Browsing "Aftermath: Racial Conundrums"

The Problem of the Negroes

The following editorial in the Confederate Veteran magazine of January 1907 presents the view of the American race problem common of that time. A later submission to that journal asked the question: “How does it happen that blacks who took care of the helpless women and children during the war cannot now be trusted to live in the same town?” That writer observed that the carpetbag element after 1865 “created between the races a strong propulsive force to drive them apart, placing on the defensive the white . . .” and on the part of the black, “arousing an envy and hatred inevitably born of a feeling that in being debarred from social equality by the native whites he was being deprived of something to which he was entitled by right.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Problem of the Negroes

“The Veteran has been silent on this most important question; but every phase of it has been considered constantly and diligently, especially from the standpoint of friendship for that thriftless but most amiable race. Antagonisms exist as they never did before, and the neglect of white people in behalf of these issues has been greatly to their discredit.

We all like the old Negroes, and those of the fast-decaying remnant of ex-slaves are still faithful and loyal to the families of their former masters. The same instincts are much more prevalent among their offspring than is generally realized. While the Associated Press flashes a horrible account of a fiendish deed of one Negro, ten thousand others are going quietly about their business as law-abiding and worthy of consideration as could be expected of them.

It seems that education has been a curse rather than a blessing to them. The editor of the Veteran soon after attaining his majority, early after the close of the war, took an active part in behalf of their education. He antagonized some of his people as editor of a country newspaper in advocacy of public schools, which required that as good facilities be given to blacks as he whites.

He attended a venerable divine, President of the Davidson County School Board, who, when the movement was quite unpopular, canvassed his native county of Bedford in their behalf from purely benevolent motives, making the one argument that all men should learn to read the Bible. It seems, however, that when a Negro has learned to read he ceases to work, and his idleness begets mischief, and often of the worst kind.

There is not sufficient cooperation of the two races. Besides, many whites are not justly considerate of Negroes. White people should confer with the better classes of blacks for the common good, and they should cooperate cordially.

The separate [railroad] car laws are proper, and became a necessity because of the insolent presumption of the Negroes. It was quite the rule for them to string out the length of the cars, so as to compel whites to sit among them, and every act toward social equality has proven a tendency of insolence [toward white people]. The Negroes made this isolation a necessity, and they may expect its perpetuity.

With these laws in force the whites should be very considerate and see that no injustice is done the Negroes. Again, there is a sore lack of consideration for Negroes in conversation with white people. The Negro is not to blame for his color . . . and inasmuch as we declare his inferiority, we should be diligent that justice be done him.

Often are remarks made in the presence of Negroes that instinctively create hatred not only toward those who are inconsiderate but against the white race. Every white person should be on guard to avoid giving offense in this manner.

At the first annual dinner of the Alabama Society (of one hundred and fifty members) in New York near Christmas day the Hon. Seth Low, of that great city, was a special guest. This race question was the theme of the evening, and Mr. Low, with exquisite deference, suggested that the white people of the South consider these unhappy disturbances as fairly as possible, looking at the situation from the standpoint of the Negro.

The condition confronts us, and the sooner we grapple it the better. White people intend to control, and the Negro will be the great sufferer in the end for all disturbances, so that both races should do all in their power for the friendliest relations possible.

No more Negroes should be admitted to the army, and the amendment to the Constitution giving Negroes the ballot should be repealed. This ballot is the luring one in social as well as political strife. In compelling the Negro to keep his place the highest instincts of life should be exercised to treat him kindly and justly in every way.

Let us confront the problem honestly. The Negro did not come among us of his own accord, and they can’t all get away. If tact were exercised, it would be quite sufficient. Let the white people of the South revive the old rule of kindness, and never, anyhow in their presence, speak ill of the Negro race.”

(Problem of the Negroes, S.A. Cunningham, Editor, Confederate Veteran, January 1907, page 8)

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

Karl Marx, European correspondent for Horace Greeley’s New York Tribune, saw the American war1861-65 as a struggle of workers versus capital. He was brought to the Tribune by socialist editor Charles A. Dana who became Lincoln’s assistant secretary of war, and it was Dana who ordered Jefferson Davis manacled at Fortress Monroe.  Below, the late columnist Sam Francis writes of the effort to remove a symbol of South Carolina’s proud heritage in 1997 — David Beasley was a one-term governor of that State.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

False Reasons for Removing the Confederate Flag

“A people separated from their heritage are easily persuaded,” wrote a correspondent for the New York Times during the American Civil War who zealously supported the Northern side in that conflict. If you erase the symbols pf a peoples’ heritage, you erase their public memory and identity, and then you can “persuade” them of whatever you want. For once the correspondent knew what he was talking about.

