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    You are in: Home / Community Forums / Community Cafe / On This Day, 143 Years Ago
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    On This Day, 143 Years Ago

    Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:43 pm
    Forum Host

    Hiram R. Revels, First Black Senator, And Representatives

    The above photo is a lithograph of the first African-American senator and representatives to serve the U.S. Congress. On February 25, 1870, exactly 143 years ago today, Hiram R. Revels was sworn into the U.S. Senate, making him the first black person to ever sit in Congress.

    After the Reconstruction Act of 1867 was passed by a majority-Republican Congress, the South was divided into five military districts and all men, regardless of race were granted voting rights. Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature, and seven black representatives were later elected for states like Alabama, South Carolina, Florida and Georgia thanks, in large part, to the support of African American voters.

    Revels and some 15 other black men served in Congress during Reconstruction, and more than 600 served in state legislatures, while hundreds held local offices.

    His appearance caused a HUGE political furor in post-Civil War Washington. When Mr. Revels arrived in Washington, DC, Southern Democrats opposed seating him in the Senate. For the two days of debate, the Senate galleries were packed with spectators at this historic event. The Democrats based their opposition on the 1857 Dred Scott Decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that people of African ancestry were not and could not be citizens. They argued that no black man was a citizen before the 14th Amendment was ratified in 1868, and thus Revels could not satisfy the requirement for nine years' prior citizenship.

    Mr. Revels advocated compromise and moderation. He vigorously supported racial equality and worked to reassure senators about the capability of blacks. In his maiden speech to the Senate on March 16, 1870, he argued for the reinstatement of the black legislators of the Georgia General Assembly, who had been illegally ousted by white Democratic Party representatives. He said, "I maintain that the past record of my race is a true index of the feelings which today animate them. They aim not to elevate themselves by sacrificing one single interest of their white fellow citizens."
    K9 Owned
    Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:50 pm
    Forum Host
    Gosh what a hard row to hoe!
    Stella Mae
    Tue Feb 26, 2013 2:01 pm Groupie
    Nothing great is ever accomplished without some narrow little factions trying to prevent it or destroy it. We see it in politics all around us, today, as well. I am proud of this man and his determination in an era that was fraught with intolerance and fear, and I can only hope that we see more and more of this type of brave individual no matter his/her race or creed.
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