James McCune Smith

Topics: New York City, Racism, Virginia, Abolitionism, Democratic Party, American Civil War / Pages: 2 (678 words) / Published: Jan 16th, 2015
James McCune Smith

James McCune Smith was born on April 18, 1813 in New York to a mother who was a freed slave named Lavinia Smith and a father was Samuel Smith, a white merchant and his mother master. He went to African Free School in New York City. In 1824, at the age eleven he was chosen to give a speech to the Marquis de Lafayette out of his whole class. When graduating he was denied admission into many American colleges because of his color. Later he was able to raise enough money to go to the University of Glasgow in Scotland. In Scotland, he completed a bachelor’s and master’s degree first in his class for both degrees. A year later he went for a medical degree in 1837 and graduated first in his class again. He was determined to become the first African American to be awarded a degree in medicine. While in Scotland he joined the Glasgow Emancipation Society (an organization that helped fund his education). He went to Paris to complete a medical internship and worked briefly as a doctor in Paris, France until he returned to New York City around 1840.
When back in New York City he married Malvina Barnet a free woman of color. Together they had seven children, but only five survived to adult hood. James opened a medical office and a pharmacy (the first one ever to be owned/operated by a African American) which brought in many different types of clients on West Broadway. . He worked as a physician and surgeon from 1838 until 1863. For 20 years, he served on the medical staff at the Free Negro Orphan Asylum in New York City. Also while back in New York, he became a powerful anti-slavery and anti-racism organizer, orator and a writer. In his scientific writings Smith debunked the racial theories in Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, refuted phrenology and homeopathy, and responded with a forceful statistical critique to the racially biased US Census of 1840. James was invited as a founding member of the New York Statistics Society in

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