Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
and Company, 1887-1889 and 1999. Virtualology.com warns that these 19th Century
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LANGSTON, John Mercer, educator, born in Louisa county, Virginia, 14 December, 1829. He was by birth a slave, but was emancipated at the age of six years. He was graduated at, Oberlin in 1849, and at the theological department in 1853. After studying law he was admitted to the bar of Ohio in 1854, and practised his profession there until 1869, during which time he was clerk of several townships in Ohio, being the first colored man that was elected to an office of any sort by popular vote. He was also a member of the board of education of Oberlin. In 1869 he was called to a professorship of law in Howard university, Washington, D. C., and became dean of the faculty of the law department and active in its organization, remaining there seven years. He was appointed by President Grant a member of the board of health of the District of Columbia, and was elected its secretary in 1875. In 1877-'85 he was United States minister and consul-general in Hayti. On his return to this country in 1885 he was appointed president of the Virginia normal and collegiate institute in Petersburg. which office he now (1887) holds. In addition to various addresses and papers on political, biographical, literary, and scientific subjects, Mr. Langston is the author of a volume of selected addresses entitled " Freedom and Citizenship" (Washington, 1883).
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