Mary Ann Shadd Cary

Previous page | She teamed up with Samuel Ward of the Anti-Slavery Society and others to publish a newspaper, The Provincial Freeman, with the motto "Self Reliance Is the True Road to Independence." Subsequently, she became editor of the Freeman and, in so doing, was the first black female editor and publisher in North America. She married Thomas Cary, a Toronto barber, and lived in Chatham, Ontario, until his death four years later.

During the Civil War, she became an Army recruiting officer. After the Civil War, she returned to the United States and moved to Washington D.C., where she opened a school for black children and enrolled in Howard University Law School. Establishing the Colored Women's Progressive Franchise Association, she was an ardent advocate of women's rights, urging black women to discern their specific economic and political position and to fight for equal rights and opportunities.

Gaining her L.L.B. degree, she is considered to be the first black female lawyer in the United States. After graduation, she launched an attack on the judicial system challenging the House of Representatives for the right to vote and was one of the few women to vote in federal elections during the Reconstruction period.

In 1893, Mary Ann Shadd Cary died of cancer.
back to top


Demanding Justice: A Story about Mary Ann Shadd Cary, Jeri Ferris and Kimanne Smith, Carolrhoda Books, 2003.
Buy it in paperback: |
Buy it in library binding: |

Mary Ann Shadd Cary: The Black Press and Protest in the Nineteenth Century, Jane Rhodes, Indiana University Press, 1999.
Buy it in hardcover: |
Buy it in paperback: |

A Plea for Emigration by Mary Shadd, Mary Shadd Cary (Richard Almante, ed.), Mercury Press, 1998.
Buy it in paperback: |

Search for 'Mary Shadd' on or
back to top