James McCune Smith
American physician and abolitionist
James McCune Smith
James McCune Smith was an American physician, apothecary, abolitionist, and author. He is the first African-American to earn a medical degree, and the first to run a pharmacy in the United States. Smith wrote forcefully in refutation of the common misconceptions about race, intelligence, medicine, and society in general. His friends and colleagues in this movement were often famous and consisted of many noted abolitionists, including Frederick Douglass.
Biography
James McCune Smith's personal information overview.
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Slowly does it as St Lawrence lift Priestley Cup - Bradford Telegraph and Argus
Google News - over 5 years
Skipper James Smith saluted his team's “secret plan” after Pudsey St Lawrence lifted the Sovereign Health Care Priestley Cup for the first time in 14 years. As he celebrated the five-wicket triumph over East Bierley at Wagon Lane,
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Patrol employee convicted of fixing tickets - Houston Chronicle
Google News - over 5 years
James Smith was found guilty Friday of four of seven counts of making or providing false or fraudulent statements. Each charges carries up to five years in prison. The Clarion-Ledger (http://bit.ly/ngZNcF) reported that US District Judge Dan Jordan set
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Smith happy to win pro debut - Dunstable Today
Google News - over 5 years
LUTON boxer James Smith felt he more than proved his doubters wrong with a debut win over Ryan Clark at Liquid Luton nightclub on Graham Earl's Renaissance Night last month, writes Mike Simmonds. The 22-year-old won all of his rounds to conclude a
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New Rialto board to seek donations - Chicago Sun-Times
Google News - over 5 years
James Smith, owner of James V. Smith & Associates and vice chairman of the Will County Metropolitan Exposition and Auditorium Authority JOLIET — The Rialto Square Theatre expects to boost its
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Man Flown to Hospital After Electrical Shock - WSAZ-TV
Google News - over 5 years
Rick Miller was working on the roof of a storage building for his friend James Smith on Morning Star Road in the Racine area. Smith says Miller was up on the roof by himself with a piece of aluminum fascia getting ready to put it on the side of the
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Brothers jailed after cable thief's killer shock - Mirror.co.uk
Google News - over 5 years
Father-of-two James Smith, 28, was killed as he cut the cable after breaking into a rail substation with Jason and John Tusting last December. The pair tried to resuscitate him and Jason anonymously called 999 but they still sold the metal hours later
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City of Avon the real winner at Frontier League all-star game - Chronicle-Telegram
Google News - over 5 years
“This all started with the commitment of Crushers owner Steven Edelson and the continued cooperation of (Avon Mayor James) Smith. This has really been a match made in heaven,” said Lee, who is in his 18th year at the helm of the Frontier League
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Kapanke, Shilling discuss 32nd Senate District recall election - WEAU-TV 13
Google News - over 5 years
LA CROSSE, WI (WEAU)--In the 32nd Senate District, State Representative Jennifer Shilling ran away with the win last night against her protest opponent James Smith. She will face recalled Senator Dan Kapanke on Aug. 9. "As we travel throughout the 32nd
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Southport FC boss Liam Watson hails signing of defender James Smith as a ... - Southport Visiter
Google News - over 5 years
The Yellow's boss swooped for Altrincham's James Smith late last week to bolster his defensive options ahead of the kick-off to pre-season football against Rochdale on Saturday. The 25-year-old defender will join fellow summer defensive imports - Steve
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First Study of Its Kind Shows Benefits of Providing Medical Insurance to Poor
NYTimes - over 5 years
When poor people are given medical insurance, they not only find regular doctors and see doctors more often but they also feel better, are less depressed and are better able to maintain financial stability, according to a new, large-scale study that provides the first rigorously controlled assessment of the impact of Medicaid. While the findings
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Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of James McCune Smith
    FIFTIES
  • 1865
    Age 51
    At the time, Smith was too ill to take the position. He died two years later on November 17, 1865 of congestive heart failure on Long Island, New York at the age of 52.
    More Details Hide Details This was nineteen days before ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which abolished slavery throughout the country. He was buried at Cypress Hills Cemetery, in Brooklyn. Smith was survived by his widow, Malvina, and five children. In 1870 the Smiths were again all classified as white on the census. James Smith Jr. had married a white woman and had children. His siblings also would marry white spouses and have families. Because of trying to escape racial prejudice, it appeared that they did not pass on the stories about their father's achievements, as later generations did not learn of them. It was not until the twenty-first century that a connection was made again, and his descendants learned of some of their African-American ancestors. Gradually Smith's achievements were forgotten within the family, as his sons worked to escape racial prejudice in New York and did not discuss their African-American ancestry.
  • FORTIES
  • 1863
    Age 49
    In 1863 Smith was appointed as professor of anthropology at Wilberforce College, Ohio.
