Born into slavery, Joseph Rainey was the first African American to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives, the first African American to preside over the House, and the longest–serving African American during the tumultuous Reconstruction period.
While Rainey’s representation—like that of the other 21 black Representatives of the era—was symbolic, he also demonstrated the political nuance of a seasoned, substantive Representative, balancing his defense of southern blacks’ civil rights by extending amnesty to the defeated Confederates.
Rainey was an ardent supporter of civil rights for African Americans, Native Americans, the Chinese in California, and supported removing political disabilities from white Southerners.
The Joseph H. Rainey House was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1984.
This is a private residence and not open to the public.