Benjamin Sterling Turner

U.S. Representative Benjamin Sterling Turner of Alabama, 1872 (Photo credit: Currier and Ives; photo in the public domain)

Benjamin Sterling Turner (1825–1894), Republican from Alabama, served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1872 through 1873. Born in South Weldon, North Carolina, this former slave was a self-made businessman who lost property during the Civil War. As the first African-American representative from Alabama following the Civil War, he focused on restoring peace and repairing economic damage to the South. He also promoted his black constituents as industrious members of the working community. Before serving in the 42nd Congress, he founded a school in Selma for freedmen, was appointed the Dallas County tax collector, and was elected a Selma councilman. After his political career, he returned to business and farming, but was nearly penniless when he died in Selma in 1894. In 1985, the state of Alabama honored Benjamin's accomplishments and service to the state by erecting a monument at his grave site. 

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