John S. Rock was a teacher, doctor, dentist, lawyer, and social activist.
Rock was a member of the abolitionist movement, born of free Black parents in Salem, NJ in 1825. He taught in schools in New Jersey from 1844 to 1848.
At the same time he applied and was denied medical school so he transferred to the field of dentistry and opened a dental practice in 1850. Finally admitted, he graduated from American Medical College in Philadelphia in 1852. At the age of 27, he was a teacher, dentist and physician.
In 1853, he decided that Boston's liberal environment would be better suited for him. While practicing medicine and dentistry, he lectured for the anti-slavery and temperance groups. He became known as one of the most brilliant speakers in the anti-slavery movement.
Troubled by health related problems, Rock went to Paris to seek medical treatment and returned to Boston in February 1859. Doctors advised him to cut back on his work and in 1860, he gave up his medical and dental practices and began to study law.
He gained admittance to the Massachusetts Bar in 1861 and opened his private law office. Rock became the first Black to be received on the floor of the US House of Representatives.
February 1, 1865, the same day congress approved the 13th Amendment ending slavery, Charles Summer introduced a motion that made Rock the first Black attorney to be admitted to argue in the US Supreme Court.
John enjoyed this honor for less than a year. On December 3, 1866, John S. Rock died in his home at the age of 41.
Can you imagine what this man would have accomplished with more time?