Back to Top

07.01.26 Ben Tillman, a biography by Francis Butler Simpkins titled, Pitchfork Ben Tillman, published in 1964

Notes Concerning the Author

Born in Edgefield, South Carolina, Francis Simkins (1897-1966) received his Bachelors degree at the University of South Carolina in 1918, his Masters in 1918, and, in 1926, his Ph. D. from Columbia, University.  He spent most of his academic career as a professor of History at Longwood College in Farmville, Virginia.  For a time he was president of the Southern Historical Association.  He is best known for his widely used textbook The South, Old and New (1947) and his monographs on South Carolina history.


Benjamin Ryan Tillman (1847-1918) accomplished a political revolution in South Carolina when (in 1890-1894) he replaced Governor Wade Hampton (see our biography of Hampton at 07.01.02) and the old guard Bourbons who had run the state since the end of Reconstruction.  Tillman and his  activist movement aimed to expand the political control of the state to lower-and middle-class whites at the expense of African Americans and the state’s former leaders.  During his political ascendancy as governor and then United States Senator (1895-1918), Tillman introduced the state’s dispensary system and oversaw the writing of the state’s 1895 constitution.  The contrast between the leadership of Wade Hampton and that of Ben Tillman is striking.  Hampton stove to unite the people of South Carolina.  Tillman strove to divide them for political gain. 

Availability of this Book

We suggest Amazon for a used copy or a reprint of this 577-page book.