George Washington Williams

religious leader, historian
Born: 1849
Birthplace: Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania

Enlisting at 14, Williams fought for the North in the Civil War. In 1874, he became the first Black person to graduate from the Newton Theological Seminary in Cambridge, Mass. A Baptist minister in Boston and Cincinnati, he later became a lawyer and was the first African American elected to the Ohio legislature. In 1882 Williams published History of the Negro Race in America, 1619–1880, making him the first major historian of African-American ancestry. At the end of his administration, President Chester A. Arthur appointed Williams minister to Haiti. But the new president, Grover Cleveland, cancelled the assignment. Williams attended an antislavery conference in Brussels in 1885, prompting the Belgian government to send him to the Congo, where he criticized Belgian atrocities.

Died: 1891