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Wed, 11.21.1849

Amanda Dickson, African American aristocrat born

Amanda Dickson

Amanda America Dickson was born on this date in 1849. She was an African American aristocrat.

She was born on the Hancock County plantation of white agricultural reformer Davis Dickson, who raped her Black slave mother, Julia Frances Lewis. At the time, David Dickson was the wealthiest planter in the county. Young Dickson grew up in the house of her white grandmother and owner, where she learned to read, write, and play piano--unusual opportunities for a slave child. Records show that her father doted on her openly and her mother became his concubine and housekeeper.

In 1866, Dickson married her white first cousin, Charles Eubanks, a recent Civil War veteran. They had two sons, Julian Henry and Charles Green. In 1870, she returned to her father's plantation reclaiming her birthname.

Dickson left for two years to attend the Normal School of Atlanta University, returning in 1878. In 1885, her father died leaving the bulk of his estate (worth over $300,000 plus 17,000 acres of land) to his daughter and her children. Unhappy white relatives appealed the will. In 1887, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision that stated the “rights of each race were controlled and governed by the same enactment on principles of the law.”

Before this, Dickson had bought a large home at 452 Telfair Street in a wealthy section of Augusta, GA. In 1892, she married Nathan Toomer of Houston County, Georgia; the 1870 census listed him as wealthier ($30,000) than all freedmen in Houston County. The marriage lasted until Amanda Dickson died on July 11, 1893. Toomer later married Nina Pinchback and their son Jean became one of the great Harlem Renaissance authors.

Kent Anderson Leslie,
Woman of Color, Daughter of Privilege: Amanda America Dickson, 1849-1893
(Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1995)

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