Henry Plummer Cheatham
one of the most successful forces in the public life of the twentieth century Negro. His career has been visited by success because he has richly deserved it. Mr. Cheatham was born in Henderson, N. C., some forty-odd years ago. He was educated in the public schools of his county and at Shaw University, of his native state. He was a promising lad, and with prophetic spirit laid deep the foundation upon which a brilliant character was to be built. His first public office was that of registrar of deeds in his native county. So conspicuous was his work and so worthily did he impress himself upon the judgment of the people, Mr. Cheatham was nominated and elected to the Fifty-first Congress, and was again chosen to sit in the Fifty-second Congress. When President McKinley reached the White House, one of his earliest appointments was that of Mr. Cheatham to be Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia, a post which has come to be regarded as carrying the insignia of leadership in the political councils of the race. That he has performed his duties capably and zealously, goes without saying. He is an ardent adherent of the merit system, and in both appointments and promotions the merit system has been his invariable guide, declining to be influenced by considerations of person, politics, religion or color. He has been instrumental in enrolling more Afro-Americans upon the governmental roster than any other Negro living.
Mr. Cheatham is a positive race man and is a foremost champion of the idea that the Negro’s best development must come along natural lines, and that material progress is as much the result of sensible and persistent individual effort as of legislation and adventitious aid. He believes in practical education for the masses, technical education for the captains of professional thought and industrial leadership. He is unusually effective upon the “stump,” and has been heard with pleasure and profit in many states during national campaigns.