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This Day in Georgia History

May 25, 1849

Thomas Greene Bethune Born

To view a biography of “Blind Tom”, see the Digital Library of Georgia.

Musician Thomas Greene “Blind Tom” Bethune was born in Harris County, Georgia. Blind from birth and born a slave, Bethune exhibited a natural ability to imitate and create music at a very early age. In 1857, at only age eight, he performed on the piano in public, playing works by Mozart, Beethoven, as well as original compositions. The next year his owner hired Bethune out on a three-year contract; he toured Georgia and other parts of the country playing and learning new pieces, which he could learn and play by rote. During the Civil War he played for sick and injured Confederate soldiers. After the war and a controversy over who had the right to manage his incredible talents, Bethune returned to touring and performing, including three successful European tours. He continued to play publicly up until his death in Hoboken, New Jersey on June 13, 1908.