This Day in Black History: Feb. 25, 1870

Hiram Rhodes Revels took oath as the first African-American to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Posted: 02/25/2013 08:00 AM EST

(Photo: Courtesy wikicommons)

Hiram Rhodes Revels broke a color barrier in U.S. government when he became the first African-American senator on Feb. 25, 1870. Revels moved to Mississippi after the Civil War and was elected to one of the state's vacant U.S. Senate seats before they rejoined the Union. 

Revels' credentials were not welcomed at first by some members of the Senate. They falsely claimed he had not been a citizen for the nine years required of all senators, and that Blacks were granted citizenship only four years earlier through the 1866 Civil Rights Act. But Revels was born to freed Blacks and was a registered voter in Ohio, many years before.

Revels also spoke out against a provision in legislation re-admitting Georgia to the Union, which would block Blacks from taking office in the state.

Revels' term ended on March 3, 1871. He went on to be president of Alcorn College in Mississippi. 

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