No personal writings left behind by Francis Prince Clary tell us his feelings about participating in some of the most important political and moral struggles in this country’s history. But the petitions he signed and events he took part in give a good idea of his zeal for justice.
Francis Prince Clary was known by some as a “character” – a person at Harvard but not considered by lore-keepers to be of Harvard. Yet Clary played an unusual and historic role at the university, and off campus he was a well-recognized figure in the Black abolitionist community.
To give some notion how much trust Cambridge men must have invested in Charles Lenox, then officially just a “laborer” at Harvard, the list of Lenox loan recipients when he died included Sidney Willard, the son of a Harvard president and a man who had held a number of elected offices – including mayor.
Unlike a number of Black contemporaries, Charles Lenox seems not to have appeared in newspaper articles during his lifetime. With his death in 1852, he suddenly hit the news – the fact of a Black man amassing such a fortune being newsworthy enough to make it to New York papers such as the Times and Tribune.