Smalls, Robert

Smalls, Robert
born April 5, 1839, Beaufort, S.C., U.S.
died Feb. 22, 1915, Beaufort

U.S. naval hero.

Born to plantation slaves, he was taken to Charleston, S.C., where he worked as a hotel waiter. In the American Civil War he was impressed into the Confederate navy to serve on the armed frigate Planter. In 1862 he and 12 other slaves seized control of the ship in Charleston harbour and turned it over to the Union navy. He served as the ship's pilot and became its captain in 1863. After the war he served in the U.S. House of Representatives (1875–79, 1881–87).


Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

* * *

▪ American politician
born April 5, 1839, Beaufort, South Carolina, U.S.
died February 23, 1915, Beaufort
 African American slave who became a naval hero for the Union in the American Civil War and went on to serve as a congressman from South Carolina during Reconstruction.

      His mother was a house slave and his father an unknown white man. Smalls was taken by his master in 1851 to Charleston, South Carolina, where he worked as a hotel waiter, hack driver, and rigger. In 1861, at the outbreak of the war, he was hired to work aboard the steamship Planter, which operated as an armed transport and dispatch vessel, carrying guns and ammunition for the Confederate army. On May 13, 1862, he and the other blacks on board seized control of the ship in Charleston Harbor, succeeded in passing through Confederate checkpoints, and turned the ship, its cargo of weapons, and several important documents over to a Union naval squadron blockading the city. This exploit brought Smalls great fame throughout the North. In 1863, when he was piloting the ironclad Keokuk in the battle for Fort Sumter, the vessel took many hits and was eventually sunk. Smalls's bravery was rewarded with command of the Planter later that year. He was the first African American captain of a vessel in U.S. service.

      After the war, Smalls rose rapidly in politics, despite his limited education. From 1868 to 1870 he served in the South Carolina House of Representatives and from 1870 to 1874 in the state Senate. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives (1875–79, 1882–83, 1884–87), where his outstanding political action was support of a bill that would have required equal accommodations for both races on interstate conveyances. In 1877, however, he was convicted of having taken a $5,000 bribe while in the state Senate; sentenced to three years in prison, he was pardoned by the governor. The case against him was clearly politically motivated. In 1895 he delivered a moving speech before the South Carolina constitutional convention in a gallant but futile attempt to prevent the virtual disfranchisement of blacks.

      A political moderate, Smalls spent his last years in Beaufort, where he served as port collector (1889–93, 1897–1913).

Additional Reading
Okon Edet Uya, From Slavery to Political Service: Robert Smalls, 1839–1915 (1971); Edward A. Miller, Gullah Statesman: Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839–1915 (1995).

* * *

Universalium. 2010.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Smalls,Robert — Smalls (smôlz), Robert. 1839 1915. American Union soldier and politician. After being forced to serve in the Confederate Navy, he took command of a ship and delivered it to Union forces. Smalls subsequently became a captain (1863 1866) and the… …   Universalium

  • Smalls, Robert — (5 abr. 1839, Beaufort, S.C., EE.UU.–22 feb. 1915, Beaufort). Héroe naval estadounidense. Hijo de esclavos de plantación, fue trasladado a Charleston, S.C., donde trabajó como camarero de hotel. En la guerra de Secesión fue reclutado en la marina …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert Smalls — (* 5. April 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina; † 22. Februar 1915 ebenda) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1875 und 1887 vertrat er mehrfach den Bundesstaat South Carolina im …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert — /rob euhrt/, n. 1. Henry Martyn /mahr tn/, 1837 1923, U.S. engineer and authority on parliamentary procedure: author of Robert s Rules of Order (1876, revised 1915). 2. a male given name: from Germanic words meaning glory and bright. * * * (as… …   Universalium

  • Robert — (as used in expressions) Adam, Robert Aldrich, Robert Altman, Robert (B.) Ashe, Arthur (Robert), Jr. Baden Powell (de Gilwell), Robert Stephenson Smyth, 1 barón Bakewell, Robert Baldwin, Robert Ballard Robert D(uane) Bly, Robert (Elwood) Borden,… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • Robert Woodward Barnwell — (* 10. August 1801 in Beaufort, South Carolina; † 5. November 1882 in Columbia, South Carolina) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker, der beiden Kammern des US Kongresses und als Senator dem Konföderiertenkongress angehörte …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert B. Campbell — Robert Blair Campbell (* 1787 im Marlboro County, South Carolina; † 12. Juli 1862 in Ealing, England) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1823 und 1825 und nochmals von 1834 bis 1837 vertrat er den Bundesstaat South Carolina im US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert B. Elliott — Robert Brown Elliott (* 11. August 1842 in Liverpool, England; † 9. August 1884 in New Orleans, Louisiana) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1871 und 1874 vertrat er den Bundesstaat …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert Goodloe Harper — (* Januar 1765 bei Fredericksburg, Virginia; † 14. Januar 1825 in Baltimore, Maryland) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker der …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Robert W. Hemphill — Robert Witherspoon Hemphill (* 10. Mai 1915 in Chester, Chester County, South Carolina; † 25. Dezember 1983 ebenda) war ein US amerikanischer Politiker. Zwischen 1957 und 1964 vertrat er den Bundesstaat South Carolina im US… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”