Arthur St. Clair (minister)

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Arthur W. St. Clair (died 1877) was an African American community leader in Brooksville, Florida who was murdered in 1877 by a mob days after he presided over the marriage of a black man and a white woman in the area that is now Dade City, Florida.[1][2] Controversy followed as efforts to investigate the white men accused of killing him were stymied. The courthouse burned.[3]


St. Clair was a slave on the plantation owned by John and Marina Sanderson May (who owned much of the land around what later became the town).


After the American Civil War, he was Hernando County's first post-Civil War voter registrar[3] (1867–1868).[4] He submitted an affidavit to Congress alleging instances of ineligible voting during the November 1876 election for State Legislature.[5]

St. Clair was a Baptist minister and founded Bethlehem Progressive Baptist Church. He also founded Hernando County's first school for blacks with his brother Hampton Sinclair.[3][6]He was appointed by Florida's governor to lead the state's Third Brigade militia.[3] He was a Hernando County Commissioner from 1875 until 1877.[4][7]

St. Clair was a candidate for office in the state legislature three times as a Republican and would have been a fourth time but was murdered two months before the election.


St. Clair was murdered in 1877. The killing took place after he presided over the marriage of Dave James and Lizzie Day, an interracial marriage (miscegenation). He was on his way back to Brooksville from the area that is now Dade City, Florida.[7]

The county courthouse was destroyed in a fire that destroyed records including those related to the case and was followed by other obstructions of efforts seeking justice in the case.[3]


The Brooksville City Council named him a Great Brooksvillian in 2007, the city's sixth person designated with the honor and its first African-American so honored.[3][8]


  1. ^ "Hernando's 100-year-old courthouse part of long, slow journey to justice". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2017-03-24.
  2. ^ Congressional Record, V. 153, Part 19, October 1, 2007 to October 16, 2007. Government Printing Office.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Former Slave Is Sixth Great Brooksvillian; City honors the slain founder of a church and a school St. Petersburg Times on Oct. 4, 2007 by LOGAN NEILL
  4. ^ a b Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924 by Canter Brown
  5. ^ Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1877-01-01. p. 161.
  6. ^ "Former slave is sixth Great Brooksvillian". Retrieved 2018-02-19.
  7. ^ a b Like water covered the sea: the African American freedom struggle in Florida, 1877-1920] Paul Ortiz, Duke University. Dept. of History Duke University, 2000 1194 pages page 99, 100
  8. ^ "Congressional Record". Retrieved 2018-02-19.

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