Final member of a generation of Southern black lawmakers dies, April 8, 1938


On this day in 1938, former Rep. Thomas Miller (R-S.C.) died in Charleston, South Carolina, at age 86. Miller was the last of a generation of 19th-century Republican African-American lawmakers from the post-Reconstruction era to serve in Congress in the Civil War’s aftermath.

He was one of only five African-Americans elected to Congress from the South during the last decade of the 19th century, as the systematic disfranchisement of the Jim Crow era suppressed black voting. After that, no African-Americans were elected from the South until 1972, well after passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

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Miller arrived in Washington as a seasoned politician. During his abbreviated term in 1889-91, he used his…

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