P. B. S. Pinchback
|P. B. S. Pinchback|
|24th Governor of Louisiana|
December 9, 1872 – January 13, 1873
|Preceded by||Henry C. Warmoth|
|Succeeded by||John McEnery and William P. Kellogg (election contested)|
|Born||Pinckney Benton Stewart
May 10, 1837
|Died||December 21, 1921
|Resting place||Metairie Cemetery
|Spouse(s)||Nina Emily Hawthorne|
|Alma mater||Straight University|
|Religion||African Methodist Episcopal|
Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (born Pinckney Benton Stewart; May 10, 1837 – December 21, 1921) was the first person of African-American descent to become governor of a U.S. state. A Republican, he served as the 24th Governor of Louisiana for 35 days, from December 9, 1872, to January 13, 1873.
Nicholas Lemann, in Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War, described Pinchback as "an outsized figure: newspaper publisher, gambler, orator, speculator, dandy, mountebank – served for a few months as the state's Governor and claimed seats in both houses of Congress following disputed elections but could not persuade the members of either to seat him."
Born Pinckney Benton Stewart in May 1837 in Macon, Bibb County, Georgia, his parents were Eliza Stewart, a former slave, and William Pinchback, a planter and her former master. They lived together as husband and wife but interracial marriage was forbidden by state law. They had diverse ethnic origins; Eliza Stewart was classified as mulatto, of African, Cherokee, Welsh and German ancestry; and William Pinchback was of European-American descent: with Scots-Irish, Welsh and German ancestry. The children had a majority of European ancestry. Shortly after Pinckney's birth, his father William purchased a much larger plantation in Mississippi, and moved his entire family there.
Pinckney Stewart, as he was then called, as a "natural" (or illegitimate) son of his father, was brought up in relatively affluent surroundings. He and his four siblings were raised as white, and his parents sent him north to Cincinnati, Ohio, to attend school. In 1848, Pinchback's father died. William Pinchback's relatives disinherited his mulatto common-law wife and children and claimed his property in Mississippi.
Fearful that the Pinchbacks might try to claim her five children as slaves, Eliza Stewart fled with the children to Cincinnati in the free state of Ohio. Pinckney at the age of 11 left school and worked on river and canal boats. For a while he resided in Terre Haute, Indiana, working as a hotel porter. During that time he was still known as Pinckney B. Stewart, as he had not yet adopted the surname Pinchback.
Marriage and family
In 1860 at the age of 23, Stewart married Nina Hawthorne of Memphis, Tennessee. They had four children---Pinckney Napoleon in 1862, Bismarck in 1864, Nina in 1866, and Walter Alexander in 1868. Bismarck's name reflected his father's admiration for statesman Otto van Bismarck of Germany, whom he considered to be one of the world's greatest men.
Military service and Civil War
The Civil War began the following year, and Stewart decided to fight on the side of the Union. In 1862 he quietly made his way into New Orleans, which had just been captured by the Union Army. He raised several companies for the Union's all-black 1st Louisiana Native Guards Regiment, which was garrisoned in the city. A minority of men were Louisiana free men of color, part of the educated class before the war; most were slaves who had escaped to join the Union forces. Commissioned a captain, Stewart was one of the Union Army's few commissioned officers of African-American ancestry. Most came from Louisiana and had been free men of color before the war. He became Company Commander of Company A, 2nd Louisiana Regiment Native Guard Infantry, also made up mostly of escaped slaves. (It was later reformed as the 74th US Colored Infantry Regiment, of the United States Colored Troops). Passed over twice for promotion and tired of the prejudice he encountered from white officers, Stewart resigned his commission in 1863.
At the war's end, he and his wife moved to Alabama, to test their freedom as full citizens. Racial tensions during Reconstruction resulted in shocking levels of violence. Stewart returned with his family to New Orleans.
In New Orleans, Stewart took his father's surname of Pinchback and became active in the Republican Party, participating in Reconstruction state conventions. In 1868, Pinchback organized the Fourth Ward Republican Club in New Orleans. That same year, he was elected as a State Senator. He became senate president pro tempore of a Legislature that included 42 representatives of African-American descent (half of the House, and seven of 36 seats in the Senate). (The population of African Americans and whites in the state was nearly equal at the time.) In 1871 he became acting lieutenant governor upon the death of Oscar Dunn, the first elected African-American lieutenant governor of a U.S. state.
In 1872, the legislature filed impeachment charges against the incumbent Republican governor, Henry Clay Warmoth. State law required that Warmoth step aside until his case was tried. Pinchback took the oath as acting governor on December 9, 1872, and served for 35 days until the end of Warmoth's term. Warmoth was not convicted, and the charges were eventually dropped.
