In 1870, Hiram R. Revels of Mississippi became the first African American to be elected to U.S. Senate during the Reconstruction era. Hiram R. Revels (September 1827 – January 1901) was a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), a Republican politician, and college administrator. Born free in North Carolina, he later lived and worked in Ohio, where he voted before the Civil War. During the American Civil War, Revels had helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops and served as a chaplain.

While in the Senate (February 1870 – March 1871), Revels advocated compromise and moderation. He vigorously supported racial equality and worked to reassure his fellow senators that African Americans would work and help to make America a very great country. After serving in the Senate, Revels returned to Mississippi. He was the first president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Alcorn State University).

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