Hon. H. R. Revels

February 19, 1870, page 116

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United States Senator from Mississippi

On this page will be found the portrait of Hon. H. R. Revels Senator elect from Mississippi. Mr. Revels was born in North Carolina, in 1822, of free colored parents. He was educated at a Quaker Seminary in Indiana, and became a Methodist minister. At the breaking out of the war he was settled in Baltimore, and from that time took an active part in the management of freedmen's affairs. In 1864 he went to Vicksburg, in pursuance of this mission, and assisted in the organization of schools and churches among the liberated slaves. He passed the next two years in Kansas and Missouri, preaching and lecturing on moral and religious subjects; returned to Mississippi the following year, and has since resided in Natchez. He is presiding elder of his Church for the southern portion of the State. Since July last he has been a member of the City Council, and has served in that capacity with credit. A short time since he was elected to the State Senate by a handsome majority, and has now been selected by the Legislature as a proper man to represent the State in the Senate of the United States.

Mr. Revels is a tall, portly man, of light complexion; has benevolent features, a pleasant voice, and cultivated manners. He is thoroughly respected by his own people, and by the whites.

During Reconstruction, black men were elected to political office for the first time. They served at the local, state, and national level, although at a ratio below that of the black percentage of the population.

In 1870 the Reverend Hiram Revels of Mississippi, a Republican, became the first black person elected to the U.S. Senate. He served for only one year. He then became the first president of Alcorn University, the first land-grant college for black students. In addition to Revels, fifteen black men served in the House of Representatives during the Reconstruction era.

It would be nearly 100 years until the next black, Republican Edward Brooke of Massachusetts, was elected to the U.S. Senate (serving 1967-1979). The first black Democrat and woman elected to the U.S. Senate was Carol Moseley-Braun (serving 1993-1999).


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