Freedom Fighter Abraham Galloway of Southport and Wilmington

Image from the State Archives.On September 1, 1870, African-American activist Abraham Galloway died in Wilmington.

Born in 1837 in what is now the town of Southport, Galloway was the son of a white ship’s pilot and a slave. He escaped to the North by ship in 1857 and became active in militant abolitionist circles.

During the Civil War, Galloway led black recruitment efforts in the federally occupied northeastern portion of the state to fill the ranks of what would become Gen. Edward Wild’s African Brigade. For the volunteers, he secured pay equal to that of the Massachusetts regiments, educational opportunities for soldiers’ children and support for their families, most of whom were destitute.

As the war waned, Galloway began shifting his focus to the political struggle for equal treatment and organized the Equal Rights League, which lobbied for rights for freed slaves, including education, protection from violence and the right to vote.

Galloway and the league organized the state’s first freedmen’s convention, held in Raleigh in September 1865, to represent the interests of the state’s black population as the constitutional convention convened across town.

The apex of Galloway’s political career came in 1868 when he was among the first black men to be elected to the state senate. He would serve there until his death.

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