Home > PublicationsEncyclopedia >  Hamlin, Albert Comstock

HAMLIN, ALBERT COMSTOCK (1881–1912).

A. C. Hamlin was the first African American elected to the state legislature (1908) and was the only black to serve until 1964. Born in Topeka, Kansas, A. C. was the son of Andrew Jackson and Fanny Hamlin, former slaves from Tennessee who had migrated to Kansas in 1880. The family moved to Logan County, Oklahoma Territory, in 1890. After his father's death in 1891, A. C. Hamlin stayed on the Logan County farm and married Katie Weaver in 1899. The couple had five children. Hamlin served on the local school board and was a trustee of Springvale Township, where his family lived. He won the legislative seat by a two-to-one margin in the prominently African American Third District of Logan County (the county was one-quarter black in 1900) but lost his bid for reelection in 1910. His defeat was a direct result of a Democrat-sponsored constitutional amendment that essentially prevented most blacks from voting. The "grandfather clause" stated that "no person shall be registered as an elector in this state, or be allowed to vote in any election held herein, unless he be able to read and write any section of the Constitution of the State of Oklahoma." It also prevented anyone from voting unless that person had voted before January 1, 1866, or was a direct descendent of someone who could have voted on that date. This was done by amendment, as in 1907 Pres. Theodore Roosevelt would not sign any proposed Oklahoma constitution if it contained provisions that restricted voting based on race.

As a Republican, Hamlin was in the minority party; however, he was able to sponsor legislation for the appropriation of thirty-five thousand dollars for Taft School, a black school for deaf, blind, or orphaned children. He also sponsored successful legislation that would make facilities truly equal for both white and black railroad passengers and an amended bill to prevent certain activities such as theatrical performances and baseball games on Sundays. Hamlin died of unknown causes on August 29, 1912, at his farm when only thirty-one years old. He was a member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church for fourteen years and was buried in Robison Cemetery near his home.

Michael L. Bruce

See also: AFRICAN AMERICANS, CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT, GREEN I. CURRIN, GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS, GUINN v. UNITED STATES, SEGREGATION, DAVID J. WALLACE

Bibliography

Edward Everett Dale and Gene Aldrich, eds., History of Oklahoma (Edmond, Okla.: Thompson Book and Supply Co., 1978).

John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, Vol. 9 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999).

Helen Holmes, ed., Logan County History, 1889–1977, Vol. 2 (Guthrie, Okla.: History Committee, Logan County Extension Homemakers Council, 1979).

Kaye M. Teall, Black History in Oklahoma: A Resource Book (Oklahoma City, Okla.: Oklahoma City Public Schools, 1971).

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society. This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia and part or in whole.

Photo credits: All photographs presented in the published and online Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture are the property of the Oklahoma Historical Society and are held in the agency's Research Division Photo Archives.


Citation

The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
Michael L. Bruce, "Hamlin, Albert Comstock," The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, www.okhistory.org (accessed October 21, 2017).

About the Encyclopedia | Terms of Use | Using the Encyclopedia