John A. Moss (ca. 1853- ?) was a well-known lawyer and a civic leader in Anacostia. Born into slavery, Moss escaped from a slave dealer to the Union lines as a young boy. He came to Washington, where he worked in the U.S. Botanic Garden and was befriended by white Senator Charles Sumner, an abolitionist and civil rights champion. With Sumner's help, Moss secured work at the Library of Congress and went on to study law. He graduated from Howard University Law School in 1873 and was admitted to the D.C. Bar. For many years he was the only lawyer in the Anacostia neighborhood. President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed Moss as justice of the peace for Washington County, making Moss the first African American judicial officer in the District of Columbia. Moss was reappointed by Presidents James Garfield and Grover Cleveland.


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