John van Salee de Grasse

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Dr. John van Salee de Grasse (1825–1868) was the first African-American to be formally educated as a doctor in the United States. He was a member of the Massachusetts Medical Society, and served as a surgeon during the American Civil War. His sister Serena was married to New York restaurateur and abolitionist George Downing. Van Salee de Grasse was a descendant of Jan Janszoon through his son Abraham Janszoon van Salee and a black mistress.[1][2] He is an ancestor of "the Vanderbilts, the Whitneys, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis and Humphrey Bogart."[3]


  1. ^ de Valdes y Cocom, Mario. "The Blurred Racial Lines of Famous Families: The Van Salee Family." Frontline. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
  2. ^ Bird, Stephanie Rose. Light, Bright, and Damned near White : Biracial and Triracial Culture in America. Google Books. ISBN 0-275-98954-2. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2009.
  3. ^ "Van Salees | FRONTLINE | PBS". Retrieved 2016-11-22. 

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