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People/Characters: William C. Nell

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Harriet Jacobs: A Life by Jean Fagan Yellin

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William Cooper Nell (December 16, 1816 – May 25, 1874) was an African-American abolitionist, journalist, publisher, author, and civil servant of Boston, Massachusetts, who worked for integration of schools and public facilities in the state. Writing for abolitionist newspapers The Liberator and The North Star, he helped publicize the anti-slavery cause. He published the North Star from 1847 to 18xx, moving temporarily to Rochester, New York.

He also helped found the New England Freedom Association in the early 1840s, and later the Committee of Vigilance, to aid refugee slaves. The Committee of Vigilance supported resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which had increased penalties against even citizens in free states who aided refugee slaves.

Nell's short histories, Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812 (1851) and The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), were the first studies published about African Americans. He is noted as the first African American to serve in the federal civil service, where he worked in the post office.

William C. Nell in Wikipedia


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