His name was Karl Marx, and his legacy lives on in the Republican governor of South Carolina.

Last month, Gov. David Beasley unveiled his plan to remove the Confederate Battle Flag that flutters on top of South Carolina’s State capitol, and he’s lined up an impressive coalition of former governors, white business leaders, black political activists and the antediluvian Sen. Strom Thurmond to go along with him.

This month, the State legislature will vote on his proposal to remove the flag to a more obscure location on the capital grounds, and the only thing between separating the people of the State from the heritage the flag symbolizes is the people themselves.

Why Gov. Beasley is so intent about his proposal is something of a mystery. In 1994 he supported keeping the flag where it is and has been since 1962, and his betrayal explicit pledges to retain the banner can bring him no political gains. Indeed, with several Southern heritage groups mobilizing against him, it seems more likely that he has committed a major blunder that will haunt his re-election efforts in 1998.

In a televised speech to the State in November, the governor came up with a number of transparently phony reasons why the flag has to go. “I have a question for us tonight,” he intoned to his fellow Carolinians, “Do we want our children to be debating the Confederate flag in ten years? . . . And the debate will not subside, but intensify. I don’t want that for my children or yours.”

But of course there would be no debate at all if it were not for the governor’s own proposal to get rid of the flag. Similar proposals were roundly rejected in 1994, and State law now requires that the flag continue to fly. The debate was settled. Only by reviving this divisive issue himself has Mr. Beasley insured that the “debate” will intensify.

And so what if the “debate” does live on? Why is it a bad thing for South Carolinians to think, talk and argue about the flag and its meaning? Maybe in the process of doing so, some of them – not least the governor and his allies – will learn something about their own heritage and why erasing it is not a good idea.

Mr. Beasley also maundered on about the evils of “racism” and alluded to several recent “hate crimes,” while denying that the flag itself was a racist symbol. If it isn’t, then why drag in the hate crimes, and why take it down at all?

“Hate-filled cowards cover their heads and meet under the cloak of night, scattering their seeds of racism in the winds of deceit about the flag and its meaning.”

The governor’s argument seems to be that since many blacks and not a few whites have come to regard the Confederate Flag as a symbol of “racism” and “hate,” then the flag is divisive and needs to come down. There is no question of trying to correct their flawed view of the flag’s meaning. The burden is not on those who invest the flag with meaning it never had but on those who want to retain the meanings it has always represented.

For the business elites, the flag and the controversy about it are “hurting economic growth,” according to the New York Times. How they do so is not quite so clear, nor is it clear why economic growth should take precedence over preservation of a cultural identity, but then Economic Man never likes to consider that question.

For the racial enemies of the flag, the goal is their own empowerment, a goal they know cannot be attained until the flag is removed and the heritage it represents and they despise is wiped clean. “That symbol only embraces the heritage of a particular people,” sneers one flag enemy, black lawyer Carl Grant. It’s not the flag but the heritage he seeks to destroy.

But whether driven by race or greed, the foes of the flag agree on one thing, that as long as the flag over the Capitol waves, the people of South Carolina will know that the heritage it represents retains some official meaning.

Only when it is removed will the people be separated from their heritage, and only then can they be easily persuaded to pursue whatever goals the enemies of their real heritage desire.” (published January 7, 1997)

 

Nixon's Treaty of Fifth Avenue

The 1968 observation of presidential candidate George Wallace regarding the differences between the Republican and Democrat parties appears accurate, as both had similar policies to attract the same voters. The GOP leadership chose a man in 1952 with no known conservative principles over Robert A. Taft, a man with extensive and proven conservative principles. The liberal Rockefeller wing of the GOP acted in 1959 to thwart conservative Barry Goldwater’s candidacy and did everything to re-elect LBJ 1964.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Nixon’s Treaty of Fifth Avenue

“When the Republicans met in Chicago the next week, Richard Nixon had an even safer lock on the presidential nomination than Kennedy’s before the Democrats met. Anticipating Nixon’s nomination, [John F.] Kennedy had gone out of his way to attack [Eisenhower’s] Vice President as a young man whose ideas nevertheless belonged to the days of William McKinley, and as one who, unlike Lincoln, had shown “charity toward none and malice toward all.”

