Dr. Martin Robinson Delany

Dr. Martin Robison Delany (1812-1885),the Black Major, was appointed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1864 as the highest-ranking African-American field rank officer in the Civil War. Born in Virginia, Delany settled in Pittsburgh where he earned respect as a physician and anti-slavery activist. In 1847 with Frederick L. Douglass and William C. Neal, Dr. Delany founded the North Star newspaper and was a widely published author. Mounting his own expedition to Africa’s Niger Valley in 1859, Delany negotiated a settlement treaty with the Alake of Abeokota. He returned to America via London where he was honored at the prestigious scientific International Statistical Congress.   When the American Civil War began, he recruited Black soldiers for the Union Army.  He moved his family to Wilberforce, Ohio in 1864 and enrolled his children in Wilberforce College. Stationed in South Carolina, Delany used his 104th U.S. Colored Troops to organize the Freedmen toward education, civic duty and land ownership. He returned to Wilberforce in 1885 and passed there.  He was buried at Massie Creek Cemetery.  A new monument was dedicated to him, and an Ohio state marker was authorized for him in 2006.