Skip to Main Content

Robert Smalls: A Resource Guide

Born into slavery, Robert Smalls (1839–1915) was a ship captain, businessman, advocate, and congressman. Learn more about Smalls through selected sources including books, manuscripts, speeches, and websites.


Robert Smalls, S.C. M.C. Born in Beaufort, SC, April 1839. [between 1870 and 1880]. Brady-Handy Collection. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.

Robert Smalls was a Civil War hero known for captaining a crew that hijacked a Confederate ship and delivering it to the Union Army. He was elected to the South Carolina state Senate, then he was elected to represent the southeast South Carolina U.S. Congressional district and served for five terms. Smalls continually fought against black disenfranchisement, for the Republican Party, and for the betterment of South Carolina.

This guide compiles digital and print resources available from the Library of Congress such as books, manuscripts, speeches, and electronic resources with additional external resources.