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John Jones’s birth in 1817 is celebrated on this date. He was a Black apprentice tailor, writer, abolitionist, and politician.
Born a free man in North Carolina, he taught himself to read and write. Jones started his own business, and after struggle and perseverance, he became one of the richest Black men in America. Jones used some of his wealth in the campaign against slavery. He moved to Chicago and made his home into an Underground Railroad Station.
Jones wrote many influential anti-slavery pamphlets and led the fight against the Illinois Black Laws, under which blacks could not vote or testify in court. Jones was one of the first black men to be elected to senior office in America, that of Cook County commissioner. While holding this post, he helped secure the law that abolished local segregated schools. John Jones died in Chicago in 1879.
The Encyclopedia Britannica, Twenty-fourth Edition.
Copyright 1996 Encyclopedia Britannica Inc.