Delany, Martin Robinson dəlā´nē [key], 1812–85, American black leader, b. Charles Town, Va. (now in West Virginia). The son of free blacks, he attended a black school in Pittsburgh and studied medicine at Harvard. He emphasized the practical aspects of black problems. Taking up the cause of emigration (the return of American blacks to Africa), he was largely responsible for the first National Emigration Convention in 1854 and headed an expedition to the Niger valley. In the Civil War he was an army physician. Later he was in the Freedmens Bureau, served as a trial judge in Charleston, S.C., and lost (1874) the election for lieutenant governor of South Carolina he was a stern enemy of corruption. His ideas of race appeared in Principles of Ethnology (1879).
See biographies by F. A. Rollin (1868, repr. 1969), D. Sterling (1971), and V. Ullman (1971).