Rebuilding Pinchback: The Story of Gov. P.B.S. Pinchback

Elizabeth Lilly Stewart was a graduate student when Dr. Joe Gray Taylor, the head of the history department at the University of McKinsey, asked her to write a review of a scientific journal of the latest leading historians' presentations. The book that would have been reviewed and criticized if necessary was the first and only biography written by Penckney Benton Stewart Benchpak, Louisiana's reconstruction governor, and the first African-American governor of a state. Since the book was written by James Haskins, a well-established researcher, she was concerned that he was perceived as not obscene, or even "cocky" if she showed flaws in the work. I know that because I was there; she was my mother.

Why was Dr. Taylor, a historian who was, at the time, a leading American reconstruction expert in Louisiana, asking a graduate student to do such a task? The answer is that my mother chose to write her own master's thesis on P.B.S. Benchpac, was in the midst of years of preliminary research on the subject. She was, in fact, the most qualified person to write such a review. My mother's later reference to James Haskins' biography in her own book in Benchpac partly refers to the results of her review in the Louisiana Journal of History. Her point of view was recorded in Mr. Haskins' book in Karam, though not all of it to his advantage:

James Haskins blended skillfully with the truth and presumption to produce the first and only autobiography

From P.B.S. Pinchback, making the knowledge of the prominent black leader accessible to the general public. "

Elizabeth Stewart studied school, cared for her husband and her children, and moved away from her lifelong dream, a master's degree in history, which she obtained, almost with a master's degree in library science, with distinction. Dr. Taylor was her thesis adviser and was about to finish his award-winning work in Louisiana. She was eager to study history and practice, and it was strange to be present for her greatest achievement. I proudly present in my home a copy of her reconstructed Louisiana hands. It was among the most cherished possessions.

Despite being a history scholar for grinding, she was well aware of the debate about the city of Pinchbak, most of which was linked to the corruption and tricks known at that time in the South, especially in Louisiana.

"Joining the other politicians in his day to use his position for personal financial gain is a record." The partnership with Mississippi for the boat link and the deal he signed, while the park commissioner made a profit while it cost the state several thousand dollars … [and] Constitute a small part of the network of corruption, bribery and unethical practices that Republicans have blamed during Louisiana's reconstruction. "

If we exclude former players because of such failures and personal flaws, we will have to remove their sacrifices and achievements from their record, which will be short-sighted with regard to the types that have always been associated with "mud feet". To examine prominent persons in "parts". An attempt to separate greatness from a personal defect, is to create a scientific experiment, not to practice history. Anyway, we only have what was recorded at the time by the participants who are browsing the past. Although there is much to be gleaned from the available evidence, we must finally turn to the record in the light of the uncontested proposal that "they were there, and we were not."

History must have the final word, as the great French historian Mark Bloch wrote in his unfinished book, The Historian's Craft, "For History is the Most Reliable of the Dictators." Monsieur Bloch knew something about the dictators, writing the previous sentence while he was a prisoner of the Nazis, before he killed him.

So, Ms. Stewart does not apologize and does not apologize, but finds enough historical data to explain and understand Pinchpac, a task nobody had until then (not since then), but also tried. She firmly believed in the need to look at men in the context of their own time, often saying "I am a Catholic".

My mother followed those many years around the papers of six presidents, the unpublished John Topper (the famous grandson of Punchback and the author of Kani), and hundreds of relevant documents, revealing a prominent black political leader at a time when the idea of ​​a "black political leader" was an anomaly Undesirable and unwelcome in America, and an ominous endeavor, even for a lightweight "nigger" like a pinchback. Although at a rare historical moment "the conditions were favorable" (1870-1877, the Dixie era of black power), it imprinted for future generations the difficulty, danger, and uncertainty of pinchpak fortunes.

Benshpak himself was not safe and never stopped building a fortress or safe haven for his "slave" mother, his sixty-one-year-old wife, his beloved children and grandchildren.

"Pinchback needed more of his identity as a Crouton to become a black outstanding player," Stewart wrote. Then, with the accuracy of a research historian and the experience of a Southern woman raised in Jim Crow South who rejected intolerance in her hometown, she demonstrates the struggle of the Pinkback to do as white people do, and if not, just to survive in Dixie is increasingly dangerous.

Pinchback was not unique among black men in that his fortunes, sometimes great, "were inextricably linked with those of his race." It flourished during the reconstruction, but it was basically broken by the time of his death in 1921.

Frederick Douglas, a friend of Benchpac and mutual admirer, died in 1895, leaving. DuBois leader Black favor. It was believed that this century was very close to the "House of Residence" led by Booker T. , And therefore, for most of the twentieth century, in the "wrong side" of history.

There is no record or indication that Benchpac has ever read Harriet Beecher Stowe's book, which will carry the term used by subsequent generations to circumvent it and Tuskegans with the label Uncle Tom. Ms. Stewart assures us that the historical record does not support such a simple demise. Abjectly barely able to contain the breaths and complexity of such men as Washington and Pinkback.

While a more enlightened view has emerged since the present working time, the "new" view, at least with regard to the Pinkback, is more focused on the realization of the tragedy of the black men in the Pinchpac era, less reliant on a comprehensive study by the elusive former ruler. Ms. Stewart's book on Benchpac provides a long-term view of the scattered and crystallized record, and confirms that the modern intuition and rejection of bias seems to have ended: Benchpak and other black men and women who are determined and determined to be counted before the conditions are safe to do so, . He and others continued to face life-killing movements when the landing of second-class citizenship was the Land Act, which was recorded.

