The Republican Women Of Frederick County Salutes: Hiram Rhodes Revels, America’s First African American United States Senator

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Guest Columnist: Angela McIntosh

It is likely that many, if not most Americans, assume no African American ever held high public office until Barbara Jordan was elected to Congress in 1972. It is also likely that most Americans assume Jordan to be the first African American from the South elected to hold high office in the Federal government. Both of these assumptions are incorrect.

In 1869,[1] just four years after the conclusion of America’s Civil War, the southern State of Mississippi elected Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels (1822 -1901) to Washington, D.C. as the first African American to represent Mississippi at the United States Senate. In fact, Revels holds the distinction of being the first African American to be elected to the Senate from any State.

Prior to Revels’ history-making appointment as United States Senator, he had been ordained as a minister and spent time traveling extensively to Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Kansas, to minister to African American congregations.

After the Civil War broke out, Revels served in the Union Army by helping to raise three regiments of African American troops and also as a chaplain.

At the conclusion of Revels’ service as a U.S. Senator in 1871, he became president of Alcorn College, Mississippi’s first college for African American students.  In 1873, he also served as Mississippi’s ad interim Secretary of State.[2]

A man of devout faith, Revels continued to be active in ministerial duties during his period of public service. On January 16, 1901, he died while attending a church conference in Aberdeen, Mississippi.

During Black History Month 2020, the Republican Women of Frederick County are pleased to salute fellow Republican Hiram Rhodes Revels, the first African American to be elected to the United States Senate.

The Republican Women of Frederick County (RWFC) are celebrating our 100th birthday in 2020. Bertha Trail of Frederick, MD founded the RWFC in September 1920, shortly after the passage of women’s suffrage . We are proud to have the distinction of being the oldest continuously running Republican women’s club in the nation. We invite you to visit and like our Facebook page. Please direct any membership questions to Cynthia Houser at the following email address: Cynthiahouser@gmail.com; or phone 301-529-5040.

[1] https://wallbuilders.com/black-history-issue-2001/.

[2] Steven Case, 2009, https://www.ncpedia.org/biography/revels.

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