Joseph H. Rainey Becomes the Second Black U.S. congressman

December 14, 2022

Joseph H. Rainey was a prominent political figure from South Carolina who made history as the second black U.S. congressman. Rainey was born into slavery in 1832, but his father was able to purchase his family’s freedom in the early 1840’s. He then began working as a barber, a profession he continued throughout his political career.

Rainey became involved in politics at an early age, serving as a delegate to the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1868. In 1870, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, becoming the first black person to serve in the House of Representatives. He was re-elected several times, and served a total of six terms in Congress.

During his time in Congress, Rainey was a strong advocate for civil rights and equality. He fought for the rights of black Americans, and worked to pass legislation that would improve their lives. Rainey was also a vocal supporter of the Reconstruction efforts that were taking place in the South following the Civil War.

Rainey’s political career came to an end in 1878, when he was defeated in his re-election bid. He continued to work as a barber and remained active in politics, but never regained his seat in Congress. Despite this, Rainey’s legacy as a pioneering black politician lives on, and he is remembered as a trailblazer in American politics.



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