Joseph H Rainey
In 1870 Republican Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African American to be elected to the United States House of Representatives and take his seat. Others were elected earlier but were not seated. Rainey was born in Georgetown, South Carolina, on June 21, 1832. His parents had been slaves but his father purchased his family’s freedom and taught him to be a barber. The family moved to Charleston in 1846. Rainey, however, traveled frequently outside the South and married in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1859. In 1861 Joseph Rainey was drafted to work on a Confederate blockade runner during the Civil War.
In 1862 he escaped to Bermuda with his wife and worked there as a barber before returning to South Carolina in 1866.