Martin R. Delany

Martin R. Delany photo

Martin Robison Delany (May 6, 1812 January 24, 1885) was an African American abolitionist, the first African American Field Officer in the U.S Army, and one of the earliest African Americans to encourage a return to Africa.

When Reconstruction began Delany was assigned to the Freedman’s Bureau in South Carolina. There he called for black pride, the enforcement of black civil rights and land for the freedpeople. Delany became active in local Republican politics, losing a close election for Lieutenant Governor of South Carolina but later serving briefly as a judge in Charleston, South Carolina. As the Republicans lost power in the state Delany renewed his calls for emigration, becoming in 1878 an official in the Liberian Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company. He also wrote, in 1879, The Principia of Ethnology, a book that argued for race pride and purity. Read the full biography at

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