Robert Carlos De Large was born on March 15, 1842, in Aiken, South Carolina, probably to free parents. He attended a North Carolina primary school and later Wood High School in Charleston, South Carolina. A tailor and farmer before the Civil War, De Large became wealthy while employed by the Confederate States Navy. He was a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1868 and was elected state land commissioner in 1870. De Large was elected to the House of Representatives and served from March 1871 until he lost his seat early in 1873 when the man he had defeated successfully challenged the result of the election. De Large died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty-one, on February 14, 1874, in Charleston.
Ragsdale, Bruce A., and Joel D. Treese. Black Americans in Congress, 1870–1989. Washington, D.C.: U.S. G.P.O., 1990, 31–32.