James McCune Smith

The son of a slave father and a self-emancipated bondswoman, James McCune Smith (1813-65) was born in New York City, where he attended the New York African Free School. Denied admission to American medical schools, Smith set sail for Scotland in 1832, receiving his B.A. (1835), M.A. (1836), and M.D. (1837) from the University of Glasgow. Upon his return to New York City, Smith set up a medical practice and pharmacy that catered to both blacks and whites. He also devoted himself to abolitionist concerns. Smith briefly served as an associate editor of the Colored American in 1839 and contributed regularly to the Anglo-African Magazine and, under the pseudonym "Communipaw," to the North Star and Frederick Douglass’ Paper. A longtime opponent of black colonization and emigration, Smith helped finance the revival of the Weekly Anglo-African as an anti-emigrationist organ in 1861. In 1863 Smith was appointed professor of anthropology at Wilberforce College, but illness kept him from his post. FDP, 18 May 1855; Lib., 1 June 1838; Benjamin Quarles, Black Abolitionists (New York, 1969), 115, 134; Jane H. Pease and William H. Pease, They Who Would Be Free: Blacks’ Search for Freedom, 1830-1861 (New York, 1974), 90-92, 103, 110; David W. Blight, "In Search of Learning, Liberty, and Self-Definition: James McCune Smith and the Ordeal of the Antebellum Black Intellectual," Afro-Americans in New York Life and History, 9:7-25 (July 1985); Rhoda Golden Freeman, "The Free Negro in New York City in the Era Before the Civil War" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1966), 40-42, 177, 186, 195, 200, 247, 276, 286, 325, 353, 393; Dictionary of American Biography, 20 vols. (New York, 1928-36), 27:288-89.

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