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John Russwurm

Unidentified Artist
John Russwurm, 1 Oct 1799 - 9 Jun 1851
c. 1850
Oil on canvas
Stretcher (Verified): 20.6 × 16.2 cm (8 1/8 × 6 3/8")
Frame (Verified): 25.4 × 20.6 × 2.5 cm (10 × 8 1/8 × 1")
Emphasis Panel: 60 × 55.1 cm (23 5/8 × 21 11/16")
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Library of Congress
Object number
John Russwurm: American\African American
John Russwurm: Caribbean\Jamaican
Exhibition Label
The son of an American merchant and a Jamaican slave, John B. Russwurm, one of the first blacks to earn a college degree, graduated from Bowdoin College in 1826. The following year, he became co-editor of Freedom's Journal, the first black newspaper published in the United States. "We wish to plead our own cause. Too long have others spoken for us," the editors proclaimed. "Our vices and our degradation are ever arrayed against us, but our virtues are passed by unnoticed."
Initially Russwurm opposed the project to colonize freed slaves in Africa, but in 1829, he announced he had become converted to the idea, and shortly emigrated to Monrovia as an agent of the American Colonization Society. In 1836 Russwurm became the first black governor of the Maryland area of Liberia.
Library of Congress; transferred 1979 to NPG
Data Source
National Portrait Gallery
See more items in
National Portrait Gallery Collection
American Origins
On View
NPG, East Gallery 136