The closest thing to a serious challenge to Nixon’s claims on the nomination had come from Governor Nelson Rockefeller of New York, who did nothing to discourage efforts to boom him for the Presidency in 1959. Visits with Republican leaders around the country, however, had convinced him that he had no chance against Nixon, and at the end of the year he withdrew from the race. Shortly thereafter Nixon announced his candidacy.

Rockefeller, though no longer seeking the nomination, was determined to influence the GOP platform. As critical as any Democrat of [Eisenhower] administration military policy, the New York governor strongly echoed the 1958 Rockefeller Brothers Fund report on national security, especially the recommendations for a mandatory national fallout shelter program, for accelerated ICBM development, and for bigger conventional forces.

Early in June he angered Eisenhower when, right after breakfasting with the President at the White House, he told newsmen that “our position in the world is dramatically weaker today than fifteen years ago . . . our national defense needs great strengthening.” He also urged Nixon to make known his views on all issues before, not after the convention.

Rockefeller was obviously in a position to make things difficult for Nixon if he wanted to. Two days before the Chicago convention was to open, the Vice President and the governor had a dramatic secret conference at Rockefeller’s personal residence in Manhattan. As a result of what the press dubbed the “treaty of Fifth Avenue,” Nixon agreed that the party platform then being drafted in Chicago should have stronger sections on both defense and civil rights.

Thus the platform, while mostly praising the policies of the Eisenhower administration, did call for faster development and deployment of missiles, and committed the GOP to a program of action in the field of civil rights while was fully as far-reaching as what the Democrats had promised.

Yet despite their radically contrasting backgrounds, personalities and political styles, in assumptions and outlook Kennedy and Nixon were not far apart. Both men were fundamentally cold warriors, dedicated to protecting national interests . . . Both were “internationalists,” strong advocates of the collective security orientation of American foreign policy since 1939.

Both wished to couple the continuing buildup of American armaments with a more ambitious program of nonmilitary aid in response to what Nixon termed “the revolution of peaceful peoples’ aspirations” in Asia, Africa, and South America. Both Nixon and Kennedy accepted the basic premises of the welfare state, although Kennedy favored a greater degree of federal intervention to foster economic growth and expand economic opportunity.

Finally, both believed in a powerful Presidency, dominant in domestic affairs and unchallenged in the making and execution of foreign policy.

The election was so close that, according to some estimates, a shift of no more than 12,000 votes in five States would have produced a different result. But Kennedy, by narrowly winning such populous States as New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, and Texas, managed to squeeze through. In a record popular vote of nearly 69 million, Kennedy’s margin of victory was less than 118,000, or about a quarter of a percentage point. Kennedy’s big majorities in the largest Norther cities, with their great numbers of Catholics and blacks, won him the Presidency.

(Holding the Line: The Eisenhower Era, 1952-1961, Charles C. Alexander, Indiana University Press, 1975, pp. 274-279)

 

Fruits of the Abolitionist Victory

The passage below is taken from a novel, though one based upon common sense and the historical realities of North and South. Though many like the author claim that “Jim Crow” laws occurred about 1900, they actually have their basis in the North as New York in the 1820s, for example, dealt with the threat of a black swing vote by raising property qualifications for black voters and free blacks had limited access to antebellum northern public transport. The author aptly describes a “lost cause” myth which would have developed in the postwar North to glorify its defeat, and locating a convenient scapegoat.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Fruits of the Abolitionist Victory

“Southerners were appalled, as well as perplexed, at the growing problems of discrimination and segregation in the North. That the North would have fought for the freedom of the black man, then turn around and display animosity at him for moving into the North and expressing his newly-found freedoms, seemed hypocrisy at its worst to the average citizen of the Confederacy.

The turn of the century brought to the United States what became known as the “Jim Crow” laws, named after a traditional song and dance, ironically of the South. Contemporary Southern social analysts have blamed the animosities felt in the North against the former slaves and sons and daughters of formers slaves, on several things.

First, there was the idea in the north that the Civil War had, in essence been a “black man’s war” in which hundreds of thousands of northern boys had sacrificed life and limb for the emancipation of the black man. The immediate woes that beset the United States after the war ended in defeat for the North needed some focal point, and the poor, uneducated former slave – the stranger to Northerners – became the convenient scapegoat.

