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Martin Freeman: The Vermonter

Martin Freeman was an African American from Rutland, Vermont and a graduate of Middlebury College. Freeman was born in 1826 and the world during that period of time represented an unjust racist society that decided the worth of a man based on the color of his skin ("Historical Society Focuses on Freeman"). In fact, Freeman structured his life and endeavors in an attempt to challenge discriminatory customs by establishing a hospitable existence for African-Americans in another country: Liberia ("Hope for the Negro").

Martin Freeman and Higher Education

Martin Freeman’s illustrious career began under the guidance of his grandfather, Pearson Freeman. Pearson Freeman was an individual who operated a potash plant in Rutland after gaining his freedom and serving in the military during the American Revolution. Also, the Reverend William Mitchell, a minister of Rutland’s Congregational Church, recognized Freeman’s intelligence and tutored him and wrote Freeman’s letter of recommendation for admittance to Middlebury College. In 1849 Freeman graduated from Middlebury College receiving the prodigious honor of Class Salutatorian which represented an award rarely bestowed on individual of color during the 19th century. Upon graduation Freeman traveled to Pittsburgh to become a professor at Avery College. Fascinatingly, Avery College boasted a significant black activist movement that suggested numerous methodologies to improve the subordinated status of African-Americans. This breeding ground for radical ideas for African-American causes may have assisted led Martin Freeman to travel to Liberia ("Historical Society Focuses on Freeman").

Martin Freeman’s Aspirations for African Americans

Martin Freeman asserted that education of African Americans could lead to improvement in conditions and prospects for people of color (Irvine 81). In fact, Colonization served as a mechanism that provided a stable environment for African-Americans and assisted to enable the education process without the harsh racial hierarchy that blacks encountered in the United States. Additionally, Martin Freeman advocated that the colonization of Liberia presented an opportunity to re-educate African-American children to appreciate their own race and not to emulate or view white American as figures of power and higher prestige (Irvine 82). Martin Freeman fervent advocacy for the Colonization movement led him to declare “that the Colonization scheme affords the best field of labor to those who desire the greatest good of the Negro race; that it is the most comprehensive in its aims the most practical in its operations and the most beneficial in its results” (Irvine 84).


Martin Freeman was an African-American born in Rutland, Vermont in 1826. He attended Middlebury College and graduated in the Class of 1849. Following his graduation he began a professorship in Avery College. It was during this time he became inspired by the notion of Colonization.