Isaiah T. Montgomery

Born into slavery in 1847 near Vicksburg, Mississippi, Isaiah T. Montgomery lived on a plantation owned by Joseph Davis, the brother of Jefferson Davis. Davis permitted his slaves to be educated, and Montgomery learned to read and write at an early age. During the Civil War, the Davises fled the plantation, but the Montgomery family stayed and maintained the property. After the war, Davis sold his property to the Montgomerys, no longer slaves. The family was successful for a time, and Isaiah married in 1872. However, the business began to decline, and in 1877 Isaiah and his wife moved to Vicksburg. In 1887, they moved again, founding the all-black town of Mound Bayou as a commercial center for black farmers, a lifelong dream of Montgomery’s. He served as the founding mayor and engaged in several business enterprises. In a controversial move, Montgomery was elected the only black delegate to the Mississippi constitutional convention of 1890 and supported an amendment to disfranchise blacks and some whites. He remained active in entrepreneurial ventures and Republican politics and died in 1924.

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