Henry Jackson Lewis

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Henry Jackson Lewis was the first African-American political cartoonist. He was born a slave, probably in 1837 or 1838 in Yalobusha County, Mississippi. In 1872 he settled in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. In 1872 he married Lavinia Dixon with whom he had seven children. The oldest known cartoons by H. J. Lewis were published in 1872. Henry Jackson Lewis lived in Arkansas in 1879 as a freelance artist selling pencil sketches of scenic landscapes to national magazines such as Harper's Weekly. Though he never received formal acknowledgment for his work, from 1882 to 1883 Lewis drew prehistoric Native American land mounds as well as maps of Arkansas, Tennessee, and Louisiana for Edward Palmer of the Smithsonian Institution. In the mid-1880s, Lewis worked as a porter for the Arkansas Gazette while also selling cartoons to the magazines Puck and Judge. After moving to Indianapolis in 1889, he started working for an Indianapolis newspaper, The Freeman, which was the first national African American illustrated newspaper. He died of pneumonia in April 1891.[1][2]


  1. ^ Jeter, Marvin D.; Mark Cervenka (April 2007). "H. J. Lewis, Free man and Freeman artist". Common-Place 7 (3). Retrieved 2007-04-16. 
  2. ^ "Henry Jackson Lewis collection," 04/11/2012. Finding aid the DuSable Museum of African American History, Chicago, IL. https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1yTfZUgTvlpd3lqcmVjX0tlcFU/edit.

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