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Book examines ignored period of history

Book examines ignored period of history

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090819 cain book cover

TAKOMA PARK, Md. -- Dr. Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s documentary, “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” reintroduced America to an overlooked period of American history. A new book, “Virtue of Cain: From Slave to Senator-Biography of Lawrence Cain,” examines the short but extraordinary life of a prominent but forgotten member of the majority black South Carolina legislature during Reconstruction.

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Lawrence Cain was a slave and the biological son of Dr. Sampson V. Cain, the master of ceremonies at the banquet honoring Rep. Preston Brooks’ caning of Sen. Charles Sumner. Lawrence Cain was a body servant to a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. He was shot at Appomattox and was present when Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant on April 12, 1865. Upon returning to Edgefield, South Carolina, Cain opened the first black school in the county in 1866. He served as registrar of Edgefield County in 1867, and as commissioner of elections in 1868. Cain began his two terms as a state representative in 1868. He was a census enumerator in 1870. That same year, he also served as warden for Edgefield County and school commissioner of Edgefield County. In 1872, he became a state senator. The plan that restored Southern whites to power in 1876 was “the Edgefield Plan,” where Democrats used force and violence to fraudulently wrestle the election from Lawrence Cain and the Republicans.

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Dr. Orville Vernon Burton, historian and author of “Age of Lincoln,” said, “Lawrence Cain is a true American hero, and his is a story to be celebrated. In the American South where statues of Confederate generals and white supremacists are memorialized in both books and across the landscape, Lawrence Cain provides an alternative role model to balance the overwhelming Civil War and Reconstruction mythology that has dominated our understanding of those periods in the American South.”

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“As we mark the sesquicentennial of Reconstruction, the era remains a challenge because there are few other periods in American history where such a wide gap exists between scholarly understanding and public consciousness," Burton added. "‘Virtue of Cain’ helps set the record straight and should be read by the public as well as by professional historians.”

This new book may be purchased at Amazon or directly from the author or the publisher, Rocky Pond Press (

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About the author

Kevin M. Cherry Sr., the great-great grandson of Lawrence Cain, worked in the high-tech industry for 30 years. He left Microsoft after 20 years in early 2018 and began his journey to research the facts and uncover the family truth about his paternal ancestor. His inaugural book provides the first comprehensive, chronological account of Sen. Lawrence Cain’s life and times.


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