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Hiram Rhoades Revels. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-98798)

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Revels, Hiram Rhoades (27 September 1827?–16 January 1901), senator, clergyman, and educator, was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, the son of free parents of mixed blood. Little is known of his family or early years. At eight or nine he enrolled in a private school for black children, where he was “fully and successfully instructed by our able teacher in all branches of learning” (Revels, p. 2). About 1842 his family moved to Lincolnton, North Carolina, where Revels became a barber. Two years later he entered Beech Grove Seminary, a Quaker institution two miles south of Liberty, Indiana. In 1845 he enrolled at another seminary in Darke County, Ohio, and during this period may also have studied theology at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio....

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Smith, John (1735–30 July 1824), minister, merchant, and U.S. senator, was born in Virginia. Nothing is known about his parents, and very little is known about his early life. Smith appeared in the new settlement of Columbia (just east of Cincinnati) in May 1790. He had traveled from the forks of the Cheat River in what is now West Virginia, where he had been a Baptist minister. Apparently, he had had no education, was relatively poor, and was looking to improve the situation of his household. Described by contemporaries as large, handsome, and dark complected, he had as his only assets a talent for public speaking and a winning personality that expertly balanced seriousness and gregariousness. But they were enough to win the confidence of a small Baptist congregation who engaged him as their pastor. In 1791 Smith established his wife, Elizabeth Mason Hickman, and seven children in Columbia. With characteristic enthusiasm, the new preacher went to work to spread the gospel: he helped to design and construct the first Protestant church in the region in 1793, ordained other men as Baptist preachers, and led in the formation of the Miami Baptist Association in 1797....

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Reed Smoot Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-USZ62-110940).

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Smoot, Reed Owen (10 January 1862–09 February 1941), senator and Mormon apostle, was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, the son of Abraham Owen Smoot, a businessman and politician, and Anne Kirstene Morrison. Smoot’s father had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in Kentucky and moved with the church to Illinois and then on to Utah in 1847. Abraham Smoot was a polygamist, and Reed was the third child of the fifth wife, a convert from Norway. Anne Morrison Smoot influenced all her children to have faith, be industrious, and practice prudence. Abraham Smoot was mayor of Salt Lake City for ten years and then moved south to Provo, where he served in that same office for twelve years. Abraham served simultaneously as the president of the Mormon church’s Utah Stake, which covered all of Utah County....