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John Willis Menard (April 3, 1838 – October 8, 1893) was the first African American elected to the United States Congress. Menard was born in Kaskaskia, Illinois, to parents of Louisiana Creole descent from New Orleans who were free people of color. He may have been related to Michel Branamour Menard, a French-Canadian fur trader and a founder of Galveston, Texas. John Menard attended school in Sparta, Illinois, and Iberia College[1] in Iberia, Ohio. During the Civil War he worked as a clerk in the Department of the Interior under President Abraham Lincoln. He was sent to British Honduras in 1863 to investigate a proposed colony for newly freed slaves. [2] After the war he settled in New Orleans. In an 1868 special election to fill the unexpired term of James Mann (who had died in office), Menard, a Republican, was elected to represent Louisiana's 2nd congressional district. He was denied the seat on the basis of an election challenge by the loser, Caleb S. Hunt.[3] After hearing the arguments from both candidates, the House decided to seat neither man, but in the process Menard became the first African American to address the chamber from the lectern. Menard moved to Florida, where he served in the Florida House of Representatives in 1874. That same year he was he was elected as justice of the peace for Duval County and again in 1877. He was a poet, the author of Lays in Summer Lands (1879). Menard was also the editor of the Florida News and the Southern Leader from 1882 to 1888. He died in the District of Columbia. His daughter, Alice Menard, married Thomas Van Renssalaer Gibbs, the son of Jonathan Clarkson Gibbs. References ^ See Ohio Central College and Muskingum College. ^ Phillip W. Magness and Sebastian N. Page, Colonization after Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, [1] p. 43 ^ A Brief Biography of John Willis Menard from Southern University's John B. Cade Library Canter Brown, Jr. Florida's Black Public Officials, 1867-1924. Tuscaloosa and London: The University of Alabama Press, 1998. Menard, John Willis. (2006), Encyclopædia Britannica, Retrieved October 19, 2006, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online: Persondata Name Menard, John Willis Alternative names Short description Date of birth 1838 Place of birth Date of death 1893 Place of death This Illinois-related article is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.v · d · e This article about a Louisiana politician is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.v · d · e This article about a Florida politician is a stub. You can help Wikipedia by expanding it.v · d · e