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John Mercer Langston: Visit to Louisa


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John Mercer Langston: Visit to Louisa


John Mercer Langston
Standards of Learning VS.1a, VS.1g, VS.7c, VS.8b, USII.1a, USII.1d, USII.4c


After his parent's death, Virginia law inhibited John Mercer Langston and the other children of Ralph Quarles and Lucy Langston from inheriting his father's estate. A friend, William Gooch, helped John and his brothers relocate in Ohio. As a young boy he attended Oberlin College, training for the Ohio bar, and eventually became the first "negro" elected to public office when won the office of Town Clerk in Brownhelm, Ohio.

After the Civil War, Langston became Inspector General of Schools for the Freedmen's Bureau. As Inspector General, Langston was to go around the South, including Virginia, and make sure that schools were in operation and in good condition for newly freed slaves. When Langston arrived in Louisa for his inspector duties, he was greeted as visiting royalty. In his autobiography "From the Virginia Plantation to the National Capitol" Langston describes his visit to Louisa County. His narrative begins by saying "thousands were [moving] across the porch" after he had given a speech about his memories of his parents and the aftermath of the Civil War.

Langston also tells his readers of his visit to his parents' graves where people said "pleasant things" about each of the graves. The photographs shown here are of the graves of John Mercer Langston's parents located a few miles northwest of the town of Louisa. The left image is the grave of Langston's mother and the right image is the grave of Langston's father. To learn more, read Langston's online autobiography here.


Louisa County Historical Society Collection


Louisa County Historical Society



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