2020 Regular Session

To: Rules

By: Representative Harness

House Resolution 50


    WHEREAS, the Honorable Hiram Rhodes Revels served as the first African American in the United States Senate from February 1870, to March 1871; and

    WHEREAS, he was born free on September 27, 1827, in North Carolina during a time when slavery was still widespread and most other African-American babies were born into slavery; and

    WHEREAS, early in his career, he worked as a skilled barber, until he was moved to teach the masses the great word of the Lord which motivated him to attend seminary and become a prominent pastor ordained within the African Methodist Episcopal Church (A.M.E.); and

    WHEREAS, Hiram's natural leadership qualities became more apparent when he organized two black regiments for the Union Army during the onset of the Civil War and served as Chaplain during the siege of Vicksburg in 1863 during the Battle of Vicksburg; and

    WHEREAS, after the war, he settled in Natchez with his wife and daughters and continued his career in the clergy, became an alderman for the City of Natchez in 1868, gaining a reputation as a respected member of the community due to his keen intellect and eloquent oratorical skills; and

    WHEREAS, just one year after settling in Natchez, he won a seat in the Mississippi State Senate as a Republican and was known to be very influential with his fellow legislators especially after he gave a powerful prayer during the opening session of the Senate; and

    WHEREAS, impressed by Hiram's political savvy and ability to find common ground, Republicans unanimously voted to seat Hiram Revels as a United States Senator when the Mississippi Legislature sought to fill the remainder of the term of former United States Senator Albert Brown; and

    WHEREAS, despite many attempts to block his installment, the monumental moment in history still occurred and Revels was sworn into office on February 25, 1870, breaking the glass ceiling for African-American men in Congress; and

    WHEREAS, Revels' priorities as a United States Senator included advocacy for African-American civil rights, which motivated him to propose electing more African Americans to legislative positions, rejecting racial segregation, and encouraging education for freedmen and women in the South; and

    WHEREAS, after his Senate term ended in 1871, Revels achieved more firsts when he became the first president of Alcorn University (now Alcorn State University) in Claiborne County, Mississippi, the first land-grant institution for African Americans in the nation, and when he served as the interim Secretary of State of Mississippi in 1873; and

     WHEREAS, having traveled an uncommon path to reach the pinnacle of sustained success that has garnered him a reputation of excellence and historic prominence, Senator Revels' rise ushered in a new era of political activism for African–American legislators; and

     WHEREAS, his uncanny ability to finesse the mechanics of brokering relationships with both his political allies and adversaries is a blueprint used by those who desire to serve their constituency during partisan political times; and

     WHEREAS, Senator Hiram Rhodes Revels service on Capitol Hill in 1870 still ranks among the greatest moments in American political history and Black history, even though politics and Capitol Hill have undergone extensive changes during the past 150 years; and

     WHEREAS, recognized for his years of service in the legal arena, Senator Revels' successes are undoubtedly attributable to his immense talent and consummate professionalism which are further highlighted by the praise he received from the press for his well-crafted speeches and diplomatic approach to a tense congressional environment; and

    WHEREAS, Revels retired from his political life in 1882, but continued his religious works by ministering at local A.M.E. churches and teaching Theology at Shaw University (now Rust College) in Holly Springs until his death on January 16, 1901; and

     WHEREAS, it is the policy of the House of Representatives to appreciate our past so we can better define our future and to pay homage to an individual of Senator Revels' caliber, who served as a trailblazing pioneer, and whose contributions merit honor and respect:

    NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI, That we do hereby celebrate the historic life and legacy of the Honorable Hiram Rhodes Revels as the first African American to serve in Congress as a United States Senator.

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That copies of this resolution be furnished to the descendants of Hiram Rhodes Revels and to the members of the Capitol Press Corps.