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Civil War Lecture:
The Honorable Robert Smalls

February 18 @ 12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST

John V. Quarstein


This Civil War lecture will take place in person in the Museum’s McMullen classroom and livestreamed simultaneously. Advance registration is required.

Presenter: John V. Quarstein, director emeritus of the USS Monitor Center

About the presentation:
Robert Smalls was born enslaved on February 23, 1839, in Beaufort, South Carolina. He was working as a harbor pilot when the Civil War erupted. Smalls became the helmsman of the Confederate gunboat CSS Planter. Disguised as the steamer’s captain, he was able to take the ship and most of the crew members and their families out past Fort Sumter guarding Charleston harbor. Smalls surrendered the steamer to USS Onward during the early morning of May 13, 1862. He continued as a pilot on several different Union warships until the war ended. Then he gained literacy and purchased his former enslaver’s home in Beaufort. He partnered in several successful business ventures and had an equally successful political career. He served five terms in the US House of Representatives, was the collector of the Port of Beaufort, and served as ambassador to Liberia. Smalls died on February 23, 1915, a recognized leader and strong proponent of African American rights and service in the military.

Attendees are welcome to send any comments or questions to John, and he will answer them following his talk.

This program is part of our Black History Month series.
Click here to view a complete list.

Advance registration is required whether attending the lecture in person or online.

Attending in person?
This program is free with $1 admission, and free for Mariners’ Museum Members. Seating is limited, and chairs will be spaced out for social distancing in compliance with current CDC safety protocols for COVID-19.
Watching remotely?
This program is free to watch online, and you may register below.

Civil War Lecture & Black History Month:
The Honorable Robert Smalls
Friday, February 18, 2022 • 1 p.m. (ET)

This Civil War lecture will take place in person in the Museum’s McMullen classroom and livestreamed simultaneously.

Pre-registration is required.
For additional assistance, questions or support, please contact us at: [email protected].

Can’t attend?
No problem! Many of our programs and lectures are uploaded to our
YouTube Channel shortly afterwards.


February 18
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM EST


The Mariners’ Museum
100 Museum Drive
Newport News, VA 23606 United States
(757) 596-2222