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Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (1816-1894) to George F. Hoar

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC09010 Author/Creator: Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss (1816-1894) Place Written: Waltham, Massachusetts Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 9 September 1889 Pagination: 1

Summary of Content: Begins by asking Hoar to support John D. Powell Jr. of Boston, an African American for a position in the Navy. States, "He is quite a remarkable man ... His energy and activity are unlimited. He knows no fear ...These with other good qualities are balanced by frailties of his race. 'The Afro American Race' as he styles it." Lists some of Powell's accomplishments and describes repeated but unsuccessful efforts to assist Powell in getting a government job due to his race. Laments corrupt hiring practices in the Navy Yard and Federal services and gives examples where less qualified men were hired over Powell. Concludes, "...Nothing good can come out of it. I see men of the Union Army constantly who tell me they have no chance, and the same of the Union Navy! That is not right! It is the same with Mr. Powell & his compatriots. They have no chance." Mentions attending a reception for President Harrison at Fanueil Hall in Boston and noticed that there were few colored people there. Remarks, "Their numbers may be small, but if they turn upon the leaders of the Administration, it will be a wreck of one side or the other..."

People: Banks, Nathaniel Prentiss, 1816-1894.
Hoar, George Frisbie, 1826-1904.
Powell, John D., fl. 1861-1889.

Historical Era: Rise of Industrial America, 1877-1900

Keywords/Subjects: Navy, African American History, Presidents, African American Troops, Corruption and Scandal

Sub Era: The Gilded Age