Joseph Rainey was born on June 21, 1832. He was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
Born in Georgetown, South Carolina, Rainey was born into slavery, secured his freedom through self-purchase, and emerged as a successful businessman and community leader.
In 1870, he made history by winning a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing South Carolina’s first district.
Rainey was a tireless advocate for racial equality, but with former Confederates violently regaining control over the South, Rainey lost reelection in 1879.
After leaving Congress, Rainey remained active in public life, serving in various governmental positions and continuing his advocacy for civil rights.
In 1887, Rainey died at 55 years old due to complications from malaria.
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