Richard Harvey Cain (April 12, 1825 – January 18, 1887) was an American minister, abolitionist, and United States Representative from South Carolina from 1873 to 1875 and 1877 to 1879. After the American Civil War, he was appointed by Bishop Daniel Payne as a missionary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. He also was one of the founders of Lincolnville, South Carolina.


Richard Harvey Cain (April 12, 1825 – January 18, 1887) was an American minister, abolitionist, and United States Representative from South Carolina from 1873 to 1875 and 1877 to 1879. After the American Civil War, he was appointed by Bishop Daniel Payne as a missionary of the African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. He also was one of the founders of Lincolnville, South Carolina.

Richard Harvey Cain
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina
In office
March 4, 1877 – March 3, 1879
Preceded byCharles W. Buttz
Succeeded byMichael P. O'Connor
Constituency2nd district
In office
March 4, 1873 – March 3, 1875
Preceded byDistrict created
Succeeded byDistrict eliminated
Constituencyat-large seat
Member of the South Carolina Senate
from Charleston County
In office
November 24, 1868 – March 1, 1870
Personal details
Born(1825-04-12)April 12, 1825
Greenbrier County, Virginia (now West Virginia), U.S.
DiedJanuary 18, 1887(1887-01-18) (aged 61)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Nickname"Daddy Cain"[1]

Early life and education

Cain was born to a black father and a Cherokee mother[2] in Greenbrier County, Virginia, which is now in West Virginia. He was raised in Gallipolis, Ohio; Ohio state was a free state where he was allowed to read and write. He attended Wilberforce University and divinity school in Hannibal, Missouri. The American Civil War broke out while he was at Wilberforce. He and 115 students from the mostly black university attempted to enlist in the Union Army but were refused.[1]


Cain worked as a barber in Galena, Illinois, and worked on steamboats along the Ohio River before he migrated south.

He had been licensed to preach for the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1844. His first assignment was in Hannibal, Missouri. In 1848, frustrated by the segregationist policies of the Methodists, he joined the African Methodist Episcopal Church, an independent black denomination started in Philadelphia. By 1859, he became a deacon in Muscatine, Iowa. In 1861, Cain was called as a pastor at the Bridge Street Church in Brooklyn, New York. In 1862, he was ordained as an elder and remained at the Brooklyn church until 1865.[1]

After the Civil War, Cain moved to Charleston, South Carolina, in 1865 as superintendent of AME missions and presided over the Emmanuel Church in that city. The AME Church attracted tens of thousands of converts to its denomination very rapidly.[1]

Cain became active in politics, serving as a delegate to the state constitutional convention in 1868. He represented Charleston County in the South Carolina Senate from 1868 to 1872. He also edited the South Carolina Leader newspaper (later renamed the Missionary Record). As editor, he hired future congressmen Robert B. Elliott and Alonzo Ransier.[1]

He was elected as a Republican to the Forty-third United States Congress in a newly created at-large district. He was on the Committee on Agriculture, but focused more on the civil rights bill which eventually passed in diluted form in 1875. He gave noted speeches on the bill in January, 1873. He did not run for re-election in 1874 after redistricting, but ran for the 2nd district in 1876. He was elected to the Forty-fifth United States Congress.[1]

In 1877, while advocating in Congress for mail service to West African Colonies, Cain became a member of the Liberian Exodus Joint Stock Steamship Company. In 1880, Cain was elected and consecrated a bishop in the African Methodist Episcopal Church; he served the episcopal district which comprised Louisiana and Texas. He helped found Paul Quinn College and served as its president until 1884.[1]

Cain then moved to Washington, D.C., where he served as AME bishop over the Mid-Atlantic and New England States. He died in Washington on January 18, 1887, and was buried in Graceland Cemetery there, but may have been removed to Woodlawn Cemetery about a decade later, when Graceland closed and many of its interments were reburied in Woodlawn.[3][4]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g "CAIN, Richard Harvey". Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. Retrieved December 5, 2016.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Edgar, Walter. South Carolina Encyclopedia (2006) pp. 119-120, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina, ISBN 1-57003-598-9.
  4. ^ Bailey, N. Louise, Morgan, Mary L., and Taylor, Carolyn R. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina Senate: 1776-1985, v. I, pp. 246-248, 1986, University of South Carolina Press, Columbia, South Carolina, ISBN 0-87249-479-9.

Further reading

  • Holt, Thomas C. Black over White: Negro Political Leadership in South Carolina during Reconstruction. (U of Illinois Press, 1977).
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
District created
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's at-large congressional seat

Succeeded by
District eliminated
Preceded by Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from South Carolina's 2nd congressional district

Succeeded by
Academic offices
Preceded by
President of Paul Quinn College
Succeeded by

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