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John Brown Russwurm. Oil on canvas, c. 1850, by Unidentified Artist. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; transfer from the Library of Congress.


Russwurm, John Brown (01 October 1799–09 June 1851), journalist and first nonwhite governor of Maryland in Liberia Colony, West Africa, was born in Port Antonio, Jamaica, the son of John Russwurm, a white American merchant, and an unidentified Jamaican black woman. As a boy known only as John Brown, Russwurm was sent to Canada for an education by his father. After his father’s settlement in Maine and marriage in 1813 to a white New England widow with children, he entered the new family at his stepmother’s insistence. John Brown thereupon assumed his father’s surname and remained with his stepmother even after the senior Russwurm’s death in 1815. His schooling continued at home and, later, at preparatory institutes such as the North Yarmouth Academy in Maine. He made a short, unhappy visit to Jamaica and returned to Portland, Maine, to begin collegiate study. Thrown on his own after just one year because of his sponsor’s inability to continue support, young Russwurm took a succession of brief teaching jobs at African free schools in Philadelphia, New York, and Boston....


Wolcott, Roger (04 January 1679–17 May 1767), colonial governor and literary figure, was born in Windsor, Connecticut, the son of Simon Wolcott and Martha Pitkin, merchants and farmers. The youngest of nine children, Wolcott was educated at home by his mother, then apprenticed to a clothing shop in 1694. He established his own clothier enterprise at age twenty. In 1702 he married Sarah Drake. They had fifteen children before her death on 21 January 1748. Wolcott purchased a large estate in Windsor in 1702 where, following the eighteenth-century pattern of Hartford-area merchant-farmers, he established both a clothing manufactory and a farm....