JOSEPH RAINEY Biography - Polititians


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Name: Joseph Hayne Rainey                                                                   
Born: 21 June 1832 Georgetown, South Carolina                                               
Died: 1 August 1887 Georgetown, South Carolina                                             
Joseph Hayne Rainey (June 21, 1832 – August 1, 1887) was the first African               
American person to serve in the United States House of Representatives and the             
second black person to serve in the United States Congress (U.S. Senator Hiram             
Revels was the first).                                                                     
Rainey was born in Georgetown, South Carolina. His parents were both slaves, but           
his father, Edward, had a successful business as a barber, enabling him to                 
purchase his family's freedom shortly after Joseph Rainey's birth. As an adult,             
Rainey followed his father by becoming a barber. 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, as well as to work as a laborer           
on blockade runner ships. In 1862, he and his wife were able to escape to                   
Bermuda. They settled in the town of St. George, Bermuda, where Rainey worked as           
a barber, while his wife established herself as a successful dressmaker. 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.                             
In 1866, following the war's end, Rainey returned to South Carolina. He quickly             
involved himself in politics, joining the executive committee of the state                 
Republican Party. In 1868, he was a delegate to the convention which wrote the             
state's new constitution. In 1870, Rainey was elected to the State Senate of               
South Carolina. Later that year, he was elected to fill a vacancy in the Forty-first       
Congress of the United States as a Republican. This vacancy had been created               
when the previous incumbent, Benjamin F. Whittemore, was censured by the House             
for corruption and subsequently re-elected, after which the House refused to               
seat him. Rainey was seated December 12, 1870 and was re-elected to Congress               
four times; he served until March 3, 1879, which made him the longest-serving               
black Congressmen prior to William L. Dawson in the 1950s.                                 
During his term in Congress, Rainey focused on supporting legislation to protect           
the civil rights of Southern blacks. This pursuit eventually proved unsuccessful,           
with the end of Reconstruction effectively meaning that the black electorate               
lost all political power. In 1876, Rainey won re-election against Democratic               
candidate John Smythe Richardson. Richardson, however challenged the result as             
invalid on the grounds of intimidation by federal soldiers and black militias.             
Two years later, as the opponents of Reconstruction solidified their control               
over South Carolina politics, Rainey was defeated in a second contest with                 
After leaving Congress, Joseph Rainey was appointed internal-revenue agent of               
South Carolina. He held this position for two years,after which he began a                 
career in private commerce. Rainey retired in 1886 and died the following year             
in Georgetown, the city in which he was born.