Biography of Francis Lewis Cardozo
Francis L. Cardozo
Francis Louis Cardozo was born on 1 February 1837, in Charleston, South Carolina, the son of a free black mother and a Jewish customs officer, Isaac N Cardozo. His early education was at the free black schools in Charleston. In 1858 as his country divided over the issue of slavery, Cardozo left his job as a carpenter and came to study at the University of Glasgow on a letter of recommendation from the pastor of the Second Presbyterian Church to train for the ministry. Aged 21, he matriculated at the University of Glasgow with the intention of preparing for the ministry. He took classes in the Arts Faculty between 1858 and 1861: Latin in his first year, Greek and Logic in his second, Ethics and Mathematics in his third. He was awarded prizes for "General Eminence in the Humanity class" in the session 1858-59, decided by the vote of the students, and in Greek the following year.
After three years of study at the University of Glasgow, he then attended Presbyterian seminaries in Edinburgh and London before returning to the US in 1864. There he played a significant role as an educator and politician during the Reconstruction period. Cardozo ministered in New Haven, Connecticut. After the Civil War, and with slavery finally abolished in 1865, Cardozo turned to education and to South Carolina where he became involved in setting up schools for freed slaves. One of his most important achievements in a lifetime of involvement with black education was to work for the establishment of the Avery Institute to train teachers and, as its Principal until 1868, to help set its course to become a prestigious institution. He was also drawn into the political battle for civil rights, working strenuously to protect black voting rights and to advocate greater opportunity to acquire land. His considerable achievements in politics, included becoming the first Africa-American to hold state-wide public office in South Carolina, as Secretary of State (1868-1872) and State Treasurer (1872-1876).
Francis Cardozo spent the remainder of his life as an educator in Washington DC, where he became Principal of the Colored Preparatory High School. He died on 22 July 1903.