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*Edward McCabe was born on this date in 1850. He was a Black settler, attorney, and land agent.
Edward P. McCabe was born in Troy, New York. As a child, he and his family moved from Troy to Fall River, Massachusetts, Newport, Rhode Island, and Bangor, Maine.
When his father died, he left school and began to work. Eventually, he moved to New York City, where he worked on Wall Street. Finding no avenues for promotion beyond clerk and Pullman porter in New York, he moved to Chicago in 1872, where he worked as a clerk for Potter Palmer. He was then appointed clerk in the Cook County, Illinois office of the U.S. Treasury Department (Taylor). Meanwhile, proposals were already being made at least by 1866 to use the land that is now Oklahoma as a settlement area for Blacks.
That year, U.S. Rep. William Lawrence, an Ohio Republican, introduced a bill creating the Territory of Lincoln from the Oklahoma territory land. The proposal was that all territorial officers and voters would initially be "American citizens of African descent," The territorial legislature could later choose to change eligibility. His bill never got out of committee, but then the idea remained. McCabe traveled to Nicodemus, Kansas, in 1878, where he was an attorney and land agent. In 1880, he was appointed county clerk of the new Graham County, and the next fall, he was elected to a full term as county clerk.
At age 32, McCabe was elected Kansas State Auditor and became the highest-ranking Black officeholder outside of the American South. He served two terms as the state auditor. He then moved to Washington, D.C., where he unsuccessfully lobbied for an appointment for governor in the new Oklahoma Territory. He moved to the Oklahoma Territory in 1890, still looking to make a difference. He was soon appointed the first Treasurer of Logan County, Oklahoma, and was one of three founders of Langston City. "By 1881, several Negro leaders were planning for the potential resettlement of twenty or thirty thousand freedmen in Oklahoma". McCabe "acquired a 320-acre (1.3 km2) tract near Guthrie, Oklahoma, which became the town of Langston, OK about 1890".
The city was an all-black area ten miles northeast of Guthrie. The city was named after Virginia Congressman John Langston, who had pledged his support for a black college in Langston City (Taylor). Finally, in 1897, a Colored Agricultural and Normal School were opened; this was later called Langston University. The city was founded on the idea of helping stop racial persecution. It was part of a program to create more than twenty-five new “black settlements” within the Oklahoma Indian Territory. McCabe then embarked on state-building, using Langston as a nucleus.
He encouraged the immigration of Negroes 'in such numbers that eventually they would outnumber the whites.' In 1892 he went so far as to predict that within a few years, Congress would have two Negro senators from Oklahoma. He planned to organize Negro settlers so that he could muster most black voters in each representative and senatorial district of the proposed state". McCabe supported the idea of making Oklahoma into an all-black state and had personal ambitions tied into this endeavor, hoping he would be appointed governor or secretary of the Oklahoma Territory. “The opportunity for progress through prosperity and the chance to escape racial discrimination were the two drawing attractions promoted by Oklahoma black newspapers. The newspapers emphasized one or the other at random in 1905 and 1906.”
The efforts of McCabe and others "achieved impressive results. The black population of Oklahoma continued to grow until statehood in 1907". Between 1900 and 1906, the black population at least doubled. "Black Oklahomans owned fairly large farms and even controlled whole towns” and were "behaving in a manner directly contrary to the hopes and expectations of the whites. In 1900 large numbers of Negroes began moving from the South and East sections to the interior part of the state.
They left farming and the Oklahoma coal mines and took urban service jobs". Despite these gains, a black majority was not realized in Oklahoma, nor was McCabe able to secure any higher political office. Even though this never happened, McCabe played a big role in taking a stand for civil rights at a time when there was a great deal of racial persecution. Edwin P. McCabe, who became one of the first African Americans to hold a major political office in the American Old West, died on March 12, 1920, in Chicago, Illinois, and was buried in Topeka, Kansas.