: Professor John Mercer Langston delivered this speech, titled "Equality Before the Law," at a Fifteenth Amendment celebration in Oberlin, Ohio in 1874. The Fifteenth Amendment, ratified in 1870, declared that race could not be used as a factor in determining voting rights. It is notable that the celebration commemorated the Fifteenth Amendment rather than the Thirteenth, which abolished slavery, or the Fourteenth, which declared African Americans citizens. The pamphlet is eight pages in length and measures 5" x 9" (12.7 x 22.86 cm). John Mercer Langston (1829-1897) was born in Louisa County Virginia, the son of a wealthy white planter and slaveholder and a free black and Indian mother. Upon his father's death, Langston was left a large inheritance. He enrolled at Oberlin College in 1843 and in 1849 became the fifth African American to graduate. Langston became the first black lawyer admitted to the bar in 1854. A staunch advocate of rights for African Americans, Langston became involved in local politics in Brownhelm and Oberlin, Ohio. His election as town clerk in Brownhelm is believed to be the first time an African American was elected to public office in the United States. After the Civil War, Langston became a professor of law at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and was minister to Haiti from 1877 to 1885. He was president of the Virginia Normal and Collegiate Institute and served in the House of Representatives from 1890 to 1891. View on Ohio Memory.
: Om3190_3813041_001 Subjects
: Civil Liberties; African American Ohioans; Langston, John Mercer, 1829-1897; Voting; Suffrage; Civil rights Places
: Oberlin (Ohio); Lorain County (Ohio)