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African American Politicians / African Americans / Blacks In Politics pt .3 Internet Vol – 3

 African American Politicians

         Pitney Benton Stewart Pinchback



African-Americans have been a part of the American political system  since the mid 1800’s. Their purpose was to be the voice of the newly freed men.  Once the Civil War was over the emancipated freedom was short lived.  Laws were enacted to keep African Americans in bondage.  Organizations were established to help improve the lives conditions for newly freedmen.  Programs were created to teach literacy and vocational training for the masses of freed men.  P.B. Stewart Pinchback served Louisiana as the Lieutenant governor and Congress. 

P.B. Stewart Pinchback was one of these individuals that politically fought for the equality of newly freed men.  Pinchback was born May 10, 1837 in Macon Georgia; his father was William Pinchback who was a plantation owner and his mother Eliza Stewart, his former slave.  Pinchback often found himself in unique situations.  During those times he found himself facing harsh discrimination from both sides.  Pinchback was born during the family’s move to Mississippi.  His father had purchased a parcel of land for a larger plantation. Pinchback’s father died, leaving his mother and siblings to fend for themselves.  By his wife being of African descent the extended family confiscated the estate from her.  This left Pinchback and is mother to provide for the family.  His mother fled with all five children to Illinois.  He worked on a river boat to help his mother support the family. 

When the Civil War started Pinchback traveled to New Orleans to fight for the Confederate side.  There he was able to recruit black volunteer s to join the Louisiana National Guard. It is a little known black history fact that ,” Pinchback was the only African American officer in the Civil War and because of it he encountered a great deal of prejudice.  In 1863 he had been passed over twice for a promotion and so he resigned  from the guard.  When the Civil War ended he moved his family to Alabama.  Being unhappy with the racism they encountered he moved his family back to New Orleans.  Pinchback entered politics out of necessity.  He organized the fourth Ward Republican Club.  In 1868 he was a member of the delegates that established a new constitution for the state of Louisiana. 

In 1871, the Lieutenant governor suddenly died and Pinchback was appointed to take his Senate seat. Pinchback held the Senate seat until 1872. In the same election he ran for U.S. Senate and became a congressman.  Opposing forces came against him and implied that the seat was won by fraud.  This position was short lived and his attempt as a politician.  In 1885, Pinchback decided to study law at Straight University.  Upon graduating college he moved his family to New York City where he served as a U.S. Marshall.  Pinchback died on December of 1921. His legacy was that he devoted his life to fight for equality for African Americans.