Rep. James O’Hara born in New York, Feb. 26, 1844

Detroit News via AP

On this day in 1844, Rep. James O’Hara, an African-American legislator in the post-Civil War era, was born in New York, the son of an Irish immigrant father and West Indian mother.

During Reconstruction, when Union forces occupied North Carolina, O’Hara moved there and taught school, before being admitted to the state bar in 1873. He also held patronage jobs carved out for blacks during that era.

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In 1874, O’Hara made the first of four attempts to win a House seat, seeking to represent the state’s largely black 2nd District. When he finally succeeded in 1882, O’Hara served as one of two…

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