Merrimon Howard

Merrimon Howard (Jefferson County)

State House: 1870-1872

Born: March 8, 1821

Also served as sheriff and justice of the peace. His son, Michael, was admitted to West Point in 1870. In January of 1877, he testified about the denial of election franchise in Mississippi.

Fearing for his safety, Howard relocated to Washington, D.C., and was appointed to be a messenger in the Treasury Department in 1877. He lost his position in 1886 after a Mississippi Democrat, Rep. Barksdale, requested his removal. Howard and wife Elvira are listed on the 1880 and 1900 census, as well as city directories, in Washington, D.C.

“[Merrimon] Howard was a former slave who was freed in the 1850s; he was a carriage driver and helped to found the first black school in the county; he also held many offices, including sheriff. But in 1876, shorn of office, Howard nonetheless directly confronted the white liners in a massive procession in Fayette, thereby provoking the ire of leading Democrats. They threatened to kill him, even though he had recently been appointed a special federal marshal. Consequently, Howard fled the county prior to the election. The U.S. marshal for the Southern District of Mississippi, in a report to the U.S. attorney general, described Howard’s plight this way: ‘Howard is a colored man, a staunch Republican, and a leader among his people. Herein is his offending.'”
(Justin Behrend, Reconstructing Democracy: Grassroots Black Politics in the Deep South after the Civil War, 2015)

“Of all the members of that legislature, there were only two I had ever known before, one who had been a slave, Merriman Howard from Jefferson county, who had been the house servant and carriage driver for my nearest neighbor, in the days when I lived in that county, Mr. Wade Harrison…”
(Frank A. Montgomery, Reminiscences of a Mississippian in Peace and War, 1901)

Links:
Letter from Merrimon Howard to the Assistant Commissioner of the Mississippi Freedmen’s Bureau

Vicksburg Herald, September 26, 1868
Tri-Weekly Clarion, September 9, 1869
Natchez Democrat, June 29, 1869
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, May 28, 1870
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, June 11, 1870
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, June 25, 1870
Semi-Weekly Clarion, September 23, 1870
Clarion-Ledger, August 3, 1871
Clarion-Ledger, September 21, 1871
Semi-Weekly Clarion, October 10, 1871
Clarion-Ledger, October 12, 1871
Clarion-Ledger, October 19, 1871
Natchez Democrat, June 22, 1872
Natchez Democrat, July 18, 1872
Clarion-Ledger, March 4, 1875
Clarion-Ledger, May 5, 1875
Weekly Mississippi Pilot, Aug 7, 1875
The American Citizen, April 1, 1876
Daily Commonwealth, September 10, 1876
Chicago Tribune, November 17, 1876
Clarion-Ledger, December 13, 1876
Biographical info in testimony
Cincinnati Daily Star, January 19, 1877
Sioux City Journal, January 20, 1877
Baltimore Sun, May 9, 1877
Baltimore Sun, February 12, 1879
Clarion-Ledger, September 27, 1882
New-York Tribune, July 29, 1887