Hiram Revels, a former barber and preacher, becomes the only Black person in congress.
1870 (Feb 25)
Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi took Jefferson Davis's former seat in the U.S. senate, becoming the only Black American in congress. Revels, a former barber and preacher, was a reluctant politician. It is said that his fervent prayer before the Mississippi legislature in 1870 persuaded many to vote for him. Many democrats opposed his selection to the senate and argued vainly that he could not legally be seated, not having been a citizen before the civil war. (Constitutionally, senators must be U.S. citizens for at least nine years). After retiring from politics, leaving an undistinguished legislative record behind him, Revels became president of Alcorn College for Negroes in Mississippi.