Hiram Rhodes Revels was born on the 27th of September 1822 in Fayetteville (North Carolina). He was born as a free child, meaning that his parents were not slaves. His father (a clergyman) was of the African descent while his mother was of the White descent; a Scottish to be precise. His early education was problematic given that during that time, it was illegal to educate Black children and this forced him to attend a school which was taught by a Black woman who was also free.

During his early years, he mixed education with work, where he worked as a barber for some time (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1901). After completing his education in 1844, Revels joined the Quaker Seminary as well as the Darke Seminary (for Blacks). After some training in the seminary, he was ordained as a pastor of the African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Indiana in 1845 where he served till 1849 when he was elected as an elder during a conference of the church leaders. At this point in time, he got married to a free Black lady from Ohio called Phoebe Bass with whom they were later to be blessed with six daughters (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1901).

Between 1850 and 1853, Revels concentrated on evangelical work taking the gospel to various places including Tennessee, Kansas, Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana. He also served as a pastor of the AME in Missouri in 1853, where he preached the gospel to fellow Blacks (who were not free) and their masters as well. Despite his cautious approach (not to incite blacks) in his gospel, he earned himself an imprisonment in 1854 where he was accused of extending the privilege of gospel to the Blacks who were slaves. He was released in 1855. Upon his release from prison, he joined his brother Willis to spread the gospel in Baltimore, where he also became a principal of a school before joining the Knox College in Illinois from 1855 to 1857 courtesy of a scholarship by well-wishers. By this time, he had become very influential and popular especially among the Blacks (Thompson & Hiram, 1982). His popularity and influence made him act as a chaplain of Blacks in Vicksburg (Mississippi) in the 1861 civil war. Between 1863 and 1866, he continued with evangelical work taking the gospel to Kentucky, Louisiana, New Orleans, Louisville and Natchez.

His political career began in 1868 when he was elected an elder man in Natchez. This was followed by his election (through the Republican party ) by the legislature in 1869 by a vote of 81 to 15 to fill the senate seat in Mississippi which had been left vacant following the withdrawal from the Senate by the then senator Albert Brown in 1861. He thus became the first Black senator to seat in the United States senate. However, his political career was not a result of his own initiative but rather he was encouraged by John Lynch to contest for the senator seat. His reluctance to join politics was also caused by the fear that once he joined politics, his religious career was to be compromised. He was a target of the Republican Party given that very few free Blacks had attained education by then and therefore, his election was very crucial to the Republican Party since he was to marshal its support especially among the Blacks after the civil war (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1901). Upon his election to the U.S senate, he was a moderator and a champion of compromise especially between those who supported the continuation of slavery and those who supported its abolishment.

He however tried as much as possible to convince the White senators that the Blacks had a lot of potential and pleaded with them not to allow racial prejudices make them despise the Blacks in the leadership of the post war nation (Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1901). His eloquence in speech could not escape the attention of many senators. He was a champion of justice and equality before the law for both Whites and Blacks. This made him urge the senate to intervene for the reinstatement of Black legislators who had been ousted form the Georgia general assembly by their White counterparts as I quote his words in his eloquent address to the senate in march 1870 ‘’I maintain that the past record of my race is a true index of the feelings which today animate them.

They aim not to elevate themselves by sacrificing one single interest of their white fellow citizens” (Summer, 1994. pp.297–303). During his tenure as a senator, he served in the committees of labor and education as well as the committee on the District of Columbia. When most of his fellow Republicans were passionate about punishing those senators who supported confederacy, Revels was for the view that amnesty, restoration of full citizenship for all and reconciliation were more crucial than punishment. He was opposed to the idea of keeping many schools in Washington segregated along racial lines. He also campaigned for the employment of Blacks in the Washington Navy Yard, which they had been denied due to their color (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2003).

He served as senator until March 3, 1871, after which he went back to Mississippi where he became the president of Alcorn University. This was after he turned down several appointments by the then U.S President Ulysses Grant, an indication that he had had enough of politics. He maintained a low profile in politics till his death due to stroke in 1901 in Mississippi (Mississippi Department of Archives and History, 2003).

Romualdo Pacheco

Romualdo Pacheco was born on 31st October 1831 in Santa Barbara, California. His father was Romualdo Pacheco, who was a captain while his mother was Ramona Carrillo de Pacheco.

