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Alexander Lucius Twilight is thought to be the first African American to graduate from an American university (Middlebury College, 1823).
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Alexander Lucius Twilight was born on September 26, 1795, in Corinth, Vermont. Twilight is believed to be the first African American to graduate from an American university; he received his bachelor's degree from Middlebury College in 1823. Also a pioneer in Vermont politics, Twilight became the first African American to serve in the state's legislature in 1836. He died on June 19, 1857.
Born on September 26, 1795, in Corinth, Vermont, Alexander Lucius Twilight is believed to be the first African American to graduate from an American university. He grew up in Corinth as one of six children born to Ichabod and Mary Twilight. According to the Old Stone House Museum's website, his father served in the Revolutionary War. The Twilights were one of the few African American families living in this area at the time.
Twilight went to work at an early age on a nearby farm. There he learned some of basics of reading, writing and arithmetic. At the age of 20, Twilight started his formal education at the Randolph's Orange County Grammar School. In 1821, he enrolled at Middlebury College. Twilight made history two years later when he earned his bachelor's degree.
After completing his degree, Twilight went on to become an educator. He spent several years as a teacher in Peru, New York. There he met Mercy Ladd Merrill, and the couple wed in 1826. Twilight also had a strong interest in religion, eventually receiving necessary credentials to be a preacher.
Returning to his home state, Twilight tended congregations in Vergennes and Browington. He became the principal of the Orleans County Grammar School in 1829 in Brownington, which later became known as Brownington Academy. He helped the school built a granite building named Athenian Hall, which he designed. The structure housed classrooms and served as a dormitory. The building is now known as the Old Stone House Museum.
Also a pioneer in Vermont politics, Twilight became the first African American to serve in the state's legislature in 1836. He continued to thrive in his varied roles as educator and preacher until the late 1840s. During this time, Twilight developed conflicts with his school and his church, leading him to resign his posts. He went on to teach in Quebec, Canada, for several years.
In 1852, Twilight returned to Browington to work as a minister and to run the academy. He gave up his church duties after a year, but he stayed on at the school until ill health forced his retirement in 1855. Twilight died two years later, on June 19, 1857.
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