In addition, the freeing of slaves flooded the job market in the North with workers who were willing to work for “slave wages” – much less than the ex-Union soldiers, also looking for jobs at the end of the war in 1863. Many veterans were fired from jobs and replaced with ex-slaves. The results were riots all over the North over nearly a decade.

The Southerner’s more lenient attitudes toward black people stemmed from generations of living with blacks, growing up with them, working beside them in the fields, and later, in the factories. Most Southerners would have admitted, even during the War between the States that they had always felt an uneasiness – a guilt, even – in seeing blacks held in servitude as slaves.

The stories of mistreatment and whippings had always been regarded in the South as ludicrous, pre-war propaganda by Abolitionists who had never seen a black man or woman. Certainly there were instances of a cruel overseer who applied punishment a little too often, but slaves in the old South had been considered property – and expensive property, as well – and were to be treated like an item of value. As one Southern social historian put it, you wouldn’t take a sledge-hammer to your brand new, expensive horseless carriage the first time it didn’t run; you would find out why it wasn’t working and fix it.

Southerners saw black men and women grow up, fall in love, marry, give birth, laugh, cry, and mourn the deaths of family members. There was something wrong here, many felt. These black people were not really property, like a plow or a horseless carriage. Under the skin, though many a Southerner, we are a very much alike.

It had to be a terrible moral burden, a society-wide, sublimated guilt about slavery that, once the war was over and the name-calling by Abolitionists had ended, could finally be seen in its true light, and was dealt with swiftly by the hurried measures to free the blacks from bondage.

To the average Southerner, blacks were not only property, but people too. To the Northerners, blacks were first a symbol, then a threat.”

If the South Had Won Gettysburg, Mark Nesbitt, Thomas Publications, 1980, pp. 88-89)

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)

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

Barry Goldwater called so-called “civil rights” one of the most badly misunderstood concepts in modern political usage. He states that “as often as not, it is simply a name for describing an activity that someone deems politically or socially desirable. A sociologist writes a paper proposing to abolish some inequity, or a politician makes a speech about it – and, behold, a new “civil right” is born! The Supreme Court has displayed the same creative powers.”  Below, George Wallace predicts the true result of a so-called “civil rights” bill.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Civil Rights and Extending Executive Power

“I took off for my western tour in January 1964. I called the civil rights bill “the involuntary servitude act of 1964,” and I was applauded frequently. Outside a line of pickets carried the usual signs.

A reporter from India began to attack the South and its customs. He did not ask questions, he made accusations. I stopped him promptly. “I suggest you go home to India and work to end the rigid caste system before you criticize my part of the United States. In India a higher caste will not even deign to shake hands with a lower caste. Yet you cannot see the hypocrisy in your double standard.”

It was at UCLA that I told the press, “You know, free speech can get you killed.” My security advisors had warned me that I would have a difficult time and probably wouldn’t be allowed to finish my speech. We entered the auditorium from the rear to avoid a confrontation with the “non-violent” protesters. These “free-speech” advocates were there to make certain I didnt have an opportunity to exercise my right to free speech.

As I expected, most of the students had never read the [proposed] civil rights bill and didn’t know that its passage meant the right of the federal government to control numerous aspects of business, industry and our personal lives. I quoted Lloyd Wright, a Los Angeles attorney and former president of the American Bar Association: “The civil rights aspect of this legislation is but a cloak. Uncontrolled federal executive power is the body. It is 10 per cent civil rights and 90 per cent extension of the federal executive power.”

I denounced lawmaking by executive or court edict. And I lashed out against the press for its eagerness to bury a public official with smearing propaganda. I pointed out that the civil rights bill placed “in the hands of a few men in central government the power to create regulatory police arm unequaled in Western civilization.”

During one of my speaking engagements, a reporter asked me, “Do you have an alternative to the civil rights bill? This was an easy one. “Yes sir, the U.S. Constitution. It guarantees civil rights to all people, without violating the rights of anyone.”

I believe George Washington would have had words to say about the civil rights bill and the growing power of the federal government. These words from his Farewell Address are significant today:

“It is important, likewise, that [leaders] should confine themselves within their respective Constitutional spheres, avoiding, in the exercise of those powers of one department, to encroach upon another. The spirit of encroachment tends to consolidate the powers of all departments in one, and thus to create, whatever the form of government, a real despotism.”

