First African Americans in Congress

February 23, 2021

Advances during the Reconstruction period following the Civil War included Black men receiving the right to vote. In 1867 over 80% of all Black men in the former Confederate states registered to vote. The gains made with Black representation in the political process were short lived as Southern states instituted new laws that limited and intimidated Black political involvement.

Pictured above are the "First Colored Senator and Representatives in the 41st and 42nd Congress of the United States." (left to right) Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi, Representatives Benjamin Turner of Alabama, Robert DeLarge of South Carolina, JosiahWalls of Florida, Jefferson Long of Georgia, Joseph Rainey and Robert B. Elliot of South Carolina. (lithograph by Currier and Ives, 1872, courtesy of the Library of Congress)