On 25 Feb 1870, Hiram Rhoades Revels, a Republican from Natchez, Mississippi, was sworn into the US Senate, becoming the first African American ever to sit in Congress.
During the Civil War, Revels, a college-educated minister, helped form African American army regiments for the Union cause, started a school for freed men, and served as a chaplain for the Union army. Posted to Mississippi, Revels remained in the former Confederate state after the war and entered into Reconstruction-era Southern politics.
After the war the South was divided into five military districts and suffrage was granted to all male citizens, regardless of race. A politically mobilized African American community joined with white allies in the Southern states to elect the Republican Party to power, which in turn brought about radical changes across the South. By 1870, all the former Confederate states had been readmitted to the Union, and most were controlled by the Republican Party, thanks in large part to the support of African American voters.
On 20 Jan 1870, Revels was elected by the Mississippi legislature to fill the Senate seat once held by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederacy, and on February 25, he was sworn in.