Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls

Born: 5th April 1839

Died: 23rd February 1915

Birth Place: United States

Known for: Being an African-American politician.

Smalls escaped slavery and became a well respected politican.

He worked hard to help Black communities throughout his life.

He was also a successful businessman and leader.

My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be equal of anyone. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life

Robert Smalls

Life story

Rise to freedom 


Robert Smalls was born an enslaved person but became an African-American politician, publisher, and businessman. He freed himself in the Civil War and became a politician because he wanted to help make the United States a better place for Black people. 



At age 23, before becoming a politician, Smalls fought in the Civil War on the side of the Union to end slavery. He was known as a hero for the daring way he escaped slavery. He worked many different jobs in the Civil War and became a very well respected person. 



Life in politics 


Later, Smalls won a seat in the South Carolina State legislature as a Republican. He then went on to win a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming an important person in the federal government. He made some big changes for South Carolina, including making public school free and compulsory for every child. He also started the Republican Party of South Carolina. 


Smalls also started his own businesses. He set up a shop in 1866 to help sell things to freedmen who had once been enslaved. He spent much of the money he made on improving the area where he lived in South Carolina. He is remembered for how much he helped Black communities and for his success as a Black politician after the Civil War.

What is Smalls famous for? What age was Smalls when he fought in the Civil War? What did Smalls spend a lot of the money he made on?

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