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John H. Fleet was an educator, violinist, and abolitionist. The year of his birth is unknown. He attended Georgetown's Lancasterian School (an interracial school), the Smothers School, and John Prout's School. Trained as a physician, he chose teaching over practicing medicine and established his first school in 1836. In 1843, the same year he bought this house, the school was burned by white arsonists; he reopened three years later. Fleet also participated in the local abolitionist movement, organizing "sitting parties" to raise money for individuals seeking freedom. He devoted the last ten years of his life to playing and teaching music, a passion he shared with his wife Hermione. Fleet died in 1861.

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