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David Ruggles, First African-American Bookstore Owner

David Ruggles, First African-American Bookstore Owner

David Ruggles was the first African America to own a bookstore. Ruggles promoted a number of publications that supported the end of slavery. This was astonishing when at the time in many places blacks were not allowed to read. In 1835  a white anti-abolitionist mob burned down his stores. In September 1835, a white anti-abolitionist mob burned his store.

Ruggles traveled across the Northeast promoting the Emancipator and Journal of Public Morals. Sadly Ruggles’ health worsened causing him to become completely blind. Due to his sickness he learned about hydrotherapy. It was said that he had the gift of “cutaneous electricity”, which is the ability to diagnose ailments by sense of touch.

He later purchased land and a building to conduct his hydrotherapy treatments.  Ruggles became famous in the field and modestly wealthy, offering a cure for ailments that were claimed by conventional medicine to be incurable.  His most famous patient was the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison.

Credit: Black Past.

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