Rainey, Joseph | South Carolina Public Radio


“R” is for Rainey, Joseph Hayne [1832-1887]. Congressman. Rainey was born a slave, but his father—a barber—was able to purchase his family's freedom. During the Civil War, he was forced to serve as a steward on a blockade-runner and to work on Confederate fortifications. In 1862, he and his wife fled to Bermuda, where he remained until the war was over. Returning home, he represented Georgetown in the Constitutional Convention of 1868, and both the South Carolina House and Senate. In 1870, he became the first African American elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he advocated passage of an amnesty bill for former Confederates and the Civil Rights Act of 1875. After leaving Congress, Joseph Hayne Rainey was involved in various business enterprises in South Carolina and Washington, D.C.