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Joseph Rainey Exhibit

The Tucker House Museum, a Bermuda National Trust property, is located on Water Street in the town of St. George, Bermuda’s first capital founded in 1612. This 18th century building houses the Joseph Hayne Rainey exhibit in its kitchen. Here, his portrait and several of his speeches, given during his term in the U.S. House of Representatives, can be found. In 1862, when Confederate authorities began to draft free Blacks to work on Charleston’s fortifications, Joseph Rainey seized the opportunity to escape to Bermuda with his wife Susan, aboard one of the blockade runners who were operating out of the old town during the American Civil War (1861–1865). The Raineys settled in St. George’s where Susan set up business as a seamstress and Joseph opened a barbershop in the kitchen of Tucker House. Alongside the Museum runs Barber’s Alley, so named in Rainey’s honour. Rainey also became a member of the Alexandria Lodge 1026 of the Grand United Order of Oddfellows, one of the island’s Black lodges. Returning to America in 1866 at the end of the Civil War, he impacted American history by running for public office in South Carolina and became one of the first Black Americans to be elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 2003, a portrait of Joseph Rainey was hung in The Cabinet Building in Washington, DC. This story fittingly entwines, once again, two strands of Black history binding Bermuda and its nearest neighbour.