The life and wives of James Worthington Mason will be the subject of the Lakeport Legacies history talk on April 28 at the Lakeport Plantation in Lake Village.
Lakeport director, Dr. Blake Wintory will discuss the political career and personal life of Mason (1841-1874), a former slave turned Reconstruction politician.
In the late 1860s, Mason served as postmaster at Sunnyside, a delegate to the 1868 the Arkansas Constitutional Convention, and two terms as state senator. In 1870 President U.S. Grant nominated him to be Minister to Liberia. Confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Mason did not report to his post in Monrovia and he soon emerged as Chicot County’s “political boss.”
While historians are aware of Mason’s important political career, little has been made of his personal life. Few, if any, Chicot County slaves had the advantages of Mason in the antebellum era: the son of the county’s wealthiest planter, Elisha Worthington, he and his sister were educated in the North and James continued his studies in France.
Historical evidence suggests Mason married twice — first to a former slave from near Port Gibson, Mississippi and later to the daughter of prominent free-born parents in Washington, D.C. Each union produced one daughter. The first, Fannie Worthington, became a school teacher and missionary in West Africa; while the second daughter, Josephine Mason, studied painting in Paris at the Académie Julian and became a professional artist in London. Their histories are a fascinating window into late 19th century African American lives in the Delta, Lincoln’s White House, Paris, Liberia, and London.
Refreshments will be served at 5:30 p.m. and the discussion begins at 6 p.m. The Lakeport Plantation is located at 601 Highway 142 in Lake Village.
Lakeport Legacies is a monthly history talk at the Lakeport Plantation. Each month a topic from the Delta region is featured. The event is free and open to the public.