(Stand Up For America, George C. Wallace, Doubleday & Company, 1976, pp. 84-89)

Lincoln's Sable Arm in North Carolina

Former Lieutenant-Colonel Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington, North Carolina was a prewar Whig, newspaper editor and opposed to the secession of his State. On July 26, 1865 he addressed a colored audience at the Wilmington Theater, advising them on their newly-conferred liberty and subsequent duties and responsibilities — and that the white people of the South they grew up with were not their enemies, despite what the carpetbag element was telling them. At the time he made the address, the black soldiers occupying were a lawless element who were arming local blacks and inciting them to insurrection.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Sable Arm in North Carolina

“[Alfred Moore Waddell of Wilmington wrote Reconstruction Governor W.W. Holden that] The town had a Negro garrison, and with its large Negro population was in a state of great alarm. [He] wrote the governor in early June [1866] that outrages by the troops were of daily occurrence and that the effect of the presence of the colored troops on the Negro population was very dangerous. Arrests [by colored troops] were constantly made without any cause, and in one instance the soldiers were instructed, if the person arrested said or did anything, to run him through [with the bayonet]. There was little or no redress, as unusual latitude was given the colored troops.

In July the mayor and commissioners wrote describing the conduct of the Negroes and the apprehension felt by the white people of an insurrection. The Negroes had demanded that they should have some of the city offices and had made threats when they were refused. The governor replied that the citizens had acted rightly in refusing to appoint Negroes to office, as the right to hold office depended on the right of suffrage. He also assured them that if the Negroes attempted by force to gain control of public affairs or avenge grievances suffered at the hands of the whites, they would be visited by swift punishment; but if obedient to the laws, they would be protected.

[In] Beaufort, a party [of colored soldiers] from Fort Macon committed a brutal rape and were also guilty of attempting the same crime a second time. They were arrested in the town and the garrison of Fort Macon threatened to turn its guns upon the town if they were not surrendered. The condition of affairs there was so bad that General [Thomas] Ruger forbade any soldier to leave the fort except under a white officer.

Near Wilmington, Thomas Pickett was murdered and his two daughters seriously wounded by three soldiers from the Negro garrison at Fort Fisher in company of a Negro from Wilmington. In Kinston, a citizen was beaten by the soldiers, and upon Governor Holden’s complaint to General Ruger, the garrison was removed. Soon afterwards the governor notified General Ruger that a [railroad] car of muskets and ammunition had been side-tracked at Auburn, and while left unguarded had been opened by the freedmen and its contents distributed. The possessors of the arms then became the terror of the community.

Complaints of colored troops were also sent in from New Bern, Windsor, and other eastern towns. In September 1866, the last remaining regiment of Negro [troops] was mustered out, and that cause of discontent disappeared. The white [Northern] troops as a general thing, after the confusion incident to the surrender was over, behaved well. In Asheville, however, they were so disorderly and undisciplined that great efforts were made by the citizens to have them withdrawn.”

(Reconstruction in North Carolina, Joseph D.R. Hamilton, Books for Libraries Press, 1914/1971, pp. 159-161)

Employing Underground Methods of Protection

Twice under brutal enemy occupation the inhabitants of York County, South Carolina armed themselves and retaliated as any free people would. According to the postwar congressional testimony of Generals Hood and Gordon, the Ku Klux Klan existed in response to the Republican party’s Union League which alienated the freedmen from their white neighbors for party purposes. They stated that if the Republicans ended the Union League, the Klan would vanish.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Employing Underground Methods of Protection

“After the fall of Charleston, all of South Carolina came under the control of the British save York County. Cornwallis sent Captain Huck to destroy the William Hull Iron Works . . . north of Yorkville. The patriots of York banded together to meet Captain Huck and valiantly defeated his far superior forces at Brattonsville, ten miles south of Yorkville.

This same Scotch-Irish determination brought York into international prominence during the Reconstruction period following the Confederate War. Occupation by Negro militia and Federal infantry and cavalry became an intolerable situation. Ku Klux Klan activities reached their zenith in York which was the first in the State to organize a clan in 1868. Washington [DC] declared York in a state of rebellion, and Federal troops occupied it for ten years after the war.

International attention was focused on York during the affair of Dr. Rufus J. Bratton, a York County planter, who had escaped to London, Ontario, after a particular Klan episode. He was discovered there by the Pinkerton Detective Agency, hired by the United States Government, and brought back forcibly to York to stand trial. When [British] Prime Minister Gladstone learned of the abduction, he corresponded with the President of the United States requesting the doctor’s return. The two countries were at the time negotiating over the ship Alabama, and the somewhat “troubled waters” between the two countries had overtones for the Bratton affair.

