1st Black Caucus:
Left to Right:
Senator Hiram R. Revels: Senator from Mississippi
Representative Benjamin S. Turner: Republican from Alabama
Representative Richard H. Cain: Republican from South Carolina
Representative Robert B. Elliot: Republican from South Carolina
Representative Josiah T. Walls: Republican from Florida
Representative Richard Allen: Republican from Texas
Representative Robert Smalls: Republican from South Carolina
After the Civil War it became possible for Blacks to vote in the south. This was made possible by the passage of the Reconstruction Acts by Congress. Five states had a majority Black population: Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina. Prior to the Reconstruction Acts, which were given more support by the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments to the Constitution, there were 627,000 White voters in the south and no Black voters. After Blacks gained the right to vote, and there were 703,000 who did so, it became possible for Blacks to hold office on a local and statewide basis.
All the early Black congressmen (and senators) were members of the Republican party. This is because the Republicans, exemplified by President Abraham Lincoln, were the party in office during the Civil War and many abolitionists belonged to the Republican Party. The Democrats were opposed to all attempts to banish slavery.
Thirteen of the twenty-two Blacks elected to Congress during Reconstruction were ex-slaves and all were self taught or family trained. There were seven lawyers, three ministers, one banker, one publisher, two school teachers, and three college presidents. Eight had experience in state assemblies and senates. There were problems, however, as five of the first twenty Blacks elected to the House were denied their seats and ten others had their terms interrupted or delayed. Claims of vote fraud were the most common ploy used by Whites to deny an elected Black person his seat.