Jeremiah Haralson was one of three African Americans from Alabama who served in Congress during the Reconstruction. He was known for being a powerful speaker.
Haralson was born on April 1, 1846, but very little is known about his early childhood. Haralson was self-educated. He was owned by J.W. Thompson. When Thompson died, Jeremiah was sold to Judge Jonathan Haralson of Selma, Alabama.
Haralson taught himself to read and write after the emancipation. For a short time, he worked as a farmer. He then got involved in politics. In 1868, he campaigned for Democrat Horatio Seymour to defeat Republican Ulysses S. Grant for president.
By 1870, Haralson was elected as a Republican and the first black member of the Alabama House of Representatives. In 1872, he was elected to the State Senate in 1872 from the Twenty-First District. When he helped get a civil rights bill through the Senate during his term, he was considered politically powerful.
In 1874, he was elected as a Republican from Alabama’s 1st congressional district, which then included Selma, to the Forty-fourth U.S. Congress. Haralson was appointed by President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879 to a Federal patronage position in the United States customhouse in Baltimore, Maryland. Years later, Haralson was employed as a clerk at the Department of the Interior. In Haralson’s later years, he moved to Texas and later to Oklahoma and Colorado. He found work as a coal miner in Colorado, however, he was killed by wild animals while hunting near Denver around 1916.