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Tue, 09.12.1815

Richard Rust born

Richard Rust

*Richard Rust was born on this date in 1815.  He was a white-American Methodist preacher, abolitionist, educator, writer and lecturer. 

Richard Sutton Rust grew up in Ipswich, Massachusetts; he became orphaned at 10 years old, and went to live on his uncle's farm. He attended Phillips Academy and became involved in anti-slavery activities, and after hearing a lecture by George Thompson, he helped form an anti-slavery group on campus, for which he was expelled with two other students in 1834 after refusing to disband.

He then attended Noyes Academy, a racially integrated school founded by abolitionists; however, local opposition forced the school to close. He eventually found a school sympathetic to his anti-slavery views in Wilbraham Wesleyan Academy, a school run by the Methodist Episcopal Church, from which he graduated. There, he became an active Methodist.  After that, he attended Wesleyan University, giving lectures, encountering stiff opposition and was mobbed repeatedly. During his years at school, he heard abolitionists William Lloyd Garrison, Wendell Phillips, Frederick Douglass, Lucy Stone, and many others speak.  

After graduating from Wesleyan University, Rust became the principal of the New Hampshire Conference Seminary of the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1846.  In 1858 he helped found Wilberforce University and became the college's first president, a position he held until 1863.  During the American Civil War, Rust turned his attention down south. He helped found the Freedmen's Aid Society to give teachers from the North supplies and housing to teach freed slaves in the South. He helped found as many as 30 colleges and institutions, mainly for teachers, with the idea of educating former slaves and their children.  

One of these schools was Rust College the oldest historically black United Methodist-related college.  Ida B. Wells was one of the first students taught here in 1870. After the war, he helped set up the Freedmen's Bureau, an agency of the United States Department of War to "direct such issues of provisions, clothing, and fuel, as he may deem needful for the immediate and temporary shelter and supply of destitute and suffering refugees and freedmen and their wives and children."  In 1875 he married Elizabeth Lownes. Lownes was an artist, but upon marrying Rust, she turned her full focus on humanitarian and evangelical work.  Rust died on December 22, 1906. 

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Reference:

Common Fund.org

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