Blanche Bruce was born into slavery in Virginia. During reconstruction, he went on to become a sheriff, tax collector, and successful plantation owner. Bruce was elected as a U.S. Senator from Mississippi. He was the first African American Senator to serve a full term, Hiram R. Revels, also from Mississippi, was elected to the Senate earlier but did not complete a full term. In 1879, five years after reaching the Senate, Bruce became the first African American, and only former slave, to have presided over the Senate. The following year James George, a Confederate Army veteran, was elected to succeed Bruce. In that same year, at the Republican National Conference, Blanche Bruce became the first African American to win any votes for a national office (vice president) at a major party’s nominating convention.
The United States Senate and House of Representatives comprise the legislative branch of the U.S. government. Each state has two senators regardless of the state’s population. U.S. senators serve staggered terms of six years. Prior to 1913, senators were appointed by their state legislatures. This changed with the 17th Amendment, which mandated senators be elected by popular vote. The Senate has the power to ratify treaties and to confirm cabinet secretaries, federal judges, Supreme Court justices and other federal executive officials.
Blanche Bruce was a member of the U.S. Senate. Bruce became the first African American (and the only former slave) to preside over the U.S. Senate, on February 14, 1879. Many of the men who become president and vice president first served in Congress as members of the House of Representatives or in the U.S. Senate. A number of these individuals first served in their state government as governor, state senator or in their state House of Representatives.
The biographical History Mugs were created to teach and inspire individuals to learn about our diverse and interesting history. The biographies were researched and written by history enthusiast, Robert Compton. He colorized most of the historic photos and images used on the mugs, which were originally black and white or sepia tone. The images and biographies are imprinted on mugs at his studio in rural Vermont.
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- To preserve photographic quality we recommend hand washing.
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