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Blanche Kelso Bruce

civil mississippi senator

Bruce, Blanche Kelso (1841–98), public official, the first African American to serve a full term as a U.S. senator (1875–81). Born a slave in Virginia, he was educated on the plantation, then ran away in 1861 after the beginning of the Civil War. After founding schools for blacks in Kansas and Missouri and attending Oberlin College 1866–68, he became a wealthy planter in Mississippi. As a Republican senator from Mississippi, he was an advocate of civil rights for racial minorities, but also opposed discrimination against former rebels. With the end of Reconstruction, he was not reelected, but served as registrar of the U.S. Treasury under presidents James A. Garfield (1881–85) and William McKinley (1897–98).

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