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Blanche K. Bruce
On this date, Blanche K. Bruce was born in 1841. He was a Black senator from Mississippi during the Reconstruction era.
Born in Prince Edward County, VA, the son of a slave mother and white planter father, Blanche K. (Kelso) Bruce, was well educated as a youth. After the American Civil War, he moved to Mississippi, where in 1869, he became a supervisor of elections. By 1870, he was an emerging figure in state politics. After serving as sergeant-at-arms in the state senate, he held the posts of county assessor, sheriff, and member of the Board of Levee Commissioners of the Mississippi River.
Through these positions, he amassed enough wealth to purchase a plantation in Floreyville, MS. In 1874, Mississippi’s Republican-dominated State legislature elected Bruce, a Republican, to a seat in the U.S. Senate. He served from 1875 to 1881, advocating just treatment for Blacks and Indians and opposing the policy excluding Chinese immigrants. He sought improved navigation on the Mississippi and advocated better race relations. He devoted much of his time and energy to fighting fraud and corruption in federal elections.
Bruce lost his political base in Mississippi with the end of Reconstruction governments in the South. He remained in Washington when, after his Senate term, he was appointed register of the Treasury. He served in that post from 1881 to 1885 and again from 1895 to 1898. He was also a recorder of deeds in the District of Columbia (1889-95) and a trustee of Howard University. Blanche Bruce died on March 17, 1898, in Washington, D.C.