Robert S. Abbott

Robert S. Abbott

Robert Sengstacke Abbott (1870-1940)
newspaper publisher and editor

Robert S. Abbott was born in 1870 in Frederica, St. Simons Island, Georgia of former slave parents, and studied the printing trade at Hampton Institute from 1892 to 1896. He received a law degree from Kent College of Law, Chicago in 1898, but because of race prejudice in the United States was unable to practice, despite attempts to establish law offices in Gary, Indiana, Topeka, Kansas, and Chicago, Illinois. In 1905 he founded The Chicago Defender with an initial investment of 25 cents. The Defender, which was once heralded as "e;The World's Greatest Weekly"e;, soon became the most widely circulated black newspaper in the country, and made Abbott one of the first self-made millionaires of African American descent. Abbott also published a short-lived paper called Abbott's Monthly. He died of Bright's disease on February 29, 1940, and left the paper in the control of his heir and nephew, John Henry Sengstacke.


Ottley, Roi. The Lonely Warrior: The Life and Times of Robert S. Abbott. Chicago: H. Regnery Co., 1955.