Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback, the son of a white Mississippi planter and a former slave, was the first African American to serve as governor of a state when after the governor of Louisiana was impeached, he as Lt. Governor completed the 34 days left in his term (December 9, 1872 to January 12, 1873). Despite that short tenure, Pinchback nonetheless was the highest ranking black officeholder at the state level until 1989 when L. Douglas Wilder won the governorship of Virginia. As such Pinchback was a highly sought after speaker who rallied African American voters for the Republican Party. In this speech below, given in Indianapolis, Indiana, he campaigns for GOP presidential candidate James G. Garfield.
I SHALL NOT DWELL UPON the history of the war or attempt to detail its horrors and sum up its cost. I leave that task to others. If the wounds made by it have been healed, which I do not concede, far be it from my purpose to reopen them. My sole reason for referring to the war at all IS to remind the Northern people of some of the agencies employed in its successful prosecution.
When it commenced, the principal labor element of the South-the source of its production and wealth-was the colored race. Four millions and a half of these unfortunate people were there, slaves and property of the men who refused to submit to the will of the people lawfully expressed through the ballot box. They were the bone and sinew of the Confederacy, tilling its fields and producing sustenance for its armies, while many of the best men of the North were compelled to abandon Northern fields to shoulder a musket in defense of the Union.
As a war measure and to deprive the South of such a great advantage, your president, the immortal Lincoln, issued a proclamation in September, 1862, in which he gave public notice that it was his purpose to declare the emancipation of the slaves in the States wherein insurrection existed on January I, 1863, unless the offenders therein lay down their arms. That notice, thank God, was