Colorado State Capitol Virtual Tour
Born a slave in Virginia, Barney Ford taught himself how to read and write. At the age of twenty five he ran away from slavery to Chicago, and two years later headed west to seek his fortune. Ford went to Nicaragua and became owner of two hotels, but when slavery was restored there, Barney and his wife returned to Chicago to help slaves escape into free Canada. In 1858 Ford headed west again, but this time he went to Denver. By the time the 13th Amendment passed in 1865, Ford was already being called the "Black Baron of Colorado." Not only was Barney Ford a successful miner, but he also owned three successful restaurants and a barbershop. He was a leading activist for the rights of African-Americans, and was a prominent member of the Republican Election Commission. Ford was also the first black man to sit on a Grand Jury in Colorado and is responsible for ensuring that the State Constitution allowed "all males" the right to vote.
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last modified June 20, 2003