Later, President Grant allowed Dr. Bratton to return to York peaceably. These incidents prompted Thomas Dixon to write the famous book, The Clansman, on which the motion picture production, The Birth of a Nation was based. Dr. Cameron was the prototype of Dr. Cameron in the book.

The first Bratton’s had won fame as Revolutionary War officers. The Confederate Bratton’s won world fame during the Reconstruction period. As head surgeon of the Confederate hospitals at Milledgeville and Richmond, [Dr. Bratton] knew the price paid by the South. It was more than he and the other men in York could bear to submit to the arrogant insults of the Negro troops and U.S. Militia stationed in York after the war.

Feeling forsaken by the government these men felt pressed to employ underground methods to protect themselves and their property in what to them became an intolerable situation. Like the Regulators of old, they took it upon themselves through the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, to re-establish a safe environment for their families.”

(Plantation Heritage in Upcountry, South Carolina, Kenneth and Blanche Marsh, Biltmore Press, 1965, excerpts: pp. 40-52)

 

Vance Resists the Party of Misrule and Ignorance

Under the pretense of ensuring the purity of elections the South, the Republican party in 1890 proposed a Force Bill to reinstitute federal interference at the polls in the South as had been done during Reconstruction. Below Senator Zebulon Vance of North Carolina addresses his Republican colleagues.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.Circ1865.com

 

Vance Resists the Party of Misrule and Ignorance

“The title of this [Force] bill reads: “An act to prevent force and fraud in elections of the House of Representatives of the United States . . . and to insure the lawful and peaceable conduct of such elections.”

“[Senator Vance]: The object then, of the bill is to restore the purity of elections!

I presume that no one will doubt that this is desirable, nay, that it is indispensable. But the manner in which the Senator and his associates propose to bring about this purity is what strikes us with wonder.

When this [Republican] party presents itself as the defender of public virtue, and by reason of its high pretensions claims that only through its agency can this beatitude be reached, a prudent man would naturally inquire into its history for proof of its exalted qualifications.

Let us take this method for a moment and see who is, and what is the Republican party, as represented by the supporters of this bill. We shall find that it is the same party, which inaugurated Reconstruction. By Reconstruction, it will be remembered one-fifth of the votes in eleven States was suppressed by law. The punishment of disfranchisement was freely inflicted as a punishment for crime without trial and conviction.

Thousands upon . . . thousands of other votes were suppressed by fraud, the returns being counted and canvassed in secret by men not sworn or in any way responsible to anybody, acting in States far distant from the places where the votes were cast. In addition to this there were received and counted the ballots of those who were not entitled to suffrage under any law known to American history or tradition.

In this way eleven Southern States were subjected to the control of this fountain of purity. The Republican party took full charge of them and their destinies. Behind and in support of their leaders stood the Army of the United States and all the moral power of the government then under the control of this great party whose chief desire is the purity and freedom of elections.

The carnival of corruption and fraud, the trampling down of decency, the rioting in the overthrow of the traditions of a proud people, the chaos of hell on earth which took place beggars the descriptive powers of plain history . . . I believe a committee of Congress, who took some testimony on this subject, estimated in 1871 the amount of plunder which was extracted from the Southern people in about 5 short years — some $300 millions of dollars in the shape of increased debt alone, to say nothing of the indirect damage inflicted by the many ways of corruption and misrule which can not be estimated in money.

The trick by which Republicans fastened itself for a term of years upon the downtrodden States was one which could only have been originated with a party devoted to the highest morality and the purest elections.

In the formation of new governments primarily, the Negro who had no right to vote was permitted to do so by military force. The historical inquirer will likewise learn that during the time the South was being thus plundered by the carpetbaggers through the ignorance of the Negroes in the Southern department of the party of purity and free elections, the home office was doing a business, which reflected no mean luster on the active and energetic Southern branches.

The system of levying contributions upon all Federal officeholders for corrupt political purposes was inaugurated and set going with efficiency and success.

Grants of the public domain equal to the area of many great nations were jobbed away to companies of loyal speculators. The Credit Mobilier was born and with incredible rapidity became the scandal of Christendom. Whiskey rings fastened their thievish grip upon the revenues. The Black Friday conspiracy shook the credit of the continent and made businessmen lose faith in human integrity.

