Pondering and prospecting the great wonder of us… etc etc… this guy’s life, a classic Horatio Alger story, “except that he was black”.
Almost no one today knows who he was, but he was a major figure in 19th-century black America, as well as being a critically important person in British Columbia’s first decade.
Summarizing his achievements is a challenge:
- Abolitionist agitator and a worker on the underground railway in Philadelphia.
- Shoeshine boy, boot merchant, and newspaper publisher in gold-rush San Francisco.
- First competitor with the Hudson’s Bay Company in gold-rush Victoria.
- Builder of B.C.’s first railway, in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
- Victoria city councillor and acting mayor.
- Member of the Yale Conference for B.C.’s entry into Canada.
- America’s first elected black judge, in Little Rock, Arkansas.
- U.S. Consul in Madagascar in his 70s,
- and founder of a bank on his return.
Mifflin Wistar Gibbs died rich in 1915, aged 94.