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Discovering Diamonds: Robyn Pearce: From Diamond to Platinum

Excerpt from:  

They Stated I Couldn’t Do It: John Mercer Langston: Younger Black Lawyer In A White Man’s World (E book 2 in The Freedom Sequence)  

by Robyn R Pearce  

On pre-order with Amazon, Due for publication July 2022

About John Mercer Langston and the e book:

John Mercer Langston, orphaned at 4, likes to be taught. His guardian says, ‘Black boys don’t want education.’

Towards intense opposition, John wins admission to abolitionist Oberlin School, Ohio. It’s a radical city ― one of many few establishments within the 1840s and 50s to show blacks and girls alongside white college students. 

As soon as educated, John units out to be a lawyer. Extra opposition ― legislation colleges slam their doorways in his face.

However he’s a fighter. Refuses to be restricted by different individuals’s prejudices. He’s pushed to succeed, not just for himself, but in addition for the nice of all individuals of shade. He turns into one of many first black attorneys in America. However there’s extra. He additionally turns into the primary black ever elected by a white neighborhood to a civic place.

John and Oberlin type an important alliance. The city nurtures the younger man, and he helps the townsfolk. Then, in 1858, the respectable God-fearing individuals of Oberlin defy the hated Fugitive Slave Act. They rescue a captured runaway slave. A David and Goliath battle of wills begins with the tiny city preventing the evil perpetrated by President Buchanan and his Federal officers. The Oberlin Rescuers, together with John’s older brother Charles Langston, refuse to buckle beneath intense strain. For ten months, September 1858 to July 1859, the neighborhood stays front-page information throughout the nation as authorized battles rage. 

Solely by a whisker does Ohio not hearth the primary bullets in what is going to change into essentially the most dreadful massacre in American historical past—the Civil Warfare. But, since then, the historical past of John Mercer Langston, and the story of the Oberlin Rescue, have light into the folds of historical past. It’s time to honor them once more.

Chapter 24

1855, Brownhelm, North Ohio 

Aside from being the situation of my pretty farm, there was one thing else very vital about Brownhelm Township. Like Oberlin and Elyria, its early settlers had been New Englanders with agency opinions about respect and equity to all. There have been just a few exceptions—essentially the most notable being one in all my nearest neighbors. 

At first, he was dismissive and impolite. Refused to have interaction in dialog as he rode previous my fence. If he may have gone to city another method, he assuredly would have taken it.  

‘I don’t speak to darkies,’ he was heard to say. Over time, utilizing humor and good manners, I gained him over. Finally we grew to become agency mates.

Nonetheless, most residents had been for the abolition of slavery and a few had been additionally conductors of the Underground Railroad. I shortly grew to become well-known in the neighborhood and loved the open acceptance of many. 

In March 1855 the township wanted to elect a brand new clerk. I used to be on my option to a gathering to assist select a candidate for the Liberty social gathering, when alongside got here my pal Charles Fairchild, additionally on horseback. As we walked our horses alongside the road he mentioned, ‘John, I’m aspiring to nominate you tonight for the place of City Clerk.’

I pulled on the reins. Introduced my horse to a cease in the course of the road. Checked out him in shock. ‘Oh no, you mustn’t do this, Charles. My identify, I concern, would kill our ticket. We will’t afford to take such threat. We should nominate males who’ve an opportunity.’

Charles refused to hear. ‘I don’t care what you say, John. No-one has higher {qualifications} than you for the job. It might be past unsuitable to not put your identify ahead.’ 

Pole-axed, I ceased arguing, positive that the remainder of the nominating committee would reject his nomination.

However he was proper, and I used to be unsuitable. That evening they selected me because the Liberty Get together’s candidate, and on polling day, to my delight and shock, I used to be elected with a sound majority. It’s not placing too advantageous a degree on it to confess I used to be past delighted—I used to be the primary Negro within the nation elected to public workplace in an open contest with whites. The publicity did no hurt to my profession!

‘Mr. Langston, I’d such as you to tackle my case.’ 

‘Mr. Langston, there’s a matter of legislation I would like to debate with you.’

‘Mr. Langston, my neighbor’s attempting to steal a few of my land. He’s planted bushes on my aspect of our boundary. Are you able to assist?’

Day after day, new shoppers got here to my door, and with the position of City Clerk got here many different authorized issues as effectively. I used to be so busy I had no time to assist on the farm. Thank goodness I’d employed a superb supervisor. 

Then, in the future, a possibility of a special stripe arrived by letter, post-marked New York.

Expensive Mr. Langston

We hear you’ve change into the primary black man in America to be elected to a civic place by a white neighborhood. We tender our most honest congratulations. Your achievement is vastly vital for the promotion of equality between the races.

The American Anti-Slavery Society invitations you to talk to our twenty-second anniversary convention, to be held Might 1855 on the Metropolitan Theater, New York. Your time-slot, must you settle for, shall be for thirty minutes on the morning of Might ninth., the anniversary of our founding. Precise time to be confirmed.

If you happen to can be part of us on this vital event, we pays you an honorarium of $50, plus cowl all bills of journey and lodging. 

Yours respectfully,

Edmund Quincy

Corresponding Secretary

American Anti-Slavery Society

Nobody had ever paid me for a speech earlier than. I may scarce include my pleasure! This request to talk to the AASS would put me in entrance of a number of the most high-profile abolitionists within the nation, individuals I used to be eager to satisfy. 

