The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack

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Today in History: Robert Smalls

Posted by Gilbert Stack on May 13, 2018 at 7:20 AM

On this day (May 13) in 1862 an African-American slave named Robert Smalls succeeded in taking over the steam ship CSS Planter and steering it through Confederate controlled waters to the U.S. Blockade where he surrendered the vessel to the union. As a reward, he was made captain of the ship (now called USS Planter) when the vessel was put into U.S. service. He went on to become a Representative to Congress for South Carolina after the war despite massive efforts by whites in South Carolina to defeat him. Twice his “defeats” were contested to Congress. There was massive evidence of voter intimidation both times. The first time, Congress overturned his defeat and he became the official Representative. The second time, Congress declined to do so, even though the voter intimidation efforts were greater than the first.

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