    More Details Hide Details It was founded in a collaboration between the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME Church) and the Methodist Church of Cincinnati as a college for students of color before the American Civil War. By 1860, it had numerous mixed-race students from the South, whose tuition was paid by their wealthy white planter fathers. The war caused the withdrawal of most southern students, threatening survival of the school. In 1863 the college was purchased by the AME Church and established as the first African American-owned and operated college in the United States.
    In July 1863, during the three-day New York Draft Riots, in which most participants were ethnic Irish, rioters attacked and burned down the orphan asylum.
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  • 1859
    Age 45
    Dr. Vanessa Northington Gamble, a medical doctor and historian at George Washington University, in 2010 noted, "As early as 1859, Dr. McCune Smith said that race was not biological but was a social category."
    More Details Hide Details He also commented on the positive ways that ethnic Africans would influence US culture and society, in music, dance, food, and other elements. His collected essays, speeches and letters have been published as The Works of James McCune Smith: Black Intellectual and Abolitionist (2006), edited by John Stauffer.
    In 1859 he published an article using scientific findings and analysis to refute the former president Thomas Jefferson's theories of race, as expressed in his well-known Notes on the State of Virginia (1785).
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  • 1854
    Age 40
    In 1854 he was elected as a member by the American Geographical Society (founded in New York in 1851 by top scientists as well as wealthy amateurs interested in exploration).
    More Details Hide Details The Society recognized him by giving him an award for one of his articles. He also joined the New-York Historical Society. Among numerous other works supporting abolitionism and dealing with issues related to race, Smith is well known for his introduction to Frederick Douglass' second autobiography, My Bondage and My Freedom (1855). It expressed the new independence in African-American accounts of slavery, compared to earlier works, which had to seek approval for authentication from white abolitionists, as readers rejected some harsh accounts of conditions under slavery. Smith wrote: the worst of our institutions, in its worst aspect, cannot keep down energy, truthfulness, and earnest struggle for the right.
  • THIRTIES
  • 1852
    Age 38
    As Smith started publishing, his work was quickly accepted by newer scientific organizations: in 1852 Smith was invited to be a founding member of the New York Statistics Institute.
    More Details Hide Details
    Invited as a founding member of the New York Statistics Society in 1852, which promoted a new science, he was elected as a member in 1854 of the recently founded American Geographic Society.
    More Details Hide Details But, he was never admitted to the American Medical Association or local medical associations. He has been most well known for his leadership as an abolitionist; a member of the American Anti-Slavery Society, with Frederick Douglass he helped start the National Council of Colored People in 1853, the first permanent national organization for blacks. Douglass said that Smith was "the single most important influence on his life." Smith was one of the Committee of Thirteen, who organized in 1850 in New York City to resist the newly passed Fugitive Slave Law by aiding fugitive slaves through the Underground Railroad. Other leading abolitionist activists were among his friends and colleagues. From the 1840s, he lectured on race and abolitionism and wrote numerous articles to refute racist ideas about black capacities. Both Smith and his wife were of mixed-race African and European ancestry. As he became economically successful, he built a house in a good neighborhood; in the 1860 census he and his family were classified in that neighborhood as white, whereas in 1850 they were classified as mulatto. He served for nearly 20 years as the doctor at the Colored Orphan Asylum in New York but, after it was burned down in July 1863 by a mob in the New York Draft Riots, in which nearly 100 blacks were killed, Smith moved his family and practice out to Brooklyn for safety. The parents stressed education for their children.
  • 1850
    Age 36
    In 1850 as a member of the Committee of Thirteen, Smith was one of the key organizers of resistance in New York City to the newly passed Fugitive Slave Act, which required states to aid federal law enforcement in capturing escaped slaves.
    More Details Hide Details As did similar groups in Boston, his committee aided fugitive slaves to escape capture and helped connect them to people of the Underground Railroad and other escape routes. During the mid-1850s, Smith worked with Frederick Douglass to establish the National Council of Colored People, one of the first permanent black national organizations, beginning with a three-day convention in Rochester, New York. At the Convention in Rochester, he and Frederick Douglass emphasized the importance of education for their race and urged the founding of more schools for black youth. Smith wanted choices available for both industrial and classical education. Douglass valued his rational approach and said that Smith was "the single most important influence on his life." Smith tempered the more radical people in the abolitionist movement and insisted on arguing from facts and analysis. He wrote a regular column in Douglass' paper, published under the pseudonym, 'Communipaw.'
  • 1846
    Age 32
    He worked effectively with both black and white abolitionists, for instance maintaining a friendship and correspondence with Gerrit Smith that spanned the years from 1846-1865.
    More Details Hide Details Publishing articles quickly brought him to the attention of the national abolitionist movement. His "Destiny of the People of Color", "Freedom and Slavery for Africans", and "A lecture on the Haytien Revolution; with a note on Toussaint L'Ouverture", established him as a new force in the field. He directed the Colored People's Educational Movement (to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln).
