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8 Facts About the Life of Benjamin Franklin Randolph: A Black Senator Who Was Assassinated During Reconstruction

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His Early Life 

Benjamin F. Randolph (1820 – October 16, 1868) was born free in Kentucky and moved to Ohio where he would go on to start his career. As a free Black man, Randolph was able to earn an education at Oberlin College in 1854 -1857 while other Black people were not allowed to read. While there, he learned the classics. Randolph went on to become one of the first Black senators in American history. In addition to his life in politics, he was a minister and educator in the Black community.


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Life as a Soldier

By 1863, Randolph served in the 26th Regiment Infantry U.S. Colored Troops at Rikers Island.  Randolph was a Chaplin responsible for healing the wounded. The 26th fought in the Battle of John’s Island, the Battle of Honey Hill, and the Battle of Tulifinny. These battles took place in South Carolina where Randolph would go into politics.

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