Hiram Revels

Hiram Revels

Guess who filled the Senate seat formerly occupied by Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy? A black man! Hiram Revels was the first African-American member of the United States Senate.

Revels devoted his life to improving the spiritual, educational, and political lives of his fellow African-Americans. He was born in North Carolina to free parents of African and Croatan Indian heritage. Revels was apprenticed to his brother, a barber, at age sixteen. But he left the barbershop for the classroom. He attended several schools before enrolling in Knox College.

He was ordained a minister of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and traveled through several states ministering to black churches. He settled in Baltimore in 1860. There he pastored a church, helped recruit two black regiments, and helped lead a school for African-Americans. He also helped establish a school for freedmen in St. Louis before moving to Mississippi in 1866.

In Mississippi, he worked with the Freedmen's Bureau to create schools for African American children. Both blacks and whites respected Revels and elected him to important jobs. He served as an alderman and state senator. Legislators chose him to fill the unexpired term of former Confederate president Jefferson Davis in the United States Senate from 1870-1871. Revels later served as president of Alcorn College, Mississippi's first college for African-American students.

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