Looking to learn about some serious amazing history? The story of Robert Smalls, The Gullah Statesman, is like something out of a movie. From a slave to a congressman, Robert Smalls is a true American hero and Southern Gentlemen. Today we are featuring our favorite Robert Smalls Biographies to Add to Your Collection. Take a walk down history lane and learn about this real life super hero.
The astonishing true story of Robert Smalls’ amazing journey from slave to Union hero and ultimately United States Congressman.
It was a mild May morning in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1862, the second year of the Civil War, when a twenty-three-year-old slave named Robert Smalls did the unthinkable and boldly seized a Confederate steamer. With his wife and two young children hidden on board, Smalls and a small crew ran a gauntlet of heavily armed fortifications in Charleston Harbor and delivered the valuable vessel and the massive guns it carried to nearby Union forces. To be unsuccessful was a death sentence for all. Smalls’ courageous and ingenious act freed him and his family from slavery and immediately made him a Union hero while simultaneously challenging much of the country’s view of what African Americans were willing to do to gain their freedom.
A native of Beaufort, South Carolina, Robert Smalls was born into slavery but-through acts of remarkable courage and determination-became the first African American hero of the Civil War and one of the most influential African American politicians in South Carolina history. In this largely political biography of Smalls’s inspirational story, Edward A. Miller, Jr., traces the triumphs and setbacks of the celebrated U.S. congressman and advocate of compulsory, desegregated public education to illustrate how the life and contributions of this singular individual were indicative of the rise and fall of political influence for all African Americans during this rough transitional period in American history.
The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls (Young Palmetto Books)
Robert Smalls, born a slave in 1839 in Beaufort, South Carolina, gained fame as an African American hero of the American Civil War. The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls tells the inspirational story of Small’s life as a slave, his boyhood dream of freedom, and his bold and daring plan as a young man to commandeer a Confederate gunboat from Charleston Harbor and escape with fifteen fellow slaves and family members. Smalls joined the Union Navy and rose to the rank of captain and became the first African American to command a U.S. service ship. After the war Smalls returned to Beaufort, bought the home of his former master, and began a long career in state and national politics.
This new edition of The Freedom Ship of Robert Smalls, originally published in 1971, features Louise Meriwether’s original narrative, now illustrated by the colorful paintings of renowned Southern artist Jonathan Green.
“Robert Smalls worked as a wheelman on coastal vessels with his pay going to his master. One day in the midst of the Civil War he stole the Planter from under the noses of the Confederate sentries and took it out of Charleston Harbor, past Fort Sumter. …This is a fascinating historical novel that delves into the evils of Reconstruction, Jim Crow, twentieth century racism and close, personal racial attitudes… Brilliantly done… It is a masterful work.” Scott Skipper- Goodreads
Robert Smalls stood at the Planter’s wheel. Only seven miles of water lay between the ship and the Union blockade. For Robert, his family, and his crewmates, reaching the blockade would mean a chance at freedom.
Growing up a slave in South Carolina, Robert Smalls had always dreamed of the moment freedom would be within his grasp. Now it was here, and all the lives aboard the Planter were in Robert’s hands. With precision and daring, he would have to navigate past the forts ahead and steer the ship to the safety of the Union fleet. Just one miscalculation could be deadly, but for Robert and the others it was a risk worth taking.
Seven Miles to Freedom is a compelling account of the daring escape of Robert Smalls, a slave steamboat wheelman who would become one of the Civil War’s greatest heroes. His steadfast courage in the face of adversity serves a model for all who must overcome the seemingly insurmountable.