William Hannibal Thomas (1843-1935) was Otterbein’s first African-American student. After serving in the Civil War, he was a lawyer, a former member of the South Carolina State Senate, and a published author whose book, The American Negro, was the subject of much controversy and repudiation by the African-American community. Thomas attended Otterbein in the academic year 1859-60. At first, he was met with what he called “a turbulent spirit” – he was assaulted and tormented by some of his classmates. Fearing for the stability of the young university, members of the Board of Trustees offered to pay for his education at Oberlin College. Thomas refused to leave, even when faced with expulsion. Fortunately, a number of students from the south left Otterbein soon after, and he “met with no further trouble.” This collection includes examples of his written works, articles about him, and related documents and photos. Disclaimer: The items in our archival collections are digital images of historical images, texts, and objects that may be sensitive or offensive. As an academic institution, we encourage research of both historical and contemporary materials. We encourage you to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have concerns.