List of last survivors of American slavery

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Slavery existed in the United States from its founding in 1776 until the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution on December 5, 1865, under which it was abolished nationally. The last known survivors who were born into legalized slavery or enslaved prior to the passage of the amendment are listed below. The list also contains the last known survivors in various states which abolished legal slavery prior to 1865. Some birth dates are difficult to verify due to lack of birth documentation of many enslaved individuals.

List of last survivors of American slavery[edit]

Name Image Birth Death Notes and References
Peter Mills October 26, 1861 September 22, 1972 Born in Prince George's County, Maryland, and died after a pedestrian accident in Pittsburgh, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania.[1]
Sylvester Magee May 29, 1841 October 15, 1971 Unverified and purportedly died at 130 years old in Columbia, Marion County, Mississippi.[2][3] Age is unverified, and such a claim would have made him the oldest person in the world, so his birthdate is likely after 1841.
William Casby January 19, 1857[4] August 17, 1970[5] Photographed on March 24, 1963, by Richard Avedon in Algiers, New Orleans, Orleans Parish, Louisiana, with multiple generations of his family.[6][7][8]
Mary Hardway Walker May 6, 1848? December 1, 1969 Purportedly lived to 121 years old; she had a child who died in his 90s, according to the family Bible on[citation needed] She moved from Union Springs, Bullock County, Alabama to Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, where a newspaper article was published about her learning to read in 1966 at age 116.[9]
Anna J. Cooper A J Cooper.jpg August 10, 1858 February 27, 1964 Anna Cooper was a notable academic and activist who was born enslaved in Raleigh, Wake County, North Carolina.[10][11]
Josephus pre-1865 after August 28, 1963 Listed in a bulletin for Martin Luther King Jr.'s 1963 March on Washington as supposedly the last surviving American enslaved person.[12]
Jeff Doby February 6, 1858 March 26, 1963 Believed to be the oldest living person in South Carolina at the time of 1961 and one of the last living formerly enslaved slaved persons in South Carolina. Jeff was born in Camden, Kershaw County, and died at the age of 105 in 1963. He was featured in the local newspaper after his 103rd birthday and photographed. Two of his sons would also live to be nearly 100 years old.[13]
Fountain Hughes 1859 July 4, 1957[citation needed] Former enslaved person freed in 1865 after the American Civil War. Descendant of Betty Hemings, slave matriarch at Thomas Jefferson's plantation Monticello. Hughes was interviewed in June 1949 about his life by the Library of Congress as part of the Federal Writers' Project of oral histories of formerly enslaved persons. The recorded interview is available online through the Library of Congress and the World Digital Library.
Alfred "Teen" Blackburn April 26, 1842 March 8, 1951 One of the last surviving American enslaved persons who remembered slavery; received a Confederate pension in 1929 for accompanying his owner during the Civil War; resided in North Carolina.[14]
Eliza Moore 1843 January 21, 1948 One of the last verified surviving American enslaved persons; resided in North Carolina.[15]
William Andrew Johnson 1859 1943 Last surviving slave of a U.S. President (Andrew Johnson); visited Franklin Delano Roosevelt at the White House in 1937.[16][17]
Adeline Dade 1853 December 1941 Possibly one of the last living former slaves in New York.[18]
Harriet Wilson Whitely March 15, 1855 April 26, 1941 The last living former slave in Fairmont, Fairmont County, West Virginia.[19]
Matilda McCrear 1857 January 1940 The last known survivor of the Clotilda in 1859–1860, the last trans-Atlantic slave ship to arrive in America from Africa.[20]
Redoshi Redoshi (Sally Smith) in The Negro Farmer (1938).jpg 1848 1937 The next to last known survivor of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in America.[21]
Delia Garlic Delia Garlic.png 1837 1937 at the earliest Born in Virginia; was purportedly 100 years old during an interview with Margaret Fowler in the late 1930s.[22][23] Date of death is unclear.
Cudjoe Lewis Cudjoe Lewis photo (cropped).jpg 1841 July 17, 1935 One of the last survivors of the Clotilda, the last slave ship to arrive in America.[24]
Perry Lockwood ca. 1844 1929 Allegedly one of the last living former slaves in lower Delaware; died aged 87.[25]
Reuben Freeman c. 1835 c. 1915 One of the last slaves in Somerset County, New Jersey; lived in Somerville; was enslaved to William Annin of Liberty Corner.[26] Likely other later survivors because final slaves were not emancipated until 1865 in New Jersey.
David Hendrickson 1799 1900 Allegedly the last living former slave sold "on the block" in New Jersey.[27] Likely other later survivors because final slaves were not emancipated until 1865 in New Jersey.
Louise Tritton ca. 1780 1891 One of the last living former slaves in Connecticut, and oldest person in New Haven, New Haven County.[28]
Adjua D'Wolf 1794 1868 Possibly the last surviving slave in Rhode Island. Adjua was brought from Africa to Bristol, Bristol County, Rhode Island, in 1803 and enslaved to the D'Wolf family, a family of slave traders,[29] after new enslavement was made illegal in Rhode Island.[30] Her death in 1868 was noted in several newspapers around the country, including in the South.[31] James Howland (1758-1859) was also one of Rhode Island's last legal former slaves, and was enslaved until 1842.[32][33] D'Wolf and Howland are likely not the last slaves, due to RI's gradual emancipation with several legally slaves still listed in the 1840 census, and likely enslaved until the 1843 RI Constitution banned all slavery.
Hannah Kelley ca. 1760 January 15, 1864 Died at 103 years old in Cross Creek, Cross Creek Township, Washington County, Pennsylvania, as possibly the last living former slave in Pennsylvania, formerly owned by John Gardner of Jefferson, Jefferson County.[34]
Margaret Pint 1778 1857 Purportedly the last living former slave in New York; she was born into slavery in Westchester County.[35] Likely not the last living former slave, because final emancipation in New York did not occur until July 5, 1827.
Venus Rowe ca. 1754 1844 Purportedly one of the last living former slaves in Massachusetts, resided in Burlington, Middlesex County.[36]


