Benjamin S. Turner
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|Benjamin Sterling Turner|
|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Alabama's 1st district
March 4, 1871 - March 3, 1873
|Preceded by||Alfred Buck|
|Succeeded by||Frederick Bromberg|
March 17, 1825|
Weldon, North Carolina
|Died||March 21, 1894
Benjamin Sterling Turner (March 17, 1825, Weldon, North Carolina – March 21, 1894, Selma, Alabama) was an American businessman and politician who served in the United States House of Representative representing Alabama's 1st congressional district in the 42nd United States Congress.
Early life and education
He was born into slavery in Halifax County, North Carolina near the town of Weldon. His parents were slaves. He was taken with his mother to Alabama at age five, as part of the forced migration of the internal slave trade. Turner received no early education. By clandestine study he obtained a fair education. He seems to have remained enslaved until the Emancipation Proclamation was issued in 1894.
Turner engaged in mercantile pursuits. He set up a livery stable in Selma, Alabama. Joining the Republican Party after the Civil War, Turner was elected tax collector of Dallas County, Alabama in 1867. He next served as councilman of the city of Selma in 1869.
Freedmen were granted the franchise after the Civil War. Turner was unanimously nominated to be the Republican candidate from Alabama's 1st congressional district, which at that point encompassed Southwest Alabama. He was elected as a Republican to the Forty-second Congress (March 4, 1871 - March 3, 1873). He complained that northern Republicans living in his district had not supported him enough in his run for office. In Congress he worked to restore political and legal rights to Confederates who had fought against the United States in the American Civil War. He also fought for the repeal of the tax on cotton, on the grounds that it hurt poor African Americans.
In 1872 Turner was nominated again by the Republican Party in the first district. But another African American, Philip Joseph, ran as an independent. This caused a split in the Republican vote, and allowed F. G. Bromberg, a fusion candidate of the Liberal Republicans and Democrats, to win. Turner was elected in 1880 as a delegate to the Republican National Convention.
After his political career, Turner engaged in agricultural pursuits in Alabama. He died in Selma, Alabama on March 21, 1894, aged 69; he was interred in Live Oak Cemetery.
- Christopher, Mayrine. America's Black Congressmen. Thomas Y. Crowell Company: New York, 1971. p. 124-127.
- /james ciment, Atlas of African American History p.97 b. turner, was born in Weldon, N.C. but was congressman from Selma, Ala.