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Geoffrey Roper

Egyptian poet, diplomat, military commander, and politician, was born in Cairo on 6 October 1839. His family claimed descent from a medieval Mamluk royal line, but his surname (nisba) refers to the district of Ityay al-Barud in Lower Egypt, of which his ancestors had once been tax farmers (multazims). His father, an artillery officer under Muhammad Ali, died in Sudan when al-Barudi was only seven years old. After primary education, al-Barudi entered the Military Training School in Cairo, in 1851, and graduated from it in 1855 with the rank of bash-jawish (sergeant-major). During the reign of the viceroy Saʿid (r. 1854–1863), he served in Istanbul as a diplomat and during this time acquired a lifelong enthusiasm for literature.

In 1863 the new viceroy, Ismaʿil (r. 1863–1879 visited Istanbul and recruited al Barudi as commander of his Viceregal Guard in Cairo with the ...

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Adam W. Green

was the second of three children born to two freed slaves, Eben Tobias, a farmer, and Susan Gregory, a mixed-race Pequot Indian, in Derby, Connecticut. An education proponent and political activist, Bassett became America's first black diplomat when he served as Resident Minister in Haiti for eight years, helping pave the way for those seeking opportunities in international diplomacy and public service.

Along with his mixed race birth and royal lineage that his family claimed from Africa Bassett whose surname came from a generous white family close to his grandfather s former owners also had elected office in his blood His grandfather Tobiah who won his freedom after fighting in the American Revolution had been elected a Black Governor as had Bassett s father Eben The largely nominal honorific was bestowed upon respected men in various locales via Election Days sometimes by a voice vote these Black Governors ...

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Félix Ojeda Reyes

was born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico, on 8 April 1827 to Felipe Betances Ponce, of Dominican origin, and María del Carmen Alacán, of Puerto Rican origin, the well-off owners of a sugar plantation called Hacienda Carmen. On 21 April he was baptized and registered by church officials in the Book of Mulattoes. Shortly after his mother’s death on 10 February 1837, Betances’s father sent him to Grisolles, near Toulouse, in the southwest of France. Under the care of the Prévost-Cavallieri family, Betances, always an excellent student, studied at the Collége Royal in Toulouse. In 1848 the year of the revolutions that toppled absolutist supremacy in Europe he entered the College of Medicine at the University of Paris At that historic moment Betances commenced a lifetime of political engagement and activity by participating in the antimonarchist revolution of 24 February which established the Second French Republic Although his ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

longtime U.S.consular officer in Madagascar and France, who declined appointment as U.S. Minister to Liberia, was born in Brunswick, Georgia. He was the son of Margaret Carter and an unnamed father. Around 1892, his mother married J. C. Bryan, a minister who helped raise James, his older brother William Richard Carter and younger sister Maggie, and half-sisters Vernetta and Edna. Four other siblings died in infancy.

James G. Carter was initially educated in the grammar, normal, and industrial schools of Brunswick. With the help of his brother William, a schoolteacher and graduate of Tuskegee Institute, he was then able to enter Tuskegee Institute in the mid-1890s. After graduating from Tuskegee in 1897, Carter entered the tailoring trade; he also served as a letter carrier, notary public, and editor-manager of a small newspaper in Brunswick until 1906 In August of that year ...

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John Craig Hammond

“I do not set up for being perfect: far from it!” wrote the Kentucky antislavery agitator Cassius Marcellus Clay to the abolitionist John Fee in 1855. “I wish I were,” he continued, but “a good balance sheet of good against evil is all I aspire to!” Judged by his own standards as well as by those of black and white antislavery advocates, Cassius Clay succeeded in fulfilling his ambition, through his battles against the evil of slavery. A former slaveholder and one of the few antislavery leaders to remain in the South after 1830, Clay became something of a hero to northern abolitionists, who appreciated his willingness to challenge slaveholders on their own turf.

