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The Sequel of Appomattox, A Chronicle of the Reunion of the States by Walter Lynwood Fleming

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burned Negro schoolhouses, and in various other ways manifested the reaction
which was rousing the whites against Negro schools.

The several agencies working for Negro education gave some training to
hundreds of thousands of blacks, but the whites asserted that, like the church
work, it was based on a wrong spirit and resulted in evil as well as in good.
Free schools failed in reconstruction because of the dishonesty or
incompetence of the authorities and because of the unsettled race question. It
was not until the turn of the century that the white schools were again as
good as they had been before 1861. After the reconstruction native whites as
teachers of Negro schools were impossible in most places. The hostile feelings
of the whites resulted and still result in a limitation of Negro schools. The
best thing for Negro schools that came out of reconstruction was Armstrong's
Hampton Institute program, which, however, was quite opposed to the spirit of
reconstruction education.


The Southern States reconstructed by Congress were subject for periods of
varying length to governments designed by radical Northerners and imposed by
elements thrown to the surface in the upheaval of Southern society. Georgia,
Virginia, and North Carolina each had a brief experience with these
governments; other States escaped after four or five years, while Louisiana,
South Carolina, and Florida were not delivered from this domination until
1876. The states which contained large numbers of Negroes had, on the whole,
the worst experience. Here the officials were ignorant or corrupt, frauds upon
the public were the rule, not the exception, and all of the reconstruction
governments were so conducted that they could secure no support from the
respectable elements of the electorate.

The fundamental cause of the failure of these governments was the character of
the new ruling class. Every state, except perhaps Virginia, was under the
control of a few able leaders from the North generally called carpetbaggers
and of a few native white radicals contemptuously designated scalawags. These
were kept in power by Negro voters, to some seven hundred thousand of whom the
ballot had been given by the reconstruction acts. The adoption of the
Fifteenth Amendment in March 1870, brought the total in the former slave
states to 931,000, with about seventy-five thousand more Negroes in the North.
The Negro voters were most numerous, comparatively, in Louisiana, Mississippi,
South Carolina, Alabama, and Georgia. There were a few thousand carpetbaggers
in each State, with, at first, a much larger number of scalawags. The latter,
who were former Unionists, former Whigs, Confederate deserters, and a few
unscrupulous politicians, were most numerous in Virginia, North Carolina,
Texas, Arkansas, and Tennessee. The better class, however, rapidly left the
radical party as the character of the new regime became evident, taking with
them whatever claims the party had to respectability, education, political
experience, and property.

The conservatives, hopelessly reduced by the operation of disfranchising laws,
were at first not well organized, nor were they at any time as well led as in
antebellum days. In 1868, about one hundred thousand of them were forbidden to
vote and about two hundred thousand were disqualified from holding office. The
abstention policy of 1867-68 resulted in an almost complete withdrawal of the
influence of the conservatives for the two years, 1868-70. As a class they
were regarded by the dominant party in state and nation as dangerous and
untrustworthy and were persecuted in such irritating ways that many became
indifferent to the appeals of civil duty. They formed a solid but almost
despairing opposition in the black districts of Mississippi, Louisiana,
Alabama, and South Carolina. For the leaders the price of amnesty was
conversion to radicalism, but this price few would pay.

The new state governments possessed certain characteristics in common. Since
only a small number of able men were available for office, full powers of
administration, including appointment and removal, were concentrated in the
hands of the governor. He exercised a wide control over public funds and had
authority to organize and command militia and constabulary and to call for
Federal troops. The numerous administrative boards worked with the sole object
of keeping their party in power. Officers were several times as numerous as
under the old regime, and all of them received higher salaries and larger
contingent fees. The moral support behind the government was that of President
Grant and the United States army, not that of a free and devoted people.

Of the twenty men who served as governors, eight were scalawags and twelve
were carpetbaggers, men who were abler than the scalawags and who had much
more than an equal share of the spoils. The scalawags, such as Brownlow of
Tennessee, Smith of Alabama, and Holden of North Carolina, were usually honest
but narrow, vindictive men, filled with fear and hate of the conservative

Of the carpetbaggers half were personally honest, but all were unscrupulous in
politics.' Some were flagrantly dishonest.* Governor Moses of South Carolina
was several times bribed and at one time, according to his own statement,
received $15,000 for his vote as speaker of the House of Representatives.
Governor Stearns of Florida was charged with stealing government supplies from
the Negroes; and it was notorious that Warmoth and Kellogg of Louisiana, each
of whom served only one term, retired with large fortunes. Warmoth, indeed,
went so far as to declare: "Corruption is the fashion. I do not pretend to be
honest, but only as honest as anybody in politics."