    In 1846, Smith was appointed as the only doctor of the Colored Orphan Asylum (also known as the Free Negro Orphan Asylum), at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. (Before that time, the directors had depended on pro bono services of doctors.) He worked there for nearly 20 years.
    More Details Hide Details The asylum was founded in 1836 by Anna and Hannah Shotwell and Mary Murray, Quaker philanthropists in New York. Trying to protect the children, Smith regularly gave vaccinations for smallpox. Leading causes of death were infectious diseases: measles (for which there was no vaccine), smallpox and tuberculosis (for which there was no antibiotic at the time). In addition to caring for orphans, the home sometimes boarded children temporarily when their parents were unable to support them, as jobs were scarce for free blacks in New York. Waves of immigration from Ireland and Germany in the 1840s and 1850s meant there were many new immigrants competing for work. Smith was always working for the asylum. In July 1852, he presented the trustees with 5,000 acres provided by his friend Gerrit Smith, a wealthy white abolitionist. The land was to be held in trust and later sold for benefit of the orphans.
  • TWENTIES
  • 1837
    Age 23
    When he returned to New York City in 1837 with his degrees, Smith was greeted as a hero by the black community.
    More Details Hide Details He said at a gathering, "I have striven to obtain education, at every sacrifice and every hazard, and to apply such education to the good of our common country." He was the first university-trained African-American physician in the United States. During his practice of 25 years, he was also the first black to have articles published in American medical journals, but he was never admitted to the American Medical Association or local ones. He established his practice in Lower Manhattan in general surgery and medicine, treating both black and white patients. He also started a school in the evenings, teaching children. He established what has been called the first black-owned and operated pharmacy in the United States, located at 93 West Broadway (near Foley Square today). His friends and activists gathered in the back room of the pharmacy to discuss issues related to their work in abolitionism.
  • 1835
    Age 21
    He obtained a bachelor's degree in 1835, a master's degree in 1836, and a medical degree in 1837.
    More Details Hide Details He also completed an internship in Paris. After his return to New York and getting established, in the early 1840s Smith married Malvina Barnet (c.1825 -), a free woman of color who was a graduate of the Rutger Female Institute. They had eleven children and five survived to adulthood. The name of one of the children is unknown: In 1850, the senior Smith's household included four older women: Lavinia Smith, age 67 (his mother: b. c.1783 - d. bet.1860-1870), born in South Carolina and listed first as head of household; Sarah Williams, 57; Amelia Jones, 47; and Mary Hewlitt, 53, who were likely relatives or friends. By then Smith and his wife Malvina had three children: James, Henry and Amy. Each member of the household was classified as mulatto (or of mixed ancestry), and all but Lavinia Smith were born in New York. They lived in a mixed neighborhood in the Fifth Ward; in the census, nearly all other neighbors on the page were classified as white; many were immigrants from England, Ireland, and France.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1833
    Age 19
    According to the historian Thomas M. Morgan, Smith enjoyed the relative racial tolerance in Scotland and England, which officially abolished slavery in 1833. (New York had finally abolished all slavery in 1826.) He studied and graduated at the top of his class.
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  • 1826
    Age 12
    In the course of his studies, Smith was tutored by Rev. Peter Williams, Jr., a graduate of the African Free School who had been ordained in 1826 as the second African-American priest in the Episcopal Church. (Williams had founded St. Philip's African Church in New York City.) Upon graduation, Smith applied to Columbia University and Geneva Medical College in New York State, but was denied admission due to racial discrimination.
    More Details Hide Details Williams encouraged Smith to attend the University of Glasgow in Scotland. He and abolitionist benefactors of the AFS provided Smith with money for his trip overseas and his education. Smith kept a journal of his sea voyage that expressed his sense of mission. After arriving in Liverpool and walking along the waterfront, he thought, "I am free!" Through abolitionist connections, he was welcomed there by members of the London Agency Anti-Slavery Society.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1813
    Born
    Smith was born free in 1813 in New York City (New York state had passed gradual abolition in 1799; children of slave mothers were born free but had to serve an indenture until early adulthood.) His mother, believed to be Lavinia Smith, achieved her freedom later in life; she said she was a "self-emancipated woman."
    More Details Hide Details She was born into slavery South Carolina and had been brought to New York as a slave. His father was Samuel Smith, a white merchant and his mother's master, who had brought her with him to New York from South Carolina. The boy grew up only with his mother. As an adult, James Smith alluded to other white ancestry through his mother's family, saying he had kin in the South, some of whom were slaveholders and others slaves. Smith attended the African Free School (AFS) #2 on Mulberry Street in Manhattan, where he was described as an "exceptionally bright student". He was among numerous boys who went on to have brilliant careers, some of whom he worked with in the abolitionist cause.
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