Abolitionist and African American Businesswoman

S. Epatha Merkerson plays Lydia Hamilton Smith in the 2012 film Lincoln, alongside Tommy Lee Jones as Thaddeus Stevens. The movie stars Daniel Day-Lewis as Abraham Lincoln and Sally Field as Mary Todd Lincoln. Merkerson owes much of her fame to her role as Lt. Anita Van Buren on the original Law and Order television series.

Lydia Hamilton Smith had a special relationship with U.S. Congressman Thaddeus Stevens. She became Stevens' housekeeper in 1847, and …Read More...

Inventor of Night Signal Flares for the U.S. Navy

Martha Hunt Coston was born in 1826 in Baltimore, and moved to Philadelphia with her widowed mother, brothers, and sisters in the 1830s. At the age of 16, Martha eloped with Benjamin Franklin Coston, a promising young inventor.

The young couple were living a charmed life. Benjamin was appointed Master in the Naval Service and placed in charge of the Naval Laboratory in the Washington, DC. During this time, he developed …Read More...