Samuel Ringgold Ward

Ward was born in to slavery on the 17th October, 1817, in that part of the State of Maryland, U. S., commonly called the Eastern Shore. His mother escaped with him to New Jersey where his brother was born. After his escape, his father learned to read, so that he could enjoy the priceless privilege of searching the Scriptures. Supporting himself by his trade as a house painter, or whatever else offered. But until his parent's death in the 1850s, they were always concerned with the possibility of being re-taken.

from his autobiography:

"Having contracted a disease of the uvula and tonsils, which threatened to destroy my usefulness as a speaker, with great reluctance I relinquished that beloved charge in 1843, and in December of that year moved to Geneva, where I commenced the study of medicine with Doctors Williams and Bell. The skill of my preceptors, with God's blessing, prevailing over my disorder, I was enabled to speak occasionally to a small Church in Geneva, while residing there; and finally to resume public and continuous anti-slavery labours, in connection with the Liberty Party, in 1844. In 1846 I became pastor of the Congregational Church in Cortland Village, New York, where some of the most laborious of my services were rendered, and where I saw more of the foolishness, wickedness, and at the same time the invincibility, of American Negro-hate, than I ever saw elsewhere. Would that I had been more worthy of the kindness of those who invited me to that place--of those friends whom I had the good fortune to win while I lived there--especially of those who showed me the most fraternal kindness during the worst, longest illness I have suffered throughout life, and while passing through severe pecuniary troubles. My youngest son, William Reynolds Ward, is buried there; and there were born two of my daughters, Emily and Alice, the former deceased, the latter still living.

"From Cortland we moved to Syracuse in 1851, whence, on account of my participating in the "Jerry rescue case," on the first day of October in that year, it became quite expedient to move in some haste to Canada, in November. During the last few years of my residence in the United States I was editor and proprietor of two newspapers, both of which I survive, and in both of which

"I sunk every shred of my property. While at this business, it seemed necessary that I should know something of law. For this purpose, I commenced the reading of it: but I beg to say, that after smattering away, or teaching, law, medicine, divinity, and public lecturing, I am neither lawyer, doctor, teacher, divine, nor lecturer; and at the age of eight-and-thirty I am glad to hasten back to what my father first taught me, and from what I never should have departed--the tilling of the soil, the use of the hoe."


reference: [Ward autobiography]


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