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Stedman Graham presents Reconstruction-era sword to museum
 
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2019
by Staff Reports

RALEIGH – Businessman and educator Stedman Graham recently presented the N.C. Museum of History with a ceremonial sword as part of the Museum’s exhibit on “Reconstruction, Freedom: A Promise Disrupted, North Carolina 1862- 1901.”

The sword is the only known existing material artifact related to the last African American to serve in the United States Congress from the Reconstruction Era, and the last elected congressman of color from North Carolina until the election of Congressman Eva Clayton in 1992. Previously, the George Henry White ceremonial sword had been on loan to the museum from the Concerned Citizens of Whitesboro, New Jersey, a community development group founded by Graham, for use in the exhibit.

Graham presented the artifact to Susi Hamilton, secretary of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, and gave remarks in a brief ceremony. He also toured the Reconstruction exhibit.

Slavery was outlawed during Reconstruction. Formerly enslaved men, women and children could be legal citizens, and all men could vote in North Carolina. The rise from slavery included electing four black congressmen from North Carolina. The last of these was White who was born in Bladen County, educated in Robeson County, received a law license in Craven County and was elected to Congress while living in Edgecombe County.

The sword will be on display until the exhibit closes on October 27. Visit ncmuseumofhistory.org.

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