Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner brought the debate to an end with a stirring speech. "The time has passed for argument. Nothing more need be said. For a long time it has been clear that colored persons must be senators." Then, by an overwhelming margin, the Senate voted 48 to 8 to seat Revels. Three weeks later, the Senate galleries again filled to capacity as Hiram Revels rose to make his first formal speech. Seeing himself as a representative of African American interests throughout the nation, he spoke—unsuccessfully as it turned out—against a provision included in legislation readmitting Georgia to the Union. He correctly predicted that the provision would be used to prohibit blacks from holding office in that state.
When Hiram Revels' brief term ended on March 3, 1871, he returned to Mississippi, where he later became president of Alcorn College.