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Charles E. Nash
This date in 1844 marks the birth of Charles Edmund Nash, a Black politician.
Born in Opelousas, LA, he attended common schools and was a bricklayer in New Orleans before enlisting in Company A of the 82nd Regiment. In 1865, during the last battle of the American Civil War at Fort Blakely, AL, he was severely wounded, losing part of his right leg. Four years later, he was appointed night inspector in the New Orleans Custom House. Local Republicans apparently concluded that Nash's wartime heroics made him an attractive candidate for public office.
In 1874, Charles Nash was elected to the House of Representatives (the 44th Congress, serving from 1875 to March 3, 1877. Unlike many Black members of Reconstruction-era Congresses, he faced no challenges to his election.
Nash possessed neither the seniority nor rhetorical ability to wield much influence while seated. In June 1876, however, he was able to speak to the House, praising Republican efforts in the cause of emancipated freedmen. Nash also called for the enforcement of constitutional provisions to protect freedmen and urged southern states to promote public education, forestall demagogues, and exploit racial prejudice.
After losing reelection, Charles Edmund Nash returned to his trade as a bricklayer and later worked as a cigar maker. He died in 1913.
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990