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George T. Downing Papers

Biographical note

George T. Downing (1819-1903), son of restaurateur and abolitionist Thomas Downing. He was a civil rights leader and successful businessman himself. He was a member of the 1855 Colored National Convention and in 1857 he began and financed a successful nine-year campaign to integrate public schools in Newport, Providence, and Bristol. During the Civil War, he managed the members’ dining room in the House of Representatives. In 1865, he and others financed the purchase of land for Touro Park in Newport. He continued to fight for civil rights until his death in 1903.