Politics and Government

Politics During the Reconstruction

What African Americans held gubernatorial positions during the Reconstruction?

African Americans were able to work around the obstacles to their advancement in politics that remained even after the passage of the Civil Rights Acts of 1866 and 1870, and passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, which aimed to ensure their full citizenship. While African-American males were granted the right to vote by 1870, some states still denied them this privilege. Yet, between 1879 and 1901, over one thousand African Americans were elected to local and state office. There were six lieutenant governors and one governor. In Louisiana, P.B.S. Pinchback (1837–1921), disliked by many whites because he was a staunch advocate for equal rights for members of his race, became the first African-American governor. He had served as lieutenant governor in 1871 and then governor when Henry C. Warmouth was impeached. He held this post from December 8, 1972, to January 13, 1873, when he was defeated in elections. A Republican, Pinchback was later elected to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives but denied his seat because of allegations of impropriety. Around 1883 he was surveyor of customs in New Orleans and in the 1890s moved permanently to Washington, D.C. He was born of a white father and a freed slave mother in Mississippi. Pinchback held a law degree and was a New York U.S. Marshal. He also served as an Internal Revenue Agent.


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