Name Image Birth Death Notes and References
Charlie Smith 1842 (claimed) or 1874 or 1879 October 5, 1979 Allegedly born in Liberia or United States of America, claimed to be the last Civil War veteran and slave, among other false claims. Discredited and died in Florida in 1979.[37]
Mary Duckworth 1861 (claimed), likely between 1874 and 1880 April 20, 1983 Allegedly born into slavery, but discredited due to census and social security records reporting other later birth dates.[38][39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 23 Sep 1972, Sat., p. 5
  2. ^ "Gerontology Research Group: Oldest American Claimants". Archived from the original on 2018-05-11. Retrieved 2020-06-23.
  3. ^ "Professor Seeks to Solve the Mystery of the Man Who Claimed to Be the Last Surviving Slave". The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education. 2016-10-18. Archived from the original on 2020-06-26. Retrieved 2020-03-05.
  4. ^ The Monroe News-Star (Monroe, Ouachita Parish, Louisiana), 21 Jan 1963, p. 13, accessed on
  5. ^ Archived 2020-03-19 at the Wayback Machine p. 11 citing: Allyson Neal, Algiers: The Untold Story, the African American Experience, 451.
  6. ^ Phillip Gefter, "Why Richard Avedon's Work Has Never Been More Relevant" The New York Times, Nov. 13, 2017
  7. ^ Hilton Als, "Richard Avedon and James Baldwin’s Joint Examination of American Identity," November 6, 2017
  8. ^ 0bituary information accessed on
  9. ^ "Thinkerum Gatherum: America's Oldest Surviving Slave". 28 July 2009. Archived from the original on 26 June 2020. Retrieved 23 June 2020.
  10. ^ "Anna Julia Cooper, 1858-1964". The Church Awakens: African Americans and the Struggle for Justice. The Archives of the Episcopal Church DFMS/PECUSA. 2008. Archived from the original on September 5, 2015. Retrieved August 26, 2016.
  11. ^ North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources. "Anna J. Cooper 1858-1964". Archived from the original on December 29, 2018. Retrieved December 26, 2018.
  12. ^ We Shall Overcome: A Collection of Graphic Collages Created As a Memento for Those Who Participated in the Historic March on Washington for Freedom and Jobs (1963) Loose Leaf – Special Limited Edition, January 1, 1963 Archived 2020-06-24 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "103 Years Old" The Camden Chronicle, Camden, Kershaw County, South Carolina, December 13, 1961
  14. ^ W.E. Rutledge Jr., An Illustrated History of Yadkin County, 1850-1980, 1981, pp. 21-22
  15. ^ USGenWeb Archives Obituary], The Advertiser (Montgomery ALA), archived from the original on 2020-11-12, retrieved 2020-06-23
  16. ^ "A president's gift: Rare cane given to former slave by FDR is rediscovered" Archived 2020-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  17. ^ Jesse Holland, The Invisibles: The Untold Story of African American Slaves in the White House, p. 188
  18. ^ "Woman, Born Slave, Laid to Rest." Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. 29 Dec. 1941. p. 2-A.
