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Leonard Schlup

congressman and public official, was born near Henderson, Granville (later Vance) County, North Carolina. All that is known of his parents is that one was a house slave. He attended local public schools and worked on farms during the 1860s and 1870s before graduating with honors from Shaw University in 1882. He became principal of the Plymouth Normal School for Negroes, a state-supported institution, and held this position from 1882 until 1884. He returned to Henderson and, after the retirement of the white Republican incumbent, won election as Vance County registrar of deeds, serving in this capacity from 1885 to 1888. During this time he also studied law, though he never established a practice.

Cheatham's career in national politics began in 1888 Unable to agree on a single candidate delegates to the Republican convention for the Second Congressional District the so called Black Second nominated both ...

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Timothy P. McCarthy

politician was born in Aiken South Carolina His father was a free black tailor and his mother was a cloak maker of Haitian descent their names are unknown Though several records claim that DeLarge was born into slavery it is more likely that his parents were free blacks who owned slaves This peculiar and paradoxical designation surely inspired the dual sensibilities that later characterized his political and social life as both an advocate for universal black enfranchisement and a member of South Carolina s propertied often exclusionist light skinned elite Fortunate to receive the benefits of the prewar education available to free black children DeLarge attended primary school in North Carolina and Wood High School in Charleston For a short time he was employed as a tailor and farmer and some sources indicate that he was also a part time barber During the Civil War he amassed some money ...

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Howard N. Rabinowitz

Reconstruction politician and U.S. Congressman, was born probably in Liverpool, England, of West Indian parents whose names are unknown. Elliott's early life is shrouded in mystery, largely because of his own false claims, but apparently he did attend a private school in England (but not Eton as he claimed) and was trained as a typesetter. It is likely also that in 1866 or 1867, while on duty with the Royal Navy, he decided to seek his fortune in America and jumped ship in Boston Harbor, without, however, taking out citizenship papers. All that is known for certain is that by March 1867 Elliott was associate editor of the South Carolina Leader, a black-owned Republican newspaper in Charleston. Shortly thereafter he married Grace Lee Rollin, a member of a prominent South Carolina free Negro family. The couple had no children.

During Reconstruction South Carolina s population was ...

Article

Cathy Rodabaugh

Insisting that the Constitution made no provisions for slavery, Giddings consistently demanded that the government disentangle itself from any involvement with the institution. He believed that the “slave power,” wielding undue influence in Washington, withheld important rights from both northerners and bondpeople.

Joshua Reed Giddings was born in Pennsylvania to parents gradually migrating westward from Connecticut. His father, a failed farmer, moved the family again to New York's Burned-Over District, a region aflame with religious excitement, then finally settled amid other transplanted New Englanders in an area known as the Western Reserve, in Ashtabula County, Ohio. Largely self-educated and a diligent student, Giddings began law studies under Elisha Whittlesey, passing the bar exam in 1821 He married a schoolteacher from the area Laura Waters who later became a charter member of one the region s earliest antislavery societies One of their five children Laura Maria became a Garrisonian abolitionist ...

Article

Alston Fitts and Loren Schweninger

politician, was born a slave on a plantation near Columbus in Muscogee County, Georgia. Sold twice before becoming the property of Jonathan Haralson of Selma, Alabama, a lawyer and the head of the Confederate Niter Works, the self-taught Haralson remained in Dallas County as a freedman following the Civil War. There he married Ellen Norwood in 1870, and their son Henry (who later attended Tuskegee Institute) was born.

Unsure about the future of the Republican Party, Haralson entered politics in 1867 as a Democrat. A gifted orator who combined humor and wit with a discussion of serious issues, he campaigned in 1868 for Democratic presidential candidate Horatio Seymour, who, he said, “represented the true principles of philanthropy and national government” (Selma Times, 4 Nov. 1868). When Democrats failed to attract support from newly enfranchised blacks, Haralson switched his party allegiance in 1869 He and ...

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Debi Hamlin

North Carolina senator and U.S. congressman, was born a slave near Warrenton, Warren County, North Carolina. Nothing is known about his parents or his childhood. In 1861 Hyman worked as a janitor for a jeweler who with his wife taught Hyman to read and write. When that was discovered, the jeweler and his wife were driven from Warrenton, and Hyman was sold and sent to Alabama. Following the Civil War and his emancipation, having been at least eight times “bought and sold as a brute,” as he described it, Hyman in 1865 returned to Warren County, where he was a farmer and store manager. Sometime between 1865 and 1867 he became a trustee of one of the first public schools in Warren County.

Hyman's formal political career began in September 1866 when at the age of twenty six he was a delegate to the Freedmen s Convention of ...