Cassius Clay was born in Kentucky s Bluegrass region to the planter Green Clay and his wife Sally in Clermont Clay lived to the age of ninety three and spent much of his life ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born near Bennettsville, South Carolina, to parents whose names are not recorded, and who may have been slaves or freed slaves. At an early age, he moved with his parents to St. Joseph, Missouri, where he was educated in that city's public schools.

A gifted student, Crossland later graduated from Shaw University in Raleigh, North Carolina, before completing his medical studies at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee. He practiced medicine and surgery for twelve years in both Missouri and Kingstree, South Carolina, where he also served for a brief period as assistant postmaster. He also served as city physician for several years in St. Joseph.

Crossland also became active in Republican Party politics in Missouri, and by 1901 had become a member at large of that state s Republican central committee He was also elected president of the Negro Republican State League As ...

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Donna M. Wells

photographer, journalist, and diplomat, was born on the campus of Atlanta University (later Clark Atlanta University), in Atlanta, Georgia. He attended Oglethorpe Laboratory Elementary School, a practice school on the campus. Davis's professional career began in high school and continued until his retirement in 1985. He was first introduced to photography by William (Bill) Brown, an instructor at the Atlanta University Laboratory High School where Davis was a student. Throughout high school and later as a student at Morehouse, Davis supported himself through photography assignments from local newspapers and public relations firms.

Davis's college education was suspended in 1944 when he joined the armed forces during World War II and fought with the Ninety-second Infantry Division in Italy. After his tour, Griffith returned to Atlanta in 1946 and continued his college studies. He befriended writer and professor Langston Hughes and civil rights activist and ...

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Steven Leikin

diplomat, preacher, and author, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, the son of Sallie Montgomery. Nothing is known of his biological father. His mother, however, was an African American, and Dennis was of mixed race parentage. In 1897 he was adopted by Green Dennis, a contractor, and Cornelia Walker. During his youth Dennis was known as the “mulatto child evangelist,” and he preached to church congregations in the African American community of Atlanta before he was five years old. By the age of fifteen he had toured churches throughout the United States and England and addressed hundreds of thousands of people.

Despite his success as an evangelist Dennis had ambitions to move beyond this evangelical milieu. In 1913, unschooled but unquestionably bright, he applied to Phillips Exeter Academy and gained admission. He graduated within two years and in 1915 entered Harvard.

Dennis s decisions to ...

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Benjamin Letzler

law professor, dean, and diplomat, was born in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Reverend Clarence Clyde Ferguson Sr. and Georgeva Ferguson. After a childhood in Baltimore he served in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1946, earning a Bronze Star, before attending Ohio State University on a football scholarship. He soon left the football squad to focus on his academic work, completing his AB cum laude in two and a half years. Ferguson earned his LLB cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1951, one of three black members of the class.

After a year as a teaching fellow at Harvard Law School and a year in private practice in New York, Ferguson served as assistant general counsel to the Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Harness Racing. Ferguson married the artist and sculptor Dolores Zimmerman in 1954 After her death in the late ...

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David M. Carletta

Anténor Joseph Firmin was born in Cap-Haïtien in northern Haiti. He was a gifted child who attended Haiti's premier preparatory schools. After studying law, Firmin became the inspector of schools in Cap-Haïtien. He married Rosa Salnave, daughter of the former president Sylvain Salnave, in 1881. Two years later the government of Haiti sent Firmin to France as a diplomat. He was admitted to the Anthropological Society of Paris and became perhaps the first scholar of African descent to write a systematic work of anthropology.

In 1885 he published The Equality of the Human Races, a response to Count Arthur de Gobineau's four-volume set The Inequality of Human Races and to the racialist anthropology of the nineteenth century. Published between 1853 and 1855 de Gobineau s famous work was the first to assert the racial superiority of Aryan peoples while simultaneously reinforcing ideas of black inferiority Firmin ...

