Sylvester Magee

A gaze as hard as the muskets that pierced his body during the battles of Vicksburg and Champion Hill, Sylvester Magee looks like the hard-boiled combat veteran he is in this portrait. A life of enslavement and war would harden any woman or man.
Mr. Magee, born around 1841, was believed to be the oldest American when he died at 130 in 1972. He was 22 when he escaped slavery in Mississippi and enlisted in the Union Army. Forced labor as a slave, the fight for freedom as a soldier, Mr. Magee’s contributions to America, cannot be overstated. His stature in this painting embodies the dignity slavery was unable to steal.

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