January 3 - From Congressman to Businessman

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On January 3, 1899, Paul Laurence Dunbar attended a banquet in Washington, D. C., in honor of Congressman George H. White.  Paul was 27 years old and employed at the Library of Congress.

Negroes of national repute gathered around the banquet board last night.  The occasion was a complimentary dinner to Representative George H. White of North Carolina. The guests were as follows . . .

Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio

Jesse Lawson, of New Jersey presided and Prof. George William Cook of Pennsylvania occupied the post of toastmaster.  The toasts and the names of those who responded to them follow . . .

"Our Poet Laureate," Paul Laurence Dunbar, Ohio

"Leaders of Their Race."  The Times (Washington, D. C.).  January 4, 1899.  Page 3.

It was a notable assemblage of Afro-Americans which gathered around the festive board last evening, at a banquet tendered the Hon. George H. White, Congressman, representing the Second North Carolina District.  Distinguished Negroes from all sections of the country were on hand, and the only lawmaker of his race in the national Congress was toasted and feted until a late hour.

"Banquet to a Leader."  The Washington Post (Washington, D. C.).  January 4, 1899.

George White was the only African American in Congress when he began his first term in 1897.  During his second term, he introduced a bill that would make lynching a federal crime, but it was defeated.  White caused controversy when he and a group of Black friends sat among whites at a circus.

Will not the white men of North Carolina resent this insult and vote to forever quell such negro insolence and arrogance.  Citizens of Tarboro make oath that they were present at the performance of Sparks' circus October 8th;  that they witnessed George H. White, the colored congressman, in company with six or eight colored women and children, take their seats in the midst of the white people;  that the said White declined to move his seat when requested to do so, first by a person connected with the circus and then by a town policeman.

"Good as White Folks."  The Daily Free Press (Kinston, North Carolina).  October 15, 1898.  Page 4.

Paul and White were friends and collaborators for years.  After Paul resigned from the Library and White was no longer in Congress, they appeared together at a historic Black church in Alexandria, Virginia.

Ex-Congressman George H. White will speak at Roberts Chapel tomorrow night on "The New Emancipation of the Negro."  Paul Laurence Dunbar will recite one of his own favorite poems.

"The New Emancipation."  Alexandria Gazette and Virginia Advertiser (Alexandria, Virginia).  December 3, 1901.  Page 3.

After leaving government, White became involved in real estate development, and he established a town in New Jersey called Whitesboro that was exclusively for Black residents.

Whitesboro, N. J., near Cape May, founded by ex-Congressman George H. White, is growing rapidly.  Families are building houses on the lots, and the wooded land is being cleared up.  During October over $1200 worth of cordwood was disposed of.

"Shreds and Patches."  The Colored American (Washington, D. C.).  December 6, 1902.  Page 2.

The land and improvement company of Cape May County, New Jersey, established a little over a year ago by ex-Congressman Geo. H. White, of North Carolina, had a meeting of considerable interest in his law office.  The report of the Secretary and Treasurer shows the company to be in a thriving condition.  They will continue to push the sales of lots, the erection of buildings and many other improvements which tend to develop a flourishing town in the near future.  Their colony now consists of about twenty-five inhabitants and dozens of others are expected to come in as soon as the spring opens.

"The George H. White Land and Improvement Company of Cape May, N. J., and the Town of Whitesboro, Cape May County, in a Thriving Condition."  The Colored American (Washington, D. C.).  March 7, 1903.  Page 9.

Paul purchased several lots in Whitesboro, although he never lived there.  After Paul's death in 1906, the properties were listed among his real estate holdings in his will.  Paul's mother Matilda took possession of the properties and continued to pay taxes on them for many years.

The check for $15 has been placed to your credit, and I herewith send receipt for the same.  Accept thanks.  We miss you so much here in Washington.  We have sold about 120, though some few have fallen by the wayside.  All in all considered, we are doing fairly well.  Shall hope to hear from you sometime soon.  I sincerely trust that you have entirely regained your health, and that you are prosperous and happy.

George H. White to Paul Laurence Dunbar, June 20, 1902.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 1).

At the present time, my estate consists of the following realty, to wit:  five lots, each 50 by 150, located in Cape May, Cape May County, New Jersey.

Last Will and Testament of Paul Laurence Dunbar, August 12, 1903.  Montgomery County Probate Court Will, Volume 33, Pages 43 - 47.  Montgomery County, Ohio, Records Center and Archives.

Tax Bill 1922

The Valuation of your Taxable Property and your Assessment for Taxes in the Township of Middle, Cape May County, N. J., for the year 1922, is as follows:


Lot 2 Block 39
Lot 6 Block 34

Lot 8 Block 15
Lot 9 - 11 Block 39  Whitesboro.

Value of Land


State, County and Local Tax


Tax Levy from Cape May County, New Jersey, 1922.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 2).