JORDAN NOBLE: THE VENERABLE SOLDIER-STATESMAN
Jordan Noble's story as a slave-turned-soldier and a loved citizen of New Orleans has been somewhat thoroughly documented. Noble was able to use his status as a patriot and soldier of four wars (Battle of New Orleans/War of 1812, Seminole War in Florida, Mexican War, and as part of both the Confederate and Union forces during the Civil War) to gain freedom and social status that very few of his skin color had at that time. His accomplishments and unique circumstances positioned him as a celebrated member of New Orleans society and a political leader of the free black community.
Jordan Noble's efforts as a political leader began far before President Lincoln's 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, far before the Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in 1865, and far before the Fourteenth Amendment offered a guarantee of civil rights in 1868. Noble's well-publicized notoriety as Andrew Jackson's drummer and his voluntary service in multiple wars to help whites forge the American republic positioned him to astutely negotiate through the class-based society which surrounded him. His words and actions were public proof that People of Color were model citizens, eloquent speakers with social grace, and true patriots deserving freedom and every natural right. His words and actions were tools that greatly advanced the fight for those rights and equality throughout America.
Noble attended the 1854 National Emigration Convention of Colored People in Cleveland, serving as an elected officer on its National Board of Commissioners and a Louisiana delegate. The delegates of that convention created what was advanced as the first platform "ever established by the colored people in any Convention in the United States." That groundbreaking platform made a series of declarations which outlined specific civil rights grievances and, among other things, insisted that "man is by nature free," that whatever interferes with the natural rights of man should "be met with adequate resistance," and demanded "every political right, privilege and position," while pledging to use "all honorable means, to unite us as one people, on this continent."1
In 1865, the first year that "free blacks and mullatoes of Louisiana" could legally meet in convention, Noble attended the Convention of Colored Men of Louisiana in New Orleans. He served as President pro-tem and Vice President of the Convention, in addition to serving as President of the Convention's Committee of Rules and Regulations and as an officer on multiple other committees developed to "promote the moral, educational, and economic development of the black community." Noble and the other delegates quickly formed the Equal Rights League of Louisiana as an outgrowth of the National Equal Rights League, which was founded just three months prior, and endorsed their adopted "Declaration of Wrongs and Rights." (The National Equal Rights League served as a forerunner to the NAACP.) The published minutes and an editorial in the New Orleans Tribune specifically recognized Noble's high level of leadership activity and important part at the Convention. His work alongside other notable southern-black soldiers turned political leaders, such as James H. Ingraham and Oscar J. Dunn, helped to ensure the Convention's success and initiate a well-defined, unified Civil Rights Movement in the years that followed. 2, 3
1Proceedings of the National Emigration Convention of Colored People Held at Cleveland, Ohio, On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, The 24th, 25th, and 26th of August, 1854; A.A. Anderson Print, Pittsburg, 1854; ColoredConventions.org, 2016.
2“State Convention of the Colored People of Louisiana, January 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, and 14th, 1865” (New Orleans, LA); Foner, Philip S. and George E. Walker, eds.; The Proceedings of the Black State Conventions, 1840-1865. Volume 2, 1979; ColoredConventions.org, 2016.
3"Editorial: The State Convention of the Colored People of Louisiana", The New Orleans Tribune; January 10-15, 1865.