George Murray was without a doubt, one of the most remarkable citizens of his time. A teacher, farmer, land developer and federal customs inspector, the former slave would go on to become a United States Congressman and a noted inventor. He invented several farming tools and machines. Two of the farming machines were patented on April 10, 1892. They were the combined furrow opener/stalk-knocker and the cultivator/marker.
He spent the first 13 years of his life as a slave, but after the Emancipation Proclamation enrolled at South Carolina State University and later continued his education at the State Normal Institute. In the next 20 years, he served as a school teacher, fifteen of those years were spent teaching in Sumter County. Additionally, he was the Chairman of the Sumter County Republican Committee and as a customs inspector for the Port of Charleston, a position was appointed to by the President of the United States, Benjamin Harrison.
In 1892, George Murray was elected as United States Congressman, 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 these 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.
He was the Sumter County Republican Party chairman and was known as the "Republican Black Eagle." He was a delegate at several Republican National Conventions. From 1893 to 1895, he was elected as the United States Congressional South Carolina representative in the 53rd Congress—one of the first African Americans to serve in Congress. He served in the 54th Congress from 1896 to 1897 after contesting his loss of reelection.
Other involvements include lecturer for the Colored Farmers Alliance; Customs Inspector at the Port of Charleston, South Carolina for two years (1890-92); and was in the real estate business. In 1905, he was convicted of forging lease agreement signatures, but was pardoned by the governor in 1915. Instead of serving his sentence, he moved to Chicago where he began selling life insurance and real estate, was active in the Illinois Republican Party, and was a political ally of Chicago mayor, Bill Thompson. He died in Chicago April 21, 1926 and he is interred in Lincoln Cemetery.
Current Democratic South Carolina congressman and House Majority Whip Jim Clyburn is one of his relatives.
Murray would be the last Black Republican to serve in Congress from South Carolina until Tim Scott was elected in 2010.
Compiled from http://www.blackinventor.com/pages/george-murray.html and Wikipedia.