I considered who is perhaps there—individuals I’d both examine, or Frederick Douglass had talked about. William Lloyd Garrison, one in all its founders and the writer of the abolitionist paper The Liberator; Wendell Phillips, lawyer and such a superb orator that individuals referred to as him ‘abolition’s golden trumpet’; John G. Whittier, poet, Quaker and abolitionist; Gerrit Smith, the wealthiest landowner in New York State, who believed his wealth was a divine present for use for the oppressed. He’d already spent at the very least 1,000,000 {dollars} on liberating slaves and supporting abolitionist causes. Would Harriet Beecher Stowe or her brother, Henry Ward Beecher, be there? And James and Lucretia Mott, Lucy Stone, Stephen and Abby Kelley Foster? Heady stuff for a twenty-five-year-old black lawyer from a modest village in North Ohio!

Charles Fairchild referred to as into my workplace whereas I used to be nonetheless holding the open letter, my mind spinning on the potentialities and alternatives it will open up. 

‘Have a look at this, pal!’ I handed the letter to him. ‘If you happen to hadn’t insisted on nominating me, this may by no means have occurred!’

He clapped a hand on my shoulder. ‘John, you so deserve it. How did they hear about you, I ponder?’

I attempted to look humble. ‘I dropped a notice to Mr. Douglass, telling him of the election outcome. As you realize, he’s been my mentor in political issues for the previous few years. He’s on the AASS Govt Committee. Maybe he put a phrase in.’

‘In fact he did! Couldn’t occur to a greater chap! Inform me, what have you learnt about their goals and targets? There’s many abolition societies now.’

‘Mr. Douglass tells me the AASS don’t simply struggle for abolition. In addition they work to raise the character and situation of individuals of shade by combating prejudice and discrimination all through the nation. He’s been wanting me to satisfy these individuals for over a 12 months.’


On Might ninth, with a chilly rain washing the streets of New York, three thousand individuals crowded into the Metropolitan Theatre. 

I attempted to quell my nerves as I waited to go onstage. Not potential. Rubbed my sweaty palms nervously on my trousers. Took a number of deep breaths. Imagined myself talking to a pleasant viewers in Oberlin. The nerves settled somewhat.

Then I heard the Grasp of Ceremonies introduce me. I stepped out, blinking momentarily within the shiny stage lights. I may solely see individuals within the first few rows; the remainder of the viewers disappeared into the dimness. 

I started. ‘There may be not, inside the size and breadth of this whole nation, from Maine to Georgia, from the Atlantic to the Pacific Oceans, a solitary man or girl who’s in possession of his or her full share of civil, non secular and political liberty. […] Why? As a result of slavery is the good lord of this nation, and there’s no energy on this nation immediately robust sufficient to resist it.’

I talked in regards to the unfreedom of black and white, Northerners and Southerners, wealthy and poor. Of how the evils of slavery contaminated your entire nation, as a result of prejudice was its fruit. And I shared an instance I knew intimately. 

‘I want to converse now of […] the category which I’ve the honour to signify—the free individuals of shade. What’s our situation relating to civil, non secular and political liberty? Within the State through which I dwell, Ohio, they don’t benefit from the elective franchise, and why? It’s owing to the oblique affect of American slavery. Slavery in Kentucky, the adjoining State, says to the individuals of Ohio, “You should not permit coloured individuals to vote and be elected to workplace, as a result of our slaves will hear of it and change into stressed, and straight we will have an revolt and our throats shall be reduce.” And so the individuals of Ohio say to the coloured individuals, that they can’t permit them the privilege of voting, however the coloured individuals pay taxes like others, and within the face of the acknowledged precept that taxation and illustration ought to at all times go collectively.’

I completed with a problem. ‘Shall our free establishments triumph and our nation change into the asylum of the oppressed of all climes? […] Might God assist the correct!’

Because the viewers rose to their toes, cheering and clapping, my coronary heart raced. I’d executed it! I’d spoken to this mighty viewers they usually appreciated what I needed to say! I walked on air for the remainder of the day! The next morning’s New York dailies printed my speech in full, as did all the principle anti-slavery papers and journals across the nation. 

After that vast congress, nothing was the identical. Every little thing I’d executed till then had been however a coaching floor for the broader struggle. My means to affect others for the nice of my race modified, because of that invitation. 


Pre-order your copy now to find the primary thirty years of inspirational John Mercer Langston’s life. Assist him take again his rightful place in American historical past as one of many excellent black leaders of his century. 

Amazon hyperlinks:

About Robyn

New Zealander Robyn Pearce writes each historic fiction and non-fiction. A tremendous assortment of household letters and journals began her digging into freedoms misplaced and gained, because of intrepid ancestors who made the lengthy and harmful voyage to New Zealand within the mid-1800s. Abolitionist forebears, conductors on the Underground Railroad, are the inspiration for her present collection. Bless them, they saved their correspondence! 

See her fiction and extra about her at 

Her eight non-fiction titles, quite a few them best-sellers, all relate to improved productiveness and effectiveness. They’ve been written throughout her thirty-year worldwide profession because the Time Queen. Discover heaps of free sources and assist with time administration at

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