Macon Bolling Allen was born free in Indiana, United States, on August 4 1816. Little is known about Allen childhood and parents. What is known is his birth name was Allen Macon Bolling, which Allen changed to Macon Bolling Allen when he relocated to Portland, Maine from Indiana.
Allen taught himself to read and write and was employed as a school teacher. Allen moved to Portland, Maine in the early 1840s and began studying law. There in Maine Allen became friends with a white local anti-slavery leader and attorney General Samuel Fessenden, who took Allen as his apprentice and law clerk. General Fessenden was also the individual responsible for recommending Macon to the Bar and requesting that he be allowed to practice law in the state of Maine.
Allen was rejected on his first attempt to become licensed, on the grounds that he was no a state citizen, through according to Maine law anyone “of good moral character” could be admitted to the bar. However, on July 3, 1844, after paying $20.00 to the Treasury of Maine, he became a citizen and received his license to practice law after passing the exam.
Finding work in Maine, however, was difficult. There were few blacks willing and able to hire Allen and most whites were unwilling to hire to have a black man represent them in court. In 1845 Allen moved to Boston, Massachusetts where he met his wife Hannah . They had five sons together, most of whom became teachers. Their names were John, Charles, Edward, Arthur and Macon B. Allen Jr.
Allen passed the Massachusetts Bar Exam on May 5, 1845. He soon set his sights even higher; in 1848 he passed another rigorous exam to become Justice of the Peace for Middlesex County, Massachusetts. In addition to his license to practice law he is believed to be the first black man to hold a judiciary position.
Allen moved to Charleston, South Carolina after the Civil War to open a new legal practice. The first black firm, this firm was established in Charleston, SC in 1868. his partners were William J. Whipper and Robert Brown Elliot. In 1873 he was appointed as a judge in the Inferior Court of Charleston and one year later was elected judge probate for Charleston County, South Carolina.
After Reconstruction, Allen moved again, this time to Washington, D.C. where he worked as an attorney for the Land and Improvement Association. He continued to practice law right until his death at age 78. Macon Bolling Allen was survived by his wife and one son, Arthur Allen.