The judiciary was no better than the executive. The chief justice of Louisiana
was convicted of fraud. A supreme court judge of South Carolina offered his
decisions for sale, and Whipper and Moses, both notorious thieves, were
elected judges by the South Carolina Legislature. In Alabama there were many
illiterate magistrates, among them the city judge of Selma, who in April 1865,
was still living as a slave. Governor Chamberlain, a radical, asserted that
there were two hundred trial judges in South Carolina who could not read.

Other officers were of the same stripe. Leslie, a South Carolina carpetbagger,
declared that "South Carolina has no right to be a state unless she can
support her statesmen," and he proceeded to live up to this principle. The
manager of the state railroad of Georgia, when asked how he had been able to
accumulate twenty or thirty thousand dollars on a two or three thousand dollar
salary, replied, "By the exercise of the most rigid economy." A North Carolina
Negro legislator was found on one occasion chuckling as he counted some money.
"What are you laughing at, Uncle?" he was asked. "Well, boss, I'se been sold
'leben times in my life and dis is de fust time I eber got de money." Godkin,
in the "Nation", said that the Georgia officials were "probably as bad a lot
of political tricksters and adventurers as ever got together in one place."
This description will fit equally well the white officials of all the
reconstructed states. Many of the Negroes who attained public office showed
themselves apt pupils of their carpetbag masters but were seldom permitted to
appropriate a large share of the plunder. In Florida the Negro members of the
legislature, thinking that they should have a part of the bribe and loot money
which their carpetbag masters were said to be receiving, went so far as to
appoint what was known as a "smelling committee" to locate the good things and
secure a share.

From 1868 to 1870, the legislatures of seven states were overwhelmingly
radical and in several the radical majority held control for four, six, or
eight years. Negroes were most numerous in the legislatures of Louisiana,
South Carolina, and Mississippi, and everywhere the votes of these men were
for sale. In Alabama and Louisiana, Negro legislators had a fixed price for
their votes: for example, six hundred dollars would buy a senator in
Louisiana. In South Carolina, Negro government appeared at its worst. A vivid
description of the Legislature of this State in which the Negroes largely
outnumbered the whites is given by James S. Pike, a Republican journalist*:

*Pike, "The Prostrate State", pp. 12 ff.

"In the place of this old aristocratic society stands the rude form of the
most ignorant democracy that mankind ever saw, invested with the functions of
government. It is the dregs of the population habilitated in the robes of
their intelligent predecessors, and asserting over them the rule of ignorance
and corruption . . . . It is barbarism overwhelming civilization by physical
force. It is the slave rioting in the halls of his master, and putting that
master under his feet. And, though it is done without malice and without
vengeance, it is nevertheless none the less completely and absolutely done. .
. . We will enter the House of Representatives. Here sit one hundred and
twenty-four members. Of these, twenty-three are white men, representing the
remains of the old civilization. These are good-looking, substantial citizens.
They are men of weight and standing in the communities they represent. They
are all from the hill country. The frosts of sixty and seventy winters whiten
the heads of some among them. There they sit, grim and silent. They feel
themselves to be but loose stones, thrown in to partially obstruct a current
they are powerless to resist . . . .

"This dense Negro crowd . . . do the debating, the squabbling, the lawmaking,
and create all the clamor and disorder of the body. These twenty-three white
men are but the observers, the enforced auditors of the dull and clumsy
imitation of a deliberative body, whose appearance in their present capacity
is at once a wonder and a shame to modern civilization .... The Speaker is
black, the Clerk is black, the doorkeepers are black, the little pages are
black, the chairman of the Ways and Means is black, and the chaplain is coal
black. At some of the desks sit colored men whose types it would be hard to
find outside of Congo; whose costumes, visages, attitudes, and expression,
only befit the forecastle of a buccaneer. It must be remembered, also, that
these men, with not more than a half dozen exceptions, have been themselves
slaves, and that their ancestors were slaves for generations. . .

"But the old stagers admit that the colored brethren have a wonderful aptness
at legislative proceedings. They are "quick as lightning" at detecting points
of order, and they certainly make incessant and extraordinary use of their
knowledge. No one is allowed to talk five minutes without interruption, and
one interruption is a signal for another and another, until the original
speaker is smothered under an avalanche of them. Forty questions of privilege
will be raised in a day. At times, nothing goes on but alternating questions
of order and of privilege. The inefficient colored friend who sits in the
Speaker's chair cannot suppress this extraordinary element of the debate. Some
of the blackest members exhibit a pertinacity of intrusion in raising these
points of order and questions of privilege that few white men can equal. Their
struggles to get the floor, their bellowings and physical contortions, baffle

"The Speaker's hammer plays a perpetual tattoo to no purpose. The talking and
the interruptions from all quarters go on with the utmost license. Everyone
esteems himself as good as his neighbor, and puts in his oar, apparently as
often for love of riot and confusion as for anything else . . . . The Speaker
orders a member whom he has discovered to be particularly unruly to take his
seat. The member obeys, and with the same motion that he sits down, throws his
feet on to his desk, hiding himself from the Speaker by the soles of his boots
. . . . After a few experiences of this sort, the Speaker threatens, in a
laugh, to call the "gemman" to order. This is considered a capital joke, and a
guffaw follows. The laugh goes round and then the peanuts are cracked and
munched faster than ever; one hand being employed in fortifying the inner man
with this nutriment of universal use, while the other enforces the views of
the orator. This laughing propensity of the sable crowd is a great cause of
disorder. They laugh as hens cackle--one begins and all follow.

