George T. Ruby was the most widely known of the first generation of black politicians in Texas, establishing during the Reconstruction both a local and national reputation as a strident advocate of equal rights. Born in New York City and reared in Maine, Ruby demonstrated his desire to secure a better place for African Americans at an early age. He migrated to Haiti shortly after graduating from high school as part of an effort to colonize American blacks in a world where their futures were not limited by their race. During the Civil War he moved to Louisiana, where he worked as a teacher among the freedmen. In 1867 he moved to Texas, where he again taught school as an employee of the Freedmen’s Bureau.
Ruby became involved in politics in Texas with the beginning of Congressional Reconstruction in 1867. As an agent of the Loyal League, he became a major force in organizing blacks to vote, and his connections allowed him to run successfully for the 1868 Constitutional Convention. Elected president of the Loyal League in 1868, Ruby used his position to help elect Edmund J. Davis governor in 1869 and also to go to the state senate from Galveston. In the senate he supported the broader agenda of the Republican governor and in return secured support for his own efforts to ensure the protection of basic civil rights for African Americans. At the same time, he established connections with black politicians nationally.
Ruby headed the Texas Republican Party in its unsuccessful efforts at retaining power in 1873. Seeing no future for himself when the Democrats returned to power, Ruby returned to Louisiana, where he spent his later years as a newspaper editor and an advocate of the Exodus, a movement that advocated the removal of blacks from the South and their resettlement in the Midwest. From youth to his death in 1882, Ruby showed himself to be a principled politician committed to bettering the place of African Americans in white America.
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Published by Texas Christian University Press