C. C. Bowen

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Christopher C. Bowen
Christopher C. Bowen Brady-Handy.jpg
Former State Representative from South Carolina (Charleston County)
From: December 2, 1871 – March 13, 1872
Predecessor ???
Successor ???
Former U.S. Representative from South Carolina's 2nd Congressional District
From: July 20, 1868 – March 3, 1871
Predecessor William P. Miles
Successor Robert C. De Large
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Susan Dupont Petigru
(died 1875)
Mary Richardson Moses
Religion Roman Catholic[1]
Military Service
Allegiance Confederate States of America
Service/branch Confederate Army
Rank Captain
Unit Coast Guard
Battles/wars American Civil War

Christopher Columbus Bowen (January 5, 1832 – June 23, 1880) was a sheriff and politician from South Carolina known as one of the early leaders of the Republican Party in the state during Reconstruction. He served in the U.S. House from 1868 to 1871, and previously as a state representative from Charleston County.

Early life and career

Bowen was born on January 5, 1832, in Providence, Rhode Island, to Nathan Bowen and the former Nancy Hix. After attending public schools, he moved to Georgia in 1850, where he pursued agricultural interests. Bowen also studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1862, subsequently commencing practice in Charleston, South Carolina.

During the Civil War, Bowen served in the Confederate Army as a Coast Guard captain. In the following post–Civil War years, he continued law practice in Charleston for a duration.

Postbellum political career

Bowen partook in the newly formed Republican Party of South Carolina in the postbellum era, attending the state convention in May 1867 held in Charleston and becoming the first chairman of the state party's central committee. He was also a delegate to the state constitutional convention of November 1867, and the following year was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives from South Carolina's second congressional district.

Contested 1870 election

In 1870, Bowen, considered a "Scalawag" among party ranks,[note 1] was denied renomination by young black Republican Robert C. De Large, also a Confederate military veteran of the Civil War. Bowen was opposed by Republican Gov. Robert K. Scott, who backed De Large.[2] He subsequently ran in the general election as an Independent Republican[2] and narrowly lost; De Large, whose slim margin—less than 1,000 polled votes out of over 32,000 cast despite heavy backing by —was attributable to falling out of favor with the majority-black population.[3]

Although De Large was seated on March 4, 1871, in the new congressional session, Bowen contested the election results to the U.S. House of Representatives, claiming that supporters of De Large were guilty of ballot box stuffing.[2] Bowen was backed by white Republican South Carolinians while his intraparty opponent's colorful personality garnered little support for himself; black Republican congressman Robert B. Elliott criticized De Large as a "pygmy who is trying to play the part of a giant." De Large subsequently accused Bowen of bribery that prevented the House Committee on Elections, which took up the contest, from obtaining exonerating evidence.

During the dispute, Bowen's reputation was damaged by accusations of bigamy.[4] In addition, the two intraparty rivals clashed over each other's military records, both castigating their opponent for betraying the Union by serving in the Confederate military. De Large rebutted Bowen's charges, claiming that his record as "a hired servant" was purposed in avoiding "forced labor," further noting that, being denied "the obligations of an American citizen" at the time due to the effect of Dred Scott v. Sanford, the accusations were fruitless by contrast to Bowen's serving voluntarily in the Confederate cavalry and seeking "to perpetuate the vassalage to which my race had been doomed for many generations."[5]

Another black South Carolina Republican congressman, Joseph H. Rainey, urged a pause in the election dispute investigation as De Large's health faltered in mid-1872, though the committee continued in examining the case, ultimately determining that the sheer scope of abuses and irregularities rendered it impossible to determine the actual winner.[2] On January 18, 1873, the House Elections Committee declared the seat to be vacant for the remainder of the congressional session, and its findings were concurred by the full chamber.

Sheriff, state representative, Stalwart delegate, and death

Stalwart Republicans



Other members:

Related topics:

Subsequently, after his departure from Congress, Bowen served brief stints as sheriff of Charleston and as a state representative from the county.

In the 1880 U.S. presidential election, Bowen was a delegate to the Republican National Convention as a Stalwart Republican supporting the nomination of former president Ulysses S. Grant for a nonconsecutive term; the convention ultimately, due to a compromise between Blaine supporters and Half-Breeds, chose Ohio dark horse candidate James A. Garfield. New York Stalwart leader Thomas C. Platt in his autobiography listed Bowen among the "Old Three Hundred and Six Guard" who faithfully stayed true to Grant to the bitter end.[6]

Bowen died at New York City on June 23, 1880, and is interred at St. Lawrence Cemetery in Charleston.


  1. Index to Politicians: Bowen. The Political Graveyard. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 United States Congress (2008). Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007, pp. 74–75. Google Books. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  3. Neumann, Caryn E. (May 17, 2016). DeLarge, Robert Carlos. South Carolina Encyclopedia. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  4. June 15, 1871. The Case of C. C. Bowen. The New York Times. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  5. DE LARGE, Robert Carlos. US House of Representatives: History, Art & Archives. Retrieved May 28, 2023.
  6. Platt, Thomas C. (1910). The Autobiography of Thomas Collier Platt, pp. 118–23. Google Books. Retrieved May 28, 2023.


  1. This was despite his early life in the Northeast rather than as a native-born Southerner, though only Northern Republican migrants in the postbellum year are typically designated carpetbaggers, as Bowen moved to the South in the antebellum era.

External links

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at Find a Grave