Born into slavery in Georgetown, South Carolina, on June 21, 1832, Joseph Hayne Rainey was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives and was the first black man to preside over the House. While enslaved, Rainey worked as a barber in South Carolina, and in Philadelphia where he married in 1859. Forced to work for the Confederate army during the Civil War, Rainey and his wife escaped to Bermuda in 1862. In 1866, he returned to South Carolina a wealthy man. He was a member of the 1868 South Carolina Constitutional Convention and in 1870 a member of the South Caroline Senate. In 1870, he was elected to the House of Representatives to complete the term of a congressman the House had refused to seat. He was reelected three times and served until 1879. Rainey served as collector of internal revenue in South Carolina from 1879 until he resigned in 1881 and afterward worked in Washington, D.C., in banking and the brokerage business. He died in Georgetown, South Carolina, on August 1, 1887.
Packwood, Cyril Outerbridge. Detour-Bermuda, Destination-U.S. House of Representatives: The Life of Joseph Rainey. Hamilton, Bermuda: Baxter's Limited, 1977.
Ragsdale, Bruce A., and Joel D. Treese. Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1989. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1990, 117–119.