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Under God

Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Bethany House
Released: October 2004
ISBN 0764200098

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First African Americans in Congress

By tobyMac and Michael Tait – With the end of the Civil War and the enacting of the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments came the guarantee of civil rights and voting privileges for all former slaves. The sudden addition of millions of black voters resulted in a number of African Americans being voted into Congress.

The first African American elected to the U.S. Senate was Hiram Rhodes Revels, who in 1869 filled the seat vacated by Confederate President Jefferson Davis.

Also in 1869, fellow Republican Joseph H. Rainey became the first black member of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Others soon followed, but they were not without opposition. For example, Robert Brown Elliott, elected to the U.S. House in 1871, faced off in a debate over a civil rights bill. After giving a most eloquent and effective speech, his opponents, as reported in the American Methodist Episcopal Church Review, "denied his authorship . . . upon the general principle that the Negro, of himself, could accomplish nothing of literary excellence."

Others among the first African Americans elected to Congress included Benjamin S. Turner, Josiah T. Walls, Robert C. DeLarge, and Jefferson H. Long.

Blacks achieved numerous political firsts, and so great were their gains that in 1866 the Ku Klux Klan was formed. Among the KKK's declared purposes was the regaining of white Democratic control in elections.

In the history of Congress, 105 black Americans have been elected — 101 to the House and four to the Senate.

Excerpted from:
Under God by tobyMac and Michael Tait (with WallBuilders)
Copyright © 2004; ISBN 0764200098
Published by Bethany House Publishers
Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.


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