Biography of Senator Lawrence Cain

Cain Cover 8-19-19

Virtue of Cain focuses on the short but extraordinary life of Reconstruction era Senator Lawrence Cain of Edgefield, South Carolina.  He was considered an honorable and virtuous man and helped shape South Carolina politics between 1865 and 1877 as one of the leaders of the Radical Republican movement. He rose above numerous obstacles to go from slave to state senator.

Virtue of Cain is being published during the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction. Over 150 years ago he was at the epicenter of social injustice and racism in South Carolina and became a major leader who fought for political and civil rights. He was unseated in 1877 by violent coup d'états and usurpation that would effectively end his dream of equality.   

The facts of his life had been forgotten like much of African American history during Reconstruction.  Now the facts and reality of his life have been rediscovered by Lawrence Cain's great great-grandson in this new book with the help of family, genealogy research, archived papers and genetic DNA results.

"No systematic effort has hitherto been made to save the records of the Negro during the Reconstruction period. American public opinion has been so prejudiced against the Negroes because of their elevation to prominence in Southern politics that it has been considered sufficient to destroy their regime and forget it."

—The Journal of Negro History, Vol. 5, No 1 (Jan 1920)

"Lawrence Cain is a true American hero, and his is a story to be celebrated. In the American South where statues of Confederate generals and white supremacists are memorialized in both books and across the landscape, Lawrence Cain provides an alternative role model to balance the overwhelming Civil War and Reconstruction mythology that has dominated our understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction in the American South."

Distinguished Historian, Dr. Orville Vernon Burton