Robert Smalls Biography
Later Life and Interesting Facts
Smalls wanted to use his wealth and popularity to help the former slaves of South Carolina improve their lives. He joined the anti-slavery Republican Party and became involved in state and local politics. In 1874, Robert entered into the world of national politics when he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. Smalls served a total of five terms in Congress where he fought for the rights of African American citizens in South Carolina.
Later Life and Death
Robert's wife Hannah died in 1883. Robert would marry again in 1890 and have one more child. He died on February 23, 1915 from diabetes and malaria.
Interesting Facts about Robert Smalls
He once said, "My race needs no special defense, for the past history of them in this country proves them to be the equal of any people anywhere. All they need is an equal chance in the battle of life."
Before escaping, Robert offered to purchase his wife and daughter from their owner. The price was so high, however, that he knew he could never save enough money to buy their freedom.
Besides the ship, guns, and ammunition, the Planter also contained the captain's codebook, giving the Union invaluable secret codes of the Confederate Navy.
He founded the Republican Party of South Carolina.
Using information provided by Smalls, the Union Army captured Coles Island from the Confederacy without a fight only a week after Smalls' escape.
Congress awarded the Planter crew money for turning the ship over to the Union. Smalls' share was $1500, a decent amount of money for the time.
- Be Free or Die: The Amazing Story of Robert Smalls' Escape from Slavery to Union Hero by Cate Lineberry. 2017.
- US House of Representatives website: http://history.house.gov/People/Detail/21764. 2017.
- Robert Smalls from Slavery to Congress, 1839-1915 by Edward A. Miller. 2008.
- Yearning to Breathe Free: Robert Smalls of South Carolina and his Families by Andrew Billingsley and James E. Clyburn. 2010.
Robert Smalls Biography Contents
- Overview and Early Life
- Escape from the South
- Later Life and Interesting Facts