Saturday, March 07, 2009

Secret life of Clarence King

As geologist Clarence King, first director of the U.S. Geological Survey, lay dying of tuberculosis in Arizona in 1901, he revealed a deep secret to the woman he had married 13 years earlier. He had lived a double life as a black Pullman porter and steelworker named James Todd, in order to marry this black woman and former slave. Given the laws of the time, this was the only way they could be together. After he died, his widow and children took the King name and the story became public in 1933.

This strange story is told in a new book, Passing Strange, by Martha Sandweiss.

1 comment:

  1. Lee
    Yes, it was quite a good and fascinating book. I am planning on interviewing her for an article in Earth magazine.