspaper correspondent, first appears in the historical record in 1856 as a nineteen-year-old sailor on a whaling vessel out of New Bedford, Massachusetts. His birthplace is uncertain. His marriage certificate and seaman's papers say he was born in Troy, New York, yet no Gooding family appears in the census records for Troy. In Seneca, New York, a state census in 1850 records the presence of a James Goodin (with no final g who might have been Gooding s father and who probably worked as a rail or canal laborer in upstate New York Whatever Gooding s early background his education whether self directed or formal was exceptional The letters he published during the Civil War reveal his grounding in history and the classics If he did grow up in Troy Gooding received the benefits of membership in a black community ...

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Jennifer Larson

politician, poet, journalist, and activist, was born in rural Kalkaska, Illinois, to French Creole parents who had traveled up the Mississippi River to escape oppression in Louisiana. Only scattered details about Menard's early life in Illinois remain. He likely spent part of his youth working on area farms before attending an abolitionist preparatory school in Sparta, Illinois. He also attended Iberia College (later Ohio Central College) in his early twenties, though he did not complete a degree there, presumably because of financial setbacks.

In 1859 Menard spoke to a crowd gathered at the Illinois state fairgrounds to celebrate the abolition of slavery in the West Indies. The Illinois State Journal s laudatory coverage of the speech points to Menard s budding career in social activism A year later in response to growing racial discrimination in the Illinois legislature Menard published An Address to the Free ...

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Justin Nystrom

educator, scholar, editor, and political activist, was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, to Paul Trévigne Sr., a free, prosperous Afro-Creole carpenter and a woman known only as a Découdreau. Tévigne grew up in circumstances and enjoyed opportunities unknown to most African Americans living in the antebellum South. Few details of his childhood and education are known, but by around 1848 Trévigne, along with about a dozen other Afro-Creole educators, founded the Institution Catholique des Orphelins Indigents, a private institution for free black children in New Orleans, better known as the Couvent School. Here Trévigne taught foreign languages and developed a reputation among his peers as an accomplished teacher and scholar. By the time Union forces captured New Orleans in 1862 Trévigne had spent over a decade honing his craft as a political thinker and essayist He would put these skills to extensive use during ...