John Hay, Clarence King, Ada Copeland?


The image represents Clarence King, the first ...

The image represents Clarence King, the first director of United States Geological Survey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am reading a biography about John Hay, who was one of President Lincoln’s secretaries.  One of Hay’s friends was a Geologist, named Clarence King.

What made Clarence King interesting is something I am toying with for a Historical Fiction book.  At the time, it would have been controversial.  Clarence King, who was very upper crust entered into a common law marriage with an African-American, born into slavery named Ada Copeland.

He only admitted he was white when he was on his deathbed.  He told her, he was a light skinned African-American, who worked as a Pullman Porter.  That’s how he was able to explain his absences.

I would rather stop here, and allow people to ask questions.

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About tucsonmike

I am originally from Brooklyn, New York and now live in Tucson, Arizona. I have discovered a passion for writing. I have five books out now, with a sixth on the way. Take a look @ my book list: The Search for Livingstone An Affair of the Heart The Search for Otzi Griffith Justice in Space. Moriarty The Life and Times of a Criminal Genius Available now on Smashwords - Amazon and Barnes and Noble As to not bore my public with just "Buy my book," I am also interested in baseball, the outdoors, art, architecture, technology, the human mind and DNA. I learned Ashkenazi Jews, of which I am one, have to lowest rate of Alzheimer's in the world. Therefore, I treat my brain as a muscle needing a workout. I enjoy good food, flirtation, beautiful women (I am happily married for thirty years), so just flirting ;) I was considered autistic when I was young, trying to figure out if I have a mild form of Aspergers and learning from that. That is for future posts. You can also see I love history. Enjoy my sarcastic silly look at the world, and making History more interesting than a textbook.
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4 Responses to John Hay, Clarence King, Ada Copeland?

  1. I think I’ve heard of him before. I’ve been reading a lot about the history of race in America. There were a few known cases of ‘white’ people passing as ‘black’. It makes you wonder. If it is possible for a 100% light-skinned European to pass as ‘black’, then what the heck does ‘black’ even mean or what do people think it means?

    I wonder what relation Clarence King may have had with the Owen family. Abraham Lincoln grew up near Robert Owen’s commune, New Harmony. In his early political career, Lincoln came to know well one of the sons Robert Dale Owen. The Lincoln and Owen families traveled in the same social circles. John Hay met with Robert Dale Owen and visited the Owen house.

    All of the Owen family was involved with science. Robert Dale Owen helped found the Smithsonian Institute. One of his brothers, David Dale Owen, was a geologist who did a lot of surveying across the country. Since Clarence King was also a geologists, they more likely than not knew each other.

    Furthermore, the Owen family like many of Lincoln’s associates were supporters of abolitionism.

    • tucsonmike says:

      The Owen family sounds interesting. I’ve read about the commune. Apparently Clarence King and his wife had four kids. The two sons were considered black, the two daughters white. Sounds like too much work LOL!

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