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William Monroe Trotter founded the Boston Guardian on November 9,1901.


William Monroe Trotter was born on April 7, 1872, in Springfield Township, Ohio. His father, James, the son of a Mississippi slave-owner, rose from private to second lieutenant in the all-Black Massachusetts 55th Regiment during the Civil War. His mother, Virginia Issacs, claimed descent from Thomas Jefferson.

James Trotter settled in Massachusetts soon after the war, but after his first two children died in infancy the family decided to give birth to their third child in rural Ohio. At seven months young William and his parents moved back to Boston where they settled on the South End, far from the predominately African American West Side. The family later moved to suburban Hyde Park, a white neighborhood.

The elder Trotter instilled independence and racial pride in his children. James Trotter had been among the most outspoken supporters of the principle of equal pay for African American troops during the Civil War and was an outspoken critic of American racial injustice. He was also a leader among a small coterie of African American Democrats at a time when the vast majority of African Americans were Republican, and President Cleveland appointed him recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia, the highest political office accorded African Americans.

Despite the comfortable existence that federal service provided the Trotters, young William was admonished to excel as a way of breaking down racial barriers, and his father told him that if he were beaten in a fight with one of his white friends, he could expect another when he returned home. His childhood, however, seems remarkably free of racial incidents, and he was valedictorian and president of his high school class.

Trotter graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Harvard University in 1895 and took an M.A. a year later. He had hoped to go into international banking, but even his impressive credentials opened few doors. Thwarted by race, Trotter settled on a career in real estate. In 1899 he married Geraldine Louise Pindell, whose uncle had led the fight to integrate Boston schools in the 1850s.

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