From slave to sailor to Congressman, read on for more about this extraordinary person.
Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – February 23, 1915) was an American politician, publisher, businessman, and maritime pilot. Born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina, at 20 years old he freed himself, his crew, and their families during the American Civil War by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, on May 13, 1862. Smalls sailed the ship from Confederate-controlled waters of the harbor, to the U.S. blockade and piloted the ship to the Union-controlled enclave in Beaufort–Port Royal–Hilton Head area, where it became a Union warship.
His example of courage and persuasion helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army. Ref: Wikipedia and tour of his burial site in Beaufort, SC.