Hiram Revels was the first African American elected into either house of Congress, representing Mississippi in the Senate from 1870-1871. During the Civil War he served as a chaplain in the Army and helped organize two regiments of the United States Colored Troops.

I first came across his name while doing research on the Reconstruction and was particularly inspired by his story. In many ways, his struggle to be confirmed to the Senate was one of the last battles of the Civil War. As some one who loves to tell a story, it would be my honor to share his with you, however it is a bit too lengthy for today’s post.

Instead, as we approach another election year, I invoke the name of Hiram Revels to remind you that he is one of only ten African Americans to ever sit in the Senate. Of the ten, three are from Illinois, two are from Mississippi, two from Massachusetts, and one each from California, New Jersey, and South Carolina. Conversely there are twenty-two states that have never elected an African American to congress, which include: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, and Wyoming.