John Buchanan

     The disreputable John Buchanan was dean of the American University of Philadelphia (1869-1880) and appointed convention delegate Thomas Kennard as an agent of the university.1 While the white Buchanan did have partial ties to the Colored Conventions community through Kennard, his personal stance on abolition is unclear. Nevertheless, he did have a part in opening the American University of Philadelphia's doors to Black students in 1869.2 Although the details of Buchanan and Kennard’s professional relationship at the American University of Philadelphia is undetermined, Kennard’s involvement in the 1855 convention and his experience in dentistry made him a suitable figure as an agent of the university.      
     Despite his seemingly good intentions in the field of medical education, the American University of Philadelphia became widely recognized as a “diploma mill” under Buchanan, marketing fraudulent medical degrees.3 In 1880 Buchanan was arrested for issuing these fraudulent diplomas under various aliases from multiple sham institutions.4 The American University of Philadelphia was closed after Buchanan’s arrest and sentencing to ten months in the Eastern State Penitentiary.5 Prior to his arrest, Buchanan published A Practical Treatise on the Diseases of Children in 1866.6
     John Buchanan’s career exemplifies the dangers of pursuing African American education within existing establishments. No sources have been found mentioning Kennard after the closing of the American University of Philadelphia and the arrest of Buchanan. While Kennard’s partnership with Buchanan ended in disaster, it speaks to the convention’s intense desire to establish an industrial school and provide education to the community.  


[1] "Rev. Thomas Kinnard is appointed agent of the American Univ." The Christian Recorder, 11 Sept. 1869. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc.

[2] ibid.

[3]  Bogus Medical Diplomas. New York Times. 10 June 1880. 9 March 2013. Link

[4] ibid.

[5] “Local News.” The Christian Recorder, 10 February 1881. From Accessible Archives © 2016 Accessible Archives Inc.

[6] "Swindling." 2012. Capitalism By Gaslight: The Shadow Economies of 19th Century America, 9 March 2013. Link.