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Michael C. Miller

Bancroft Gherardi was born in Jackson, Louisiana, to Donato Gherardi, a Greek instructor, and Jane Bancroft. His uncle, the noted historian George Bancroft, served as secretary of the navy and secured an appointment for Bancroft to the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. The young man received his first naval appointment on 29 June 1846, launching a career that lasted nearly fifty years.

Gherardi served aboard the USS Ohio during the Mexican-American War and was commissioned a lieutenant in 1855. During the Civil War he was promoted to lieutenant commander (1862) and served in the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron. In 1864 he transferred to the Western Gulf Blockading Squadron and, as commander of the Port Royal, fought with distinction at the battle of Mobile Bay on 5 August 1864 After the war he was promoted to commander and served in a variety ...

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Johnie D. Smith

Grimké, Archibald Henry (17 August 1849–25 February 1930), lawyer, diplomat, and protest leader, was born a slave on “Caneacres” plantation near Charleston, South Carolina, the son of Henry Grimké, a lawyer and planter, and Nancy Weston, the family’s slave nurse. His parents probably never married, but his mother assumed the Grimké name. Grimké had an extremely difficult early life. After years of virtual freedom—he had attended Charleston schools for free African Americans though technically a slave—he and his brother Francis James Grimké were returned to slavery in 1860 to serve his half-brother, E. Montague Grimké, as house servants. Archibald escaped in 1863 (Francis was sold to a Confederate officer) and spent the last two years of the Civil War in hiding, surfacing only after the fall of Charleston.

After the war Grimké briefly attended the Freedmen s Bureau s newly created Morris Street School before enrolling at ...

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Allison Blakely

foreign service officer, was born near McMinnville, Tennessee, to parents whose names are unknown. His mother was illiterate and poor. His father was a white southerner who gave the family only his name. Hunt never saw him. Hunt's mother died when he was twenty-one. They were so poor that Hunt did not wear shoes for the first several years of his life. Later in his life Hunt observed that he had begun with a “three and two count” against him from the umpire of fate. Poverty forced Hunt to drop out of elementary school in Nashville just months after starting. He worked as a janitor, bellhop, and Pullman porter and developed an interest in the wider world.

Contacts Hunt made through work helped him acquire formal education Employment as a traveling companion for a wealthy invalid at the end of the 1880s carried him through many countries in East ...

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Jeremy Rich

historian and religious leader, was born on 24 June 1846. His father, Henry, was a member of the Saro community, a large group of people who had been liberated from slave ships by the British Navy and then resettled in the British coastal colony of Sierra Leone. Like many other Saro individuals, Johnson’s father originally came from a Yoruba-speaking community in southwest Nigeria. Henry Johnson came from a royal pedigree, as he was the grandson of Alaafin Abiodun, king of the Oyo Empire in the late eighteenth century. Johnson married a Saro woman named Sarah, and their son Samuel was born in the Hastings village near Freetown. Samuel was the third of four children.

By the 1850s, many Saro chose to return to their home regions, and the Johnson family followed this trend by moving to back to Yorubaland in December 1857 There Henry Johnson became an assistant ...

Article

Elizabeth R. Schroeder

journalist, businessman, military leader, and diplomat, was born in Albany, Georgia, to Richard and Eliza (Brown) Jones. Richard Lee Jones, also known as Dick Jones, moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, with his family at fifteen saying

In the South, I was not the submissive kind, but I learned respect for authority. Many Negroes have not learned that yet. They come up here and try to run away with the town. I had no trouble in the South. I avoided trouble. If you see a nail, why sit on it? Much trouble could be avoided by Negroes in the South if they tried to. Get me straight! I am not for conditions down there. They are bad, but could be bettered.”

(Wilson, “Interview with Dick Jones, Manager of South Center,” Negro in Illinois Papers)

He attended the University of Cincinnati from 1912 to 1915 and later abandoned his law ...

