Black History: Special Delivery!!
Thomas Greene Bethune Wiggins (1849 – 1908) was born to enslaved parents who lived on a Georgia plantation. The family was owned at first by Wiley Jones but was then sold to General James Bethune in Columbus, GA. Wiggins was blind from birth and was also considered to be autistic. He showed an early aptitude for music and also was said to have a great memory. By the age of 4 he was able to play the piano and made his musical concert debut at the age of 8, in Atlanta, GA. Wiggins was hired out as an enslaved musician. The fee for his performance was $15,000. He would be the first African American to perform at the White House for President James Buchanan in 1859, when he was 10 years old. Two of his original piano pieces “Oliver Galop” and “Virginia Polka” were published in 1860. During the Civil War, his musical talents were used to raise funds for Confederate relief efforts. By 1865, Wiggins was 16 years old and was considered an “indentured” servant to General Bethune. Continue reading “Thomas Bethune Wiggins: Enslaved, Blind, Musical Genius”