"But underneath all this shocking burlesque upon legislative proceedings, we
must not forget that there is something very real to this uncouth and
untutored multitude. It is not all sham, nor all burlesque. They have a
genuine interest and a genuine earnestness in the business of the assembly
which we are bound to recognize and respect . . . . They have an earnest
purpose, born of conviction that their position and condition are not fully
assured, which lends a sort of dignity to their proceedings. The barbarous,
animated jargon in which they so often indulge is on occasion seen to be so
transparently sincere and weighty in their own minds that sympathy supplants
disgust. The whole thing is a wonderful novelty to them as well as to
observers. Seven years ago these men were raising corn and cotton under the
whip of the overseer. Today they are raising points of order and questions of
privilege. They find they can raise one as well as the other. They prefer the
latter. It is easier and better paid. Then, it is the evidence of an
accomplished result. It means escape and defense from old oppressors. It means
liberty. It means the destruction of prison-walls only too real to them. It is
the sunshine of their lives. It is their day of jubilee. It is their
long-promised vision of the Lord God Almighty."

The congressional delegations were as radical as the state governments. During
the first two years, there were no Democratic senators from the reconstructed
states and only two Democratic representatives, as against sixty-four radical
senators and representatives. At the end of four years, the Democrats numbered
fifteen against seventy radicals. A Negro succeeded Jefferson Davis in the
Senate, and in all the race sent two senators and thirteen representatives to
Congress; but though several were of high character and fair ability, they
exercised practically no influence. The Southern delegations had no part in
shaping policies but merely voted as they were told by the radical leaders.

The effect of dishonest government was soon seen in extravagant expenditures,
heavier taxes, increase of the bonded debt, and depression of property values.
It was to be expected that after the ruin wrought by war and the admission of
the Negro to civil rights, the expenses of government would be greater. But
only lack of honesty will account for the extraordinary expenses of the
reconstruction governments. In Alabama and Florida, the running expenses of
the state government increased two hundred percent, in Louisiana five hundred
percent, and in Arkansas fifteen hundred percent--all this in addition to bond
issues. In South Carolina the one item of public printing, which from 1790 to
1868 cost $609,000, amounted in the years 1868-1876 to $1,326,589.

Corrupt state officials had two ways of getting money--by taxation and by the
sale of bonds. Taxes were everywhere multiplied. The state tax rate in Alabama
was increased four hundred percent, in Louisiana eight hundred percent, and in
Mississippi, which could issue no bonds, fourteen hundred percent. City and
county taxes, where carpetbaggers were in control, increased in the same way.
Thousands of small proprietors could not meet their taxes, and in Mississippi
alone the land sold for unpaid taxes amounted to six million acres, an area as
large as Massachusetts and Rhode Island together. Nordhoff* speaks of seeing
Louisiana newspapers of which three-fourths were taken up by notices of tax
sales. In protest against extravagant and corrupt expenditures, taxpayers'
conventions were held in every state, but without effect.

*Charles Nordhoff, "The Cotton States in the Spring and Summer of 1875".

Even the increased taxation, however, did not produce enough to support the
new governments, which now had recourse to the sale of state and local bonds.
In this way Governor Holden's Administration managed in two years to increase
the public debt of North Carolina from $16,000,000 to $32,000,000. The state
debt of South Carolina rose from $7,000,000 to $29,000,000 in 1873. In
Alabama, by 1874, the debt had mounted from $7,000,000 to $32,000,000. The
public debt of Louisiana rose from $14,000,000 in 1868 to $48,000,000 in 1871,
with a local debt of $31,000,000. Cities, towns, and counties sold bonds by
the bale. The debt of New Orleans increased twenty-five fold and that of
Vicksburg a thousandfold. A great deal of the debt was the result of
fraudulent issues of bonds or over-issue. For this form of fraud, the state
financial agents in New York were usually responsible. Southern bonds sold far
below par, and the time came when they were peddled about at ten to
twenty-five cents on the dollar.

Still another disastrous result followed this corrupt financiering. In Alabama
there was a sixty-five percent decrease in property values, in Florida
forty-five percent, and in Louisiana fifty to seventy-five percent. A large
part of the best property was mortgaged, and foreclosure sales were frequent.
Poorer property could be neither mortgaged nor sold. There was an exodus of
whites from the worst governed districts in the West and the North. Many
towns, among them Mobile and Memphis, surrendered their charters and were
ruled directly by the governor; and there were numerous "strangulated"
counties which on account of debt had lost self-government and were ruled by
appointees of the governor.

