Cain, Richard H.
Reconstruction-era Black South Carolina Congressman 1873-75 & 1877-79, AME Church official, led Mother Emmanuel Church in Charleston 1865-72
Autograph ID: 6985
Condition: Very good
Description: “(1825-1887) South Carolina minister, abolitionist, and US Rep 1873-75 & 1877-79. After the Civil War, he was appointed an African Methodist Episcopal Church missionary in So. Carolina by Bishop Daniel Payne. He was born to a black father and a Cherokee mother in Virginia and raised in Ohio, a free state where he could read and write. He attended Wilberforce University and then divinity school in Missouri. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, he claimed that he and 115 students from mostly black Wilberforce University tried to enlist in the Union Army but were refused. Cain worked as a barber in Illinois and worked on steamboats along the Ohio River before he migrated south. He was licensed to preach for the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844, first assigned to Hannibal, Mo. where he had attended divinity school. In 1848, frustrated by Methodist the segregationist policies, he joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church, a black independent denomination started in Philadelphia in 1816. By 1859 he became a deacon in Iowa and in 1861 was called as a pastor at the Bridge Street church in Brooklyn, where in 1862 he was ordained as an elder and remained until 1865. After the Civil War, Cain moved to Charleston as superintendent of AME missions and presided over the (Mother) Emmanuel Church 1865-72, largest AME congregation in the state. The AME Church attracted tens of thousands of converts to its denomination very rapidly. Cain became active in politics, serving as a delegate to the 1868 state constitutional convention and represented Charleston in the So. Carolina Senate 1868-72. He also edited the South Carolina Leader newspaper (later, the Missionary Record) and hired future congressmen Robert B. Elliott and Alonzo Ransier. He was elected to Congress as a Republican in 1872 in a newly created at-large district. He focused on the civil rights bill which eventually passed in diluted form in 1875 and gave noted speeches on the bill in Janu. 1873. He did not run for re-election in 1874 after redistricting, but was elected again in 1876. In 1877, while advocating in Congress for mail service to West African Colonies, Cain became a member of the Liberian Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company. In 1880, Cain was elected and consecrated a bishop in the AME Church and served the episcopal district which comprised Louisiana and Texas. He helped found Paul Quinn College and was its president to 1884. He then moved to Washington to serve as AME bishop over the Mid-Atlantic and New England States.
Signed 2 ½ x 5 ½ piece from an autograph album page, no place (Washington), no date (ca. 1878), adds “Charleston S.C.” under his signature. Relatively scarce autograph!”