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History and GovernmentCongressional BiographiesMississippi

Blanche Kelso BRUCE

(1841-1898)
Senate Years of Service:
1875-1881
Party:
Republican

BRUCE, Blanche Kelso, a Senator from Mississippi; born in slavery near Farmville, Prince Edward County, Va., March 1, 1841; was tutored by his master’s son; left his master at the beginning of the Civil War; taught school in Hannibal, Mo.; after the war became a planter in Mississippi; member of the Mississippi Levee Board; sheriff and tax collector of Bolivar County 1872-1875; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate and served from March 4, 1875, to March 3, 1881; was the first African American to serve a full term in the United States Senate; appointed Register of the Treasury by President James Garfield 1881; recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia 1891-1893; again Register of the Treasury from 1897 until his death in Washington, D.C., on March 17, 1898; interment in Woodlawn Cemetery.

Bibliography

American National Biography; Dictionary of American Biography; Office of History and Preservation, Office of the Clerk, Black Americans in Congress, 1870–2007. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2008; Mann, Kenneth Eugene. “Blanche Kelso Bruce: United States Senator Without a Constituency.” Journal of Mississippi History 38 (May 1976): 183-98; Graham, Lawrence Otis. The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of America’s First Black Dynasty. New York: HarperCollins, 2006.

Source: Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1771-Present

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