A part of the money raised by taxes and by bond sales was used for legitimate
expenses and the rest went to pay forged warrants, excess warrants, and
swollen mileage accounts, and to fill the pockets of embezzlers and thieves
from one end of the South to the other. In Arkansas, for example, the
auditor's clerk hire, which was $4000 in 1866, cost twenty-three times as much
in 1873. In Louisiana and South Carolina, stealing was elevated into an art
and was practiced without concealment. In the latter state, the worthless Hell
Hole Swamp was bought for $26,000 to be farmed by the Negroes but was charged
to the state at $120,000. A free restaurant maintained at the Capitol for the
legislators cost $125,000 for one session. The porter who conducted it said
that he kept it open sixteen to twenty hours a day and that someone was always
in the room eating and drinking or smoking. When a member left, he would fill
his pockets with cigars or with bottles of drink. Forty different brands of
beverages were paid for by the state for the private use of members, and all
sorts of food, furniture, and clothing were sent to the houses of members and
were paid for by the state as "legislative supplies." On the bills appeared
such items as imported mushrooms, one side of bacon, one feather bed, bustles,
two pairs of extra long stockings, one pair of garters, one bottle perfume,
twelve monogram cut glasses, one horse, one comb and brush, three gallons of
whisky, one pair of corsets. During the recess, supplies were sent out to the
rural homes of the members.

The endorsement of railroad securities by the state also furnished a source of
easy money to the dishonest official and the crooked speculator. After the
Civil War, in response to the general desire in the South for better railroad
facilities, the "Johnson" governments began to underwrite railroad bonds. When
the carpetbag and Negro governments came in, the policy was continued but
without proper safeguards. Bonds were sometimes endorsed before the roads were
constructed, and even excess issues were authorized. Bonds were endorsed for
some roads of which not a mile was ever built. The White River Valley and
Texas Railroad never came into existence, but it obtained a grant of $175,000
from the State of Arkansas. Speaker Carter of the Louisiana Legislature
received a financial interest in all railroad endorsement bills which he
steered through the House. Negro members were regularly bribed to vote for the
bond steals. A witness swore that in Louisiana it cost him $80,000 to get a
railroad charter passed, but that the Governor's signature cost more than the
consent of the legislature.

When the roads defaulted on the payment of interest, as most of them did, the
burden fell upon the state. Not all of the blame for this perverted
legislation should be placed upon the corrupt legislators, however, for the
lawyers who saw the bills through were frequently Southern Democrats
representing supposedly respectable Northern capitalists. The railroads as
well as the taxpayers suffered from this pernicious lobbying, for the
companies were loaded with debts and rarely profited by the loans. Valuation
of railroad property rapidly decreased. The roads of Alabama which were valued
in 1871 at $26,000,000 had decreased in 1875 to $9,500,000.

The foundation of radical power in the South lay in the alienation of the
races which had been accomplished between 1865 and 1868. To maintain this
unhappy distrust, the radical leaders found an effective means in the Negro
militia. Under the constitution of every reconstructed state, a Negro
constabulary was possible, but only in South Carolina, North Carolina,
Louisiana, and Mississippi were the authorities willing to risk the dangers of
arming the blacks. No governor dared permit the Southern whites to organize as
militia. In South Carolina the carpetbag governor, Robert K. Scott, enrolled
ninety-six thousand Negroes as members of the militia and organized and armed
twenty thousand of them. The few white companies were ordered to disband. In
Louisiana the governor had a standing army of blacks called the Metropolitan
Guard. In several states the Negro militia was used as a constabulary and was
sent to any part of the state to make arrests.

In spite of this provocation there were, after the riots of 1866-67,
comparatively few race conflicts until reconstruction was drawing to a close.
The intervening period was filled with the more peaceful activities of the Ku
Klux Klan and the White Camellia. But as the whites made up their minds to get
rid of Negro rule, the clashes came frequently and always ended in the death
of more Negroes than whites.* They would probably have continued with serious
consequences if the whites had not eventually secured control of the

* Among the bloodiest conflicts were those in Louisiana at Colfax, Coushatta,
and New Orleans in 1873-74, and at Vicksburg and Clinton, Mississippi, in

The lax election laws, framed indeed for the benefit of the party in power,
gave the radicals ample opportunity to control the Negro vote. The elections
were frequently corrupt, though not a great deal of money was spent in
bribery. It was found less expensive to use other methods of getting out the
vote. The Negroes were generally made to understand that the Democrats wanted
to put them back into slavery, but sometimes the leaders deemed it wiser to
state more concretely that "Jeff Davis had come to Montgomery and is ready to
organize the Confederacy again" if the Democrats should win; or to say that
"if Carter is elected, he will not allow your wives and daughters to wear
hoopskirts." In Alabama many thousand pounds of bacon and hams were sent in to
be distributed among "flood sufferers" in a region which had not been flooded
since the days of Noah. The Negroes were told that they must vote right and
receive enough bacon for a year, or "lose their rights" if they voted wrongly.
Ballot-box stuffing developed into an art, and each Negro was carefully
inspected to see that he had the right kind of ticket before he was marched to
the polls.

