Lewis, Edmonia

Lewis, (Mary) Edmonia (b. Wildfire)

(?1844–?1911) sculptor; born near Albany, N.Y. The daughter of a Chippewa Indian mother and a black father, she was orphaned early and was raised by her mother's tribe. Her brother, Sunrise, a California gold miner, sent her to Oberlin College, Ohio (1859–62), and she changed her name. There she was tried for the attempted murder of two of her classmates, was severely beaten by townspeople, was acquitted, and then moved to Boston (1863). She traveled to Europe (1865), settled permanently in Rome (1867), and was known for her neoclassical work, as seen in her abolitionist sculpture Forever Free (1867).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.