north carolina highway historical marker program
North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Program



Marker Text:

     Abraham Galloway was born in Smithville (Southport) on February 8, 1837 to a free white man, John Wesley Galloway, and an enslaved woman, Hester Hankins. Due to his mother’s slave status, Galloway too was a slave. During his adolescence, he apprenticed to be a master brick mason and moved to Wilmington to join his owner.

     In 1857 Galloway stowed away on a ship hauling turpentine bound for Philadelphia where he joined the abolition movement. Between 1857 and 1861, Galloway established a home base in Canada but continued his fight to end slavery in the United States by speaking and as an agent of the Underground Railroad.

     Galloway led black recruitment efforts in the federally occupied northeastern portion of the state to fill the ranks of what would become Gen. Edward Wild’s African Brigade. For the volunteers, he secured pay equal to that of the Massachusetts regiments, educational opportunities for their children, and support for their families, most of whom were destitute.

     On April 29, 1864, Galloway led a delegation of southern black representatives to the White House to meet with President Abraham Lincoln. The delegation lobbied for many rights, the right to vote being chief among them. They argued on behalf of all the black men who had volunteered and risked their lives by serving as spies, scouts, and soldiers in the army and navy. The delegation viewed the conference as a success even though Lincoln made no promises regarding political equality.

     As the war waned, Galloway began shifting his focus to the political struggle for equal treatment and organized the Equal Rights League, serving as the president of the John Brown Chapter. The league pushed for new chapters throughout the state at the war’s end and lobbied for “education, improvement, and suffrage.”

     Galloway and the league organized the state’s first freedmen’s convention, held in Raleigh in September 1865, to represent the interests of the state’s black population as the constitutional convention convened across town. The apex of Galloway’s political career came in 1868 when he was among the first black men to be elected to the state senate, in which capacity he served until his death on September 1, 1870, from illness.

David S. Cecelski, The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway & The Slaves’ Civil War (2012)
Philip Gerard, “Abraham Galloway: From Cartridge Box to Ballot Box,” Our State, online at
Location: County:

Original Date Cast:




north carolina highway historical marker program

© 2008 North Carolina Office of Archives & History — Department of Cultural Resources