Despite this, he succeeded in many ways. He personally served a president. He was a businessman in
He also plotted with famed abolitionist John Brown, also suggesting blowing up southern planters without white help.
Born to free parents in
No wonder on March 21, 1839, the Overseers of the Poor for
DeBaptiste next became a steward to William Henry Harrison (a slaveholder), serving him during the 1840 presidential campaign and was White House steward during
But he did more than that
In 1879, former Madisonian, Richard C. Meldrum recalled how DeBaptiste and other black leaders founded a bank. Unfortunately, the account spent most of its time mocking them, not on details of a remarkable effort.
His anti-slavery efforts were also remarkable. DeBaptiste would wait half the night on the river bank, walk as much as 20 miles with fugitives, and then work during the day. Even after a $1,000 bounty was placed on him, DeBaptiste met with slaves in
With slave owners making like hard on free blacks, he decided to leave
He moved to
In the fall of 1863, he raised a black regiment. Appointed its sutler (a authorized independent merchant), he followed the unit through its campaigns.
The censuses gave a measure of wealth while living in
He invested in ice cream parlors and a money-losing restaurant and, then opened another. A year before his death on Feb. 22, 1875, he had opened a country house, but failing health forced him to give up the effort.