HIRAM R. REVELS Hiram R. Revels was born in 1827 in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Even though he was born in the south during a time of slavery, he was a member of a free family. He was a barber and then became an ordained minister in 1845. After participating in the Civil War, he made his home in Natchez. After serving as an alderman in 1868, the state congress chose Revels to fill a vacancy in the U.S. Senate in 1970. Revels was the first African American to serve in the U.S. Senate. While in Washington, he was praised for his speeches. He fought for civil rights and focused on integrating schools and giving African American workings equal opportunities. After a year in the Senate, Revels resigned and took the position of president of Alcorn Agricultural and Mechanical College. He also taught philosophy classes. Revels died in 1901 at a Methodist ministers meeting. PHOTO COURTESY OF MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY to be the father of the African American race, invents the banjo on Noah’s ark. By attempting to write in African American vernacular and drawing on genuine folklore, Irwin Russell broke new ground. He had an immediate influence on Southern local colorists such as Joel Chandler Harris, who collected African American folklore in his Uncle Remus stories, and Thomas Nelson Page, who used vernacular in his romanticized portraits of the antebellum South. Russell’s use of the vernacular was clumsy, but “De Fust Banjo” does reveal some genuine knowledge of his African American neighbors. The banjo was an African American invention. Ham’s profession of barber reflects the reality that African American barbers were common in the Lower River counties. Russell probably knew of John Bird of his hometown, Port Gibson. According to the Port Gibson Standard, Bird was “an honest and respectable colored man who was long a barber and hairdresser in our town.” The great majority of Lower River county whites, like their counterparts in the rest of the state, were determined to overthrow Reconstruction and regain political control. This resulted in a statewide wave of violence and intimidation that had a dry run in December, 1874, in Vicksburg. After local whites expelled the Reconstruction government there, Sheriff Crosby returned and called on Warren County Republicans to support him in resuming his office. On December 7, a group of his African American supporters marching to Vicksburg in answer to his plea was attacked by better-armed whites and dispersed, with the loss of seven lives. Ben and Isaiah Montgomery had urged Davis Bend African Americans to refuse to support Crosby for fear of reprisals against their community by white terrorists. Federal troops later reinstated Crosby in his office, but that was the last such intervention. A wave of violence and fraud against Mississippi African Americans and their few white supporters carried the 1875 elections for the Democratic Party and ended Reconstruction in Mississippi. These actions were unopposed by the federal government. In Adams County, relations between African Americans and whites were less hostile than in Vicksburg. There was fraud in the 1875 elections, but no violence or civil disorder. John R. Lynch’s reelection to his last term in Congress was the last gasp of Reconstruction-era African American political power in the Lower River counties. A new order of white dominance was in place. The willingness of whites to use violence to maintain it was underlined in May, 1876, by a revolt in Wilkinson County. The cause was the lynching by white vigilantes of several people accused of murdering a white merchant. African Americans in Wilkinson County gathered into armed bands to protect themselves. They were crushed by bands of armed whites, including one from Amite County. THE LOWER RIVER 117