Joseph Rainey Biography

Joseph Rainey

First African American Congressman
Born: June 21, 1832
Birthplace: Georgetown, South Carolina.

Rainey was born a slave, but his father bought the family's freedom. During the Civil War, the Confederacy drafted Rainey to work on the military fortifications in the Charleston, S.C., harbor. He and his wife eventually escaped during the war to Bermuda. When he returned to Charleston after the war, he became politically active, championing civil rights causes. In 1870, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, and was reelected four times. As a Congressman, Rainey was dedicated to passing civil-rights legislation.

Died: Aug. 2, 1887