“An 1867 Harper’s Weekly cover commemorates the first vote cast by African-American men. The passage and ratification of the Reconstruction Amendments (13th, 14th, and 15th) between 1865 and 1870 catapulted former slaves from chattel to voters and candidates for public office.Image courtesy of Library of Congress

The arrival of Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi and Representative Joseph Rainey of South Carolina on Capitol Hill in 1870 ranks among the great paradoxes in American history; just a decade earlier, these African Americans’ congressional seats were held by southern slave owners. Moreover, the U.S. Capitol, where these newest Members of Congress came to work—the center of legislative government, conceived by its creators as the “Temple of Liberty”—had been constructed with the help of enslaved laborers.1 From this beginning, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007 chronicles African Americans’ participation in the federal legislature and their struggle to attain full civil rights.

The institution of Congress, and the careers of the black Members who have served in both its chambers, have undergone extensive changes during this span of nearly 140 years.2 But while researching and writing this book, we encountered several recurring themes that led us to ask the following questions: What were black Members’ legislative priorities? Which legislative styles did African Americans employ to integrate into the institution? How did they react to the political culture of Capitol Hill and how did they overcome institutional racism? Lastly, how did the experiences of these individuals compare to those of other newly enfranchised Americans?

 

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A proposito dell'autore

Laureata con lode in Storia presso l’Università Ca' Foscari di Venezia con una tesi sulla trasformazione delle istituzioni altomedievali attraverso i documenti privati, ho di seguito conseguita la laurea magistrale in Archivistica e biblioteconomia con una tesi sulle biblioteche digitali per gli studi medievistici. Da quegli studi e quelle letture nasce il progetto di condivisione delle risorse disponibili in rete per gli studi storici.

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