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Willie Henderson

also known as Khama the Great and Khama the Good, kgosi (king), warrior, lawmaker, diplomat, and consolidator of BaNgwato power in northeastern Botswana, was born Khama Boikanyo Sekgoma in Mashu around 1835. His father was Sekgoma I, who had been nominated as chief by his father Kgari; Khama was born during Sekoma’s second tenure as chief. Khama’s early conversion to Christianity in 1859 marked his life in significant ways. He set himself against paganism, polygamy, and other traditional practices, including circumcision, and vehemently opposed consumption of alcohol. In the 1860s Khama became the leader of pro-missionary groups within the BaNgwato. In 1862 he married a young convert to Christianity, Elizabeta Gobitsamang, the daughter of a warrior, Tshukudu, who had conspired to overthrow Sekgoma I. In accordance with Tswana custom, she became known as Mma-Besi, named for her firstborn child.

The invasion of Ndebele 1863 sent by Mizilikazi Khumalo under ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

physician and diplomat, was born in Monticello, Florida, the son of James and Emily Livingston. After the Civil War, his family moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where Livingston and his older sisters, Julia and Minerva, attended public schools. He became a schoolteacher in Jacksonville while attending that city's Cookman Institute, later merged into Bethune-Cookman University in Orlando. After his graduation from Cookman in 1882, he was recommended by Florida Republican leaders for appointment to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Livingston's quest was detailed by many U.S. newspapers that year, including a memorable sketch in the New York Sun (3 Sept. 1882) describing the youth as “conceded to have a bright, intelligent face and a fine physique. If he should prove qualified in his studies, his fellow cadets must not destroy him.” Livingston's unexpected nomination surprised the Sun which recalled the recent expulsion ...

Article

Elizabeth Heath

A son of missionary parents, Frederick John Dealtry Lugard was born in Fort St. George, Madras, India. He was educated in England and trained briefly at the Royal Military College, which he left at the age of twenty-one to join the British army. While in the army, Lugard was posted to India and also served in Afghanistan, Sudan, and Burma (present-day Myanmar). In the late 1880s, however, Lugard left the army to fight slavery in East and Central Africa. In 1888 Lugard led his first expedition in Nyasaland (present-day Malawi) and was seriously injured in an attack on Arab slave traders. A year after he established the territorial claims of British settlers, in the hire of the British East African Company, Lugard explored the Kenyan interior. In 1890 he led an expedition to the Buganda kingdom in present day Uganda Lugard negotiated an end to the civil war in ...

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Benjamin R. Justesen

clergyman and diplomat, was born in Belize, British Honduras, a son of Emmanuel and Ann F. (Bending) Lyon, both of Jamaican descent. He moved with his parents in the 1870s to the United States, where he was educated privately in New Orleans, Louisiana, then at the Gilbert Industrial School in La Teche, Louisiana.

Lyon attended Straight University (now Dillard University) and New Orleans University, where he received a bachelor's degree in 1888, and later a master's degree. He later took courses at Union Theological Seminary of New York, and in the 1890s, received a doctorate in Divinity from Wiley University (now Wiley College) in Marshall, Texas. While still an undergraduate, he was ordained as a Methodist Episcopal minister, serving a series of Louisiana pastorates: La Teche in 1883, followed by three New Orleans churches (Mallalieu, Thompson, and Simpson). In 1894 he was appointed conference Sunday ...

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Alan West

José Martí is one of the major figures of nineteenth-century Latin America. He is regarded by Cubans across the political spectrum as the father of Cuba's independence. His collected works span some twenty-eight volumes and include exquisite poetry, insightful essays on Whitman and Emerson, impassioned political analysis, and a remarkable book of children's literature, La edad de oro (1889).

While still an adolescent, Martí embraced the cause of Cuban independence, founding the newspaper La Patria Libre in 1869. He was imprisoned and then banished for writing a letter denouncing a Spanish fellow student. After 1871 Martí spent a great deal of his life outside of Cuba (Mexico, Guatemala, Spain), and most of the years between 1881 and 1895 in New York where he dedicated himself to the Cuban independence movement as a brilliant orator journalist fund raiser and political leader He ...