Blacks in Politics, Part 1
Courtesy of the Library of Congress
John Willis Menard was elected to the House of Representatives in 1868 but he never served and so the House remained closed to African Americans until 1870 when Joseph Hayne Rainey became the first African American to serve in the House of Representatives, representing the state of South Carolina. A popular politician, Rainey was reelected four times but by 1878 the political climate of the South had shifted. White politicians were once again in power and Rainey lost his bid for reelection. He went on to become an IRS agent but never returned to public office.