Williams, Richard (ca. 1822–unknown)

By: Paul M. Lucko

Type: Biography

Published: August 1, 1995

Richard Williams, a slave who later served in the Texas legislature, was born around 1822 in South Carolina. Williams arrived in Texas in 1856 and lived in Huntsville as a slave. He was a mechanic and minister. He was elected to the Twelfth Legislature, which met in 1870, and won a disputed election to the Texas House of Representatives for the Thirteenth Legislature in 1872. A clerical error by election officials apparently caused a delay in determining the election's outcome, and Williams did not take his seat in the Thirteenth Legislature until February 1873. He represented Walker, Grimes, and Madison counties and served on the Public Lands and Land Office Committee. He also sat on the Private Land Claims Committee in the Twelfth Legislature and joined the Radical Republican Association, organized to sustain vetoes of railroad spending bills by Governor Edmund J. Davis. In the Thirteenth Legislature Williams unsuccessfully introduced a bill to establish a normal school at Harmony in Walker County, expressed opposition to the convict lease system, and successfully sponsored a measure that authorized Walker County to levy a tax to repair the jail and courthouse. The legislature also passed Williams's bill that incorporated the Texas Wells and Irrigation Company. Williams was married and owned property valued at $1,000 in 1870.

Alwyn Barr, "Black Legislators of Reconstruction Texas," Civil War History 32 (December 1986). J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants (Dallas: Mathis, 1935; 2d ed., Austin: Jenkins, 1970). Merline Pitre, Through Many Dangers, Toils and Snares: The Black Leadership of Texas, 1868–1900 (Austin: Eakin, 1985).


  • Peoples
  • African Americans
  • Politics and Government

Time Periods:

  • Reconstruction

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Paul M. Lucko, “Williams, Richard,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed January 20, 2022, https://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/entries/williams-richard.

Published by the Texas State Historical Association.

August 1, 1995

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