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John Waller

A sepia colored cabinet card of John Lewis WallerAfrican American politician, 1850-1907

Born into slavery in 1850 in Missouri, John Lewis Waller's career as a lawyer and politician began in Iowa.

Waller came to Topeka in 1878 after hearing of Pap Singleton's efforts to colonize African Americans in Kansas. By 1882 Waller had started his newspaper, Western Recorder, in Lawrence. In 1888 he was elected as one of the first African Americans to serve on the electoral college for the Republican Party.

He was appointed by President Benjamin Harrison to serve as Consul to Madagascar from 1891 to 1894. During this period, France was attempting to gain control of Madagascar. Waller was accused by the French government of giving military information to the native peoples in an attempt to prevent French takeover. Waller was sentenced to 20 years in a French prison. President Grover Cleveland demanded Waller be set free after resolutions by Congress. Waller died in 1907 in New York.

Entry: Waller, John

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: May 2009

Date Modified: June 2011

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.