Georgia's Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

The rampant corruption of carpetbag governors like Rufus Bullock below fostered the seedy environment in which vast railroad frauds were perpetrated upon disenfranchised American Southerners.  They watched helplessly as their already-bankrupted States were burdened with heavy debt, and their lands seized for non-payment of exorbitant taxes.  An excellent read on this topic is Jonathan Daniels “Prince of Carpetbaggers,” the story of New York General Milton S. Littlefield and his corrupt railroad bond schemes.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Georgia’s Corrupt Carpetbag Regime

“[Georgia’s new 1867 Constitution] had been written by scalawags and carpetbaggers and Negroes, the conservative Democratic white mistakenly having abstained from the voting for [convention] delegates, and while it was not too radical, it was not the kind of constitution they particularly desired.

For the gubernatorial election…ex-General John B. Gordon, was defeated in April by Rufus B. Bullock, the Republican candidate, a Northerner who had come to Georgia before the war, and who remained Governor from July 22, 1868 to October 1871.

The Bullock regime, like most carpetbag governments, combined social progressivism – as in education – with political corruption. Its most flagrant irregular practice was that of issuing State-endorsed bonds to one railroad company after another, on the flimsiest security, and very often before a foot of track was laid. There was evidence, latter adduced, showing that members of the legislature were shadily involved in these transactions, being bribed to vote for certain bond issues.

The State-owned railroad, the Western & Atlantic, was manipulated by the regime for all it was worth, and had always at least three times as many employees as it needed. Bullock himself had been connected with the southern Express Company before the war, and his government, in contradistinction to prewar Georgia governments, was one in which economics ruled.

Its point of view was that of making money and maintaining itself in power so that it could make more money. In order to remain in power it was eager to meet illegality with illegality.

When Bullock called a meeting in January 1870 of the legislature elected in 1868, this fact was rendered obvious by his “purging,” with the aid of General [Alfred] Terry, the [Northern] military commandant, a certain number of Democrats and replacing them with Republicans. He also saw to it that the Negroes who had been expelled in 1868 [for being unqualified by State law to hold office] were reinstated, and so assured himself a solid Republican majority, which immediately ratified the Fifteenth Amendment.”

(Alexander H. Stephens, A Biography, Rudolph von Abele, Alfred A. Knopf, 1946, pp. 266-267)

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