Blanche Kelso Bruce, First African-American Senator to Serve a Full-Term in the United States

Written by Jae Jones

was a United States politician who represented Mississippi as a Republican in the U.S. Senate from 1875 to 1881. He was of mixed race, and was the first elected senator to serve a full-term. Bruce was born into in 1841 in Prince Edward Country, Virginia to Polly Bruce an enslaved African-American woman. His father was his mother’s master, Pettis Perkinson, a white Virginia plantation owner. Bruce was treated well by his father who saw to it that he was educated along with his other son fully white son. However, growing up he was still forced to work as his half-brothers servant. His father legally freed Bruce and arranged for an apprenticeship so he could learn a trade.

At the age of 20-years old Bruce tried to join the fight in the Civil War, but his application was denied. He then turned to teaching, and attended Oberlin College in Ohio for two years. Years later he moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where he started a school for Black children. He met and married Josephine Beal Wilson of Cleveland, Ohio the couple spent 4 months in Europe for their honeymoon. In February 1874, Bruce was elected by the state legislature to the Senate as a Republican, becoming the second to serve in the upper house of Congress.

On February 14, 1879, Bruce presided over the U.S. Senate, becoming the first African American as well as the only slave to do so. He was also appointed recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia and later was a member of the board of trustees of Howard University. In 1881, Bruce was appointed by President Garfield to be the Register of Treasury. He died in Washington, D.C., in 1898.



Blanche Bruce

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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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