April 14, 1927 John Wesley Cromwell, historian, educator and lawyer, died. Cromwell was born enslaved September 5, 1846 in Portsmouth, Virginia. After his father gained the family’s freedom, Cromwell graduated from the Institute for Colored Youth (now Cheney University) in 1864. He graduated from Howard University Law School in 1873 and was admitted to the District of Columbia bar the next year. In 1876, he founded the weekly paper The People’s Advocate. Cromwell became the first African American lawyer to argue a case before the Interstate Commerce Commission when he served as counsel for the plaintiff in William H. Heard v. Georgia Railroad Company December 22, 1887. A gifted organizer, Cromwell helped organize the Virginia Educational and Historical Association and the National Colored Press Association. He was a founder of the Bethel Literary and Historical Association in 1897 and was a founding member of the American Negro Academy, an organization created to stimulate and demonstrate intellectual capabilities among African Americans. Cromwell published his most influential work, “The Negro in American History: Men and Women Eminent in the Evolution of the American of African Descent,” in 1914 and it influenced Carter G. Woodson to found the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History the following year. Cromwell also published “The First Negro Churches in The District of Columbia” in 1917. “Unveiled Voices, Unvarnished Memories: The Cromwell Family in Slavery and Segregation, 1692 – 1972” was published in 2006.