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Susan E. O'Donovan

radical Republican, labor leader, Georgia state representative, and carpenter, was born a slave in Mecklenburg County, Virginia. Little is known of Joiner's mother, Lucy Parker, except that she bore at least four other children (Lucy Ann Joiner, Betsey Gill, and Carter and George Murray). Even less is known of Joiner's father, a man Philip never met. One of an estimated 3 million enslaved men and women who were forcibly transported from the upper to the lower South between 1790 and 1860, Joiner was sold away from most of his Virginia kin in 1847. Accompanied by his mother, Joiner arrived as an eleven-year-old in southwest Georgia, an area of the cotton South later made famous by W. E. B. Du Bois in Souls of Black Folk (1903 Most likely coming of age on one of the plantations that ...

Article

John M. Matthews

Reconstruction-era politician, was born a slave of mixed African and Caucasian ancestry in Knoxville, Crawford County, Georgia. The names of his parents and of his owners are unknown. Sometime before the beginning of the Civil War, Long was taken from rural Crawford County to nearby Macon, where he evidently taught himself to read and write and learned a trade. Freed at the end of the war, he opened a tailor shop in Macon, which he and his son operated for a number of years and which provided him a steady income and a position of some eminence in the black community. Long married Lucinda Carhart (marriage date unknown) and had seven children.Like many who became involved in Republican Party politics in the early years of Reconstruction, Long attended sessions of the Georgia Equal Rights Association, and by the summer of 1867 he was making speeches for that ...

Article

Rodney P. Carlisle

U.S. congressman, historian, and attorney, was born on Tacony plantation near Vidalia, Louisiana, the son of Patrick Lynch, the manager of the plantation, and Catherine White, a slave. Patrick Lynch, an Irish immigrant, purchased his wife and two children, but in order to free them, existing state law required they leave Louisiana. Before Patrick Lynch died, he transferred the titles to his wife and children to a friend, William Deal, who promised to treat them as free persons. However, when Patrick Lynch died, Deal sold the family to a planter, Alfred W. Davis, in Natchez, Mississippi. When Davis learned of the conditions of the transfer to Deal, he agreed to allow Catherine Lynch to hire her own time while he honeymooned with his new wife in Europe Under this arrangement Catherine Lynch lived in Natchez worked for various employers and paid $3 50 ...

Article

William C. Hine

political leader and educator, was born in Ferrebeeville, South Carolina, the son of Richard Miller and Mary Ferrebee, occupations unknown. Miller's race was a source of periodic concern and speculation. Although he always considered himself to be black, Miller's very fair complexion led to allegations during his political career that he was white, the abandoned child of an unmarried white couple.

Miller moved to Charleston with his parents in the early 1850s, where he attended schools for free black children. His mother died when he was nine. As a youngster he distributed the Charleston Mercury to local hotels and during the Civil War he worked aboard South Carolina Railroad trains delivering newspapers between Charleston and Savannah Georgia When the Confederate government seized the railroads Miller found himself in the service and in the uniform of the Confederacy Union forces captured him as they advanced into South Carolina ...

Article

Charles Rosenberg

organizer and lecturer for the Colored Farmers Alliance, farmer and author, owner of eight patents for agricultural implements, and U.S. congressman from South Carolina (1893–1897), was born in Sumter County, South Carolina, to enslaved parents whose names have never been established and who died before 1865. Murray took up farming during his teen years after the Civil War and by 1880 had acquired his own land: forty-nine acres tilled and fifteen acres of woodland, worth about $1500 including buildings and improvements, producing income of around $650 a year.

He made several attempts to obtain an education. Applying to a local school in 1871, he was instead appointed teacher. Classes were held three to four months a year. Even when school was in session, he worked his fields in the morning and evenings. In 1874 he entered the University of South Carolina temporarily filled with students ...

Article

Chandra M. Miller

Reconstruction politician and U.S. congressman, was born in Opelousas, Louisiana, the son of free blacks Richard Nash and Masie Cecile. He received little public school education and as a young man worked as a bricklayer in New Orleans.

In 1863 nineteen-year-old Nash joined the Tenth Regiment of the Corps d'Afrique, later renamed the Eighty-second U.S. Colored Infantry. He joined the army as a private but was soon promoted to the rank of sergeant major. Nash's regiment fought at the Battle of Port Hudson, Louisiana, and was involved in the last infantry battle of the Civil War, the Battle of Fort Blakely, Alabama, in April 1865 While storming Fort Blakely Nash received wounds that cost him most of his right leg and earned him an honorable discharge Apparently about ten days before his discharge he received promotion to first lieutenant but the promotion was not approved His ...

Article

William C. Hine

politician, was born a slave in Georgetown, South Carolina, the son of Edward L. Rainey and Gracia C. (maiden name unknown). The elder Rainey purchased his family's freedom and moved with them in about 1846 (the exact date is unknown) to Charleston, where he was employed as a barber at the exclusive Mills House hotel. He prospered and purchased two male slaves in the 1850s. Joseph Rainey received a modest education and was trained by his father as a barber. In 1859 he traveled to Philadelphia and married Susan E. maiden name unknown As a result of the intervention of several friends the couple managed to circumvent the state prohibition against free people of color entering or returning to South Carolina and they moved to Charleston After the Civil War began Rainey was conscripted to serve as a steward on a Confederate blockade runner He was later compelled ...

