Part 09: Black Participation in Reconstruction

Part Nine: Black Participation in Reconstruction

"In a certain way this great struggle of a laboring class of five million was epitomized by the appearance of sixteen of their representatives in the Federal Congress from 1869 to 1976. These are the men, their states and their service:

Hiram R. Revels, Senator, Mississippi, 1870–1871
Blanche K. Bruce, Senator, Mississippi, 1875–1881
Jefferson P. Long, Congressman, Georgia, 1869–1871
Joseph H. Rainey, Congressman, South Carolina, 1871–1879
Robert C. DeLarge, Congressman, South Carolina, 1871–1873
Robert Brown Elliott, Congressman, South Carolina, 1871–1875
Benjamin S. Turner, Congressman, Alabama, 1871–1873
Josiah T. Walls, Congressman, Florida, 1873–1877
Alonzo J. Ransier, Congressman, South Carolina, 1871–1873
Richard H. Cain, Congressman, South Carolina, 1873–1875, 1877–1879
John R. Lynch, Congressman, Mississippi, 1873–1879, 1881–1887
Charles E. Nash, Congressman, Louisiana, 1875–1877
John A. Hyman, Congressman, North Carolina, 1875–1877
Jere Haralson, Congressman, 1875–1877
Robert Smalls, Congressman, South Carolina 1875-1879, 1881–1887
Several other, like Menard of Florida, Pinchback of Louisiana, Lee, and others, had excellent titles to their seats, but did not gain them. Twelve of these men who were the earliest to enter Congress were ex-slaves or born of slave parents and brought up when Blacks were denied education. On the other hand the other four had received a more or less complete college education in the North and abroad. Five of the Congressmen were lawyers, and two, Elliot and Rapier, had unusual training and ability."

Below is a profile in grief of six of the Black participants in Reconstruction:

South Carolina

Francis L. Carodoz:

Free-born; educated at the University of Glasgow, and in London; served as a Presbyterian minister in New Haven; after the war he served as Principal of Avery Institute in Charleston; was Secretary of State during 1868–1872, and State Treasurer from 1872 to 1876. "He was accused in several instances, but no dishonest act was ever proven against him."

Robert Brown Elliot:

Educated at Eton College in England; was a first rate lawyer; served in the legislature and was twice elected to Congress.

Robert Smalls:

(Who stole the Confederate ship Planter and delivered it to the union authorities.) Self-educated, popular; was a member of Congress until after Reconstruction.


Oscar J Dunn:

Ran away from slavery; finally bought his freedom; began his education prior to his freedom; State Senator in 1868; Lt. Governor from 1868 to 1870; reputed to be firm, courageous and incorruptible, died suddenly in November, 1871.

P. B. S. Pinchback:

Educated in Cincinatti, was a captain in the army; succeeded Dunn as Lt. Governor, when Govenor Warmoth was impeached in December 1872; he became governor for a few days.


Hiram R. Revels:

Hailed from North Carolina; educated in Indiana; served as a minister in Baltimore at the beginning of the war, and helped to organize two Black regiments; was affiliated with the Freedman's Bureau; and was selected to "fill the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis (President of the Confederacy).

Principle Reference: Black Reconstruction in America 1860–1880 by W.E.B. DuBois

Other References:

Negro Almanac
The New York Times Encyclopedia Almanac
All quotes are from Black Reconstruction.