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Leo L. Lloyd
The 1850s were a turning point in the United States. It was a turbulent time for the African American community. With the acquisition of more land, the debates over slavery became louder. The Compromise of 1850 and Kansas-Nebraska Acts reignited these debates. In the year 1855 alone, four Colored Conventions were held in different locations. It is no surprise that so many individuals attended the 1855 National Colored Convention held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It brought about one hundred and twenty five delegates from the United States and Canada. These men and women were from all different walks of life.
Among these delegates was Leo L. Lloyd. Lloyd was not the his birth name nor was Lloyd the type of man one would expect to find their way to such a conference. Over the years, Lloyd had employed multiple aliases, including Stuart and Baker.1 Much of the information about Lloyd’s early life has been lost. However, it is suspected that Lloyd was born somewhere near the Ohio River as a slave in Kentucky. When Lloyd escaped slavery, he made his way East, eventually settling in the city of Boston, Massachusetts in the winter of 1855.2 Lloyd started his career as a barber, but soon he was inspired by the text “Maffata Travels in South Africa.” The book gave Lloyd the idea to pose as an African prince.4
In 1856, Lloyd began his new career as the supposed Prince of Nubia. Lloyd developed a gimmick. He would travel around, sometimes joined by a sidekick nicknamed “Shoe Bell.”3 Once he reached a new destination, he would tell his detailed story about life in Africa. He would speak at different establishments and present his mission of spreading Christianity and civilization to the people of Africa.
More often than not, Lloyd was able to convince people of his cause. In March of 1856, a man under the initials, J.A.F. wrote about Lloyd in The Liberator. J.A.F. describes his encounter with Mr. Lloyd when the latter visited his community in Bridgewater, Massachusetts, to spread his mission. J.A.F describes Lloyd as a very charismatic man who gave a heartfelt talk as the Prince of Nubia. He wanted to collect money in support of Africa. He talked of a fund he already had set up in a London Bank and explained donations from the people of Bridgewater could help. Lloyd further mentioned that he was a delegate at the Colored Men’s Convention in New York.4 In 1856, the publication, Provincial Freedman, exposed Leo L. Lloyd. The article “Beware of Impostors” describes Lloyd’s plot to use the antislavery movement for his own personal advancement. The author warns of this “small black man, of neat figures, short hair, bright eyes, and somewhat wirey walk” who was a master at taking other peoples writings and poetries and using them to his advantages.5 Lloyd took the time to dispel the allegations against his character, and The Liberator printed the editors' correspondence with him (see clipping above titled "The 'Prince of Nubia'").
There is little record about Lloyd’s actions in either the Colored Men’s Convention or in the National Colored Convention. What little remains of his life record is the cons he pursued between the years 1855 and 1856 and the negative reactions his actions incited among Black leaders. As late as 1859, Lloyd was still engaged in the same deceitful career, and, throughout the 1850s, the editors of The Liberator took it upon themselves to expose him to the public whenever they heard about him.7
Use the image strip above to continue reading.
 “Beware of Impostors.” Provincial Freedman. 5 April 1856. Retrieved from Accessible Archives.
 “The Prince of Nubia, Once More.” The Liberator. 14 March 1856. Retrieved from Accessible Archives.
 “The Prince of Nubia, Once More.”
 J.A.F. “Prince Leo L. Lloyd.” The Liberator. 21 March 1856. Retrieved from Accessible Archives
 “Beware of Impostors.”
 “Beware of Impostors.”
 “Still Deceiving the Public.” The Liberator. 22 April 1859. Retrieved from Accessible Archives.
Submitted by Alyssa Griffith
Revised and Edited by Samantha de Vera and Gwendolyn Meredith, University of Delaware
In this article, The Liberator stands by its past article that brands Lloyd as an impostor. William Lloyd Garrison also addresses a recent Boston Journal article, which claims that Garrison is prejudiced against Lloyd because the latter is a colonizationist. Garrison expresses that he takes offence from such accusation and insists that he trusts the testimonials of many respectable people of color in Boston against Lloyd. The article further asserts that it is criminal to "shield [Llouyd] from the condemnation bestowed upon him."
This article warns its readers about Leo S. Lloyd and lists the many names he's obtained. Lloyd, the article relates, goes from house to house to solicit money, claiming that the donations will "enable him to carry civilization and Christianity into Africa!"
The Liberator publishes Leo L. Lloyd's response to a previous article that accuses him of being an impostor. Lloyd has asked the editors to print a letter from explorers and professors attesting to his identity as the Prince of Nubia. At the end of the letter, the editors adds a note, indicating that after close examination, the letter appears to be written by Lloyd himseld. The newspaper calls his response a "rigmarole" and an "impudent hoax."