Joseph Hayne Rainey
Joseph Rainey, although born a slave was the first African American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first African American to chair the House, and the longest–serving African American during the turbulent Reconstruction period.
Rainey worked as a barber independent of his master and used his earnings to buy his freedom in early 1840s. He served in the Confederate Army during the civil War. He took advantage of his escape to Bermuda, a British colony which abolished slavery in 1834.
The thriving economy of Bermuda served him and his wife well and he amassed wealth from his blockade-running business.
He returned to Charleston in 1866 and got his first public appointment in 1870 where he won a seat in the senate and became the chairman of the finance committee.
Representative Benjamin F. Whittemore resigned his north-eastern South Carolina seat, after being charged with selling positions to U.S. military academies.
The party nominated Rainey as his replacement, and he served the remainder of his term in the 41st congress.
He won full term office on October 18,1870 beating Democrat C. W. Dudley. He was sworn into office on December 12, 1970. Without opposition he regained his seat into the 43rd Congress and served till 1875.