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On this day in 1836, Jefferson Long was born. He was a Black tailor, storekeeper, politician, and educator.
Jefferson Franklin Long was born a slave in Knoxville, GA. His early years are uncertain. He was self-educated in his native state. A successful businessman gave him the freedom to pursue a political career. By 1867, he was active in the Georgia Educational Association, a group formed to protect and advance the interest of freedmen.
In one Macon speech, according to a newspaper account, his “Appeal to the poor whites was so forcible and convincing, that several converts were made on the spot. He asked how it was that the poor whites allowed themselves to partake so fully of the prejudices of the former slave-owners, when those prejudices were exercised with even greater force against the poor white.”
Though his congressional career was brief (Dec. 1870-March 1871), Jefferson Long was the first Black to speak in Georgia’s House of Representatives as a congressman. Census records of 1870 showed that he owned $1,900.00 in personal property. He was the second Black to be elected and the only one from Georgia during Reconstruction. After leaving Congress, he was a delegate to the Republican Party’s national conventions of 1872, 1876, and 1880. He was effective because of his strong opinions, but his politics ruined his businesses with whites. Jefferson Long died in Macon GA. in 1901.
Black Americans in Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990