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Henry Clay Bruce
*Henry Clay Bruce was born on this date in 1836. He was a Black writer.
Born a slave in Virginia, his mother told him he was born the year that Martin Van Buren was elected President of the United States. This was because (as slaves were forbidden to read), in order to gauge the birth of a child, Black Africans usually associated it with the occurrence of some important event. His owner Lemuel Bruce sold the Bruce family eight years later to Jack Perkinson, who lived in Keytesville, Missouri.
After being rented out to several different people, he was moved back to Virginia in 1847 by his master. Bruce was freed after the American Civil War and moved to Leavenworth, Kansas with his new wife. In August 1881, his brother, who was then Register of the United States Treasury, got him a job in the Post Office Department at a salary of seven hundred and twenty dollars a year, with a chance of promotion in Washington, D.C.
His autobiography, Twenty-Nine Years a Slave, was published in 1895. Henry Clay Bruce died in 1902.
The African American Desk Reference
Schomburg Center for research in Black Culture
Copyright 1999 The Stonesong Press Inc. and
The New York Public Library, John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Pub.