Honoring our Freedmen Patriots
Updated: Feb 4
The United Sons & Daughters of Freedmen honor our Freedmen Patriots Saints who fought valiantly for this country and who have showed bravery against odds not seen in many modern civilizations. We take the time to not only honor, but introduce to many of you for the first time, the great and Noble American Freedmen heroes who fought in the civil war or trained the men who did so.
Moses Dickson (1824–1901) was an abolitionist, soldier, minister, and founder of possibly the first independent Freedmen Secret Society in the United States. Dickson would form the Knights of Liberty, an anti-slavery organization that planned a slave uprising in the United States. The Knights of Liberty were also instrumental in helping escaped slaves reach freedom through the Underground Railroad. Dickson claimed to have trained 47,240 men who would fight in the Civil War. He also founded the a Freedmen self-help organization The International Order of Twelve Knights and Daughters of Tabor and was a co-founder of Lincoln University in Missouri. To learn more about this Patriot Saint, click here
Prince Rivers (1824–1887) is arguably one of the greatest Freedman to ever live. Prince R. Rivers was a Freedman, once enslaved in South Carolina, who served as a soldier in the Union Army and as a state politician during the Reconstruction era in the now defunct city of Hamburg, South Carolina. He escaped from slavery and joined Union lines, becoming a sergeant in the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, a Union regiment in the American Civil War. He had gained literacy as an enslaved man and after the war joined the Republican Party. He served as a delegate to the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention, becoming known as an orator. He was one of three American Freedmen founders of Aiken County, SC in 1871, helped pick the site for the courthouse, and served as the state legislator from the county through 1874. Colonel Thomas Wentworth Higginson, a Boston abolitionist chose Rivers, a Sergeant in the army, to head his Company A. Higginson once reported "There is not a white officer in this regiment who has more administrative ability, or more absolute authority over the men. They do not love him, but his mere presence has controlling power over them." Higginson also described Rivers not only as a man of ability, but that of indefinable magnetism. Higginson said,
"He writes well enough to prepare for me a daily reports of his duties in the camp; if his education reached a higher point, I see no reason why he should not command the Army of the Potomac, He is jet-Black, or rather, I should say, wine-black; his complexion, like that of others of my darkest men, having a sort of rich, clear depth, without a trace of sootiness, and to my eye, very handsome. His feature are tolerably regular, and full of command, and his figure superior to that of any of our white officers,- being six feet high, perfectly proportioned, and of apparently inexhaustible strength and activity. His gait is like a panther's; I never saw such a tread. No anti-slavery novel has described a man of such marked ability. If there would ever be a black monarchy in South Carolina, he will be its king."
To learn more about this Patriot Saint, click here
Few Freedmen have as an heroic account as Robert Smalls (1839 – 1915) . His acts of bravery should be commended and canonized in memoriam. Just before dawn on May 13, 1862, Robert Smalls and a crew composed of fellow slaves, in the absence of the white captain and his two mates, slipped a cotton steamer off the dock, picked up family members at a rendezvous point, then slowly navigated their way through the harbor. Smalls, doubling as the captain, even donning the captain’s wide-brimmed straw hat to help to hide his face, responded with the proper coded signals at two Confederate checkpoints, including at Fort Sumter itself, and other defense positions. Cleared, Smalls sailed into the open seas. Once outside of Confederate waters, he had his crew raise a white flag and surrendered his ship to the blockading Union fleet.
In fewer than four hours, Robert Smalls had done something unimaginable: In the midst of the Civil War, this black man, a slave, had commandeered a heavily armed Confederate ship and delivered its 17 black passengers (nine men, five women and three children) from slavery to freedom. To learn more about this Patriot Saint, click Here
Martin Robison Delany (1812 – 1885) was an abolitionist, journalist, physician, soldier, and writer, and arguably the first proponent of black nationalism. Delany is credited with the Pan-African slogan of "Africa for Africans." Delany dreamed of establishing a settlement in West Africa. He visited Liberia, a United States colony founded by the American Colonization Society, and lived in Canada for several years, but when the American Civil War began, he returned to the United States. When the United States Colored Troops were created in 1863, he recruited for them. Commissioned as a major in February 1865, Delany became the first African-American field grade officer in the United States Army.
After the Civil War, Delany went to the South, settling in South Carolina. There he worked for the Freedmen's Bureau and became politically active, including in the Colored Conventions Movement. Delany ran unsuccessfully for Lieutenant Governor as an Independent Republican. He was appointed as a trial judge, but he was removed following a scandal. Delany later switched his party affiliation. He worked for the campaign of Democrat Wade Hampton III, who won the 1876 election for governor in a season marked by violent suppression of black Republican voters by Red Shirts and fraud in balloting. Learn more about this Patriot Saint here