10 groundbreaking Black politicians you've probably never heard of

Most people know about the 13th Amendment and the Civil Rights Movement, but what about the individuals who won smaller, but vital, victories for representation along the way?

THE FIRST COLORED SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVES
THE FIRST COLORED SENATOR AND REPRESENTATIVES / Historical/GettyImages
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Wentworth Cheswell

Believe it or not, the first Black person to be elected to public office in the United States actually went back to 1768, before the country was even formed. While some argue that the honor should go to Mathias de Sousa instead, the evidence surrounding his life is harder to trace.

Cheswell was born in New Hampshire, and while he was listed as white on the census, he was a biracial man whose heritage was being hidden. His grandfather, Richard Cheswell, had been enslaved but was able to earn his own freedom. Richard Cheswell was also able to purchase a significant plot of land—the first deed owned by a Black person in New Hampshire history—and his son Hopestill was a celebrated house builder.

Thanks to being legally white, Wentworth Cheswell was able to get an education and was elected Town Constable of Newmarket, New Hampshire in 1768. This accomplishment was used as proof in 1820 that biracial people should be able to become citizens.

His other major accomplishments include being a part of Paul Revere's famous ride, one of New Hampshire's first archaeologists, and even becoming Justice of the Peace for the last twelve years of his life.