|Congressman Joseph Rainey|
A former slave, Rainey was elected
to the House from South Carolina
serving from 1870 - 1879.
(Editor - Here is a profile of a great American from the olden days . . . from the days before 90% of Black voters sold their soul to the Democratic Party in return for a few Socialist crumbs form the table of the Big Brother Welfare State.)
Joseph Hayne Rainey (June 21, 1832 – August 1, 1887) was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives, the first African American to be directly elected to Congress, and the first black presiding officer of the United States House of Representatives.
Joseph Hayne Rainey was born into slavery in Georgetown, South Carolina. He and his brother Edward were of mixed race; their mother Grace was of African and French descent. His father Edward Rainey had been allowed to earn money by creating a successful business as a barber (paying a portion of his income to his master.) He saved enough by the 1840s to purchase his freedom and that of his wife and sons.
With education severely limited for blacks, as an adult Rainey followed his father by becoming a barber, an independent trade that enabled him to build a wide network in his community.
In 1859, Rainey went to Philadelphia, where he met and married Susan, from the West Indies and also of mixed race, French and African descent. They returned to South Carolina and eventually had three children: Joseph II, Herbert and Olivia.
|Though he was a free man, Rainey was forced by the Confederates to work|
on rebel blockade runner ships.
In 1861, with the outbreak of the American Civil War, Rainey was drafted by the Confederate government to work on fortifications in Charleston, South Carolina. He also worked as a cook and laborer on blockade runner ships.
In 1862, Rainey and his family escaped to Bermuda. They settled in the town of St. George, Bermuda, where Rainey worked as a barber, while his wife became a successful dressmaker with a shop. In 1865, the couple moved to the town of Hamilton when an outbreak of yellow fever threatened St. George. Rainey worked at the Hamilton Hotel as a barber and a bartender, while becoming a respected member of the community. They made a prosperous life in Bermuda.Return to the U.S. and politics
The Raineys were informed about the progress of the Civil War by passing sailors and, after the Union victory, returned to Charleston in 1866.
The wealth Joseph Rainey acquired in Bermuda elevated his status in the community, and looked upon as a leader, he soon became active in the Republican Party. In 1867, Rainey returned to Georgetown, South Carolina, and became the Republican county chairman. When a state constitutional convention was called in 1868, Rainey traveled to Charleston to represent Georgetown. In 1869, he also attended a state labor commission and served as Georgetown’s census taker. In the late 1860s, he worked as an agent for the state land commission and was a brigadier general in the state militia. Joseph Rainey was elected to his first public office in 1870 when he won a seat in the State Senate, where he immediately became chairman of the finance committee.
Joseph Rainey was sworn in on December 12, 1870, as the first African American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives. One month later he was joined by the second black Member, Representative Jefferson Long of Georgia. Rainey’s moderate policies were met with approval by both African-American and white voters, and he was elected without opposition to the 43rd Congress (1873–1875).
Rainey advocated for his constituents—both black and white. He used his growing political clout to influence the South Carolina state legislature to retain the customs duty on rice, the chief export of the district and the state. He also submitted a petition to improve Charleston Harbor and fought against an appropriations cut for Fort Moultrie and Fort Sumter in Charleston. However, Rainey’s committee appointments and policies reflected his desire to defend black civil rights, and his loyalty to the Republican Party. Rainey received seats on three standing committees: Freedmen’s Affairs (41st–43rd Congresses), Indian Affairs (43rd Congress), and Invalid Pensions (44th–45th Congresses, 1875–1879). He also served on several select committees, including the Select Committee on the Centennial Celebration and the Proposed National Census of 1875 (44th Congress) and the Committee on the Freedmen’s Bank (44th Congress).
For more on this series:
THE FEDERALIST - "Black Republicans in American history"
THE FEDERALIST - "Black Republicans in American history, Part II"