His father however died when Romualdo Pacheco was only five weeks old, leaving him with his mother, who later got married to a Scottish captain called John Wilson who send Romualdo Pacheco junior to school at Hawaii till he was 12 years old when he came back to California and was apprenticed to a seaman agent where he learned seamanship for a period of three years. Apart from being a seaman, he was also a horseman who enjoyed ranching as well as mining of gold in California (Ramirez, 1974). When he was only 15 years and still doing seamanship, their vessel was hijacked by American war officials during the 1846 American versus Mexico war, where he was forced to take an oath to become a US citizen following the annexation of California from Mexico in the wake of the war between the two countries. Romualdo Pacheco’s political career began in 1853 when he was elected as judge of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court especially due to his fluency in both English and Spanish (Ramirez, 1974). He entered politics proper in 1857 when he was elected to the senate through the Democratic party, where he served for two consecutive terms till 1863 following which he was appointed the California State treasurer (to replace Delos Ashley), a position he held till 1867 when he was replaced by Antonio Coronel.

From 1871 to 1875, he served as a Lieutenant governor for California and from February 1875, to December 1875, he served in the position of governor of California (to succeed Newton Booth), a position he held till he was replaced by William Irwin. During his tenure as a governor for California, he was a champion of higher education and in this regard, he played a crucial role in the establishment of two institutions of higher learning namely the State Normal School (in San Francisco) and the California University (Ramirez, 1974). In November 1876, he was elected to the House of Representatives on a Republican ticket but his election was contested by his competitor Mr. Peter Wigginton, which saw him lose the election following a decision by the House Committee on Elections to refuse his election certificate alleging fraud in 1878. In September 1879, he was again reelected to the House of Representatives, a position he held till March 1883. During his tenor in the House of Representatives, he served in two crucial committees namely the committee probing the Death of President Garfield and the committee on Land Claims (Genini & Hitchman, 1985). Apart from holding political positions, Romualdo Pacheco also served as a diplomat in various countries upon his retirement from active politics. These countries include Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

Throughout his political and diplomatic career, Romualdo Pacheco, was a believer in equality of all races. This was especially due to the fact that he came from the Hispanic race, which was considered as a minority in the United States together with the Blacks (Genini & Hitchman, 1985). He strongly agitated for equal opportunities for all races in education and employment. He was also one of the early proponents of abolishment of slavery, arguing that it was anti-human. His views on slavery were triggered by his conversion to an American by force, and he believed that people were not supposed to be forced into being or doing what they did not want (Nicholson, 1990). He was also a strong supporter of the Republican Party and won the confidence of both Anglos and the Californians who had just been converted to Americans.

He brought a lot of influence for the Republican Party after the reconstruction. His support was very crucial to the Republican Party because it was in dire need of marshaling the support of as many senators to its side as possible, mainly to push for the abolishment of slave trade (Nicholson, 1990). He was campaigning on a platform of bringing change to the citizens of California, especially in regard to their rights and privileges as minorities. His major achievement was that he was the first Hispanic Governor in California. This was an achievement given the partisan politics of the time, which did not allow for a person from the minority groups to hold such a position (Ivan, 2006). He was however not as popular among the electorate as he perceived himself to be.

In fact, he was at some point believed to have rigged an election (as explained earlier) which was later nullified. He did not have the charisma to effectively influence people and rally them behind a certain leader, party or policy. Even when he served in various committees, he was not as radical as many of his Republican counterparts. Most of his political opportunities were surrounded by controversies. Similarly, after his retirement from active politics, he benefited from various appointments to represent the United States as an envoy, a post he served with a lot of conservativeness. After serving the U.

S as an envoy to different countries, he went back to California where he eventually died in Oakland in January 1899 (Genini & Hitchman, 1985).


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. (1901).

“Revels, Hiram Rhodes,”, 1774–Present” .Retrieved on September 22nd, 2011 from http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=R000166.

Genini, R., & Hitchman, R.(1985). Romualdo Pacheco: A Californio in Two Eras.

San Francisco: The Book Club of California. Ivan,A.C.(2006).100 Hispanics you should know. New York, NY: Libraries Unlimited. Mississippi Department of Archives and History.

(2003). (Jackson, MS) Papers: In the Congressmen’s Files, 1815–1979. Nicholson ,A.(1990).Romualdo Pacheco’s California!: The Mexican-American who won. San Luis Obispo: California Heritage Pub. Associates. Ramirez, A.

(1974). A brief biography of the man who became the twelfth governor of California in 1875, the first native Californian to hold that office. San Francisco: San Francisco Press . Summer.( 1994). Hiram Rhodes Revels, 1827–1901: A Reappraisal.

The Journal of Negro History 79: pp.297–303. Thompson, J. E. & Hiram R.

R. (1982). A Biography1827–1901.New York: Arno Press.


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