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Tue, 05.08.1866

J. Frank Wheaton, Minnesota Law Pioneer born

John Wheaton

*John Frank Wheaton was born on this date in 1866. He was a Black politician and lawyer.

He was born in Hagerstown, Maryland where his father claimed to be the first Black man to vote in that state. Wheaton was educated at Stover College in Harpers Ferry, Va., and at Howard University. He moved to Minneapolis in 1890, living at 1011 East Twenty-Eighth Street. There he enrolled in college and became the first Black to graduate from the University of Minnesota Law School. Among the many positions that he held were a clerk in Congress, clerk in state legislature, and clerk of municipal court.

In 1896, Wheaton was elected a member of the Minnesota delegation to the Republican Convention in St. Louis. Wheaton was the first Black man elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives in 1898 from a predominantly immigrant district. He was a supporter of American Civil Rights and lobbied for the commissioning of Black officers during the Spanish American War. John Wheaton died in 1938.

Minnesota Historical Society
345 W. Kellogg Blvd.
Saint Paul, MN 55102-1906

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