NW Quadrant, East of Rock Creek, Shaw/Logan Circle , African American, Civil War Era, Federal Government Employees, Howard University, Journalists, Lawyers, Radicals, Also of Interest

John Wesley Cromwell
(September 5, 1846 – April 14, 1927)

1439 Swann St. NW, Historic Striver’s Section, DC. Marked by an historic plaque.

Cromwell, a historian and journalist born into slavery, came to DC in 1871 to attend the Law School at Howard University. He was admitted to the bar in 1874 and was the first African American to practice law for the Interstate Commerce Commission in 1887. Cromwell worked as chief examiner at the US Postal Service, and later in life as an educator and administrator in the DC Public Schools.

In 1876, Cromwell founded the weekly newspaper The People’s Advocate (initially based in Alexandria, VA, then moved to DC, and published from 1876 to 1886). In 1881, he was elected president of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association. He was one of the earliest supporters and promoters of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History, and contributed often to the Journal of Negro History. He was co-founder of several important organizations: the American Negro Academy, the Virginia Educational and Historical Association, and the National Afro-American Press Association.

Cromwell is the author of History of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association (1896), The Jim Crow Negro (1904), The Negro in American History: Men and Women Eminent in the Evolution of the American of African Descent (1914), and The First Negro Churches in the District of Columbia (1917). He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery.