Henry Adams was a Louisiana leader who advocated the emigration of southern freed blacks to Liberia after emancipation. Born a slave in Newton County, Georgia on March 16, 1843, Henry Adams was originally born as Henry Houston but changed his name at the age of seven. His enslaved family was relocated to Louisiana in 1850 and lived there until 1861.
Adams married a woman named Malinda during his enslavement and the couple had four children. Unlike most enslaved people, Adams and his wife were able to acquire property during the Civil War.
After the war Adams moved to DeSoto Parish in Louisiana where he started a successful peddling business. Adams eventually became a merchant but in 1866 at the age of 23 he enlisted in the U.S. Army. Adams was discharged in September 1869 after rising to the rank of quartermaster sergeant. Adams learned to read and write in the Army, providing him a measure of self-confidence that encouraged his leadership of other ex-slaves once he returned to civilian life.
In 1870 Adams organized black Louisiana veterans in the Shreveport area into a group known as “the Committee.” Numbering about 500 men -- including 150 who traveled across northwest Louisiana working with Republican politicians and encouraged black men to vote -- the Committee worked for full political rights for African Americans. Adams lost jobs because of his involvment with the organization but he continued to press for political reforms.
In the summer of 1874, the Louisiana Governor William Pitt Kellogg, a Republican, and the Committee made a request for federal troops to intervene in areas of northwest Louisiana where the White League, a terrorist organization, had taken control. President Ulysses S. Grant responded by sending the U.S. Seventh Cavalry to Shreveport. While the Seventh Cavalry operated in Shreveport, Adams gained employment as an undercover scout in 1875.
During this period Adams also traveled to New Orleans to meet with black delegates who advocated emigration from the United States to