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.
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