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Wed, 02.01.1837

Francis Cardozo, Politician, and Minister born

Francis Cardozo

*This date marks the birth of Francis Louis Cardozo in 1837.  He was a Black minister, educator, and politician.

Cardozo was born free in Charleston, South Carolina, to a prominent Jewish businessman and economist, Isaac N. Cardozo, and a free Black woman whose name is unknown.  Cardozo was trained as a carpenter but, at 21, studied for the ministry at the University of Glasgow in Scotland and seminaries in Edinburgh and London.

He won awards for his mastery of Greek and Latin. He returned to the United States as minister of Temple Street Congregational Church in New Haven, Connecticut.  During Reconstruction (1865-1877), as a member of the American Missionary Association, he became principal of the Saxton School. In 1866 he helped establish and became superintendent of the Avery Normal Institute in Charleston to train African American teachers.

In 1868, Cardozo became involved in politics, acting as a delegate to the 1868 South Carolina state constitutional convention. As Secretary of State (1868-1872), he became South Carolina's first Black to hold a government office.  He was state treasurer for five years until 1878, when he was appointed to the Treasury Department in Washington, DC.  Considered a moderate by his peers, Cardozo found a home amongst the Black elite in Washington.

He accepted the job as principal of the Colored High School, administering the school from 1884 to 1896.  Francis Cardozo died in 1903 in Washington, DC.

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