Updated: Jan 13
Robert Smalls is an American Hero whose dedication to the cause of freedom made him one of the most important figures in the American Civil War.
He made history many times over, but many of us weren't taught that history in school. These facts about Robert Smalls will certainly have readers searching for more information about this extraordinary hero.
11 Interesting Facts About the Honorable Robert Smalls
1. Gullah Geechee Heritage
Born in Beaufort, SC, Robert Smalls is Gullah Geechee. Gullah Geechee people are descendants of enslaved Africans who live in parts of SC, GA, and FL. Gullah Geechee people have a distinct culture, language, and heritage that directly connects them to their African ancestors.
2. Stole a Confederate Ship
As an enslaved African American, Robert Smalls commandeered the CSS Planter (a Confederate ship) during the Civil War and delivered it to the Union to gain his freedom and freedom of close family members and friends too.
3. Purchased Enslavers Home
After gaining his freedom, Robert Smalls went back to Beaufort and bought the home of his former slave master. The house still stands at 511 Prince St. It is a National Historic Landmark, and the city hopes to one day turn it into a museum.
4. Founder of the SC Republican Party
Robert Smalls was one of the founders of the Republican Party of South Carolina because the Democrat party at that time was heavily invested in the disenfranchisement of African Americans. The focus of the two parties would later change in the 1960's with the passage of the Civil Rights Act and the rise of Strom Thurmond.
5. Education Advocate
Robert Smalls served on the Beaufort County School Board and authored state legislation providing for South Carolina to have the first free and compulsory public school system in the United States.
6. Statues Dedicated
There is a statue dedicated to Robert Smalls on the grounds of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC.
7. Notable Quote
"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." ~ The Honorable Robert Smalls
8. His Resting Place
Robert Smalls is buried on the historic grounds of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Beaufort, SC.
9. Robert Smalls High School
Robert Smalls High School was a high school for Black students in Beaufort, SC. A plaque now rests where the school once stood.
10. Robert Smalls International Academy
A middle school in Beaufort, SC is named in honor of Robert Smalls. It was first Robert Smalls Jr. High, but today it is named Robert Smalls International Academy.
11. Robert Smalls Parkway
There is a parkway named for Robert Smalls in Beaufort, SC. It's a major highway that runs through Beaufort County.
Robert Smalls' bravery, resilience, and intelligence, despite being enslaved is an inspiring story that everyone should know. Want to learn more? Click here to learn more about the Honorable Robert Smalls.
A breathtaking scene near the Robert Smalls house in Beaufort, SC
(Photo credit: Helping Kids Rise)