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Sat, 12.18.1852

George White, a politician who remembered his roots

George White

On this date, George Henry White was born in 1852. He was a Black lawyer, politician, schoolteacher, and administrator.

White was born a slave in Rosindale, North Carolina. After working as a farm laborer, he studied at Howard University (1873-1877). This was followed by work as a schoolteacher and as a lawyer. As the last former slave to serve in Congress, White’s term in the House closed out the years of service of the first generation of black representatives.

During his two terms in the House of Representatives, White had many accomplishments, among them an unprecedented bill to make lynching a federal crime, carrying a punishment of death. These murders had reached epidemic numbers in the 1890s. He also sought in vain to secure financial relief for Civil War hero and former Congressman Robert Smalls and former Louisiana governor P.B.S. Pinchback.

After leaving politics, White moved to Washington D.C., and embarked on a remarkable second career. In addition to starting a law practice, White developed a town for blacks on 1,700 acres of land that he and five others had purchased in Cape May County, N.J., in 1899.  The town was named Whitesboro and it is still incorporated today.  He also worked with the NAACP. Declining health forced him to close his bank before his death in Philadelphia on December 28, 1918.

Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century.
Edited by Leon Litwack and August Meier
Copyright 1998, University if Illinois Press
ISBN 0-252-06213-2

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