Joseph Hayne Rainey
Joseph Hayne Rainey (21 June 1832 – 1 August 1887) was an American politician from South Carolina and a member of the Republican Party. Born into slavery, he was the first African American to serve in the United States House of Representatives, the second black person to serve in the United States Congress (U.S. Senator Hiram Revels was the first), and the first black presiding officer of the House of Representatives, where he labored against injustices being committed by the Democratic Party against freed slaves.
Speech on the the Ku Klux Klan Bill of 1871 (1 April 1871)
- Speech on the the Ku Klux Klan Bill of 1871 (1 April 1871).
- A remedy is needed to meet the evil now existing in most of the southern states, but especially in that one which I have the honor to represent in part, the State of South Carolina. The enormity of the crimes constantly perpetrated there finds no parallel in the history of this republic in her very darkest days. There was a time when the early settlers of New England were compelled to enter the fields, their homes, even the very sanctuary itself, armed to the full extent of their means. While the people were offering their worship to God within those humble walls their voices kept time with the tread of the sentry outside. But, sir, it must be borne in mind that at the time referred to civilization had but just begun its work upon this continent. The surroundings were unpropitious, and as yet the grand capabilities of this fair land lay dormant under the fierce tread of the red man. But as civilization advanced with its steady and resistless sway it drove back those wild cohorts and compelled them to give way to the march of improvement. In course of time superior intelligence made its impress and established its dominion upon this continent. That intelligence, with an influence like that of the sun rising in the east and spreading its broad rays like a garment of light, gave life and gladness to the dark.
- It were but reasonable to hope that this sacred influence should never have been overshadowed, and that in the history of other nations, no less than in our own past, we might find beacon-lights for our guidance. In part this has been realized, and might have reached the height of our expectations if it had not been for the blasting effects of slavery, whose deadly pall has so long spread its folds over this nation, to the destruction of peace, union, and concord. Most particularly has its baneful influence been felt in the south, causing the people to be at once restless and discontented. Even now, sir, after the great conflict between slavery and freedom, after the triumph achieved at such a cost, we can yet see the traces of the disastrous strife and the remains of disease in the body-politic of the south. In proof of this witness the frequent outrages perpetrated upon our loyal men. The prevailing spirit of the southron is either to rule or to ruin. Voters must perforce succumb to their wishes or else risk life itself in the attempt to maintain a simple right of common manhood.
- The suggestions of the shrewdest Democratic papers have proved unavailing in controlling the votes of the loyal whites and blacks of the south. Their innuendoes have been evaded. The people emphatically decline to dispose of their rights for a mess of pottage. In this particular the Democracy of the North found themselves foiled and their money needless. But with a spirit more demon-like than that of a Nero or a Caligula, there has been concocted another plan, destructive, ay, diabolical in its character, worthy only of hearts without regard for god or man, fit for such deeds as those deserving the name of men would shudder to perform. Is it asked, what are those deeds? Let those who liberally contributed to the supply of arms and ammunition in the late rebellious States answer the question. Soon after the close of the war there had grown up in the south a very widely-spread willingness to comply with the requirements of the law. But as the clemency and magnanimity of the general government became manifest once again did the monster rebellion lift its hydra head in renewed defiance, cruel and cowardly, fearing the light of day, hiding itself under the shadow of the night as more befitting its bloody and accursed work.
- The story of widows and orphans now wandering amid the ravines of the rural counties of my native state seeking protection and maintenance from others who are yet unable, on account of their own poverty, to grant them aid. I could dwell upon the sorrows of poor women, with their helpless infants, cast upon the world, homeless and destitute, deprived of their natural protectors by the red hand of the midnight assassin. I could appeal to you, members upon this floor, as husbands and fathers, to picture to yourselves the desolation of your own happy firesides should you be suddenly snatched away from your loved ones. Think of gray-haired men, whose fourscore years are almost numbered, the venerated heads of peaceful households, without warning murdered for political opinion's sake.
- When we call to mind the fact that this persecution is waged against men for the simple reason that they dare vote with the party that saved the Union intact by the lavish expenditure of blood and treasure, and has borne the nation safely through the fearful crisis of these last few years, our hearts swell with an overwhelming indignation.
- If the Negroes, numbering one-eighth of the population of these United States, would only cast their votes in the interest of the Democratic Party, all open measures against them would be immediately suspended and their rights as American citizens recognized. But as to the real results of such a state of affairs, and speaking in behalf of those with whom I am conversant, I can only say that we love freedom more, vastly more, than slavery. Consequently, we hope to keep clear of the Democrats! I say to the entire membership of the Democratic Party, that upon your hands rests the blood of the loyal men of the south. Disclaim it as you will; the stain is there to prove your criminality before God and the world in the day of retribution.
- It has been asserted on this floor that the Republican Party is answerable for the existing state of affairs in the south. I am here to deny this, and to illustrate, I will say that in the State of South Carolina there is no disturbance of an alarming character in any one of the counties in which the Republicans have a majority. The troubles are usually in those sections in which the Democrats have a predominance in power, and, not content with this, desire to be supreme.
- We are fully determined to stand by the Republican Party and the government.
Speech on Civil Rights Act (1873)
- Speech about the Civil Rights Act under consideration which was passed in 1875 (19 December 1873), as quoted in Neglected Voices, New York University School of Law.
- People I represent, to the extent of the opportunities which they have had, and considering how recently they have escaped from the oppression and wrongs committed upon them, are just as virtuous and hold just as many high characteristics as any class in the country.
- I think the statistics will prove that there is as much virtue among the Negroes as among the whites.
- We do not ask the passage of any law forcing us upon anybody who does not want to receive us. But we do want a law enacted that we may be recognized like other men in the country. Why is it that colored members of Congress cannot enjoy the same immunities that are accorded to white members? Why cannot we stop at hotels here without meeting objection? Why cannot we go into restaurants without being insulted? We are here enacting laws for the country and casting votes upon important questions; we have been sent here by the suffrages of the people, and why cannot we enjoy the same benefits that are accorded to our white colleagues on this floor?
- I say to you gentlemen, that this discrimination against the Negro race in this country is unjust, is unworthy of a high-minded people whose example should have a salutary influence in the world.
- Gentlemen, I say to you this discrimination must cease. We are determined to fight this question; we believe the Constitution gives us this right. All of the fifteen amendments made to the Constitution run down in one single line of protecting the rights of the citizens of this country. One after another of those amendments give these rights to citizens; step by step these rights are secured to them. And now we say to you that if you will not obey the Constitution, then the power is given by that Constitution for the enactment of such a law as will have a tendency to enforce the provisions thereof.
- We intend to continue to vote so long as the government gives us the right and necessary protection; and I know that right accorded to us now will never be withheld in the future if left to the Republican Party.
- Speech on the Civil Rights Bill (3 February 1875), as quoted in the Congressional Record, 43rd Congress, 2nd Session, Vol 3, p. 959.