Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

George Boyer Vashon

Pennsylvania, New York, Washington, D.C.

Vashon graduated in 1844 from Oberlin College, the first African American to graduate from Oberlin. He received a master's degree from Oberlin (1849) and went on to become a lawyer and educator.

Vashon was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1847, the first black to be admitted. He would later be the District of Columbia's first African-American lawyer. He also practiced law in Syracuse, New York and served as Dean of the Howard University Law School. He was president of Avery College in Pittsburgh, and served as a solicitor at the Freedmen's Bureau in Washington after the Civil War.

After leaving Howard University he went to Mississippi where he died during a yellow fever epidemic in Rodney, Mississippi. [Source (in part): M. Marie Booth Foster, Southern Black Creative Writers, 1829-1953: Biobiliographies 65-66 (New York: Greenwood press, 1988)]

George Vashon

George Boyer Vashon
African American Resource Center

George Boyer Vashon
Encyclopedia of American Poetry

George Vashon Law Office

Susan Paul Vashon
wife of George Boyer Vashon


George Boyer Vashon, "Vincent Oge," in Julia Griffiths (ed.), Autographs for Freedom 44-60 (Auburn, New York: Alden Beardsley and Co., 1854) [online text]

____________________, "A Life Day" in Daniel A. Payne, The Semi-Centenary and the Retrospection of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in the United States of America 172-175 (Baltimore: Sherwod and Co., 1866)


James G. Hallin, "George Boyer Vashon," Eric L. Haralson (ed.), Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998)

Paul N.D. Thornell, The Absent Ones and the Providers: A Biography of the Vashons, 83 (4) Journal of Negro History 284 (1998)

C.M. Hanchett, George Boyer Vashon, 1824-1878: Black Educator, Poet, Fighter for Equal Rights, 68 Western Pennsylvania Historical Magazine 205 (July 1985)

Research Resources

The Vintage Book of African-American Poetry
Boston Review book review