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Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 - February 23, 1915) was an enslaved African American who, during and after the American Civil War, became a ship's pilot, sea captain, and politician. He freed himself, his crew and their families from slavery on May 13, 1862, by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, the CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, and sailing it to freedom beyond the Federal blockade. His example and persuasion helped convince President Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army .

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Q: What was Robert Smalls's claim to fame in the Civil War?
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