The inspection and counting of election returns were in the hands of the
county and state boards, which were controlled by the governor, and which had
authority to throw out or count in any number of votes. On the assumption that
the radicals were entitled to all Negro votes, the returning boards followed
the census figures for the black population in order to arrive at the minimum
radical vote. The action of the returning boards was specially flagrant in
Louisiana and Florida and in the black counties of South Carolina.

Notwithstanding the fact that the very best arrangements had been made at
Washington and in the states for the running of the radical machine,
everywhere there were factional fights from the beginning. Usually the
scalawags declared hostilities after they found that the carpetbaggers had
control of the Negroes and the inside track on the way to the best state and
federal offices. Later, after the scalawags had for the most part left the
radicals, there were contests among the carpetbaggers themselves for the
control of the Negro vote and the distribution of spoils. The defeated faction
usually joined the Democrats. In Arkansas a split started in 1869 which by
1872 resulted in two state governments. Alabama in 1872 and Louisiana in
1874-75 each had two rival governments. This factionalism contributed largely
to the overthrow of the radicals.

The radical structure, however, was still powerfully supported from without.
Relations between the Federal Government and the state governments in the
South were close, and the policy at Washington was frequently determined by
conditions in the South. President Grant, though at first considerate, was
usually consistently radical in his Southern policy. This attitude is
difficult to explain except by saying that Grant fell under the control of
radical advisers after his break with Johnson, that his military instincts
were offended by opposition in the South which his advisers told him was
rebellious, and that he was impressed by the need of holding the Southern
radical vote against the inroads of the Democrats. After about 1869, Grant
never really understood the conditions in the South. He was content to control
by means of Federal troops and thousands of deputy marshals. For this policy
the Ku Klux activities gave sufficient excuse for a time, and the continued
story of "rebel outrages" was always available to justify a call for soldiers
or deputies. The enforcement legislation gave the color of law to any
interference which was deemed necessary.

Federal troops served other ends than the mere preservation of order and the
support of the radical state governments. They were used on occasion to decide
between opposing factions and to oust conservatives who had forced their way
into office. The army officers purged the Legislature of Georgia in 1870, that
of Alabama in 1872, and that of Louisiana in 1875. In 1875 the city government
of Vicksburg and the state government of Louisiana were overturned by the
whites, but General Sheridan at once intervened to put back the Negroes and
carpetbaggers. He suggested to President Grant that the conservatives be
declared "banditti" and he would make himself responsible for the rest. As
soon as a State showed signs of going over to the Democrats or an important
election was lost by the radicals, one House or the other of Congress in many
instances sent an investigation committee to ascertain the reasons. The
Committees on the Condition of the South or on the Late Insurrectionary States
were nearly always ready with reports to establish the necessity of

Besides the army there was in every state a powerful group of Federal
officials who formed a "ring" for the direction of all good radicals. These
marshals, deputies, postmasters, district attorneys, and customhouse officials
were in close touch with Washington and frequently dictated nominations and
platforms. At New Orleans the officials acted as a committee on credentials
and held all the state conventions under their control in the customhouse.

Such was the machinery used to sustain a party which, with the gradual
defection of the whites, became throughout the South almost uniformly black.
At first few Negroes asked for offices, but soon the carpetbaggers found it
necessary to divide with the rapidly growing number of Negro politicians. No
Negro was elected governor, though several reached the office of lieutenant
governor, secretary of state, auditor, superintendent of education, justice of
the state supreme court, and fifteen were elected to Congress.* It would not
be correct to say that the Negro race was malicious or on evil bent. Unless
deliberately stirred up by white leaders, few Negroes showed signs of mean
spirit. Few even made exorbitant demands. They wanted "something"--schools and
freedom and "something else," they knew not what. Deprived of the leadership
of the best whites, they could not possibly act with the scalawags--their
traditional enemies. Nothing was left for them but to follow the carpetbagger.

* Revels, Lynch, and Bruce represent the better Negro officeholders;
Pinchback, Rainey, and Nash, the less respectable ones; and below these were
the rascals whose ambition was to equal their white preceptors in corruption.