As soon as there began to appear any necessity for it, that is to say, so soon as there appeared a feeble and languid rallying of political virtue in the dazed public mind, this pure and virtuous party began to provide against the reaction with a system of gerrymander. New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Ohio and various other States were so arranged in their Congressional and legislative districts as to completely drown the will of the majority and suppress their votes.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the dominant majority in both Houses of this Congress is the legitimate result of this suppression of the popular will by the methods of gerrymandering, aided and supplemented by a skillful application of the “fat” fried out of the tariff beneficiaries and used for the purposes of floating voters in blocks of five, by the very party leader who here says that the [Force] bill is intended to defend the Constitution of the United States against those who . . . are in the habit of substituting “processes of fraud, intimidation and bribery” [for honest elections].

At the present moment there are in the Union but twelve Republican States, representing some 9,000,000 of people, whilst there are thirty Democratic States containing 53,000,000 of people; yet the 9,000,000 control both Houses of Congress and every department of government . . .

The bill is not intended to preserve purity in elections. It is not intended to defend the Constitution of the United States against those who would substitute “processes of fraud, intimidation and bribery” for honest elections.

It is intended to resurrect, if possible, the Republican party and restore its hold on power. To do this, it is intended by this bill to subject the people of the South once more to the domination of their recent slaves. The objects at which the provisions of this bill are aimed are the Democratic South, the great Democratic cities of the North, and all naturalized citizens.

The policy of subjecting the intelligence and property of the South to the control of ignorance and poverty is not a new one. It has been tried. To the candid man who really desires the welfare of his country, the experiment resulted in a failure so disastrous that he would never desire to see it repeated.

The carpetbag rulers were infinitely worse than the Negroes. The evil propensities of the one were directed by intelligence, and the ignorance of the other became simply the instrument by which the purposes of the white leaders were carried out. The material and moral ruin wrought under this infernal conjunction of ignorance and intelligent vice was far greater than that inflicted by war. The very foundations of public virtue were undermined, and the seeds of hatred were thickly sown between the races.

In this great struggle to escape Negro rule and restore our State governments to the control of those who made them, and whose ancestors had established their principles in their blood, we had both the aid and the sympathy of Northern Democrats everywhere. We had neither from you.

You did not even stand by with indifference. You upheld the party of misrule and ignorance in every way you could. You kept the Army of the United States in the South to overcome the struggling whites as long as you dared. You sorrowed when the plundering of our people was stopped, and you received to your arms as martyrs the carpetbag fugitives expelled by the indignation of an outraged people.

In 1865, the property of North Carolina assessed for taxation was $121,000,000; in 1860 it had been $292,000,000, showing a loss of $171,000,000. In 1865, the debt of the State was $10,899,000; in 1871 the debt of the State was $34,887,000. Taxation in 1860 for State and county purposes was $799,000; in 1870 taxation for State and county purposes was $2,083,000 per annum.

But such were the recuperative powers of our people when freed from the corrupt yoke of strangers and permitted to manage their own affairs, that our taxable property is now assessed at about $230,000,000. Best of all, under the influence of the kindly associations of these years of labor and recuperation, race asperities have become softened and white and black have grown closer to each other in the recognition of the fact that the interest of one is inseparably connected with the other.

The direct effect, if not the object of this bill will be to disturb this prosperity and peace. There is made no secret of the fact that it is intended to secure the domination of the black voters of the South wherever they can be persuaded or morally coerced by this army of Federal officers into voting the Republican ticket. It [the bill] is a scheme for managing elections in the interest of a party as purely as was ever framed by designing politicians.”

(Excerpts of Speech by Senator Zebulon B. Vance of North Carolina in the Senate of the United States, December 15, 1890)

 

 

Exceeding All Other Nations at Political Corruption

During the 1890 Congressional debate on the election Force Bill, Southern representatives saw the farce of Northern oversight of Southern elections for what it was — a return to the corrupt Reconstruction measures which used racial hostility to gain political ascendancy and power. The political descendants of Tammany Hall and corrupt Northern machine politics were in no position to lecture the South on political ethics and propriety.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Exceeding All Other Nations at Political Corruption

“Speech (excerpts) of Honorable J.Z. George of Mississippi:

The Senate being in Committee of the Whole and having under consideration the bill (H.R. 11045) to amend and supplement the election laws of the United States, and to provide for the more efficient enforcement of such laws, and for other purposes—

Mr. George said:

“Thus Virginia, in the act of acceding to the Union which had been already formed, led and guided by the ablest and most eminent men in the United States — her own illustrious sons . . . and yet Mr. President, we see Virginia to-day, struggling, through her Senators and Representatives, to prevent the exercise of this power [of election supervision in the South by] Massachusetts, who seeks to impose its infliction upon her.

