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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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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

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 ...

Article

Kenneth J. Blume

educator and diplomat, was born in Troy, New York, to William and Julian (Crawford) Powell. He was educated in Brooklyn and Jersey City, New Jersey, and graduated from the New Jersey Collegiate Institute, the New York College of Pharmacy, and the Ashmun Institute (named for Jehudi Ashmun, a white American administrator in 1820s Liberia, and later renamed Lincoln University) in Chester County, Pennsylvania.

In 1869 Powell was teaching freedmen at the Presbyterian Board of Home Mission, in Leesburg, Virginia. The following year he opened what is believed to be Virginia's first state school for black children in Alexandria, and he served as its director from 1870 to 1875. With few exceptions the rest of his career centered on education in New Jersey. He served as the principal of a school in Bordentown, New Jersey, from 1875 to 1881, and in 1881 he obtained a ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

lawyer, journalist, and diplomat, was born in Perry County, Alabama, the son of a slave, Rufus Carson, and an unnamed slave mother. In 1869, after teaching himself to read and write, the youth ran away from his father's cotton farm to Savannah, Georgia, and took a new surname: Taylor.

An ambitious, gifted student, C. H. J. Taylor enrolled at Savannah's Beach Institute while delivering newspapers and working as a commission house messenger. Much of the higher education he later claimed, however, cannot be documented. No definitive records exist for his claimed enrollments at Oberlin College or the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, though he may well have studied law at Wilberforce University. In 1877 he was admitted to the Indiana state bar and became a deputy district attorney, before arriving in Leavenworth, Kansas, in about 1880 (Smith, p. 494).

Taylor soon moved to Wyandotte ...

Article

John Saillant

colonizationist, statesman, editor, and author of the Liberian Declaration of Independence, was born in Goochland County, Virginia, the son of Colin or Collin Teage (1785–1839), probably a slave on the plantation of Joshua Nicholson. His mother (name unknown) was probably also a slave in the Nicholson household. Details of Hilary Teage's early life are sketchy. Colin Teage was an artisan who made stable gear, a position above that of a field laborer but one that led to his separation from his family when he was sold in 1807 to the owners of a Richmond tack shop. Sometime in the next thirteen years, Colin Teage was licensed to preach in Baptist churches and saved enough money to purchase the freedom of his wife, son, and daughter in 1819 and 1820 and to reassemble his family He bought land in Henrico County outside Richmond ...

Article

Gary R. Kremer

educator and diplomat, was born a slave in St. Louis County, Missouri, the son of John Turner, a free black farrier, and Hannah, the slave of Aaron and Theodosia Young, formerly of Kentucky. Mother and son were freed by Theodosia Young on 12 March 1844. Educated in clandestinely operated schools in St. Louis in defiance of Missouri law, Turner was sent by his parents to preparatory school at Oberlin College in Ohio during the mid-1850s. He remained there for no more than two years and returned to St. Louis during the late 1850s. He worked as a porter until the outbreak of the Civil War, when he joined the war effort as a body servant to Colonel Madison Miller, a Union officer.

Turner began his public career in 1865 when he became a member of the Missouri Equal Rights League an organization formed ...

Article

Benjamin R. Justesen

clergyman, legislator, and diplomat, was born in Princeton, New Jersey, the oldest surviving child of Mathias and Diana (Oakham) Van Horne. He was educated in the Princeton schools, before enrolling in 1859 at Pennsylvania's Ashmun Collegiate Institute for Colored Youth (renamed Lincoln University in 1866), studying theology, education, Greek, Hebrew, and Latin. In 1868 he became one of the first six students to receive a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University, where he also pursued graduate studies beginning in 1871.

While still a student, Van Horne was married in 1862 to Rachel Ann Huston of Princeton, New Jersey. The couple had four children: daughters Florence V. (Miller) and Louisa S. A., and sons Mahlon H. and Mathias Alonzo Van Horne(Mathias was educated at Howard University and later became Rhode Island's first African American dentist). After being ordained as a minister in 1866 ...

Article

Allison Blakely

politician and foreign service officer, was born in New Madrid County, Missouri, the son of Anthony Waller and Maria (maiden name unknown), household slaves of Marcus S. Sherwood. Early in the Civil War, Union troops relocated Waller's family to Inka, Iowa, where his father was able to acquire a small farm. However, they lived in such poverty that his father hired John out to a local farmer at the age of twelve to help support the family. To John's good fortune, his employer encouraged literacy and allowed him to begin formal education in a rural schoolhouse in 1863. With the aid of citizens in nearby Toledo, Iowa, he was then able to gain admission to the local high school in 1867, graduating around 1870 At about this time he began to support himself by working as a barber a trade he was also to ...