Tag: Civil Rights / Abolitionists

Ojetta R. Thompson

Ojetta R. Thompson was born in Anderson, South Carolina on August 8, 1951. Her mother was a teacher, and her father was a school principal. Her hometown was Greenville, a municipality named for Rhode Island Revolutionary War General Nathanael Greene who is regarded as a liberator of the South from British rule. From kindergarten through

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Barbara Papitto

Barbara A. Papitto was born in Providence on April 4, 1951, to Emile and Flora (Dandeneau) Auger. The youngest of five siblings, she grew up in the Wanskuck neighborhood of Providence with her four brothers. Her parents worked in local mills and factories, earning only minimum wage. Yet, even on the tightest budgets, her mother,

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Reverend John Callender

The Reverend John Callender (1706-1748) became the first historian of Rhode Island in 1738 when he wrote a work to commemorate the colony’s centennial. Not surprisingly, he viewed his topic through a religious prism; surprisingly, he thought the arrival of William Coddington, Anne Hutchinson, Dr. John Clarke, and other Aquidneck settlers in 1638 truly launched

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Sophia R. Little

Sophia Little was born in Newport in 1799, the daughter of Asher Robbins. Her father was a prominent Rhode Island politician who served as U.S. Attorney General for Rhode Island and then in the state legislature before serving as U.S. Senator from 1825 to 1839. Not much is known about Sophia’s early education other than

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Reverend James Manning

Reverend James Manning (1738-1791), Baptist clergyman and founding president of Rhode Island College (now Brown University), was born in Elizabeth Township, New Jersey, to parents who were probably of Irish origin. He attended Hopewell Academy, a Baptist grammar school, and the College of New Jersey (now Princeton), a school that operated under Presbyterian auspices. In

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Maud Howe Elliott

Maud Howe Elliott was an American writer, artist, political activist, patron of the arts, and philanthropist. She and her sister, Laura E. Richards, shared a Pulitzer Prize for the biography of their mother, The Life of Julia Ward Howe. Other prominent works by Maud Howe Elliott included A Newport Aquarelle (1882); Phillida (1891); Mammon (1893);

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Elizabeth Buffum Chace

Elizabeth Buffum Chace, the first woman to be memorialized with a statue in the Rhode Island State House, was an antislavery activist and a pioneering advocate for women’s suffrage. The daughter of abolitionist leader Arnold Buffum, she married fellow Quaker Samuel Chace, a Fall River textile manufacturer. The Chaces had ten children; tragically the oldest

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Governor Lucius F. C. Garvin M.D.

Early in 1922, Rep. Lucius Garvin took the floor in the Rhode Island Senate to move for action on a bill to reduce the work week for children under sixteen from fifty-four to forty-four hours a week. His motion was defeated by a vote of four ayes to thirty nays. As had been the case

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Thomas Robinson Hazard

Thomas Robinson Hazard was a South Kingstown manufacturer, agriculturalist, author and social reformer who embodied the egalitarian spirit of the pre–Civil War age of reform. Affectionately called “Shepherd Tom” because of his prize sheep herd, Hazard, born on January 3, 1797, was a seventh-generation descendant of Thomas Hazard, the progenitor of the famous Hazard clan

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George A. Wiley

Warwick’s George Wiley (1931-1973) compiled a record of service to his country which equals the sacrifices and service of his fellow hometowners, Nathanael and Christopher Greene. Like those men of the Revolutionary War generation, George, too, became a champion of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Whereas the Greenes took direct military action against

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Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis

The work of Paulina Kellogg Wright Davis as a women’s rights advocate, social reformer, educator, and author extended over forty years from the late 1830s to her death in 1876. She was born in Bloomfield, New York, on August 7, 1813, the daughter of Captain Ebenezer Kellogg and Polly Saxon. After the death of both

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John Carter Brown

Born in 1797, the youngest of the three surviving children of Nicholas Brown II and Ann Carter, daughter of John Carter, the noted Providence printer, John Carter Brown was raised in a family tradition of public leadership and philanthropy. While at Brown University, he joined an undergraduate society to provide needy students with free books.

