John W. Cromwell (John Wesley), 1846-1927
John Wesley Cromwell (1846-1927), journalist and educator, was born into slavery in Portsmouth, Virginia on September 5, 1846. After receiving freedom, Cromwell and his family moved to Philadelphia. In 1865, Cromwell returned to Portsmouth to open a private school, which failed due to racial harassment. Cromwell entered Howard University in Washington, D. C. in 1871. He received a law degree and was admitted to the bar in 1874. Cromwell was the first African American to practice law for the Interstate Commerce Commission.
Cromwell founded the weekly paper The People's Advocate in 1876. In 1881, Cromwell was elected President of Bethel Library and Historical Association in Washington, D. C. Cromwell used this position to generate interest in African American history. He inspired the foundation of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History in 1915. He died on April 14, 1927.