United States Congressman, noted inventor, farmer and teacher. George Washington Murray was one of the major African American political leaders in the quest for racial justice in the new South following the Civil War and without a doubt, one of the most remarkable citizens of his time. He was born in Sumter County, South Carolina where he spent the first 13 years of his life as a slave, but after the Emancipation Proclamation he enrolled at the University of South Carolina and later continued his education at the State Normal Institute at Columbia; graduating in 1876. In the next 20 years he served as a farmer, school teacher, the Chairman of the Sumter County Republican Committee and as a customs inspector for the Port of Charleston, 1890-1892, a position he was appointed to by the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison. While as a farmer, Murray lectured for the Colored Farmers' Alliance and participated in local Republican policies. In 1892 Murray was elected as a Republican to the United States Congress (after loosing the Republican Nomination in 1890), representing the state of South Carolina. In this position he frequently spoke from the floor of the House, describing the plight of black citizens and imploring his fellow Congressmen to protect those citizens rights. One topic that Murray spoke openly about was the plight of the Black inventor. In that day of age, most whites were completely unaware of the success that many Blacks had enjoyed in inventing useful devices which were benefiting ordinary citizens. Murray recounted theses achievements and read them into the Congressional Record. While serving in his second term, Murray secured patents for eight inventions, including cultivating and fertilizing equipment and a cotton chopper. However, after serving two terms he was tragically defeated by corrupt Reconstruction policies and white supremacist attitudes he could not esca! pe. Mur ray was driven from office and from the state. During the beginning of the twentieth century, with his party in shambles, he found himself on trial for alleged forgery in a land deal with two of his black land purchasers. Murray was found guilty, and the South Carolina Supreme Court upheld the verdict. Sentenced to hard labor on a chain gang, he escaped to Chicago in 1905. Thou living there in obscurity Murray would engage in literary pursuits and lecturing; and as a delegate to several Republican National Conventions. Murray would later die there in 1926.
Bio by: Curtis Jackson