In the aftermath of the Civil War, the period known as Radical Reconstruction allowed for dramatic new political opportunities for African Americans. Republicans in Congress secured the ratification of the 13th Amendment ending slavery (1865), the 14th Amendment (1868) securing citizenship rights and equal protection of the law for African Americans, and the 15th Amendment (1870) prohibiting voter discrimination on the basis of race. These laws and the presence of federal troops allowed for the election of southern blacks to the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate. Blacks were also elected to local and state government offices and constitutional conventions.
(Left to right) Senator Hiram Revels of Mississippi, Representatives Benjamin Turner of Alabama, Robert DeLarge of South Carolina, Josiah Walls of Florida, Jefferson Long of Georgia, Joseph Rainey and Robert B. Elliot of South Carolina.