Robert Purvis, Reconstruction (American National Biography)

Joseph A. Boromé, "Purvis, Robert," American National Biography Online, February 2000,
Greatly respected in the postwar era, Purvis refused an 1867 bid to head the Freedmen's Bureau but served as a commissioner in Washington, D.C., of the Republican-sponsored Freedmen's Savings Bank (1874-1880). After returning to Philadelphia, he dedicated himself, as an elder statesman of abolitionism, to the defeat of slavery's "twin relic of barbarism, prejudice against color." He supported municipal reform and independent political action to battle race discrimination in city employment, to ameliorate the economic plight of black workers, and to shore up civil rights. In 1881 he backed for mayor reform Democrat Samuel G. King, who after election appointed four black policemen. In 1884, ignoring mounting Republican displeasure because he did not adhere to the party that had freed the slaves, Purvis flirted with the Greenback party. Dissatisfied with the 1887 state civil rights law, he lobbied for more inclusive legislation.
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