From Slavery to Capitol Hill, John Hyman of Warren County

John Hyman of Warren CountyOn July 23, 1840, John Hyman, the first African American to represent North Carolina in the United States Congress, was born into slavery in Warren County.

Though eventually sold away from his family and sent to Alabama, Hyman made his way back home at the close of the Civil War. With an aptitude for public speaking and politicking, he became a delegate to the second state Freedman’s Convention in 1866, to the first Republican state convention in 1867 and to the state Constitutional Convention in 1868. In that same year, he started the first of the several terms he would serve in the state senate.

Hyman was defeated in his first run for Congress in 1872. Two years later he was elected, but he failed to obtain his party’s nomination in 1876. During his single term in Washington, Hyman supported legislation to secure and protect civil rights, especially suffrage privileges.

After leaving public life, Hyman returned to Warrenton where he farmed and operated a grocery store. He was constantly in debt and was forced to sell all his real estate in 1878. Around 1880, Hyman left North Carolina for Washington, D.C., where he worked as an assistant mail clerk until his death in 1891 at the age of 51.

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