Capitol Men: The Epic Story of Reconstruction Through the Lives of the First Black Congressmen 2008

Jun 20, 2022

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The American Missionary Association (AMA) was a Protestant-based abolitionist group founded on September 3, 1846, in Albany, New York. The main purpose of the organization was abolition of slavery, education of African Americans, promotion of racial equality, and spreading Christian values. Its members and leaders were of both races; The Association was chiefly sponsored by the Congregationalist churches in New England. Starting in 1861, it opened camps in the South for former slaves. It played a major role during the Reconstruction Era in promoting education for blacks in the South by establishing numerous schools and colleges, as well as paying for teachers.…

Robert Smalls (April 5, 1839 – February 23, 1915) was an American politician, publisher, businessman, and maritime pilot. Born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina, he freed himself, his crew, and their families during the American Civil War by commandeering a Confederate transport ship, CSS Planter, in Charleston harbor, on May 13, 1862, and sailing it from Confederate-controlled waters of the harbor to the U.S. blockade that surrounded it. He then piloted the ship to the Union-controlled enclave in Beaufort–Port Royal–Hilton Head area, where it became a Union warship. His example and persuasion helped convince President Abraham Lincoln to accept African-American soldiers into the Union Army.

After the American Civil War he returned to Beaufort and became a politician, winning election as a Republican to the South Carolina Legislature and the United States House of Representatives during the Reconstruction era. Smalls authored state legislation providing for South Carolina to have the first free and compulsory public school system in the United States. He founded the Republican Party of South Carolina. Smalls was the last Republican to represent South Carolina’s 5th congressional district until the election of Mick Mulvaney in 2011.…

Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (May 10, 1837 – December 21, 1921) was an American publisher, politician, and Union Army officer. Pinchback was the first African American to serve as governor of a U.S. state and the second African American (after Oscar Dunn) to serve as lieutenant governor of a U.S. state. A Republican, Pinchback served as acting governor of Louisiana from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873. He was one of the most prominent African-American officeholders during the Reconstruction Era.

Pinchback was born free in Macon, Georgia to Eliza Stewart and her master, William Pinchback, a white planter. His father raised the younger Pinchback and his siblings as his own children on his large plantation in Mississippi. After the death of his father in 1848, his mother took Pinchback and siblings to the free state of Ohio to ensure their continued freedom. After the start of the American Civil War, Pinchback traveled to Union-occupied New Orleans. There he raised several companies for the 1st Louisiana Native Guard, and became one of the few African Americans commissioned as officers in the Union Army.

Pinchback remained in New Orleans after the Civil War, becoming active in Republican politics. He won election to the Louisiana State Senate in 1868 and became the president pro tempore of the state senate. He became the acting Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana following the death of Oscar Dunn in 1871 and briefly served as acting governor of Louisiana after Henry C. Warmoth was impeached. After the contested 1872 Louisiana gubernatorial election, Republican legislators elected Pinchback to the United States Senate. Due to the controversy over the 1872 elections in the state, which were challenged by white Democrats, Pinchback was never seated in Congress.

Pinchback served as a delegate to the 1879 Louisiana constitutional convention, where he helped gain support for the founding of Southern University. In a Republican federal appointment, he served as the surveyor of US customs of New Orleans from 1882 to 1885. Later he worked with other leading men of color to challenge the segregation of Louisiana’s public transportation system, leading to the Supreme Court case of Plessy v. Ferguson. To escape increasing racial oppression, he moved with his family to Washington, D.C. in 1892, where they were among the elite people of color. He died there in 1921.…

Milton Coates was a cotton weigher who served as a state legislator and post office clerk in Mississippi. He represented Warren County, Mississippi in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1882 to 1885. A Republican, he lived on south Farmer Street in Vicksburg.[1]

He was a.defendant in a lawsuit regarding the weighing of cotton by the city of Vicksburg.…

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