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*On this date in 1846, Jeremiah Haralson was born. He was a Black politician who served in the House of Representatives.
Born a slave near Columbus, Georgia, he was taken to Alabama and kept in bondage until 1865. After attaining his freedom, Haralson taught himself how to read and write. According to records he then became a farmer and a clergyman, a powerful orator and debater. In 1870 he ran for Congress as an independent and defeated the republican candidate.
In 1870, the twenty-first district elected Haralson to the state Senate and two years later he urged Black voters to turn away from the republican movement and remain loyal to the reelection of President Grant. In 1874, he was elected to Congress and took his seat on March 4, 1875 serving on the Committee on Public Expenditures. Though he made no speeches on the House floor, he introduced several pieces of legislation, including a bill to use proceeds from public land sales for educational purposes and a bill for the relief of the Medical College of Alabama.
He presented a petition from citizens of Mobile requesting compensation for use of a medical college building and supplies by officials of the Freedmen’s Bureau. Haralson differed from many in his own party when he criticized the use of federal soldiers to control violence and ensure orderly voting in the South during the 1876 election. He also was in favor of general amnesty for former confederates.
After leaving Congress, Haralson worked as a clerk at Baltimore’s federal customhouse and a clerk in the Department of the Interior. By 1912 he returned to Alabama and settled in Selma, but soon began years as a wanderer, drifting to Texas, Oklahoma, and Colorado. Wild animals apparently killed him in 1916, but no official records confirm his death.
Black Americans In Congress 1870-1989.
Bruce A. Ragsdale & Joel D. Treese
U.S. Government Printing Office
Raymond W. Smock, historian and director 1990