Ramsey County History – Fall 2011: “A Different Sesquicentennial: Remembering Fredrick McGhee”

Paul D. Nelson

A Different Sesquicentennial: Remembering Fredrick McGhee
Author: Paul D. Nelson

On October 28, 2011, Author Paul Nelson paused to reflect that Fredrick McGhee (1861–1912) was born on that date 150 years ago. Nelson remembered him that day because he admired the man so much, and because, as his biographer, he feels a personal connection to him. McGhee is remembered as a former slave who received his legal education in Chicago and came to St. Paul in the late 1880s, where he was the first Black lawyer admitted to the bar in Minnesota. He practiced criminal law and became active in politics first as a Republican. Then, in 1893, he switched to the Democrats. A founder of the Niagara Movement in 1905, which was a forerunner of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, McGhee, according to Nelson, was “the greatest civil rights leader [Minnesota] has ever known.”
PDF of Nelson article