Date in History:
1873 – Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs became the Superintendent of Public Instruction on this date. Gibbs would serve in that post until his death on April 14, 1874. Gibbs was born free in Philadelphia on September 28, 1821 and was the third African American student to graduate from Dartmouth College in 1852 and the second to deliver a commencement address at any college in the country. He later moved back to Philadelphia, becoming the pastor of the First African American Church and helped runaway slaves heading north, as well as supporting abolitionist movements. Gibbs decided to move south in 1864, aiming to help the newly freed slaves, arriving in Florida in 1867 and starting a private school in Jacksonville. While in Jacksonville, Gibbs became more involved in politics and was appointed Secretary of State under Governor Harrison Reed after losing a bid for the U.S. House of Representatives. Gibbs’ only son Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs was a member of the 1886 Florida Constitutional Convention and served multiple terms in the Florida House of Representatives.