[Illustration: Hon. Hiram R. Revels. The first colored man that occupied a seat in the U.S. Senate. From a photograph taken by Maj. Lynch at Natchez, Miss., in 1868.]
The next name suggested was that of the Rev. H.R. Revels and those who had been so fortunate as to hear the impressive prayer that he had delivered on the opening of the Senate were outspoken in their advocacy of his selection. The white Republicans assured the colored members that if they would unite upon Revels, they were satisfied he would receive the vote of every white Republican member of the Legislature. Governor Alcorn also gave the movement his cordial and active support, thus insuring for Revels the support of the State administration. The colored members then held an informal conference, at which it was unanimously decided to present the name of Rev. H.R. Revels to the Republican Legislative Caucus as a candidate for United States Senator to fill the fractional term of one year. The choice was ratified by the caucus without serious opposition. In the joint Legislative session, every Republican member, white and colored, voted for the three Republican caucus nominees for United States Senators,—Alcorn, Ames and Revels,—with one exception, Senator William M. Hancock, of Lauderdale, who stated in explanation of his vote against Revels that as a lawyer he did not believe that a colored man was eligible to a seat in the United States Senate. But Judge Hancock seems to have been the only lawyer in the Legislature,—or outside of it, as far as could be learned,—who entertained that opinion.
IMPORTANT EDUCATIONAL AND POLITICAL MEASURES OF THE NEW LEGISLATURE
In addition to the election of three United States Senators this Legislature had some very important work before it, as has already been stated in a previous chapter. A new public school system had to be inaugurated and put in operation, thus necessitating the construction of schoolhouses throughout the State, some of them, especially in the towns and villages, to be quite large and of course expensive. All of the other public buildings and institutions in the State had to be repaired, some of them rebuilt, all of them having been neglected and some of them destroyed during the progress of the late War. In addition to this the entire State Government in all of its branches had to be reconstructed and so organized as to place the same in perfect harmony with the new order of things.
To accomplish these things money was required. There was none in the treasury. There was no cash available even to pay the ordinary expenses of the State government. Because of this lack of funds the government had to be carried on on a credit basis,—that is, by the issuing of notes or warrants based upon the credit of the State. These notes were issued at par to the creditors of