Robert Smalls

Jordan Coleman

Robert Smalls, born on April 5, 1893, in Beaufort South Carolina and died on February 23, 1915, escaped slavery to freedom by stealing a gunboat called “The Planter” under the supervision on confederates and sailing it to the union lines. On May 13, 1862, around three in the morning, Smalls led the crewmen to raise both the South Carolina and Confederate flags. From good observation, he was able to remember the symbols that the ship’s captain uses to receive clearance from other confederate boats to the harbor. By doing so, he was ready to sail through the night unbothered. Through their journey, they stopped to pick up other slaves and Robert’s wife and kids. His actions received significant recognition in his time, and his political status showed it after the escape. He served as republican in the U.S House of Representatives, and he served in the military. Along with Frederick Douglass, he sat down with President Lincoln. He convinced him to allow African Americans to join the Union army. His escape persuaded Lincoln to let African Americans join because he then knew what they were capable of because of Smalls’s capability as a black man to transport a confederate boat to freedom.