The Revels Brothers

Influencing Lincoln asset

— View Audio Transcript —

Here’s more of the story. Hi, I am Kisha Tandy, Curator of Social History at the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites. I will talk about the Revels brothers. Dr. Willis R. Revels, M.D., was born free in North Carolina but moved to Indiana as a young man. He was educated at the Union Literary Institute in Randolph County. The school was founded in 1846 and was open to all students regardless of race or sex. He became an African Methodist Episcopal minister and was an early servant of Bethel AME in Indianapolis. Bethel AME was the site of meetings, lectures, a school, and social and philanthropic uplift. It was a station on the Underground Railroad, hosted Colored Conventions seeking equal rights, and served as a recruiting center for Black troops. Perhaps in response to these activities, the church was burned in 1864. Revels was asked by Governor Oliver Morton to lead recruiting for the 28th USCT. He served as a contract surgeon for the U.S. Army, one of 13 Black surgeons during the war. His younger brother, Hiram Revels, also educated at Union Literary, was also an AME minister, and he would move to Mississippi and become the first Black U.S. Senator in 1870.

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