REASON, PATRICK HENRY (1816-12 Aug. 1898), an African-American engraver and lithographer, was born in New York City to Michel and Elizabeth Melville Rison and was baptized Patrice Rison. He was educated at the New York African Free School, where he made an engraving of the school that was used as the frontispiece of Chas. C. Andrew's History of the New York African Free Schools (1830). In 1833 he was apprenticed to an engraver; in 1835 he became interested in portraiture; and over the next 15 years he became a widely published artist whose works appeared in periodicals and as frontispieces in books, especially slave narratives. Reason was an abolitionist. Reason worked for Harper's and other New York publishers and did some engraving for the government, but firms often refused to hire him because their engravers would not work with him because of his race.
Reason received several employment offers from firms in Cleveland, and by 1869 moved there with his family. By 1872 he was working for jeweler Sylvester Hogan; by 1886 he had his own shop. While in New York, Reason was a founding member of the Philomatheon Society in 1830; in 1842 the society became the first lodge of the Negro Grand United Order of Odd Fellows. Reason became a prominent member of the Odd Fellows and was active in lodge affairs into the 1860s. He also lectured on the educational, social, and economic condition of black Americans.
Reason married Esther Cunningham of Leeds, England in 1862. They had one son, Charles L. Reason died in Cleveland and was buried in LAKE VIEW CEMETERY.