March 18 – He deserves Grover Cleveland’s birthday

Republicans James G Blaine and running mate John Logan on left. Democrat Grover Cleveland and running mate Tom Hendricks on right.

It’s Grover Cleveland’s birthday today. Our nation’s 22nd and 24th President wasn’t born in Amsterdam and neither was his opponent in the Presidential election of 1884, James G. Blaine, the Senator from Maine. It was during that 1884 campaign however, that a black Amsterdam barber named Robert A. Jackson travelled west to Canajoharie to give a rousing speech on behalf of the Republican candidate, Blaine at what was then called a Colored Men’s Convention.

Amsterdam native Bob Cudmore researched Jackson’s life for an article that appeared in the Schenectady Gazette in February of 2015. Jackson’s barber shop was located on an upper floor of a building located at 69 Main Street. He had been active in the Republican Party since at least 1872. Cudmore wrote that it was quite possible that prior to the Civil War, Jackson was also active in the Underground Railroad because his shop was so physically close to Chandler Bartlett’s Amsterdam shoe store, a reputed shelter for run-a-way slaves fleeing from the south…

You can read the rest of my story about this brave former  Amsterdamian in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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