A First in History

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Today in History, February 25: 1870 – On a strict party line vote (we’ve heard that a lot lately) of 48 Republicans for and 8 Democrats against, Methodist minister Hiram Rhodes of Mississippi is confirmed as the first African-American US Senator, the first African-American member of Congress. Rhodes had been a minister, had helped raise the first two black regiments to fight in the Civil War, had been a veteran of the Battle of Vicksburg in Mississippi. Ironically he had served in Lincolnton, North Carolina as a barber with his brother, and served in a seminary in UNION county, Indiana. Democrats had attempted to use the 1857 Dredd Scott decision, A ridiculous Supreme Court decision that decided black people were not citizens, as a basis for preventing Rhodes from attaining the Senate seat.