Google+ Badge BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY
Sunday, 24 August 2014
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY : AFRICAN AMERICAN " JOHN WILLIS MENARD " WAS ON NOVEMBER 3rd 1868 THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN ELECTED TO THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES : GOES INTO THE " HALL OF BLACK HEROES "
BLACK SOCIAL HISTORY John Willis Menard (April 3, 1838 – October 8, 1893) was on November 3, 1868 the first African American elected to the United States House of Representatives.
Menard was born in Kaskaskia in Randolph County in southern Illinois, to parents of Louisiana Creole descent from New Orleans who were free people of color. He may have been related to Michel Branamour Menard, a French-Canadian fur trader and a founder ofGalveston, Texas. Menard attended school in Sparta, Illinois and Ohio Central College, then Iberia College in Iberia, Ohio.
During the American Civil War, he worked as a clerk in the Department of the Interior under U.S. President Abraham Lincoln. He was sent to British Honduras in 1863 to investigate a proposed colony for newly freed slaves. After the war Menard settled in New Orleans.
In an 1868 special election to fill the unexpired term of James Mann, a Democrat who had died in office, Menard, a Republican, was elected to represent Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. He was denied the seat on the basis of an election challenge by the apparent loser, Caleb S. Hunt. On February 27, 1869, Menard did become the first African American to address the chamber.
When the House Committee on Elections could not make a final determination on the election challenge, the case went before the entire House of Representatives who, on February 27, 1869 suspended its rules to allow both Menard and Hunt to address the chamber. Only Menard spoke. After debating the issue, neither Menard nor Hunt could gain enough support to be seated. The vote for Hunt was 41 in favor to 137 against. For Menard, it was 57 in favor and 130 against. Congressman and future president James A. Garfield, is reputed to have said that “'it was too early' for an African American to be admitted to Congress.
Menard moved to Jacksonville, Florida, where he was appointed to the Florida House of Representatives in 1874 and lost the next election. That same year and again in 1877, he was elected as a Duval County justice of the peace.
He was a poet, the author of Lays in Summer Lands (1879). Menard was also the editor of the Florida News and the Southern Leaderfrom 1882 to 1888.