The Ku Klux movement, which took the form of secret revolutionary societies,
grew out of a general conviction among the whites that the reconstruction
policies were impossible and not to be endured. Somers, an English traveler,
says that at this time "nearly every respectable white man in the Southern
States was not only disfranchised but under fear of arrest or confiscation;
the old foundations of authority were utterly razed before any new ones had
yet been laid, and in the dark and benighted interval the remains of the
Confederate armies--swept after a long and heroic day of fair fight from the
field--flitted before the eyes of the people in this weird and midnight shape
of a Ku Klux Klan." Ryland Randolph, an Alabama editor who was also an
official of the Klan, stated in his paper that "the origin of Ku Klux Klan is
in the galling despotism that broods like a nightmare over these Southern
States--a fungus growth of military tyranny superinduced by the fostering of
Loyal Leagues, the abrogation of our civil laws, the habitual violation of our
national Constitution, and a persistent prostitution of all government, all
resources and all powers, to degrade the white man by the establishment of
Negro supremacy."

The secret orders, regardless of their original purposes, were all finally to
be found opposing radical reconstruction. Everywhere their objects were the
same: to recover for the white race their former control of society and
government, and to destroy the baneful influence of the alien among the
blacks. The people of the South were by law helpless to take steps towards
setting up any kind of government in a land infested by a vicious
element--Federal and Confederate deserters, bushwhackers, outlaws of every
description, and Negroes, some of whom proved insolent and violent in their
newly found freedom. Nowhere was property or person safe, and for a time many
feared a Negro insurrection. General Hardee said to his neighbors, "I advise
you to get ready for what may come. We are standing over a sleeping volcano."

To cope with this situation ante-bellum patrols--the "patter-rollers" as the
Negroes called them--were often secretly reorganized. In each community for
several months after the Civil War, and in many of them for months before the
end of the war, there were informal vigilance committees. Some of these had
such names as the Black Cavalry and Men of Justice in Alabama, the Home Guards
in many other places, while the anti Confederate societies of the war, the
Heroes of America, the Red Strings, and the Peace Societies, transformed
themselves in certain localities into regulatory bodies. Later these secret
societies numbered scores, perhaps hundreds, varying from small bodies of
local police to great federated bodies which covered almost the entire South
and even had membership in the North and West. Other important organizations
were the Constitutional Union Guards, the Pale Faces, the White Brotherhood,
the Council of Safety, the '76 Association, the Sons of '76, the Order of the
White Rose, and the White Boys. As the fight against reconstruction became
bolder, the orders threw off their disguises and appeared openly as armed
whites fighting for the control of society. The White League of Louisiana, the
White Line of Mississippi, the White Man's party of Alabama, and the Rifle
Clubs of South Carolina, were later manifestations of the general Ku Klux

The two largest secret orders, however, were the Ku Klux Klan, from which the
movement took its name, and the Knights of the White Camelia. The Ku Klux Klan
originated at Pulaski, Tennessee, in the autumn of 1865, as a local
organization for social purposes. The founders were young Confederates, united
for fun and mischief. The name was an accidental corruption of the Greek word
Kuklos, a circle. The officers adopted queer sounding titles and strange
disguises. Weird nightriders in ghostly attire thoroughly frightened the
superstitious Negroes, who were told that the spirits of dead Confederates
were abroad. This terrorizing of the blacks successfully provided the
amusement which the founders desired, and there were many applications for
admission to the society. The Pulaski Club, or Den, was in the habit of
parading in full uniform at social gatherings of the whites at night, much to
the delight of the small boys and girls. Pulaski was near the Alabama line,
and many of the young men of Alabama who saw these parades or heard of them
organized similar Dens in the towns of Northern Alabama. Nothing but
horseplay, however, took place at the meetings. In 1867 and 1868, the order
appeared in parade in the towns of the adjoining states and, as we are told,
"cut up curious gyrations" on the public squares.

There was a general belief outside the order that there was a purpose behind
all the ceremonial and frolic of the Dens; many joined the order convinced
that its object was serious; others saw the possibilities of using it as a
means of terrorizing the Negroes. After men discovered the power of the Klan
over the Negroes, indeed, they were generally inclined, owing to the
disordered conditions of the time, to act as a sort of police patrol and to
hold in check the thieving Negroes, the Union League, and the "loyalists." In
this way, from being merely a number of social clubs the Dens swiftly became
bands of regulators, taking on many new fantastic qualities along with their
new seriousness of purpose. Some of the more ardent spirits led the Dens far
in the direction of violence and outrage. Attempts were made by the parent Den
at Pulaski to regulate the conduct of the others, but, owing to the loose
organization, the effort met with little success. Some of the Dens, indeed,
lost all connection with the original order.

