Black Congressman During Reconstruction

Joseph H. Rainey
Joseph Hayne Rainey was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives. He was also the African American to preside over the house and the longest serving African American during the Reconstruction period.
Joseph Hayne Rainey was born on June 21, 1832 into slavery in Georgetown, South Carolina. His family was of French descent. His father was a barber and was allowed to work independently if he shared some of his profit with their slave master. Joseph’s father then saved enough money to buy his family’s freedom in the early 1840s. Soon after they moved to Charleston, South Carolina. In South Carolina, Joseph received a limited education and was taught the barbers trade by his father. In the 1850s, Joseph’s father bought two male slaves. Joseph then left home and traveled to Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, Joseph met his wife, Susan, and a French mulatto from the West Indies. There Joseph Rainey continued to work as a barber and had three children wit his wife. Soon after, the Confederate Army called Rainey to serve in the Civil War. He dug trenches to fortify the outskirts of Charleston. Then he worked as a cook and then as a steward aboard a blockade runner, a Confederate ship charged with carrying tradable goods. Sure to all the pressure of the war, in 1862, Joseph and his wife ran away to Bermuda, because Bermuda had had abolished slavery. Bermuda proved that it was a safe place for the Raineys’ to settle. They returned back to South Carolina is 1866, hearing that the war had ended.
In Bermuda Joseph Rainey gained lots of wealth and it elevated his status in the community of   South Carolina. He became active in the Republican Party. He became the Republican county chairman of Georgetown, South Carolina. He attended political conferences and was assigned to take the census of Georgetown. He worked as a state agent for land commission and was also a part of the state militia. He was elected to his first...