Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

 

Blanche Kelso Bruce

 

Misc. Mss.

 

 

Introduction

Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content

Inventory

 

 

 

Introduction

 

This collection was acquired by the Rutherford. B. Hayes Presidential Center in 1970

 

Biographical Sketch

 

Born into slavery in 1841, Blanche Kelso Bruce became the first African American to serve a full term in the U.S. Senate, as well as the first African American to preside over the Senate. One of 11 children, Bruce was born near Farmville, Virginia, and was taken to Mississippi and Missouri by his owner. Just 20 years old when the Civil War began, Bruce tried to enlist in the Union army. At that time, the army did not accept black recruits, so instead Bruce turned to teaching; he later organized the first school in Missouri for African Americans. He briefly attended college in Ohio but left to work as a porter on a riverboat. In 1869 Bruce moved to Mississippi to become a cotton planter. Active in Mississippi Republican politics, he served as supervisor of elections, tax assessor, sheriff, superintendent of education, and sergeant at arms of the state senate. In 1874 the Mississippi legislature elected him to the U.S. Senate where he served until 1881.

In the Senate, Bruce was a member of the committees on Pensions, Manufactures, and Education and Labor. He chaired the Committee on River Improvements and the Select Committee to Investigate the Freedman's Savings and Trust Company. He supported desegregation of the army, protection of African American voting rights, and more humane treatment of Native Americans. Bruce encouraged increasing the disposition of western land grants to African Americans. On February 14, 1879, Bruce became the first African American to preside over the Senate.

Bruce worked devotedly to gain rights for African Americans. After leaving the Senate, he was appointed registrar of the U.S. Treasury by President James Garfield. At the Republican convention of 1888, Bruce received 11 votes for vice president. He was appointed recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia and later was a member of the board of trustees of Howard University. Bruce died in Washington, D.C., in 1898

 

Scope and Content

 

This collection consists of a small amount of incoming correspondence received by Bruce while serving in the United States Senate. The letters date from 1875 to 1885, however, the bulk of the correspondence is from the years 1876 and 1877.  Most are letters from Bruce’s Republican constituents, seeking appointments, money, and pensions; providing recommendations and references; and accusing Democrats of political corruption. A single letter is related to family matters – a January 1877 letter by J. J. Bruce of Missouri, writing to ask his brother for money so that his son might attend school.

 

The item-level inventory contains the name of each correspondent and the date of the letter. Also included in the inventory is a list of the dates of letters written by Senator Bruce to President Rutherford B. Hayes.  Most of Bruce’s correspondence concerns references and recommendations for appointments.  The letters are part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers.  Typed transcriptions of these ten letters are available.

 

Inventory

 

Ac. 1963

47 items

 

BALDWIN, M. S.

Dtd Nov. 5, 1877.

 

BARRETT, John F., Jr.

Dtd Dec. 8, 1875.

 

BASSETT, J. R.

Dtd Feb. 21, 1876.

 

BELDEN, O. S.

Dtd Dec. 5, 1877.

 

BLISS, E.R.

Dtd Apr. 4, 1876.

Dtd Apr. 5, 1876.

 

BOWLES, C. M.

Dtd Sept. 18, 1877.

Dtd Oct. 28, 1877.

 

BRENT, Willis N.

Dtd Feb. 27, 1877.

 

BREWSTER & CO.

Dtd Mch. 15, 1877.

 

BROOKS, Edward

Dtd May 9, 1885.

 

BROWN, B. W.

Dtd Sept. 3, 1877.

 

BROWN, Emma V.

Dtd Thursday, A.M.

 

BRUCE, J. J.

Dtd Jan. 12, 1877.

 

BUCHANAN, George M.

Dtd Jne. 29, 1876.

Dtd Jly. 1, 1876.

Dtd Jly. 3, 1876.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

Dtd Nov. 24, 1877.

 

BURCH, J. Henri

Dtd Oct. 23. 1877.

Dtd Nov. 14, 1877.

 

BURWELL, A.

Dtd Dec. 14, 1877.

 

BYNUM, J. M.

Dtd Nov. 21, 1877.

 

CRUMP, E. H.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

 

DAVIS, A. K.

Dtd Nov. 29, 1875.

Dtd Apr. 22, 1876.

Dtd May 17, 1876.

Dtd Jne. 12, 1876.

 

DAVIS, O.

Dtd Aug. 23, 1876.

 

DEDRICK, W. W.

Dtd Mch. 26, 1876.

Dtd Apr. 2, 1876.

Dtd Jan. 21, 1877.

 

DEHAVEN, D.

Dtd Jne. 20, 1876.

 

DOUGLASS, Frederick

Undated

 

DOUGLASS, Frederick, Jr.

Dtd Apr 6, 1875.

 

GLEED, R.

Dtd Apr. 22, 1876.

Dtd May 17, 1876.

 

HANCOCK, Wm. M.

To Hon. James Hill dtd Oct. 5, 1879.

Dtd Oct. 8, 1879.

Dtd Nov. 23, 1879.

To Gov. Adelbert Ames dtd Dec. 31, 1879.

 

HURST, H. P.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

 

KENNON, W. H.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

 

LAWSON, Gaines

Dtd May 25, 1879.

 

LEE, J. W.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

 

WARE, H. R.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

 

and a memorial.

 

Letters by Senator B. K. Bruce to President Rutherford B. Hayes in the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers

 

Dtd Jne. 25, 1876.

Dtd Jan. 26, 1877.

Dtd Mch. 3, 1877.

Dtd Jne. 11, 1877.

Dtd Mch. 1, 1879.

Dtd Mar. 10, 1880.

Dtd Mar. 23, 1880.

Dtd Apr. 12, 1880.

Dtd Apr. 12, 1880.

Dtd Apr. 13, 1880.