DescriptionBlanche K. Bruce: Group of Twelve Deeds Signed. Bruce was holding the position of recorder of deeds when he applied his signature, "B. K. Bruce." The deeds span the months July 1890 through October 1890. Signatures are small, but bold. Some of the deeds show toning and damaged. The signatures are unaffected, though some are blotted or smudged slightly from the heavy ink.
In February 1874, Bruce was elected to the Senate as a Republican, becoming only the second African-American to serve as such. In 1881, he was appointed by President James A. Garfield to be the register of the Treasury, making Bruce the first black man to have his signature appear on U.S. currency. He served as the District of Columbia recorder of deeds in 1890-93, and again as register of the Treasury until his death in 1898.
Blanche Kelso Bruce (1841-1898) was the son of a white, Virginia planter and a black house slave. Educated by his father and then freed, Bruce moved to Missouri in 1850, becoming a printer's apprentice. After the Union Army rejected his application to fight in the Civil War, he taught school and briefly attended Oberlin College in Ohio before working as a steamboat porter on the Mississippi River. In 1864, he moved to Hannibal, Missouri, where he established Missouri's first school for blacks. After the war, he became a wealthy landowner in Mississippi and was appointed to the positions of Tallahatchie County registrar of voters and tax assessor before winning an election for sheriff in Bolivar County. He was later elected to other county positions, including tax collector and supervisor of education, while also editing a local newspaper.
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