Melancton Smith, delegate to the Continental Congress

Melancton Smith (1744 – 1798) was a New York delegate to the Continental Congress.  He was born on Long Island, home schooled and moved to Poughkeepsie, where he became a a delegate to the first New York Provincial Congress in New York on May 22, 1775. He served in the Continental Line Regiment on June 30, 1775, which he organized as the Dutchess County Rangers. Smith moved to New York City in 1785 where he was a prominent merchant. He helped found the New York Manumission Society in opposition to slavery and served in the Continental Congress from 1785 to 1787. He was the most important Anti-federalist member of the State ratification convention… Read More

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Jane Colden, botanist

Jane Colden (1724 – 1766) was the first female botanist in the United States. She is most famous for her manuscript in which she describes the flora of the New York area, and draws ink drawings of 340 different species of them. She was born in New York City and educated at home. Her father gave her botanical training by following the new system of classification developed by Carl Linnaeus, a Swedish botanist. Between 1753 and 1758, Ms. Colden catalogued New York’s flora, compiling specimens and information on more than 300 species of plants from the lower Hudson River Valley. She developed a technique for making… Read More

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Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany, dentist, civil rights pioneer

Annie Elizabeth “Bessie” Delany (1891 – 1995) was a dentist and civil rights pioneer. She earned her dental degree (DDS) from Columbia University in 1923, only the second African American woman licensed to practice dentistry in New York State.  She was one of 10 children raised by a former slave who became a bishop in his church and a teacher in North Carolina. She attended St. Augustine’s in North Carolina and after graduation, came to NYC and enrolled in Columbia University, where she was the only African American woman in a class of 170.  She shared a dental office with her brother, Dr. H.… Read More

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James Butler, AFSCME union president

James Butler was elected AFSCME (American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees) Union president of Local 420 in 1972, and immediately took on the battle for better pay, benefits and educational opportunities, and against privatization and hospital closings. Butler studied at City College and worked at Fordham Hospital starting in 1954. He led the Union through the financial crisis in New York City in the 1970s. Butler raised the public profile of the Local through rallies, marches, involvement in community affairs and a firm commitment to national, and even international, campaigns for civil rights and human rights. The Union,… Read More

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