Tillman, Benjamin Ryan

Life Span
Full name
Benjamin Ryan Tillman
Place of Birth
Burial Place
Birth Date Certainty
Death Date Certainty
Sectional choice
Slave State
No. of Spouses
No. of Children
Benjamin Ryan Tillman (father), Sophia Hancock (mother), John Tillman (brother), Oliver Tillman (brother), George Tillman (brother), Thomas Tillman (brother), Henry Tillman (brother), Sallie Starke (wife, 1868)
Other Education
Bethany Academy, SC
Farmer or Planter
Relation to Slavery
Political Parties
Other Affiliations
Other Affiliation
Sweetwater Saber Club
US Senate
State legislature

Benjamin Ryan Tillman (American National Biography)

Tillman reacted strongly against the Republican Reconstruction government of the Palmetto State. In 1873 he supported two Edgefield lawyers and ex-Confederate generals, Martin W. Gary and Matthew C. Butler, in their plan to "redeem" the state from the Republican party, which was overwhelmingly supported by African Americans. Devised by Gary, the Edgefield Plan, as the policy became known, called for the organization of secret extralegal military societies that would force defeat of the majority African-American South Carolinians at the ballot box through the use of violence, intimidation, and fraud. Tillman became a devoted Gary protégé. From 1873 to 1876 Tillman, as a member of the Sweetwater Saber Club, carried on a small-scale war with the African-American militia, harassed and assaulted black voters, and executed African-American political figures. His violence on behalf of the white Democrats in the Hamburg and Ellenton riots in the summer of 1876 secured his prominence among the state's white political elite and proved to be the deathblow to South Carolina's Republican Reconstruction government.
Orville Vernon Burton, "Tillman, Benjamin Ryan," American National Biography Online, February 2000, http://www.anb.org/articles/05/05-00784.html.

Benjamin Ryan Tillman (Congressional Biographical Directory)

TILLMAN, Benjamin Ryan, (brother of George Dionysius Tillman), a Senator from South Carolina; born near Trenton, Edgefield County, S.C., August 11, 1847; pursued an academic course; left school in 1864 to join the Confederate Army, but was stricken with a severe illness; engaged in agricultural pursuits; Governor of South Carolina 1890-1894; established Clemson College and Winthrop College while Governor; member of the State constitutional convention in 1895; elected as a Democrat to the United States Senate in 1894; reelected in 1901, 1907 and 1913 and served from March 4, 1895, until his death; censured by the Senate in 1902 after assaulting another Senator on the Senate floor; chairman, Committee on Revolutionary Claims (Fifty-seventh through Fifty-ninth Congresses), Committee on Five Civilized Tribes of Indians (Sixty-first and Sixty-second Congresses), Committee on Naval Affairs (Sixty-third through Sixty-fifth Congresses); Tillman was known as “Pitchfork Ben” during his years in the Senate; died in Washington, D.C., July 3, 1918; interment in Ebenezer Cemetery, Trenton, S.C.
“Tillman, Benjamin Ryan,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774 to Present, http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000274.
Chicago Style Entry Link
Clark, E. Culpepper. “Pitchfork Ben Tillman and the Emergence of Southern Demagoguery.” Quarterly Journal of Speech 69 (November 1983): 423-433. view record
Kantrowitz, Stephen. “Youngest Living Carpetbagger Tells All: Or, How Regional Myopia Created ‘Pitchfork Ben’ Tillman.” Southern Cultures 8 (2002): 18-37. view record
Kantrowitz, Stephen. Ben Tillman and the Reconstruction of White Supremacy. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2000 view record
Mabry, William Alexander. "Ben Tillman Disfranchised the Negro." South Atlantic Quarterly 37 (1938): 170-183. view record
Tindall, George Brown. "The Campaign for the Disfranchisement of the Negroes in South Carolina." Journal of Southern History 15 (1949): 212-234 view record
How to Cite This Page: "Tillman, Benjamin Ryan," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College, https://hd.housedivided.dickinson.edu/node/31848.