Richard Cain, politican with conviction
This date recalls the birth of Richard Harvey Cain born in 1825. He was a black political and civic leader of the Charleston, South Carolina reconstruction era.
From Virginia, born to free parents Cain and his family moved to Gallipolis, Ohio in 1831. He attended school and worked on the steamboats along the Ohio River. Cain entered the ministry in Hannibal Missouri, in 1844, but was unhappy with their segregation practices. In 1848 he joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church and was a minister in Muscatine, Iowa. In 1865 through the A.M.E. Church, Cain went to South Carolina, where he was a delegate to the state constitutional convention of 1868 and a member of the state senate from 1868 to 1870. It was during this time that Richard Cain published and edited the South Carolina Leader, later renamed the Missionary Record.
In 1872, he was elected to an at-large seat in the House of Representatives. Here he took a seat on the Committee of Agriculture with the forty-third Congress. He worked passage of a civil rights bill introduced in 1870 with a speech about his personal experiences during a trip to Washington D.C. He declined to seek re-nomination after his seat was eliminated but was active to reform the Republican Party.
In 1876, Cain was again elected to Congress from the second district. Here with the forty-fifth Congress he served on the Committee of Private Claims. He became a bishop in the A.M.E. Church in 1880, he helped set up Paul Quinn College in Waco, Texas and served as it president until 1884. Richard Cain returned to Washington where he died on January 18th 1887.
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990
Today in American History