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Benjamin Grubb Humphreys
(August 26, 1808 – December 20, 1882)
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Benjamin Humphreys was a Confederate general and governor of Mississippi during the early phase of Reconstruction (1865-1868).  He oversaw the implementation of racially discriminatory Black Codes and opposed ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.

He was born on August 26, 1808, on his father’s plantation, Hermitage, in Claiborne County, Mississippi, to Sarah Smith Humphreys and George Humphreys.  In 1825, he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he was a member of the same class as Robert E. Lee.  Humphreys was one of several cadets expelled for their participation in the “Eggnog Riot” on Christmas Eve 1826.  He returned to Mississippi, where he helped manage his father’s plantation and studied law.  He married Mary McLaughlin in 1832, and the couple had two children before she died in 1835.  Four years later, he married Mildred Maury; the couple later had 14 children.

Humphreys was elected to the state house in 1838 and the state senate in 1840 as a Whig.  He left the state senate in 1844, and two years later established a plantation in Sunflower County, a developing area in the Mississippi Delta.  He strongly opposed secession, but organized a Confederate volunteer company, the Sunflower Guards, when Mississippi left the Union.  In May 1861, he was elected company captain and assigned to the Virginia warfront.   By the end of the year, he had been promoted to colonel of the 21st Mississippi Regiment.  He served with distinction at Antietam (September 1862), Fredericksburg (December 1862), and Gettysburg (July 1863).  In August 1863, he was given the rank of brigadier general, and then served under General James Longstreet in Tennessee, Georgia, and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, where he was wounded (at Berryville) in September 1864 and then reassigned to southern Mississippi. 

After the Civil War, Humphreys was elected governor of Mississippi on October 2, 1865, and inaugurated two weeks later, having been pardoned by President Andrew Johnson.  As governor, Humphreys endorsed the enactment of a “Black Code,” which severely limited the rights of the newly freed slaves, and opposed ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment.  With passage of the First Reconstruction Act in March 1867, his authority as governor was greatly restricted by a presidentially appointed military commander.  Humphreys initially cooperated with federal officials, but denounced Congressional Reconstruction after being nominated by the Democratic Party for a second term.  As a result of his outspoken opposition, he was removed from the governorship by military authorities on June 15, 1868.  He won the subsequent election, but was not allowed to take office because the proposed state constitution failed to gain popular approval.

Humphreys retired to his plantation, and briefly worked as an insurance agent.  He died at his home on December 20, 1882.  Humphreys County in Mississippi was named in his honor.

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