Blanche Kelso Bruce, 2001
Oil on canvas
United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
Blanche Kelso Bruce was not the first African-American to serve in the United States Senate -- that would be Hiram Revels, who represented Mississippi in 1870 and 1871 -- but he was the first to serve a full six-year term. He represented Mississippi in the Senate from 1874 to 1881. After leaving the Senate he was appointed registrar of the Treasury by James Garfield, and at the Republican National Convention in 1888 (big snow that year) he received 11 votes for Vice President.
Incidentally, after he left office, if would be 86 years before another African American served in the Senate.