A general organization of these societies was perfected at a convention held
in Nashville in May 1867, just as the Reconstruction Acts were being put into
operation. A constitution called the Prescript was adopted which provided for
a national organization. The former slave states, except Delaware, constituted
the Empire, which was ruled by the Grand Wizard (then General Forrest) with a
staff of ten Genii; each State was a realm under a Grand Dragon and eight
Hydras; the next subdivision was a Dominion, consisting of several counties,
ruled by a Grand Titan and six Furies; the county or Province was governed by
a Grand Giant and four Goblins; the unit was the Den or community
organization, of which there might be several in each county, each under a
Grand Cyclops and two Nighthawks. The Genii, Hydras, Furies, Goblins, and
Nighthawks were staff officers. The private members were called Ghouls. The
order had no name, and at first was designated by two stars (**), later by
three (***). Sometimes it was called the Invisible Empire of Ku Klux Klan.

Any white man over eighteen might be admitted to the Den after nomination by a
member and strict investigation by a committee. The oath demanded obedience
and secrecy. The Dens governed themselves by the ordinary rules of
deliberative bodies. The punishment for betrayal of secrecy was "the extreme
penalty of the Law." None of the secrets was to be written, and there was a
"Register" of alarming adjectives, such as terrible, horrible, furious,
doleful, bloody, appalling, frightful, gloomy, which was used as a cipher code
in dating the odd Ku Klux orders.

The general objects of the order were thus set forth in the revised Prescript:
first, to protect the weak, the innocent, and the defenseless from the
indignities, wrongs, and outrages of the lawless, the violent, and the brutal;
to relieve the injured and oppressed; to succor the suffering and unfortunate,
and especially the widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers; second, to
protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and all laws passed
in conformity thereto, and to protect the States and people thereof from all
invasion from any source whatever; third, to aid and assist in the execution
of all "constitutional" laws, and to protect the people from unlawful arrest,
and from trial except by their peers according to the laws of the land. But
the tests for admission gave further indication of the objects of the order.
No Republican, no Union Leaguer, and no member of the G. A. R. might become a
member. The members were pledged to oppose Negro equality of any kind, to
favor emancipation of the Southern whites and the restoration of their rights,
and to maintain constitutional government and equitable laws.

Prominent men testified that the order became popular because the whites felt
that they were persecuted and that there was no legal protection, no
respectable government. General (later Senator) Pettus said that through all
the workings of the Federal Government ran the principle that "we are an
inferior, degraded people and not fit to be trusted." General Clanton of
Alabama further explained that "there is not a respectable white woman in the
Negro Belt of Alabama who will trust herself outside of her house without some
protector . . . . So far as our State Government is concerned, we are in the
hands of camp-followers, horse-holders, cooks, bottle-washers, and thieves . .
. . We have passed out from the hands of the brave soldiers who overcame us,
and are turned over to the tender mercies of squaws for torture. . . . I see
Negro police--great black fellows--leading white girls around the streets of
Montgomery, and locking them up in jails."

The Klan first came into general prominence in 1868 with the report of the
Federal commanders in the South concerning its activities. Soon after that
date the order spread through the white counties of the South, in many places
absorbing the White Brotherhood, the Pale Faces, and some other local
organizations which had been formed in the upper part of the Black Belt. But
it was not alone in the field. The order known as the Knights of the White
Camelia, founded in Louisiana in 1867 and formally organized in 1868, spread
rapidly over the lower South until it reached the territory occupied by the Ku
Klux Klan. It was mainly a Black Belt order, and on the whole had a more
substantial and more conservative membership than the other large secret
bodies. Like the Ku Klux Klan, it also absorbed several minor local societies.

The White Camelia had a national organization with headquarters in New
Orleans. Its business was conducted by a Supreme Council of the United States,
with Grand, Central, and Subordinate Councils for each state, county, and
community. All communication within the order took place by passwords and
cipher; the organization and the officers were similar to those of the Ku Klux
Klan; and all officers were designated by initials. An ex-member states that
"during the three years of its existence here [Perry County, Alabama] I
believe its organization and discipline were as perfect as human ingenuity
could have made it." The fundamental object of the White Camelia was the
"maintenance of the supremacy of the white race," and to this end the members
were constrained "to observe a marked distinction between the races" and to
restrain the "African race to that condition of social and political
inferiority for which God has destined it." The members were pledged to vote
only for whites, to oppose Negro equality in all things, but to respect the
legitimate rights of Negroes.

The smaller orders were similar in purpose and organization to the Ku Klux
Klan and the White Camelia. Most of them joined or were affiliated with the
large societies. Probably a majority of the men of the South were associated
at some time during this period with these revolutionary bodies. As a rule the
politicians, though approving, held aloof. Public opinion generally supported
the movement so long as the radicals made serious attempts to carry out the
reconstruction policies.

