Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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NELL, William Cooper, author, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 20 December, 1816; died there, 25 May, 1874. He was of African descent. He was graduated at Boston grammar-school, winning a medal for scholarship, read law with William I. Bowditch, and was prepared for admission to the bar, but by advice of Wendell Phillips would not take the oath of allegiance to the constitution with slavery. He became a clerk in the Boston post-office in 1861, being the first colored man to hold a post under the National government, and remained there till his death. Mr. Nell was active in his efforts for the improvement of his race, obtaining equal school privileges for the colored youth of Boston, and forming many literary societies. Besides several pamphlets, he published" Services of Colored Americans in the Wars of 1776-18 2 ; and "Colored Patriots of the American Revolution," with an introduction by Harriet Beecher Stowe (Boston, 1855).
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