Blanche Bruce, First African American to Serve a Full Term in the Senate, and a Former Slave, Signs in his Capacity as Recorder of Deeds
DS - Document SignedBruce, Blanche. Former slave, First African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate, representing Mississippi from 1875 to 1881. As Recorder of Deeds for the District of Columbia, Bruce signs “B.K. Bruce.” Dated August 27, 1890, from Samuel Bieber to Jacob Happ. An example of the success of African Americans during the Reconstruction period, before Jim Crow laws took hold.
As the son born to a slave by her master, Bruce grew up with the unusual circumstance of receiving a thorough education. Before the Civil War, he ran a school for black children in Missouri. In the Reconstruction era, Bruce returned south where he bought a plantation. He was extremely successful and soon became involved in local government. Gaining support in elections, he moved from tax assessor and then Sheriff, to U.S. Senator from Mississippi. After 2 terms, he remained in Washington to serve under 2 Presidents. This deed originates during that period of Bruce’s career in Federal government. Partially printed indenture, filled out in a florid hand. Bruce signs as Recorder. 8-fold long sheet. Slight paper loss and partial separation at folds. Light soiling, and some pencil marks. A lovely document from the first African American, and only former slave ever to complete a term in the U.S. Senate.
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