John Mercer Langston was born on December 14, 1829, in Louisa County, Virginia. In 1854, Langston became the first African-American lawyer in Ohio. In 1888, he became the first African American to win a congressional election in the state of Virginia, having run as a Republican candidate for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives. Langston served in Congress from 1890 to 1891. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1897.