Who was the first person of African descent to become governor of a U.S. state?
Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback (P.B.S. Pinchback) was the first person of African descent to become governor of a U.S. state (the state of Louisiana). Pinchback was serving as president pro tempore of the Louisiana senate when, in 1871, the state’s first black lieutenant governor, Oliver Dunn, died. This left Pinchback to take his place. So far, timing seemed to be Pinchback’s strong suit, and it was again a year later when his nemesis, Louisiana’s white governor, Henry C. Warmouth, was impeached after a bitter election. In the fallout, Pinchback stepped in as acting governor from Dec. 9, 1872, to Jan. 13, 1873. During the Reconstruction Era in America (1860-1880), Pinchback was the only black governor of any state, and he remained the only one until Douglas Wilder’s election in Virginia in 1989.
Pinchback was born in Georgia on May 10, 1837; he died in December 1921. He had the life of an American publisher, politician and a Union Army officer.