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Artrell, William Middleton  

David M. Fahey

temperance reformer, federal customs official, and educator, was born William Middleton Artrell, of one quarter African and three quarters European ancestry, at Nassau in the Bahamas. There Artrell benefited from a basic education on the British model, acquired experience as a schoolteacher, and became a staunch Episcopalian.

During the American Civil War the Bahamas prospered as a result of services to blockade runners, who transported British cargo in the short but dangerous voyage between the Bahamas and the Confederate coast. When the war ended, however, economic depression forced many Bahamians to seek work in the United States. In 1870 Artrell migrated to Key West, at that time a major port in Florida. Unlike most African Americans in the South, he had never been a slave. In 1870 Key West opened the Douglass School for African American children Artrell became its first principal and as a result he was sometimes ...

Article

Beman, Amos Gerry  

Clifton H. Johnson

clergyman and abolitionist, was born in Colchester, Connecticut, the son of Jehiel C. Beman, a clergyman. Nothing is known of his mother. He grew up and received a basic education in Middletown, Connecticut, where his father was pastor of the African church. A Wesleyan University student, L. P. Dole, volunteered to tutor Beman after the university refused his application for admission because he was an African American. Dole and Beman suffered ridicule and harassment from other students, and an anonymous threat of bodily harm from “Twelve of Us” caused Beman to give up the effort after six months. He went to Hartford, where he taught school for four years, and around 1836 he briefly attended the Oneida Institute in New York.

Beman was ordained as a Congregational minister in 1839. At about this time he married a woman whose name is not known. In 1841 ...

Article

Brooks, Walter Henderson  

Adam Biggs

Walter Henderson Brooks was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father was an enterprising slave who owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for $800 Still a slave Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin Yarborough tobacco firm He woefully recalled his time there writing It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of the consequences of failing to do what was required of me When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother and began working ...

Article

Brooks, Walter Henderson  

Adam Biggs

clergyman, temperance leader, and poet, was born in Richmond, Virginia, the son of Albert Royal Brooks and Lucy Goode, slaves. Brooks's father, an enterprising slave, owned his own “snack house” and a livery business that brought him into contact with some of Virginia's wealthiest citizens, including his wife's owner, the German consul Daniel Von Groning. Albert Brooks purchased his wife's freedom in 1862 for eight hundred dollars. Still a slave, Walter Brooks at age seven was sold to the Turpin & Yarborough tobacco firm. He woefully recalled his time there, writing: “It was all I could do to perform the task assigned to my little hands. What I do remember is that I stood in mortal fear of ‘the consequences’ of failing to do what was required of me.” When the Richmond manufacturer fell victim to wartime economic decline, Brooks was allowed to reside with his mother ...

Article

Browne, William Washington  

David M. Fahey

fraternal society leader and banker, was born in Habersham County, Georgia, the son of Joseph Browne and Mariah (maiden name unknown), field slaves. As a young child he was called Ben Browne and was chosen to be the companion of his owner's son. A subsequent owner who lived near Memphis trained Browne as a jockey for race circuits in Tennessee and Mississippi. During the Civil War he plotted an escape with fellow slaves. When his owner learned of the conspiracy, he transferred Browne to a plantation in Mississippi. Despite the difficulties of tramping fifty miles without a compass, Browne persuaded three other young slaves to join him in a successful escape to the Union army at Memphis. After learning that his owner could demand his return, Browne fled upriver as a stowaway.

Browne later worked as a saloon servant in Illinois where his barroom experiences made him a teetotaler and ...

Article

Cooper, Ada Augusta Newton  

Debra Jackson

writer, temperance advocate, and educator, was born Ada Augusta Newton in Brooklyn, New York, the eldest of the three children of Alexander Herritage Newton, a trained mason, and Olivia Augusta (Hamilton) Newton, who was the eldest daughter of Robert Hamilton, the radical abolitionist and owner and editor of the Weekly Anglo-African newspaper. When Ada was eight years old her mother died and shortly thereafter her father, a recently licensed preacher of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) denomination, was directed by the AME leadership to manage the church at Pennington, New Jersey. This was the first of dozens of appointments for Newton, and Ada's early years were characterized by constant travel from city to city as her father's ministry took him to all regions of the country. Despite the incessant moving, Ada received a good elementary education.

Ada worked closely with her father on church matters Indeed she ...

Article

Early, Sarah Woodson  

Judith E. Harper

educator and temperance leader, was born in Chillicothe, Ohio, the youngest child of Thomas Woodson, a prosperous farmer and former slave, and Jemimma Riddle, about whom little is known. Descendants of Thomas Woodson, relying on an oral history passed down from the nineteenth century, have long believed that he was the oldest son of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, a slave of mixed race who served Jefferson's family in the years before he became the third U.S. president. Although DNA analysis has confirmed that Hemings's two youngest sons were fathered by either Jefferson, his brother Randolph Jefferson, or one of Randolph's sons, DNA studies have not established a genetic relationship between Thomas Woodson and any of the Jefferson men.

Around 1830 when Early was five years old the Woodsons and several other African American families left the Chillicothe area to move to Berlin Crossroads ...

