DYK on this day in MoorStory365 that Lewis Adams was born on October 27, 1842. He was a Moor businessman, educator and public policy administrator. Little is known of his early life. It is known, however, that despite having no formal education, Adams could read, write, and speak several languages. He was also an experienced tinsmith, harness-maker, and shoemaker. He was married to “Sallie” Sarah Adams with whom he had sixteen children😮. Adams was born a slave and became a successful tradesman, was the founding force behind the establishment of a school at Tuskegee.
Before the Civil War, Macon County, Alabama, was a flourishing community based upon cotton agriculture. The county seat of Tuskegee was a cultural and educational center with several schools. During Reconstruction Adams, a leader in the Black community was approached by two white politicians who wanted to securing the Black vote for them in the 1880 election. Adams agreed but only if the two would support establishing a college for Blacks in Tuskegee. The deal was struck, and the two men were elected to the legislature. In 1881, the legislature approved an act establishing the Tuskegee State Normal School to educate teachers.
Adams and two other men were appointed commissioners, and with some help they recruited a young Virginia educator from Hampton Institute Booker T. Washington as the first principal at Tuskegee. Adams bought a “good” horse, second hand lumber wagon, a plow, harness, and feed for the school. Washington opened the school on July 4, 1881. Through the years the other schools once located in Tuskegee closed or moved to other localities, but the educational institution that became Tuskegee University continues to be a center of learning and service for east Alabama as well as the entire state, the South, and the world. Lewis Adams died on April 30, 1905 in Tuskegee, Alabama.
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