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Congressman Thomas Davis

Thomas Davis was born in Dublin, Ireland, on December 18, 1806. He attended private schools in Ireland and migrated to America in 1817, settling in Providence. Becoming a pioneer in Rhode Island’s jewelry industry, he amassed sufficient wealth to enable him to finance a variety of political, civic, and reform endeavors. Little is known about

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Mary C. Wheeler

Mary Colman Wheeler was an educational innovator, a visionary, an artist, and an activist for human rights. She was also the founder of the Mary C. Wheeler School in Providence, R.I. Born in Concord, Massachusetts, on May 15, 1846, to Abiel Heywood Wheeler and Harriet Lincoln, she was the youngest of five children. Concord was,

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George T. Downing

In Rhode Island, slavery was placed on the road to extinction on March 1, 1784, when the General Assembly passed a gradual manumission act making any Black born to a slave mother after that date free. Those who were slaves at that time had to be manumitted by their masters. Five such slaves were listed

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George S. Lima Sr

George S. Lima, Sr., the son of immigrants from Cape Verde, spent his adolescent years in Harlem, Fall River, and Providence with his Cape Verdean family. His life changed dramatically when he enrolled at North Carolina A&T State University in 1939 on a football scholarship. It was there he also learned to pilot planes. When

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John Russell Bartlett

The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame has developed a tradition of listing its inductees by the title of their highest public office or by the title “Dr.” if they have earned that distinction in their chosen field of endeavor. John Russell Bartlett’s title, though prestigious, only begins to embrace his many notable achievements. Clearly,

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John Carter Minkins

He was the first African American editor of a white newspaper. He was a renowned speaker and defender of human rights, attacking segregation and discrimination. John Carter Minkins came into this life on January 29, 1869 in Norfolk, Virginia. His mother died very young and he never met his white father. Raised by his grandmother,

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Rowland Gibson Hazard

Rowland Gibson Hazard was born in South Kingstown, Rhode Island on October 9, 1801, the fourth of nine children of Rowland Hazard and Mary Peace of Charleston, South Carolina. In 1819, with his brother Isaac, he assumed control of his father’s small woolen mill in the village of Peace Dale, which had been named for

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Frances Harriet (Whipple) Green McDougall

“A Rhode Island Original” is a description used by Sarah O’Dowd to title her biography of Frances Whipple. It aptly describes one of Rhode Island’s most significant mid-nineteenth-century writers and reformers. Frances was born in Smithfield in September 1805, but the exact date is unknown. She was the eldest of the four children of George

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Zachariah Allen

Zacharian Allen, 1795-1882, was a lawyer, inventor, and civic leader of the nineteenth century. One of his most notable inventions was the home hot-air furnace. He also originated the Providence Water Works and is credited with introducing the first vehicles to the Providence Fire Company. Allen was also instrumental in setting up the mutal fire

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Frederick C. Williamson Sr.

Frederick C. Williamson, Sr.,1915-2010, was State Director of the RI Department of Community Affairs and Rhode Island’s Historic Preservation Officer. He was instrumental in many of the state’s historic buildings and sites accepted for the National Historic Register. At the time of his death, in 2010, Frederick Williamson was the longest serving state historic preservation

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Arnold Buffum

Arnold Buffum, hatmaker, inventor, and abolitionist, was the second son among William Buffum’s and Lydia Arnold’s eight children. He was born on December 13, 1782, and raised in a farmhouse near Smithfield’s Union Village, now part of North Smithfield. Arnold’s childhood home, called the William Buffum House for his Quaker father, who built it, still

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Alva Vanderbilt Belmont

Alva V. Belmont was an American multi-millionaire socialite and women’s suffrage activist. She was noted for her energy, intelligence, strong opinions, and willingness to challenge convention. She was born on January 17, 1853, at 201 Government Street in Mobile, Alabama to Murray Forbes Smith, a merchant, and Phoebe Smith. Her father was the son of

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James N. Williams

James N. Williams was the first and long-time Executive Director of the Urban League of Rhode Island and participated in the triumphs in the battle for racial equality in this nation. He also was active in many civic endeavors and served as a member of the state Advisory Council on Aging and other organizations which

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Prudence Crandall

Prudence Crandall was born in Hopkinton, Rhode Island, the daughter of Pardon Crandall, a Quaker farmer and Esther Carpenter, both of whom were descended from prominent old-line South County families. When Prudence was ten she moved to a farm in nearby Canterbury, Connecticut, but returned to Rhode Island from 1825 to 1830 as a student

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Elizabeth Lillie Buffum Chace Wyman

Lillie Chace Wyman was the eighth child born into the Quaker family of Samuel Buffington Chace and Elizabeth Buffum Chace on December 10, 1847. Her maternal grandfather was Arnold Buffum the noted Rhode Island abolitionist, a co-founder and first president of the New England Anti-Slavery Society. Her mother was the leading abolitionist and woman suffragist

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Catherine Robinson

Catherine Robinson, an outspoken champion of civil rights, approached that goal through practical application of better race relations. She was Assistant Director of the University of Rhode Island Extension Division Service until her mandatory retirement.

