Rock, John Swett

Rock, John Swett

(1825–66) teacher, physician, lawyer; born in Salem, N.J. A public school teacher (1844–48), he studied dentistry under Dr. Harbert Hubbard and began practicing in Philadelphia (1851), where he designed prize-winning false teeth. In 1852 he graduated from the American Medical College and then moved his dental practice to Boston. Poor health caused him to study law and he became a justice of the peace in 1861. Presented as a potential U.S. Supreme Court lawyer by Senator Charles Sumner (1865) before Chief Justice Salmon P. Chase, he became the first African-American to be so accredited. Proficient in Greek and Latin, he lectured around the country, refuting the racist theory that Negroes were inferior to whites.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.