Also in 1872, at a national convention of African-American politicians, Pinchback had a public disagreement with Jeremiah Haralson of Alabama. James T. Rapier (also of Alabama) submitted a motion that the convention condemn all Republicans who had opposed President Ulysses S. Grant in that year's election. Haralson supported the motion, but Pinchback opposed it because Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts would have been condemned as opposing Grant. He was a lifelong anti-slavery fighter whom Pinchback believed African Americans should laud.
After his brief governorship, Pinchback remained active in politics and public service. In the elections of 1874, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1876 the Louisiana legislature elected Pinchback to the U.S. Senate from Louisiana; he was the state's first African-American representative to Congress. Both election results were contested by Democratic opponents, and the campaigns and elections had been surrounded by violence and intimidation. Congress, then dominated by Democrats, finally seated his opponents. This period marked the beginning of a reversal of the political gains which African Americans had achieved since the war's end. The White League, a paramilitary group with chapters across the state beginning in 1874, openly disrupted Republican gatherings and intimidated blacks to repress their vote. A historian described the White League as the "military arm of the Democratic Party."
Pinchback served on the Louisiana State Board of Education and was instrumental in 1880 in establishing Southern University, a historically black college in New Orleans. It relocated to Baton Rouge in 1914. He was a member of Southern University's Board of Trustees (later redesignated the Board of Supervisors).
In 1892 Pinchback was part of the Comité des Citoyens (Citizens' Committee) which set up the New Orleans civil-rights actions of Homer Plessy as a challenge to state segregation in public transportation, even for interstate trains. The case went to the U.S. Supreme Court as Plessy v. Ferguson. The Court ruled that the state's providing "separate but equal" accommodations was constitutional. It overlooked the inconvenient fact that states in practice seldom provided equal facilities to blacks.
Later Pinchback moved with his family to New York City, where he worked as a US Marshal. Finally he moved to Washington, D.C.. He and his family were part of the mixed-race elite in Washington, generally comprised of people who had been free before the Civil War and had gained educations.
It was not until 1990 that another African American served as governor of any U.S. state. In 1990, Douglas Wilder of Virginia became the second African-American state governor (and the first to be elected to office). Deval Patrick of Massachusetts was elected governor in 2006 and took office in January 2007. David Paterson of New York became the fourth African-American governor on March 17, 2008, when he succeeded to office following the resignation of Eliot Spitzer.
- Cowan, Walter Greaves; McGuire, Jack B (2008-08-01). Louisiana Governors: Rulers, Rascals, and Reformers. pp. 107–108. ISBN 9781934110904.
- Lemann, Nicholas, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War (Farrar, Straus and Giroux: September 5, 2006) pp. 196-198.
- Toomer, Turner (1980), p. 22
- Terry L. Jones (2012-10-19) "The Free Men of Color Go to War" - NYTimes.com. Opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com. Retrieved on 2012-12-18.
- Hollandsworth 1995, p. 122.
- Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery by Another Name, book, documentary and website
- See United States presidential election, 1872 for more information about that election
- Southern University at New Orleans, which is under the same Board of Supervisors as Southern University, was a later development.
- Ingham, John N; Feldman, Lynne B (1994). African-American Business Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary. pp. 560–562. ISBN 9780313272530.
- State of Louisiana - Biography
- African American Publications (password required)
- Bennett, Lerone, Before the Mayflower (1969)
- Bontemps, Arna W.,100 Years of Negro Freedom (1961)
- Grosz, Agnes Smith, "The Political Career of Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback," Louisiana Historical Quarterly, XXVII (1944)
- Haskins, James. Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback(New York: Macmillan, 1973)
- Hollandsworth, James G. (1998). The Louisiana Native Guards: The Black Military Experience During the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press. ISBN 0-8071-2336-6.
- Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback Papers, Manuscript Department, Moorland-Spingarm Research Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C., 3 includes "Here under the protecting care" speech quoted by Nicholas Lemann in Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War
- Men of Mark: Eminent, Progressive and Rising, by Rev. William J. Simmons, D. D., President of the State University, Louisville, Kentucky (1887)
- Toomer, Jean; Turner, Darwin T. (1980). The Wayward and the Seeking: A Collection of Writings by Jean Toomer. Baton Rouge: Howard University Press. ISBN 0-88258-014-0.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to P. B. S. Pinchback.|
- Cemetery Memorial by La-Cemeteries
- "Pinckney Benton Stewart "P.B.S." Pinchback". Civil War Union Officer & Louisiana Governor. Find a Grave. January 23, 2002. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
Henry C. Warmoth
|Governor of Louisiana
William P. Kellogg