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Biographies Unit Biographies

Allen Allensworth 1842-1914
Founded the Town of Allensworth for African Americans

Allen Allensworth was born into slavery in Kentucky. When he was 20 years old, he escaped. At that time, a war was being fought over whether to allow slavery in the United States. Allensworth fought to end slavery.

After the war was over, Allensworth became an army chaplain. A chaplain is a religious minister for people in the armed forces. By the time Allensworth left the army, he was the highest-ranking African American officer in the army. He traveled around the United States urging African Americans to work together for a better future.

In 1908, Allensworth and other African Americans bought land in California to start a town where African Americans could live free from discrimination. They named the town Allensworth. It was a great success. African Americans from all over California and the rest of the United States moved to it. The townspeople built a school, a library, a church, a hotel, and other businesses.

Allensworth did not have enough water, however. People moved away. By the 1970s, no one lived there. Today the town is the Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park. The town's main buildings have been restored. About 70,000 people visit the park every year to learn about Colonel Allensworth and the people who lived in this town.

Comprehension Check

Why did Allen Allensworth start a town for African Americans?

Critical Thinking

What character traits would you use to describe Allen Allensworth?