June 13, 1868
|Oscar J. Dunn, a freedman, became lieutenant
governor of Louisiana. At that time, it was the highest elective office
ever held by a black American.
Dunn was born in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1826. He worked as an apprentice to a plasterer and house painter until he was fifteen, when he escaped. During the Civil War, he served as a captain in the Union Army.
After the war, Dunn took a job with the Freedman's Bureau back in his hometown of New Orleans. He was also one of the forty-nine blacks who attended the Louisiana Constitutional Convention of 1867-1868. Later, as lieutenant governor, he led the state senate and signed some of the laws that grew out of the new state constitution. In 1871, Dunn became chairman of the Republican State Convention. A skillful politician, he was also mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or U.S. senator. But Dunn died later that same year before such plans could take shape.
Besides Dunn, two other blacks, C. C. Antoine and P. B. S. Pinchback, served as lieutenant governors of Louisiana. Blacks served as Reconstruction lieutenant governors in Mississippi and South Carolina as well.