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T. Morris Chester

  • Market Street near 3rd St. Harrisburg, PA

T. Morris Chester was born in Harrisburg in 1834 to an escaped slave and an oyster salesman. As a young man, Chester made several trips to Liberia where he spent time studying, working as a school leader, and as the editor of the “Star of Liberia” newspaper. His time in Liberia influenced Chester to become an advocate for the African American colonization of the African nation. He returned to the U.S. in 1861 and worked for a time recruiting Pennsylvania African Americans for the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments before departing for England in 1863. Chester again returned to Pennsylvania in 1864 where he became the first African American war correspondent working for a major daily newspaper, the Philadelphia Daily Press. Chester traveled with the Union Army of the Potomac where he faced not only the regular perils of war but also the threat of being captured and sold into slavery. He also helped to raise a number of Pennsylvania regiments of the U.S. Colored Troops. Following the end of the war Chester became a lawyer and politician, devoting his career to advancing civil rights in the deep South. Chester died in Harrisburg in 1892.