Thomas Ezekiel Miller, American Politician   Leave a comment



Thomas Ezekiel Miller (June 17, 1849 – April 8, 1938) was an American politician, educator, and lawyer. An African-American from South Carolina, he was a prominent leader in the struggle for civil rights in the American South during and after Reconstruction. He was a school commissioner, state legislator, U.S. Representative, lawyer, and college president.


Miller was born in Ferrebeeville, South Carolina, to Richard Miller and Mary Ferrebee. In 1851, he moved with his parents to Charleston, South Carolina, where he attended a school for “free colored” children. When the Civil War ended, he moved to Hudson, New York. Miller graduated from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania in 1872.


Miller moved to Grahamville, South Carolina and served as school commissioner of Beaufort County in 1872. He studied law at the South Carolina College, graduating in 1875, and was admitted to the bar. Miller was elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1874, serving until 1880. He was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1880, serving until 1882. He was nominated for lieutenant governor but did not enter the race.


In 1888, Miller ran for U.S. Representative from the 7th Congressional District, against Democrat candidate William Elliot. Elliott won the official vote count, 8,358 to 7,003 for Miller.[1] However, Miller contested the election result, and pressed allegations that many properly registered black voters had not been able to cast their ballots. The House Committee of Elections ruled in his favor, and Miller was seated in the Fifty-First Congress in 1890. He was defeated by Elliot in the election of 1890.


Miller was re-elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives in 1894, and was a delegate to the 1895 South Carolina constitutional convention. Because the new constitution effectively disenfranchised African American citizens, he and five other black delegates refused to sign it.


He did get the support of Benjamin Tillman for a land-grant college for African-Americans. In 1896, the Colored Normal, Industrial, Agricultural, and Mechanical College of South Carolina was created in Orangeburg, which became the South Carolina State University.


Miller resigned as state Representative to become the College’s first president. In 1910, he opposed the election of Coleman Blease as governor. After victory, Blease asked for and received Miller’s resignation.


Miller moved to Charleston and worked on various community causes. From 1923 to 1934, he lived in Philadelphia, but he returned to Charleston. He died on April 8, 1938.



Posted February 20, 2012 by pennylibertygbow in Uncategorized

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