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for White, George Henry, 1852-1918
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Born a slave in Bladen County, George White graduated from Howard University and returned to North Carolina to practice law. He joined the Republican Party and was elected to the General Assembly in the 1880s. He later was prosecuting attorney for the Second Congressional District. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from 1897-1901. He was the last former slave to serve in Congress and the last African American elected from the South to Congress until 1972.
Prior to the 1897 election of activist congressman George Henry White, fewer than a dozen African-Americans had served as postmasters in North Carolina. After his election, White pushed for a significant increase in black postmasters with a high of 34 being appointed by Republican leadership. The rise of white supremacy led to the quick downfall of black postmasters by 1900 when only three were left in North Carolina.
This article presents North Carolina’s first four black Congressmen: John A. Hyman, James E. O’Hara, Henry P. Cheatham, and George H. White. Today, few North Carolinians know about these early men and the significance they held in history.
George Henry White was one of the most important African American political leaders during the last decade of the nineteenth century. White lived in New Bern for almost two decades, during which he was a teacher, principal, prosecutor, politician, and a civic and religious leader.
Biography of George Henry White (1852-1918) African American legislator and Congressman.