George Downing, abolitionist and activist

George T. Downing (1819-1903) was an abolitionist and activist for African-American civil rights. From the 1830s until the end of slavery, Downing was active in the abolitionist movement and in the Underground Railroad, with his restaurant serving as a rest house. During the American Civil War, Downing helped recruit African American soldiers. Downing’s grandparents were former slaves. He attended one of the first free African schools in New York City and went on to Hamilton College. In 1842, Downing started a catering business in Manhattan. His work brought him in touch with many of the elites of the city, including the… Read More

Read more

Jonathan H. Green, inventor, writer, reformer

Jonathan Harrington Green (1813–1887) was an American gambler, inventor, writer and later reformer of illegal gambling. In his youth, he was a skilled card player who left gambling in 1842, he became an active crusader against illegal gambling. He was responsible for enacting anti-gambling laws in several states. Green was born in Ohio, but traveled the country, including Mississippi river boats, gambling in his younger days. After leaving gambling, he became a general executive agent of the New York Association for the Suppression of Gambling and, between 1850–51, conducted an exhaustive investigation on illegal gambling operations in New York City. He presented his findings astonishing report… Read More

Read more

Franz Sigel, military commander

Franz Sigel (November 18, 1824 – August 21, 1902) was a military officer, revolutionist and German immigrant to the United States who was a teacher, newspaperman, politician, and served as a Union major general in the Civil War. He was able recruit German-speaking immigrants to the Union armies, greatly appreciated by President Abraham Lincoln. Sigel served in the German military for many years, he became Secretary of War and commander-in-chief of the revolutionary republican government of Baden and was wounded during battle. He immigrated to New York in 1852 along with many others from his corp. He taught in the New York Public schools, but eventually moved to St. Louis to… Read More

Read more

Eliphalet Williams Bliss, manufacturer, inventor

Eliphalet Williams Bliss (April 12, 1836 – July 21, 1903) was a manufacturer and inventor who established the E. W. Bliss Company of Brooklyn. His company supplied the US Navy with Whitehead and Bliss-Leavitt torpedoes, as well as projectiles for its naval guns during the Spanish–American War, World War I and World War II. He was born in NY and attended public school. Eventually he moved to Connecticut to work at a gun factory. After fighting in the Civil War, he married and moved back to Brooklyn where he worked for a printing company. In 1867, Bliss founded the machine… Read More

Read more