Though several records claim that DeLarge was born into slavery, it is more likely that his parents were free blacks who owned slaves. This peculiar and paradoxical designation surely inspired the dual sensibilities that later characterized his political and social life as both an advocate for universal black enfranchisement and a member of South Carolina's propertied, often exclusionist, mulatto elite. Fortunate to receive the benefits of the prewar education available to free black children, DeLarge attended primary school in North Carolina and Wood High School in Charleston. For a short time he was employed as a tailor and farmer, and some sources indicate that he was also a part-time barber. During the Civil War, he amassed some money as an employee of the Confederate navy, a curious affiliation in light of his Republican activities during Reconstruction. He later donated most of his Civil War earnings to the state Republican party. By the time he became active in Reconstruction politics, DeLarge was a citizen of considerable standing in Charleston, as indicated both by his net worth of $6,650 in the 1870 census and his membership in the Brown Fellowship Society, a fraternal and charitable association founded in 1870 that admitted only mulattoes.
Timothy P. McCarthy, "DeLarge, Robert Carlos," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/04/04-00309.html.
DE LARGE, Robert Carlos, a Representative from South Carolina; born in Aiken, S.C., March 15, 1842; received such an education as was then attainable and was graduated from Wood High School; engaged in agricultural pursuits; delegate to the State constitutional convention in 1868; member of the State house of representatives 1868-1870; was one of the State commissioners of the sinking fund; elected State land commissioner in 1870 and served until elected to Congress; presented credentials as a Republican Member-elect to the Forty-second Congress and served from March 4, 1871, until January 24, 1873, when the seat was declared vacant, the election having been contested by Christopher C. Bowen; local magistrate until his death in Charleston, S.C., February 14, 1874; interment in Brown Fellowship Graveyard.
"De Large, Robert Carlos," Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=D000208.