Benjamin K. Sampson is from a free family in North Carolina. His father, James Sampson was born into slavery in 1801. At some point in his late adolescence, James's white father freed him. As well as providing him with his own workshop, and was given slaves as well. On the backs on his slaves, James became the wealthiest black man in New Hanover County, North Carolina.
Once established, James would sponsor a school on his property with a private teacher to teach free black and slave children in secret. Authorities later found out about the program and shut it down. He'd later open it up again and continue educating in secret.
Before the Civil War, it is estimated that Benjamin's father was worth about $14,000 dollars (In today's currency, that is roughly $421,607.55)
The rest of the Sampson's would also become influential within black communities. One brother, John P. Sampson studied along with his brother Benjamin at Oberlin College. John was becoming a local black leader for the people of New Hanover to rally around. This was equally important for a post civil war south during reconstruction. He would hold numerous public offices including, New Hanover executive of the Republican Party, Wilmington City Clerk, New Hanover County Assessor, New Hanover County Treasurer, and Wilmington City Alderman. While another brother Joseph joined the workingman association of Wilmington, which was an association of black artisans, carpenters, brick masons, painters, and plasterers. Joseph would eventually be elected to represent the WAW at the colored national labor convention.