The First Full-term African American Senator Signs a Deed
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Blanche Bruce was the first full-term African American to serve in the U.S. Senate, 1875-1881. He was then appointed by President James Garfield as Register of the U.S. Treasury in 1881. He later served as the Washington, D.C. Recorder of Deeds (a position earlier held by Frederick Douglass), 1890-1893 and again as Register of the Treasury from 1897 until his death in 1898. BLANCHE BRUCE.
Document Signed. Land deed. Washington, D.C. September 30,1890. Signature panel 8¼ x 3½ in., overall dimensions 8¼ x 14 in. Framed.
Blanche K. Bruce (1841-1898) was the first African American to serve a full term in the Senate. He represented Mississippi. Fellow Mississippian Hiram Revels was the first African American to serve in the Senate (and U.S. Congress as a whole) but was elected to finish a term. Bruce was born in Virginia, moved to Missouri, and attended Oberlin College in Ohio. In 1864, he established a school for African Americans in Hannibal, Missouri. Bruce was a wealthy landowner in Mississippi during Reconstruction and won election to county positions, including county sheriff. In 1874, Bruce was elected by the Mississippi State legislature to the position of U.S. Senator. He was also the first African American to preside over Senate proceedings when he took the gavel on February 14, 1879.