Article

William C. Hine

Reconstruction politician and U.S. congressman, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, to free parents, whose names are unknown. Contemporary accounts describe his education as “limited.” In the 1850s he secured a position as a shipping clerk with a prominent commercial firm in Charleston. In 1856 he married Louisa Ann Carroll, and they were the parents of eleven children. Carroll died in 1875, and Ransier married Mary Louisa McKinlay in 1876.

Ransier was a leading figure in Reconstruction and Republican politics in South Carolina. He participated in the 1865 Colored Peoples' Convention in-Charleston that urged the state's white leaders to enfranchise black men and abolish the black code, a series of measures designed to limit the rights of black-people and to confine them to menial and agricultural labor. In 1867 Congress passed a series of Reconstruction laws that provided for the reorganization of the southern states ...

Article

Loren Schweninger

member of Congress, was born of free parents in Florence, Alabama, the son of John H. Rapier, a barber, and Susan (maiden name unknown). As a youngster he was sent to live with his father's mother, Sally Thomas, and his father's half-brother after whom Rapier was named, James Thomas, and to attend school in Nashville, Tennessee. Sally and James Thomas, although legally slaves, hired their own time and lived autonomous lives. Young Rapier thrived under their care and learned to read and write.

At the age of nineteen Rapier was sent by his father to Buxton, Canada West, an all-black settlement, to continue his education. At a school founded by the Presbyterian minister William King he studied Latin Greek mathematics and the Bible He also underwent a religious conversion and later taught school in the settlement My coming to Canada is worth all the world to ...

Article

Glenda E. Gilmore

congressman, was born in Beaufort, South Carolina, the son of an unknown white man and Lydia, a slave woman who worked as a house servant for the John McKee family in Beaufort. Descendants of Smalls believed that his father was John McKee, who died when Robert was young. The McKee family sent Robert to live with their relatives in Charleston, where he worked for wages that he turned over to his master. Smalls apparently taught himself the rudiments of reading and writing during this period. Later he attended school for three months, and as an adult he hired tutors. In 1856 Smalls married Hannah Jones, a slave who worked as a hotel maid. They had three children, one of whom died of smallpox. The couple lived apart from their owners, to whom they sent most of their income.In 1861 Smalls began working as a deckhand ...

Article

William W. Rogers

Reconstruction politician, was born a slave near Weldon, Halifax County, North Carolina. His parents' names are unknown. He was owned by Elizabeth Turner, a widow, who took the five-year-old Turner with her when, in 1830, she moved to Dallas County in Alabama's rich cotton-producing and slave-dense Black Belt. He grew up in Dallas County and in Selma, on the Alabama River.

When Turner was twenty his owner sold him to Major W H Gee her stepdaughter s husband to pay off debts Turner was intelligent and industrious and an overseer once found him with a spelling book and threatened to whip him if he repeated the offense The powerfully built Turner was placed in charge of Gee House his new owner s hotel in Selma Although state law prohibited the education of slaves Gee s children ignored the statute and taught Turner to read and write He ...

Article

Charles W. Jr. Carey

Reconstruction politician and U.S. congressman, was born near Winchester, Virginia. His parents' names are unknown and Walls's public statements regarding his parents' status during slavery are contradictory. Quite possibly he was born the slave of Dr. John Walls, a Winchester physician, but his dark skin casts doubt on the premise that Dr. Walls was also his father.

In 1861Josiah Walls was kidnapped by Confederate artillerymen and put to work as a servant. He was freed by Union troops during the battle of Yorktown in May 1862 and sent to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he attended school for a year, his only known formal education. In July 1863 he enlisted in the Third Infantry Regiment, U.S. Colored Troops (USCT), and took part in that unit's siege of Batteries Wagner and Gregg near Charleston, South Carolina. After their fall, his unit was stationed in northern Florida. In June 1864 Walls ...

Article

Eric Anderson

lawyer and member of Congress, was born in Bladen County, North Carolina, the son of Mary (maiden name unknown) and Wiley F. White. With one grandmother Irish and the other half American Indian, White jocularly described himself as no more than “mostly Negro.” Like most black boys in the antebellum South, he had little opportunity for education. A biographical sketch in the New York Tribune on 2 January 1898 put it in graphic understatement: “His early studies were much interrupted because of the necessity he was under to do manual labor on farms and in the forests, and it was not until he was seventeen years old that his serious education was actually begun.” After attending a combination of local schools, public and private, and saving one thousand dollars from farm work and cask making, White enrolled at Howard University.

White graduated in 1877 and returned to North ...