Henry E. Hayne, The First African American To Serve As South Carolina’s Secretary Of State



Henry E. Hayne was South Carolina’s first African American Secretary of State. He served in that capacity from 1872 to 1877. Hayne was born into slavery on December 30, 1840 (estimated date) in Charleston, South Carolina to an enslaved mixed-race mother named Mary and a white father, planter and state politician James Hayne. Hayne grew up and attended school in Charleston. He had a job as a tailor.

Hayne served as a volunteer soldier in the Confederate army during the Civil War, with the goal of eventually fleeing to Union lines. In July 1862, Hayne crossed enemy lines and enlisted as a private in the Thirty-third Regiment of United States Colored Troops (First South Carolina Volunteers) at Beaufort. Hayne was promoted to commissary sergeant in 1863. In early 1866, he was discharged and relocated to Marion County, South Carolina.

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During Reconstruction, Hayne became involved with the Republican Party, which advocated for freedmen’s citizenship and suffrage. In 1867, Hayne served on the Republican state executive committee and represented Marion County at the state constitutional convention in 1868. Haynes was later hired as principal of Madison Colored School by the Freedmen’s Bureau in 1868. Hayne worked as a sub-commissioner for the South Carolina Land Commission from 1869 to 1871.

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In 1870, Hayne was appointed chairman of the Marion County Republican Party and vice president of the State Union League. From 1868 to 1872, he represented Marion County in the South Carolina State Senate. He was elected South Carolina Secretary of State in 1872 and served until 1877. He took over the land commission as secretary of state and was credited with bringing honest and efficient leadership to what had previously been a notoriously mismanaged program.

While serving as Secretary of State, Hayne enrolled as the first African American student at the University of South Carolina Medical School in 1873, making him the university’s first known African American student. Hayne’s admission sparked outrage both outside and inside the university, and several faculty members resigned immediately. Hayne dropped out of university in 1875 before completing his degree.

In 1876, the Republican Party renominated Hayne for Secretary of State. Haynes was also a member of the State Board of Canvassers at the time, which certified a Republican victory in the hotly contested election of 1876. The board was found in contempt by the State Supreme Court, and some of its members were imprisoned for a time. Under duress, Hayne relinquished his position as secretary of state to the Democratic candidate, Robert Moorman Sims, in May 1877.

Hayne married in 1874. Hayne left South Carolina later that year. In 1885, Hayne’s last known residence was Cook County, Illinois. He was living with his wife, Anna M. Hayne, at the time. Although the date of Hayne’s death is unknown, there is one documentation of certification, number 00007313, located on the Office of the Illinois Secretary of State’s Statewide Death Index – Pre-1916 website, which records a death date for a Henry Hayne on January 18, 1898, Chicago Illinois, Cook County at the age of 56.



Written by How Africa News

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