"W" is for Wright, Jonathan Jasper (1840-1885)

Jun 18, 2020

Credit SC Public Radio

"W" is for Wright, Jonathan Jasper (1840-1885). Attorney, legislator, jurist. Born in Pennsylvania, Wright read law with antislavery advocate Dr. William W. Pride. In 1864 Wright took a position with the American Missionary Association teaching black soldiers stationed on the Sea Islands. He was admitted to the Pennsylvania bar in 1866, but returned to South Carolina the next year with the Freedman’s

Bureau. He soon became the first black attorney in the state. He was a delegate to the 1868 Constitutional Convention and then elected to the state Senate from Beaufort County. When a vacancy occurred on the South Carolina Supreme Court in 1870, Wright was elected an associate justice—receiving wide support across party lines. Jonathan Jasper Wright was the first black man elected to a state or federal judgeship in the United States.