Martin Robison Delany May 6, 1812 – January 24, 1885
Martin Delany made the cause of ending slavery his life’s mission. Delany was a celebrated physician and was one of the first African-Americans to be admitted to Harvard Medical School. Sadly, Delany dismissed a few weeks later after white students petitioned. In response Delany published, “The Condition, Elevation, Emigration, and Destiny of the Colored People of the United States, Politically Considered.” Delany was born in what is now West Virginia. But his mother moved the family to Pennsylvania in order to avoid Delany and his siblings being sold into slavery.
In an attempt to remove himself and his people from continued oppression in the U.S., Delany led an emigration commission to West Africa in search of possible sites for a new black nation, in 1859. After the start of the Civil War, Delany returned to the States to fight for freedom. He successfully recruited many more to join the Union Army, and subsequently delayed his emigration goal.
During Reconstruction after the war, Delany was assigned to The Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau. With Lincoln’s assassination, Reconstruction failed, and thus Delany reinvigorated his emigration stance, as he became an official with the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands, commonly referred to as the Freedmen’s Bureau. Frederick Douglass, the famous abolitionist who influenced Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, recognized Delany’s passion and hired him to write for his newspaper, The North Star.
Delany is most known for his efforts during the Civil War. Delany was major (commanding officer) of the 104th Regiment of the United States Colored Troops, this made Delany the highest ranking African-American in the military by that point.