WILLIAM COOPER NELL

William Cooper Nell born on December 16, 1816 was an abolitionist, journalist, publisher, author, historian and civil servant of Boston, Massachusetts. Nell worked for the inclusion of Black people in public schools and other public facilities. Writing for abolitionist newspapers The Liberator and Frederick Douglass’ The North Star (1847 to 1851), he helped publicize the cruelty of enslavement and worked tirelessly for the anti-enslavement cause.


Nell also helped found the New England Freedom Association in the early 1840s, and later the Committee of Vigilance, to aid refugee enslaved Africans. He was influential in beginning the New England Freedom Association, an all-black organization that helped fugitive enslaved people find food, clothing and a place to live when they arrived in the North through the Underground Railroad. The Committee of Vigilance supported resistance to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which had increased penalties against all citizens in so-called free states who aided the refugee enslaved. 


In 1858 he organized the first memorial celebration of 1776 freedom fighter, Crispus Attucks at Faneuil Hall. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Nell worked to have blacks accepted as soldiers in the Union Army. Nell died of a stroke in 1874 at the age of 58. His wife Lucy B. (Drake) Ames survived him by more than twenty years, dying in Nashua, New Hampshire, on May 25, 1874. The Nells had two sons.


#WilliamCooperNell’s short histories, Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776 and 1812 (1851) and The Colored Patriots of the American Revolution (1855), were the first studies published about Black Americans. He is noted as the first Black person to serve in the federal civil service, where he worked in the post office. The William Cooper Nell House, now a private residence in Beacon Hill, was designated a National Historic Landmark in recognition for his contributions to the abolition movement.

Resource: blackpast.org  wikipedia.org

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