It’s probably a safe bet that 99% of the people reading this post have no idea who Robert Smalls is.
It’s time to fix that.
Mr. Smalls was born in 1839 as an enslaved African American in Beaufort, South Carolina, who became an entrusted ship’s pilot whom freed himself, his crew and their/his families from slavery in none other than Charleston, SC.
When Mr. Smalls was 23, he took advantage of an unbelievable opportunity to freedom. The white owners and ship-mates of the Southern CSS Planter went to shore for a ‘night on the town’, Smalls and the rest of the enslaved crew commandeered the ship and sailed for the Union fleets.
Considered a traitor to the South and a hero to the North, Smalls later became an elected official as the SC House of Representatives in 1865 where he helped convince Pres. Lincoln to accept Blacks into the Union Army and them became a SC Senator in 1871.