Blacks@Dartmouth 1775 to 1960

Edward Garrison Draper

First Black College-Educated Lawyer for Liberia

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Dartmouth College A.B.

Class of 1855

Born  1834  Baltimore MD

Died 1858 Cape Palmas Liberia

Quotes from Biographical Sources

On the sailing of almost every expedition we have had occasion to chronicle the departure of missionaries, teachers, or a physician, but not until the present time, that of a lawyer. The souls and bodies of the emigrants have been well cared for; now, it is no doubt supposed, they require assistance in guarding their money, civil rights, &c. Most professional emissaries have been educated at public expense, either by Missionary or the Colonization Societies, but the first lawyer goes out independent of any associated aid.

Mr. Garrison Draper, a colored man of high respectability, and long a resident of Old Town [Baltimore], early determined on educating his only son [Edward Garrison Draper] for Africa. He kept him at some good public school in Pennsylvania till fitted for college, then sent him to Dartmouth where he remained four years and graduated, maintaining always a very respectable standing, socially and in his class. After much consultation with friends, he determined upon the study of law. Mr. Chas. Gilman, a retired member of the Baltimore Bar, kindly consented to give young Draper professional instruction, and for two years he remained under his tuition.

Not having any opportunities for acquiring a knowledge of the routine of professional practice, the rules habits and courtesy of the Bar, in Baltimore, Mr. Draper spent some few months in the office of a distinguished lawyer in Boston. On returning to this city to embark for Liberia, he underwent an examination by Judge Lee of the Superior Court, and obtained from him a certificate of his fitness to practice the profession of law, a copy of which we append hereto.

We consider the settlement of Mr. Draper in the Republic as an event of no little importance. It seemed necessary that there should be one regularly educated lawyer in a community of several thousand people, in a Republic of freemen. True, there are many very intelligent, well informed men now in the practice of law in Liberia, but they have not been educated to the profession, and we believe, no one makes that his exclusive business. We doubt not that they will welcome Mr. Draper as one of their fraternity.

To our Liberia friends we commend him as a well-educated intelligent man, of good habits and principles; one in whom they may place the fullest confidence, and we bespeak for him, at their hands, kind considerations and patronage.

STATE OF MARYLAND, City of Baltimore

Upon the application of Charles Gilman, Esq., of the Baltimore Bar, I have examined Edward G. Draper, a young man of color, who has been reading law under the direction of Mr. Gilman, with the view of pursuing its practice in Liberia, Africa. And I have found him most intelligent and well informed in his answers to the questions propounded by me, and qualified in all respects to be admitted to the Bar in Maryland, if he was a free white citizen of this State. Mr. Gilman, in whom I have the highest confidence, has testified to his good moral character. This Certificate is therefore furnished to him by me, with a view to promote his establishment and success in Liberia at the Bar there.

Z. Collins Lee, Judge of Superior Court, Baltimore, Maryland October 29, 1857

A Lawyer for Liberia. (1858). Maryland Colonization Journal, 9(6), 88-9.

Other source(s)

  1. Draper, Charlotte Gilburg. (1860). Sacred to the Memory of Edward Garrison Draper For the Presbyterian Female of Color's Enterprising Society in Baltimore: A Free Will Offering (pp. 78-94). Baltimore, Md.: Frederick A.. Hanzsche.
  2. Bogen, David S. (1985). The Transformation of the Fourteenth Amendment: Reflections from the Admission of Maryland's First Black Lawyers. Maryland Law Review, 44(4), 939-1046. Retrieved from

Profile image source: Dartmouth College Alumni Files