Today we visit Samuel Ringgold Ward.


Samuel Ringgold Ward 1817-1866

Samuel Ringgold Ward 1817-1866

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Samuel Ringgold Ward was born to slave parents on Maryland’s Eastern Shore in 1817. He escaped from slavery and became a noted abolitionist, clergyman and orator, lecturing extensively in Western and Central New York. In 1846, he became pastor of the Congregationalist Church in Cortland.

Ward became Syracuse’s first black newspaper publisher in 1848, when he founded The Impartial Citizen.

On Oct. 2, 1850, the National Liberty Party met in Oswego. The party nominated for president of the United States a white abolitionist, Gerrit Smith, of Peterboro, in Madison County. The party nominated Ward for vice president.

“He was the first black person to be nominated for a national office,” Helen Breitbeck, who compiled a history of Oswego’s Market House, told The Post-Standard in 2005.

On Oct. 1, 1851, Ward participated in the rescue in Syracuse of escaped slave William “Jerry” Henry.

In March 1853, Ward went to Great Britain, where his “Autobiography of a Fugitive Negro” was published in 1855.

In his biography, he wrote: “From Cortland we removed to Syracuse in 1851, whence, on account of my participating in the ‘Jerry rescue case,’ on the first day of October in that year, it became quite expedient to remove in some haste to Canada, in November.”

His book gave a vivid account of the rescue. Ward recalled telling a crowd: “We are witnessing such a sight as, I pray, we may never look upon again. A man in chains, in Syracuse! Not a felon, yet in chains! On trial, is this man, not for life, but for liberty.”

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One response »

  1. Lyke Teshome says:

    Samuel Ringgold Ward is another example of “Coming from nothing” and building himself up from out of the mud and making something of himself. When you red this article, it doesn’t feel like he did a lot, but honestly, doing what he did, is an extremely diff cult task, because it’s not easy staying strong through hard times, it’s real easy to give up and stay in a low sense of fulfillment, but most of all, his story is an inspirational one to those who can truly understand it.

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