A good one for today.
Robert was born in Beaufort, South Carolina back in 1839 to Robert and Lydia. At the age of 12 he worked in a hotel, then became a lamplighter on the streets of Charleston. His love of the sea found him working on the docks and wharves. Starting out as a dockworker, a rigger and a sail maker working his way up to a wheelman.
In April 1861 with the Battle of Fort Sumter he was assigned to steer the CSS Planter. His assignment was to deliver troops and supplies. He also surveyed the waterways and to lay mines. In 1862 while the officers were on shore duty Robert saw his chance taking control of the vessel sailing it past the harbor forts without incident. He headed northward where he was spotted by a crewman of the USS Onward. He surrendered the ship where he fought for the against the Confederacy.
You see I’m writing about Robert Smalls who was born into slavery, his escape helped convince President Lincoln to allow African-Americans soldiers into the U.S. Army and the U.S. Navy. A loyal republican he wrote that “the Republican Party was the party of Lincoln.” He was a delegate to the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention. Elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives he introduced the Homestead Act and helped pass the Civil Right bill in 1870. In 1874 he was elected to the United States House of Representatives serving two terms. He was also the last Republican to be elected in South Carolina until 2010. Goes to show you what one can do doesn’t it, if they can dream the dream. He died in 1915 at 75.