  19. ^ column by Ned Smith in a 1941 Fairmont Times Archived 2020-06-27 at the Wayback Machine
  20. ^ Coughlan, Sean (2020-03-25). "Last survivor of transatlantic slave trade discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  21. ^ Coughlan, Sean (2020-03-25). "Last survivor of transatlantic slave trade discovered". BBC News. Retrieved 2020-03-25.
  22. ^ "Delia Garlic, Montgomery, Montgomery County, Alabama". Library of Congress. Archived from the original on 5 December 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Delia Garlic". Enslaved: People of the Historic Slave Trade. Archived from the original on 29 November 2020. Retrieved 27 November 2020.
  24. ^ Diouf, Sylviane A. (October 20, 2009). "Cudjo Lewis Archived 2020-06-09 at the Wayback Machine". Encyclopedia of Alabama. Retrieved 1 May 2018.
  25. ^ The Evening Journal (Wilmington, New Castle County, Delaware), 25 Sep 1929, Wed., Page 19, accessible on
  26. ^ "Whites and Indians Were Among Slaves,"Echoes-Sentinel (Warren Township, New Jersey) 1 Jul 1976, Thu., pg. 56
  27. ^ "Centenarian Buried," The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania), 5 May 1900, Sat., Page 4
  28. ^ "New Haven's Last Slave," Reading Times (Reading, Pennsylvania) 20 May 1891, Wed., Page 2 i
  29. ^ African American Historic Burial Grounds and Gravesites of New England, By Glenn A. Knoblock, p. 189
  30. ^ "Slavery in Rhode Island". Archived from the original on 2020-06-29. Retrieved 2020-06-27.
  31. ^ Yorkville Enquirer (York, York County, South Carolina), 21 May 1868, Thu., Page 2, accessible on
  32. ^ "Death certificate for James Howland, died January 3, 1859 (age 100), son of Great Peter and Sylvia; parentage listed as Africans... There is a note on the front of the document which reads: "The last slave of Rhode Island freed under the act of 1792." Archived 2020-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  33. ^ Christy Mikel Clark-Pujara, Slavery, Emancipation and Black Freedom in Rhode Island, 1652-1842 (University of Iowa 2009), p. 93 Archived 2020-07-15 at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "The Last Pennsylvania Slave", Brookville Republican, Brookville, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, 24 Feb 1864, Wed. • Page 1 accessible on
  35. ^ "New York’s Last Slave" By Jeff Richman on June 22nd, 2015 in Green-Wood Historian Blog Archived 2020-06-28 at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "Slavery Did Exist in Early Burlington". 28 June 2018. Archived from the original on 29 June 2020. Retrieved 26 June 2020.
  37. ^ Young, Robert (2003-02-17). "Reply from Mr. Robert Young of Atlanta, Fulton County, Georgia". Gerontology Research Group. Retrieved 2007-03-13.
  38. ^ "Mary Duckworth, whose family said she was born into". Archived from the original on 2020-07-01. Retrieved 2020-07-01.
  39. ^ Paul Cartledge, Spartan Reflections (2003), p. 132

External links[edit]