Contemporary observers can not wrap their arms around this most ambitious and active man. Pinchback has been mentioned in all the reconstruction books written since World War II, but as if hoping not to ask for details, so far historians, except for the current work, neglect to exceed their minimum obligation to tell the truth of its existence. Who can blame them? Information about Pinchback was outside the government documents and is still difficult to obtain. In late 1974, more than 50 years after his death, Pinchapak was still missing from the list of referees in Louisiana's eighth grade book.

The historic grant since the 1990s has improved the lens through which we can see Tuskeegans led by Booker T. Washington – now seems necessary, and an integral part of the individual desire to have the full citizenship rights of American blacks. Less attention is now focused on who is "right" or who is better than the cause of political and civil rights, which seemed important in the years immediately following the death of Martin Luther King, and more to the skill, sacrifices, achievements of men and women Who kept this line so that the leaders could later push the case forward.

The post-reconstruction phase of the South has given rise to a historical model encouraged by the spirit of the times in a region determined to eliminate any concepts that have been fought or forced to accept the full citizenship of blacks. The war they lost in 1865 was, they argued (and often heard my grandmother assert), "war of northern aggression", no more and no less. "The rights of the states are the cause," or so will be confirmed by the revisionists, not in fact the desire of the South to defend slavery, nor the desire of the North, if latent, to see slavery enslaved from the land where all men were declared a hundred years earlier to be created On an equal footing.

In the forbidden use of the term, revisionist historians attempted to shed warm and nostalgic light on the pre-war south, and for some time succeeded in presenting arguments for the "obvious" unreliability of black citizens to political power. , And men like Pinchback grabbed as evidence of their demands. However, the laws of Jim Crow swept through the south in the early 20th century, as well as attempts to frame the civil war that their separation from the Union and its fragmentation as a "just" war left free citizens' rights, lied to the argument that the battle was for the rights of the state. The poor whites in the south were afraid of free Zinjis. Wealthy whites were afraid of losing their wealth, and their way of life was based on the enslavement of a whole class of Americans. In their struggle for full citizenship, Pincapak and his colleagues were eager to change the record, either a loss of history, if not a "loser," and then as "corrupt" and even "dangerous."

Ms. Stewart's mission was not to build a "revision" of the history of Punchback and its times, but rather a return to the record. "The left to the women of the South (and perhaps contradicted, at least in part, in the history of various women's recitations), was perpetuated by slavery," she said.

In 1970, Joe Gray Taylor and James Haskins, and since then, have increased the tide of science in reconstruction, in the forefront of historians such as Eric Fonner, Hans Trivus, Ted Tunnel, and Rose Punchback.

Pinchback's life began with Haskins' biography in 1973, followed by a project to put a bust of the former ruler among his fellow rulers at the beloved state palace in Huey Bay. Long. Penchapak then struggled for the text in the 1879 Constitutional Constitution of Louisiana, which provided for the establishment of the southern university, where he was "highly regarded" and where he held a new engineering complex named.

Although attitudes toward "residence" have changed in favor of black leaders previously suspected, the current size remains the only overall grant in P.B. Pinchback.

Ms. Stewart was a co-creator of a "wave of scholarship in the 1970s" in reconstruction that Professor Fonner referred to in his landmark book, "Free of the Eternity: The Story of Liberation and Reconstruction." In the light of her own guide, Joe Gray Taylor, the work of other historians already exist, did not try to get a folder about the reconstruction itself, but the story, as far as it could be known, about one of those wonderful leaders period.

In the introduction to rebuilding the Pinchback program, Ms. Stewart begins preparing her explanation of life and the unusual times of Pinchback:

"The meteoric rise of Benshpak to key positions in the Louisiana government in the years from 1867 to 1877," she writes, "caused observers … to characterize him as a brilliant politician, looking for himself, useful, dangerous, corrupt, existent, and crafty." Hygienic reduction will not. She wanted, above all, to understand, and as such, her pure and clear prose lacks the decoration and editing (the "hypothesis") so far shared in the extensive self-sufficiency of this complex and controversial man.

She hoped to find simpler terms by which to convey the enormous complexities of Louisiana after ridicule in order to shed light on the life of one man within the limits of the available evidence — the "witch boiler" — and agreed with Einstein, who said he hoped to find terms The simplest of the difficult and winding structures, "but not very simple." I was present to hear my mother search for historical material on Pinchback "Find a needle in a burnt haystack".

In the 1940s, Agnes Smith Groz wrote an impressive and impressive account of Pinchpac's political career, but the story declines in 1877, leaving the remaining forty-four-year-old Benchpac record largely incomprehensible to both believers and historians. "Generations of the future are relaxed," she wrote. "It is a fact that the personal papers at Pinchpak were burnt shortly after his death," she wrote, an act that she considered always outrageous, and in fact she was unable to prove.

But my mother was not deterred, and after more than ten years dedicated to careful research, she wrote the current volume, which provides the truth of the man, and the rest of the story of P.B.S. Life is distinctive and produced in Pinchback.