Benjamin G. Humphreys

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This article is about the governor of Mississippi (1808-1882). For his son the U.S. politician (1865-1923), see Benjamin G. Humphreys II.


Benjamin Grubb Humphreys
BGHumphreys.jpg
General and Governor of Mississippi
26th Governor of Mississippi
In office
October 16, 1865 – June 15, 1868
Preceded by William L. Sharkey
Succeeded by Adelbert Ames
Personal details
Born (1808-08-26)August 26, 1808
Claiborne County, Mississippi
Died December 20, 1882(1882-12-20) (aged 74)
Jackson, Mississippi
Political party Democratic
Religion Episcopalian
Military service
Allegiance United States United States of America
Confederate States of America Confederate States of America
Service/branch  Confederate States Army
Years of service 1861–65
Rank Confederate States of America General-collar.svg Brigadier General
Commands 21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment
Humphreys' Brigade
Battles/wars American Civil War

Benjamin Grubb Humphreys (August 26, 1808 – December 20, 1882) was an American politician from Mississippi. He was a general in the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War and served as Governor of Mississippi from 1865 to 1868, during Reconstruction.

Early life[edit]

Humphreys was born in Claiborne County, Mississippi, on the Bayou Pierre. He was educated in New Jersey and enrolled at West Point in the same class as Robert E. Lee and Joseph E. Johnston. However, he was expelled in 1826 when he participated in a "Christmas frolic" that ended up turning into the Eggnog Riot. Upon his return to Mississippi, he was elected to the state senate representing his native county and served from 1839 to 1844. In 1846, he moved to Sunflower County, Mississippi, founded Itta Bena, and continued as a planter.

Civil War[edit]

Humphreys raised a company and was commissioned a Captain in the Confederate States Army in 1861. Being part of the 21st Mississippi Infantry Regiment he was elected to the rank of Colonel the same year. Brigaded with other regiments under command of Brig. Gen. William Barksdale he fought in the Eastern Theater. At the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863 Humphreys's regiment was part of the force that attacked Federal positions at the Peach Orchard, driving the defenders back toward Cemetery Ridge. Humphreys took command of the brigade after the death of of Barksdale. He was subsequently promoted to Brigadier General,[1] and remained in command of the brigade through the end of the war.

Political career[edit]

After the surrender of the Confederate Army, Southern politicians and Army officers were not automatically pardoned and were forbidden to hold public office. At the time of his candidacy, Benjamin Humphreys was unpardoned, and President Andrew Johnson did not want him elected. Unwilling to withdraw his candidacy, on October 2, 1865, Humphreys was elected as a Democrat, but was not immediately recognized as the Governor of Mississippi. Without presidential approval, on October 16, 1865, Humphreys had himself inaugurated and sworn in as the 26th Governor of Mississippi. By October 26, 1865, Mississippi provisional Governor, William L. Sharkey, received from President Andrew Johnson a pardon authorizing political office under the Reconstruction plan. He won re-election in 1868 and continued with a second term, but with the beginning of Congressional control of Reconstruction he was physically removed by occupying U.S. armed forces on June 15 of that year.[2]

As a Democratic Governor of the State of Mississippi, he encouraged Jim Crow laws. In his own words:

The Negro is free, whether we like it or not; we must realize that fact now and forever. To be free, however, does not make him a citizen, or entitle him to political or social equality with the white race.

After his retirement from politics, Humphreys entered a career in insurance in Jackson, Mississippi. He continued there until his retirement in 1877, when he moved to his plantation in Leflore County, Mississippi, where he died in 1882. He is buried in Wintergreen Cemetery, Port Gibson, Mississippi.[3]

Humphreys County, Mississippi, is named after him. His son, also named Benjamin G. Humphreys, entered into a political career of his own. He became a Congressman and was on the Harbors and Rivers Committee, where he was instrumental in the successful amendment that created and added levees to the charter of the commission.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Pfanz, p. 457.
  2. ^ Eicher, p. 309, lists his position as Provisional Governor.
  3. ^ Eicher, p. 309.

References[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
William L. Sharkey
Governor of Mississippi
1865-1868
Succeeded by
Adelbert Ames