The First Colored Senator and Representatives
Created circa 1872 by the Currier & Ives Lithography Company, “The First Colored Senator and Representatives” is a combined portrait of the African-Americans that were elected to serve in Congress following the Civil War. They represented the southern states of Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, and South Carolina. During the early part of the Reconstruction Era, there were 17 African-Americans serving in Congress (2 Senators and 15 Representatives) starting with Hiram Rhoades Revels, who was first elected in 1870 to fill the vacant Senate seat for Mississippi.
Some may be surprised by the title of this image. The image is a snapshot in time. Although today, we would not use the term “colored” to describe these political leaders, during this time period this term was used. Looking back at this image gives us the opportunity not only to see the great advances celebrated by the presence of these African-Americans in Congress, but also to consider how things have continued to change since then.
From left to right:
Senator Hiram Rhoades Revels, (27 Sep 1822 - 16 Jan 1901)
A freeman and Methodist preacher, Revels became the first African-American to serve in the Congress as a Senator after filling the vacant seat for Mississippi.
Congressman Benjamin Sterling Turner, (17 Mar 1825 - 21 Mar 1894)
A former slave and self-made businessman, Turner was the first African-American representative from the state of Alabama. During his tenure, he focused on restoring peace and repairing economic damage to the war-torn South.
Congressman Robert Carlos De Large, (15 Mar 1842 - 14 Feb 1874)
De Large was a former slave and tailor who represented the state of South Carolina. He supported a bill that would provide amnesty to Confederates but had strong feelings that loyal black and white southerners should be protected from terror and prosecution.
Congressman Josiah Thomas Walls, (30 Dec 1842 - 15 May 1905)
A former slave and sawmill worker, Walls became the first African-American to represent the state of Florida after fighting many political battles. He spent a lot of his terms fighting to prove that he belonged in Congress.
Congressman Jefferson Franklin Long, (3 Mar 1836 - 5 Feb 1900)
Like Robert Carlos De Large, Long was a former slave and a trained tailor. He taught himself to read and write, and represented Georgia in Congress. He only served in Congress for three months but during that time he was the first African-American to speak on the House floor in objection to the Amnesty bill.
Congressman Joseph Hayne Rainey, (21 Jun 1832 - 1 Aug 1887)
A former slave and barber, Rainey was the representative of South Carolina during Reconstruction. He is known as the first African-American to serve in the House of Representatives, the first African-American Speaker of the House, and the longest serving African-American lawmaker during Reconstruction.
Congressman Robert Brown Elliott, (11 Aug 1842 - 9 Aug 1884)
Elliott was a freeman and an associate editor for the South Carolina Leader who represented South Carolina in the Congress. He was a great orator, had a photographic memory, and dazzled most observers. During his tenure, he fought for civil rights.
This collection represents the hope of the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments for the former slaves and freedmen. It was the beginning of the Constitution living up to its promise for all of its citizens. Even though the dream was deferred this combined portrait is a record of a proud moment of real progress.
Images of Liberty and Power
- “New” Socialist Ideas in the 1848 Revolution
- A Monument to Frédéric Bastiat (1878)
- Abraham Lincoln as the “Federal Phoenix” (1864)
- Adam Smith and J.B. Say on the Division of Labour
- Algernon Sidney (1622-1683) and the Thomas Hollis Library of Liberty
- Althusius’s Schema for Politica
- Amagi Symbol: Liberty Fund’s Logo
- Ancient Romans
- Art of the Levellers
- Bach, Music, and Liberty
- Bentham’s Panopticon
- Biblical Figures
- Blackstone on Consanguity and Descent
- Blake, William: An Introduction
- Brueghel, Taxes, and the Numeration of the People of Bethlehem (1566)
- Caricature of Richard Cromwell
- Cato and Republican Liberty
- Chaucer’s Astrolabe
- Cobden and the Anti-Corn Law League
- Coke’s Crest and Motto
- Coke’s splendid lineage
- Darwin’s diagram showing descent
- Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen
- Emancipation Proclamation
- Encyclopedic Liberty and Industry
- Engraving of John Toland
- Eugène Delacroix on Press Censorship during the Restoration (1814-1822)
- Frederick Douglass and abolition
- Grotius on War and Peace
- Hobbes' Leviathan
- Images of the British Abolitionist Movement
- Jacques Callot, Hugo Grotius, and the Miseries of War in the 17th Century
- James Gillray on War and Taxes during the War against Napoleon
- Liberty slaying the Monsters of Tyranny and Oppression
- Lilburne quoting Coke on English Liberties at his treason trial (1649)
- Ludwig von Mises on Rationing in WW2
- Mises on Gresham’s Law and Ancient Greek Silver Coins
- Mises on Rationing and Price Controls in WW2
- Monuments to Free Trade: Bastiat and Cobden
- New Picture of Tocqueville in 1848
- New Playing Cards for the French Republic (1793-94)
- Ngrams and the Changing Vocabulary of Class Analysis in 19th Century Classical Liberal Thought
- Presidents Day and the Apotheosis of Washington
- Pufendorf and the Geometry of Morality
- Representative Women: An Image of Several Suffragists (1870)
- Roman Virtues
- Samuel warns the Israelites of the Dangers of Kings
- Shaftesbury’s Illustrations
- Shaftesbury’s Illustrations for Characteristicks (1732)
- The Divine Right of Kings or Regal Tyranny? (Hobbes and Lilburne)
- The First Colored Senator and Representatives
- The Gold Standard vs. Fiat Paper Money
- The People and the Ruling Elite in Caricatures (Wade and Daumier)
- The Seal of Florence
- The Spanish-American War and the Anti-Imperialism League (1902)
- The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry (1416)
- The Virtues
- Thomas Clarkson and the Abolition of the Slave Trade
- Thomas Hollis and John Locke
- Thomas Jefferson in the Cyclopedia
- Tocqueville and Bastiat on the 1848 Revolution in Paris
- Washington and Napoleon in their Study
- William Blake’s Illustrations of the Book of Job