Today in History: Robert Smalls

Today in History–April 5–the Library of Congress features Robert Smalls, a Civil War hero, civil rights activist, and five-term U.S. Congressman who was born into slavery on this date in 1839.  Conscripted to the Confederate Army, Smalls captained a small Black crew to hijack an ammunition transport and deliver it to the Union Army in 1862. Learn more about his accomplishments over the years by visiting the Today in History section, then click the links below to gain new insights from primary sources.

Robert Smalls research guide

Robert Smalls portrait

Heroes of the colored race

The Fifteenth Amendment lithograph

McKee-Smalls House, 511 Prince Street, Beaufort, Beaufort County, SC

Contested election case of Robert Smalls vs. William Elliott

Debate on the Hamburgh massacre July 15-16, 1876

Speech about the Texas Frontier July 8, 1876

Election Methods in the South by Robert Smalls in The North American Review, Volume 151, No.5, November 1890

Speech at South Carolina Constitutional Convention 1895

Robert Smalls, Collector of Customs 1906

Robert Smalls historical newspaper coverage

H.R.6040 – To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 11 Robert Smalls Parkway Suite C, in Beaufort, South Carolina, as the “Robert Smalls Post Office” 11/18/2021

H.Res.533 – Recognizing and commending the name change of the USS Chancellorsville to the USS Robert Smalls, in honor of the late Representative Robert Smalls, an extraordinary native of Beaufort, South Carolina, and his significant contributions to American history 06/21/2023