Isaac Myer photo
Isaac Myers (1835-1889) was born to free black parents in Baltimore and was educated in a private grammar school. At age 16 he was apprenticed as a ship caulker and by age 20 he was supervising the caulking of some of the largest clipper ships built in Baltimore.

In 1860 Myers began working as a porter and shipping clerk in a wholesale grocery business and in 1864 he was a partner in a grocery cooperative but that position lasted only a year. Myers returned to the shipyards but lost his position after white workers called a strike to protest the hiring of black workers. He then helped organize a union of black shipyard workers. He also established the Chesapeake Marine Railway and Dry Dock Com-
pany, a black-owned cooperative which successfully bid for federal contracts and performed a major share of the work in Baltimore

Myers attended the 1869 meeting of the National Labor Union, as a representative the Colored Caulkers, and was appointed to the committee on organization and the constitution. (Eight other black delegates were also seated at the meeting.) That same year he helped organize a state federation as well as the Colored National Labor Union.
Learn more about Myers life and work

Read excerpts from the black delegates' comments to the 1869 NLU meeting

Read reports of the state federation meeting July 20 and Aug. 6, 1869

Read a report of Myers' speech to Philadelphia Hod Carriers