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Sarah Elizabeth Doyle

Doyle, Sarah Elizabeth, 1830-1922 Sarah Elizabeth Doyle (1830-1922) was a lifelong resident of Rhode Island who participated in the social reform ferment that engulfed the state during the Gilded Age. Despite the conservative political nature of local thinking, she successfully pioneered educational opportunities for women at the highest level. She entered Providence High School during

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Margaret F. Ackroyd

Margaret Ackroyd was a native Rhode Islander who served in the State Labor Department for thirty years before her retirement. She served as Chief in the Division of Women and Children and Commissioner of Minimum Wage. She became known as the “architect of non-discriminatory employment standards for women”. Born in Providence, she was a daughter

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Charles E. Gorman

Gorman, Charles Edmund, 1844-1917 Charles E. Gorman was Rhode Island’s foremost constitutional reformer of the late 19th century. He was born in Boston in 1844 to an Irish immigrant father for whom he was named and a Yankee mother, Sarah Woodbury, who traced her Massachusetts ancestry to the Cape Ann colony of the early 1620s.

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Lionel Joseph Jenkins

Lionel Joseph Jenkins, a life- long leader in the civil rights movement, was born in Washington, D.C. on June 20, 1934, the son of Clarzell V. Jenkins and Mabel (Brown) Jenkins. During his childhood, segregation was the law of the land, even in the nations capital, so his determined parents sent him to gain an

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Reverend Mahlon Van Horne

Reverend Mahlon Van Horne (1840-1910) had a career that ranged from minister of the Gospel at the black Union Congregational Church at Newport to minister of diplomacy as United States Consul to St. Thomas in the West Indies. He was at heart always a teacher. Bom in Princeton New Jersey in 1840, Van Horne was

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Moses Brown

Moses Brown (1738-1836), a prominent Providence merchant, reformer, and philanthropist, was one of the five Brown brothers, a group that included John, Joseph, Nicholas, and James, the eldest, a twenty-six-year-old ship captain when he died at sea in 1751. They were the children of Captain James Brown and Hope Power, the great-granddaughter of Nicholas Power,

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Andrew J. Bell Jr.

Andrew J. Bell, Jr. was born in Providence in September 1907, the son of Andrew J. and Beatrice J. Bell. After graduating from Classical High School, Bell studied Business Administration at Bryant College and graduated from the New England Institute of Mortuary Science in Boston. In 1932, during the depths of the Great Depression, the

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William Ellery

William Ellery (1727-1820), merchant, congressman, chief justice, and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was the son of prominent Newport merchant William Ellery and Elizabeth Almy. His well-to-do father sent him to Harvard, from which young William graduated in 1747. He then embarked upon a mercantile career, but when his father’s death in 1764 left

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Rev. Anna Garlin Spencer

Anna Garlin Spencer (1851-1931) was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts but spent her formative years in Providence. Her embrace of progressive causes and her quest for social justice can be traced to her abolitionist mother and an aunt who worked with the homeless. Anna began to write for the Providence Journal at age 19 and worked

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Reverend Samuel Hopkins

Samuel Hopkins (1721-1803) was a Congregational theologian and reformer. He was born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Timothy Hopkins, a successful farmer with the financial means to send young Samuel to Yale, from which he graduated in 1741. During his senior year at Yale, then operating under Congregational auspices, Hopkins became caught up in

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Lester Frank Ward

Lester F. Ward was a botanist, paleontologist, sociologist, and legendary Brown University professor who promoted the introduction of sociology courses into American higher education. He had such a powerful intellect and such wide-ranging knowledge that some contemporaries referred to him as “the American Aristotle.” Ward emphasized universal and comprehensive public schooling to provide the public

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