Silas Robbins

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Silas Robbins
Silas Robbins - Progress - Saturday, June 21, 1890.png
Phototype from the Progress, June 21, 1890
Born February 14, 1857
Died September 11, 1916
Omaha, Nebraska
Nationality American
Occupation Lawyer

Silas Robbins (February 14, 1857 – September 11, 1916)[1] was the first African American admitted to practice law in the U.S. state of Nebraska in 1889, and the first black person in Omaha, Nebraska to be admitted to the Nebraska State Bar Association.[2]


Prior to serving in Nebraska, Robbins was admitted to the bar in Indiana and Mississippi.[3]

In 1887 Robbins became the second African American to run for Nebraska State Legislature, winning the endorsement of Gilbert Hitchcock's Omaha World-Herald. After losing the race, Robbins continued to serve in Omaha.

In 1889 Robbins became the first black lawyer admitted to practice in Nebraska, sixteen years after the Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that blacks could not be excluded from serving on juries. In 1893 he secured a patent from the United States Patent Office for a game he created called "politics".[4]

When the Populist Party took power in Omaha, Robbins served as the tax commissioner from 1900 to 1901 and again from 1903 to 1905. Afterward he focused primarily on real estate law, and maintained a reputation as one of Omaha's "best known colored attorneys."[5][6]

Robbins committed suicide on September 11, 1916, by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the temple,[7] apparently motivated by a long-time illness.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nebraska Gravestones
  2. ^ "Nebraska's History", Nebraska Department of Economic Development. Retrieved 8/19/08.
  3. ^ "Nebraska lawyer commits suicide," New York News. September 21, 1916.
  4. ^ (1893) "Game apparatus", United States Patent Office. Retrieved 8/19/08.
  5. ^ Smith, J.C. (1993) Emancipation: The Making of the Black Lawyer, 1844-1944. University of Pennsylvania Press. p 464.
  6. ^ Federal Writers Project. (1939) "Negroes in the Professions," The Negroes of Nebraska. Retrieved 8/19/08.
  7. ^ The Monitor - Omaha, Nebraska, September 16, 1916
  8. ^ "Silas Robbins kills self: Ill health cause," Omaha World-Herald. September 12, 1916. p 3.