Author: Philip W. Stanley


James Solomon Russell (1857–1935)

James Solomon Russell founded Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School (later Saint Paul’s College). Born enslaved, after the American Civil War (1861–1865) Russell sought an education and attended Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute (later Hampton University) when family finances allowed it. He established himself as a teacher and became attracted to the Episcopal Church. Russell entered divinity school, serving in a series of religious positions while attending what became the Bishop Payne Divinity School, in Petersburg. The church ordained him a deacon in 1882 and a priest in 1887. He began his ministry in 1882 in the Brunswick County town of Lawrenceville. In 1888 he founded Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School, in response to the local community’s intense desire for educational opportunities. Russell fended off the school’s early struggles by aggressively fund-raising, and Saint Paul’s expanded in both its size and curriculum. He retired as its principal 1929 and was succeeded by his son James Alvin Russell. He died in Lawrenceville in 1935.


Peter G. Morgan (1817–1890)

Peter G. Morgan represented Petersburg in the Constitutional Convention of 1867–1868 and then in the House of Delegates for one term (1869–1871). Born enslaved, Morgan worked as a shoemaker, purchasing freedom for himself and then for his wife and children. After the American Civil War (1861–1865) he won election in 1867 as a Republican to the convention called to write a new state constitution, usually siding with the party’s radical faction during the proceedings. After the convention Morgan represented Petersburg for a two-year term in the House of Delegates. He served three terms the Petersburg city council, where he helped oppose a scheme that would have given a local judge the power to appoint city officials. Committed to education, Morgan was a trustee for Saint Paul Normal and Industrial School (later Saint Paul’s College), founded by his son-in-law, James Solomon Russell. Morgan died at Russell’s home in Lawrenceville in 1890.


Lewis Lindsey (1843–1908)

Lewis Lindsey represented the city of Richmond at the Convention of 1867–1868. Lindsey was born enslaved but learned to read and write while working in a female seminary. He became politically active after the American Civil War (1861–1865) and gained some local notoriety, possibly due to his literacy and success as a musician. Lindsey developed a reputation as a fiery speaker, and he and four other Republicans won election as Richmond’s delegation to the constitution convention. He advocated expanding African American political rights, integrating public schools, and prohibiting former Confederates from holding state office. Although he never held state office, Lindsey remained active in Richmond politics after the convention adjourned, serving on local committees, speaking at Republican events, and later campaigning for Readjuster Party candidates. Following his death the Richmond Planet named him one of the ten greatest black leaders in Richmond’s history, alongside such figures as Maggie Lena Walker and newspaper editor John Mitchell Jr.