Born in Richmond, Va., to a free black mother and enslaved father, John Henry Smyth graduated from Howard University Law School in Washington, D.C., in 1872 and worked variously as a teacher, bank cashier, lawyer, and newspaper editor. He served as minister resident and consul general to Liberia, 1878-1885. His most enduring legacy, however, is the Hanover Juvenile Correctional Center, founded by him in 1897 as the Virginia Manual Labor School, among the first in the United States especially for African American youths. Smyth required his charges to labor on the school's farm to develop a strong work ethic. The center's school is named for him.
Geographic Location: Hanover County
Physical Description of Location: Hanover, VA 23069. Located on Hanover Courthouse Road (Hwy 301), 1.4 miles south of the junction of Hanover Courthouse Road (Hwy 301) and East Patrick Henry Road. Marker is on the right when traveling south on Hanover Courthouse Road (Hwy 301).
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