Robert Smalls Helped Advance Society for all South Carolinians

Feb 1, 2016

Robert Smalls
Credit Mathew Brady via Wikimedia Commons

  This edition of South Carolina Focus looks at Robert Smalls, who, despite his name, was a large figure in black history in South Carolina. Born a slave in Beaufort, Smalls became a hero during the Civil War (to the Union) when he stole a Confederate ship and steamed his family and those of other slaves to freedom. Two historians tell us that after the war he returned to South Carolina where he was elected to the state legislature, and later to the United States Senate. Throughout his legislative career, Smalls had a hand in laws that improved education, advanced women’s rights and secured Parris Island as a military base, which it remains today.