Article

Ferreira, Yedo  

Yvonne Maggie

militant in the movimento Negro (black movement) in Brazil and advocate for historical reparations for slavery, was born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, on 27 August 1933. When he was 7 years old, his family moved to Rio de Janeiro. His mother, Etelvina de Almeida Paim, born in Santo Amaro da Purificação, Bahia, was a peasant woman who worked as a maid in Rio de Janeiro. His father, Sebastião Abraão Ferreira, was born in Rio de Janeiro and worked as a carpenter and then as a tram driver. Yedo was active in the Communist Party until the 1960s. In 1971 he was admitted to the Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) to study mathematics, but he never graduated.

Ferreira was employed at the Telégrafo Nacional (Brazilian Telegraph Company) in 1964 when the military dictatorship that took power that year had him ...

Article

Gardner, Eliza Ann  

Carol Parker Terhune

abolitionist and social leader, was born in New York City to free parents, James and Dorothy Gardner. Her father was a shipping contractor who made sails for large vessels. About 1845, while Gardner was in her teens, her family took up residence in Boston, Massachusetts, and opened its own business. Gardner attended the Boston Public School for Colored Children (also known as the Smith School, after the white businessman Abiel Smith, who donated funds). She was educated by leaders in the antislavery movement and developed an appreciation for their cause. The school was also used as a meeting place for the “colored citizens” to discuss issues of concern in their communities. During Gardner's time in Boston's only “colored” grammar school, Boston's African American community was fighting tirelessly to abolish colored schools and end school segregation using the Roberts v. Boston case as the catalyst Gardner ...

Article

Greeley, Horace  

Martha I. Pallante

Horace Greeley's formidable editorial, journalistic, and oratorical skills in espousing abolition, temperance, and other reform causes influenced audiences at the national level. According to his biographer Don C. Seitz, “No rival American journalist ever created an influence that penetrated so deeply.”

Greeley was born on 3 February 1811 and during his sixty-one years pursued a life that remains something of a study in contradictions. The son of the failed New England farmers Zaccheus and Mary Woodburn Greeley, he rose from his poverty-stricken roots to the top of the journalistic profession in a manner that marks him as an archetype for Horatio Alger's rags-to-riches characters. Like the title character of Alger's Paul Prescott's Charge, Greeley “battled bravely with the difficulties and the discouragements that beset him in early life” to attain the pinnacle of his profession.

In contrast to his professional success disappointment marked Greeley s personal life As ...

Article

Langston, Charles Henry  

Sam Onyejindu Oleka

educator, civil rights activist, and politician, was born on a plantation in Louisa County, Virginia, the second son of Captain Ralph Quarles and Lucy Jane Langston. Lucy Langston was Captain Quarles's part-Amerindian and part-black slave, whom he freed with her daughter Mary. Quarles, who died in 1833, left the greater portion of his personal wealth and property to his three sons. Charles Langston's younger brother, John Mercer Langston wrote that their father gave Charles a start in education that influenced him throughout life He had a weak body but was compensated with a firm mind and intellectual endowment Although he had a well controlled disposition and temper this did not come to him easily and naturally and he tended to be impetuous and aggressive He was restive under discipline and opposition yet resolutely obedient to the training his father gave him because he ...

Article

Langston, Charles Henry  

Delano Greenidge-Copprue

Charles Henry Langston was born in Louisa County, Virginia, the son of Captain Ralph Quarles, a white plantation owner, and Lucy Langston, one of his slaves. Langston's parents were open about their mixed-race relationship and did not allow public prejudice to get in the way of their children's education. In 1834 both Captain Quarles and Lucy Langston died, leaving their three sons in the hands of a family friend, William Gooch, who moved the children to Chillicothe, Ohio. The following year, Langston and his brother Gideon became the first African Americans enrolled in the preparatory department of the Oberlin Collegiate Institute, renowned for its abolitionist fervor. In 1836 Langston left Oberlin's preparatory department and taught at African American schools in Chillicothe and Columbus, Ohio. Langston reenrolled at Oberlin in 1841 and completed his studies in 1843.

With his formal education concluded Langston became active in social ...

Article

Mathew, Theobald  

Rachael Drenovsky

Father Theobald Mathew, the “Apostle of Temperance,” was born near Thomastown in County Tipperary, Ireland, to Anne Cappawhyte and James Mathew. Theobald Mathew was ordained a Franciscan friar of the Capuchin Order in 1814 and assigned to a mission church in the city of Cork, where he became popular for his aid of the Catholic poor. In 1838 fellow charitable workers convinced Mathew to join the temperance movement, and within months thousands pledged themselves to teetotalism—to abstain completely from alcoholic beverages.

The movement s popularity exploded over the next several years as men women and children took the pledge from Mathew sometimes within the priest s home but most often as part of mass meetings Mathew propelled the movement by traveling around Ireland and to Irish communities in Scotland England and later America administering pledges against all intoxicating drinks Enthusiastic supporters claimed that 6 million or more Irish converted to ...

Article

Ray, Emma J. Smith  

Karla Sclater

Christian missionary and temperance advocate, was born Emma Smith, enslaved in Springfield, Missouri. She lived with her mother, Jennie Boyd, and both her sister and her father, John Smith, lived on a neighboring plantation. There were also four older siblings living on yet another plantation near Springfield. One month after her birth in 1859, Emma was put up for auction alongside her mother and sister. Her father threatened his owners that if they did not purchase his wife and daughters he would run away. The strategy proved successful and Smith was able to have his wife and two daughters live with him.

Emma Smith was only two years old when the Civil War erupted. In 1864 as the Union army secured remaining portions of Missouri from rebel control the white slaveholding Smith brothers John Smith kept the name of his owners fled south to Arkansas ...