Thomas Bayne was aof the Convention of 1867–1868 and a leader during Reconstruction. Bayne was born enslaved and was known as Samuel Nixon. and possessing a keen intellect, he became an assistant dentist while working at his owner’s Norfolk dental practice. His relative freedom of movement allowed him to work on the until he fled to Massachusetts in 1855. There he adopted Thomas Bayne as his new name and established his own dental practice in New Bedford. Returning to Norfolk by 1865, he began working for African American equal rights as a and an itinerant preacher. In 1867 the city’s voters elected him as one of their delegates to the convention called to rewrite the state constitution. There he became the most powerful black leader of the Republican Party’s radical faction, arguing forcefully for integrated and equal suffrage. Bayne sought a congressional seat in 1869, but a split among party candidates doomed him to defeat. He reduced his role in state politics but remained active in local elections into the 1880s.