1839 – 2015
Robert Smalls was born in to slavery. Small was hardworking, and trustworthy. So trustworthy in fact, that his Confederate captors aboard Confederate warship named the Planter, frequently left Smalls unattended on the ship. , While Smalls earned a wage, it was insufficient to buy his family's freedom.
So, on May 12, 1862, Smalls set his sights on a new mission – freedom! With the captors and crew ashore, Smalls was able to commandeer the Confederate warship named the Planter.
Thanks to Smalls' keen observation of hand signals, he was able to navigate the warship past Confederate troops without detection. Smalls then charted a course for the Union army blockade. Moments before Union troops opened fire on the Planter, Smalls triumphantly raised a white flag of surrender.
Smalls' heroic escape and crafty misdirections on the high seas became legend. After his journey to freedom, Smalls dedicated the remainder of his life to helping others. From 1868 to 187 Robert Smalls served in both houses of the South Carolina state legislature.