Samuel J Datcher

Samuel J. Datcher attended New York Central College for just one year from 1852-1853. He was the son of an influential free African American family in Washington, DC. His father Frances was freed at a very young age, and he had the pleasure of raising his son the same way. This exhibit tells his families story and explores his life during and after he left Central College.

Samuel Datcher was born in Washington D.C. in 1835 to free black parents. When he was around the age of 17 he moved to McGrawville, NY to attend New York Central College. Throughout his enrollment at New York Central College, he was given the opportunities to learn topics such as Latin, Greek, arithmetic, and philosophy, subjects he wouldn't have been able to learn about anywhere else. Students who attended the college were given the same opportunities as white college students during this time. They learned the same curriculum, and were given all of the same tools as white students to be able to pursue greater things in life. Datcher was exposed to a lot of things that he would have never seen if it wasn’t for the diversity of New York Central College. Another example being that the housing at the college not only housed students, but faculty members as well. Students and faculty members were also given the opportunity to work the land in return for their housing and for the students, their tuition. This taught them not only how to work land, but also about agricultural science as well. It can be argued that the exposure to this different environment was empowering to him and other black people, and helped them pursue different paths in life and a life of service in the black community.

Written by Tyler Holcomb (a student in Dr. Evan Faulkenbury’s HIS 312: African American History to 1865 class) and Thomas Keely and Holly Pianosi (students in Dr. Scott Moranda’s HIS 499: Research Experience in History class).

The Sons and Daughters of Freedom