The American Journey © 2007

Chapter 17: Reconstruction and Its Aftermath

Student Web Activity

"First African American Members of Congress"

In this chapter you have read about the rebuilding of the South and the work of bringing the nation together. This period also saw changes in the lives of African Americans. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. The Freedmen's Bureau provided food, medical services, and schools to many of the newly freed African Americans. For the first time African American men were allowed to vote and hold elected office. In this activity you will take a closer look at the first African American members of the United States Congress.

Destination Title: United States Senate

Note: Clicking on the link above will launch a new browser window.
Need help using your browser for this activity? Click here for tips.

Start at the United States Senate home page.

  • Click on Art & History.
  • Under Related Links: History on the right side of the screen click on Photographic Collection.
  • Under Photo Exhibits click on and read about African American Senators.
  • Click on Historical Minutes Essays on the left of the screen.
  • Click on War and Reconstruction.
  • Scroll down to First African American Senator.
  • Click on and read about First African American Senator.

After reading the entries answer the following questions.

When did African Americans receive their first opportunity to serve in Congress?
How many African Americans have served as United States senators?
Looking at the dates when African Americans served as senators, what do you find surprising?
As a senator, how did Hiram Revels help the African American cause?
Write a newspaper story describing Hiram Revels and his term in Congress.
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