BRUCE, BLANCHE K. Born a slave in Prince Edward County, Virginia in 1841, Blanche Kelso Bruce was the first African American to serve a full term in the United States Senate. Representing Mississippi from 1875 to 1881, Bruce was one of over twenty blacks elected to Congress during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century.
During his senatorial career, Bruce actively supported civil rights for all Americans, including not only blacks but also the American Indian and the Chinese. He participated in an investigation of alleged election frauds and was a staunch advocate of improving the Mississippi River's navigational potential in order to enhance both domestic and foreign trade. Upon completion of his term in the Senate, Bruce remained in the federal service. In 1881, President Garfield appointed him to the post of Register of the Treasury. He retained this position until 1885 and was reappointed to it by President McKinley in 1897. In the interim, he served as Recorder of Deeds in the District of Columbia, receiving this appointment from President Harrison in 1891. Bruce died on March 17, 1898.