Virginia’s great son, James Madison, persuaded the State to ratify the Constitution . . . because the regulations to be made by Congress would operate impartially on all the States. He did not foresee the evil day when the great power of Virginia would have departed, when her great services would be forgotten, and when an alien and barbarian race, against her protest, had been elevated to citizenship.

He could not foresee . . . this power [of granting citizenship] would be exercised by Senators and Representatives from other States, who, whilst securing exemption to their own States from this burden, would seek through it to subjugate the land of Washington, Madison, Marshall and Jefferson, to a domination never imposed on a civilized people.

Rhode Island had contributed her full share to the success of the Revolution. Her great son, Nathaniel Greene was a Quaker, yet second only to Washington in his merits as a military commander. [After] freeing the Southern States from the British arms, and witnessing the final triumph of the American cause, he became a citizen of Georgia.

Is Rhode Island prepared to-day to repudiate her principles, her solemn declarations, and join in placing a yoke upon her Southern sisters, which, in the very act of joining the Union, she declared should not be placed on herself?

Mr. President, New England, against the protest of Virginia in the Federal Convention of 1787, voted to legalize the African slave trade for twenty years. Rhode Island, far more than any other State, was enriched by that trade.

Rhode Island persisted in this trade to the very last moment, introducing into Charleston, S.C. in the years 1804-1807 seven thousand nine hundred and fifty-eight slaves, to two thousand and six by all other States and countries. As late as 1822, she manifested her tolerance of this traffic by electing to this body James DeWolf, who had continued the slave trade up to the last moment allowed by law.

Will she now, for mere party purposes, engage in forcing on Virginia as New England had forced on her the slave trade in 1787, the ignorant and incompetent rule of the very barbarians whom Rhode Island deemed unfit for freedom even, so largely contributed to plant in her bosom?

Mr. President, in 1870, 1871 and 1872 a wide departure from the previous practice was inaugurated. Negro suffrage had been ordained by the Federal power. It was known that these . . . dependent wards who had been invested with political power would not understand how to exercise their newly conferred rights, except as Mr. Fessenden had said, “under such good advice as might be given,” and so provision for the good advice was made in the appointment of supervisors and deputy marshals at election precincts.

Mr. President, in those years, in the very midst of reconstruction, constitutional limitations and constitutional restraint constituted no hindrance to [Republican] partisan action; especially where the Southern States were concerned and the rights of the Negro were involved. That was the era of the civil rights act and other laws to perpetuate Negro supremacy, which had been held unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The dominant [Republican] party had just succeeded in grafting in the Constitution the fifteenth amendment, securing Negro suffrage. This was done in direct violation of the pledges of the leaders of that party, and also of the solemn pledge of the party in their national convention which nominated General Grant for the presidency.

The party was flush with victory, not only in arms, but in subsequent elections. It had added to the electoral body of the Union more than a million of ignorant . . . noncitizens, and incapable of being made citizens but by a change of the Constitution.

If these could be made real and effectual suffragists, their enfranchisement would be no less than placing . . . automatons in the hands of the leaders of the Republican party. With this addition, the leaders could safely rely on victory when there was a majority of nearly a million white voters against them. Besides — and this was the essence of the political bonanza they had struck by amending the Constitution — the black voter was a blind, unreasoning follower whose allegiance had been secured by emancipation . . . certain to march in line to whatever destination he should be commanded.

[At this time] . . . Public men were enriched through measures for which they had voted; official virtue and fidelity had become bywords; Congressmen, judges, State and Federal and Cabinet officers were bought and sold as slaves in the market. To such an extent had this debasement gone that it was no longer concealed or attempted to be concealed. Our corruption had a world-wide fame.

To such a pitch had this gone that a distinguished member of the [Republican] party then and now in power . . . felt authorized to say that in the World’s Fair in Paris, the only product in which American had excelled all other nations was the corruption of her Government.”

(Federal Election Bill, Speech of Honorable J.Z. George of Mississippi in the Senate of the United States, December 10, 1890, Washington-GPO, 1890)