The task before the secret orders was to regulate the conduct of the blacks
and their leaders in order that honor, life, and property might be secure.
They planned to accomplish this aim by playing upon the fears, superstitions,
and cowardice of the black race--in a word, by creating a white terror to
counteract the black one. To this end they made use of strange disguises,
mysterious and fearful conversation, midnight rides and drills, and silent
parades. As long as secrecy and mystery were to be effective in dealing with
the Negroes, costume was an important matter. These disguises varied with the
locality and often with the individual. High cardboard hats, covered with
white cloth often decorated with stars or pictures of animals, white masks
with holes cut for eyes, nose and mouth bound with red braid to give a
horrible appearance, and frequently a long tongue of red flannel so fixed that
it could be moved with the wearer's tongue, and a long white robe--these made
up a costume which served at the same time as a disguise and as a means of
impressing the impressionable Negro. Horses were covered with sheets or white
cloth held on by the saddle and by belts, and sometimes the animals were even
painted. Skulls of sheep and cattle, and even of human beings were often
carried on the saddlebows to add another element of terror. A framework was
sometimes made to fit the shoulders of a Ghoul which caused him to appear
twelve feet high. A skeleton wooden hand at the end of a stick served to greet
terrified Negroes at midnight. For safety every man carried a small whistle
and a brace of pistols.

The trembling Negro who ran into a gathering of the Ku Klux on his return from
a Loyal League meeting was informed that the white-robed figures he saw were
the spirits of the Confederate dead killed at Chickamauga or Shiloh, now
unable to rest in their graves because of the conduct of the Negroes. He was
told in a sepulchral voice of the necessity for his remaining more at home and
taking a less active part in predatory excursions abroad. In the middle of the
night, a sleeping Negro might wake to find his house surrounded by a ghostly
company, or to see several terrifying figures standing by his bedside. They
were, they said, the ghosts of men whom he had formerly known. They had
scratched through from Hell to warn the Negroes of the consequences of their
misconduct. Hell was a dry and thirsty land; and they asked him for water.
Bucket after bucket of water disappeared into a sack of leather, rawhide, or
rubber, concealed within the flowing robe. The story is told of one of these
night travelers who called at the cabin of a radical Negro in Attakapas
County, Louisiana. After drinking three buckets of water to the great
astonishment of the darky, the traveler thanked him and told him that he had
traveled nearly a thousand miles within twenty-four hours, and that that was
the best water he had tasted since he was killed at the battle of Shiloh. The
Negro dropped the bucket, overturned chairs and table in making his escape
through the window, and was never again seen or heard of by residents of that
community. Another incident is told of a parade in Pulaski, Tennessee: "While
the procession was passing a corner on which a Negro man was standing, a tall
horseman in hideous garb turned aside from the line, dismounted and stretched
out his bridle rein toward the Negro, as if he desired him to hold his horse.
Not daring to refuse, the frightened African extended his hand to grasp the
rein. As he did so, the Ku Klux took his own head from his shoulders and
offered to place that also in the outstretched hand. The Negro stood not upon
the order of his going, but departed with a yell of terror. To this day he
will tell you: 'He done it, suah, boss. I seed him do it.'"

It was seldom necessary at this early stage to use violence, for the black
population was in an ecstasy of fear. A silent host of white-sheeted horsemen
parading the country roads at night was sufficient to reduce the blacks to
good behavior for weeks or months. One silent Ghoul posted near a meeting
place of the League would be the cause of the immediate dissolution of that
club. Cow bones in a sack were rattled within earshot of the terrified
Negroes. A horrible being, fifteen feet tall, walking through the night toward
a place of congregation, was very likely to find that every one had vacated
the place before he arrived. A few figures wrapped in sheets and sitting on
tombstones in a graveyard near which Negroes were accustomed to pass would
serve to keep the immediate community quiet for weeks and give the locality a
reputation for "hants" which lasted long.

To prevent detection on parade, members of the Klan often stayed out of the
parade in their own town and were to be seen freely and conspicuously mingling
with the spectators. A man who believed that he knew every horse in the
vicinity and was sure that he would be able to identify the riders by their
horses was greatly surprised upon lifting the disguise of the horse nearest
him to find the animal upon which he himself had ridden into town a short
while before. The parades were always silent and so arranged as to give the
impression of very large numbers. In the regular drills which were held in
town and country, the men showed that they had not forgotten their training in
the Confederate army. There were no commands save in a very low tone or in a
mysterious language, and usually only signs or whistle signals were used.

Such pacific methods were successful to a considerable degree until the
carpetbaggers and scalawags were placed in office under the Reconstruction
Acts. Then more violent methods were necessary. The Mans patrolled disturbed
communities, visited, warned, and frightened obnoxious individuals, whipped
some, and even hanged others. Until forbidden by law or military order, the
newspapers were accustomed to print the mysterious proclamations of the Ku
Klux. The following, which was circulated in Montgomery, Alabama, in April
1868, is a typical specimen:


Vega Clan, New Moon, 3rd Month, Anno K. K. K. 1.


Clansmen--Meet at the Trysting Spot when Orion Kisses the Zenith. The doom of
treason is Death. Dies Irae. The wolf is on his walk--the serpent coils to
strike. Action! Action!! Action!!! By midnight and the Tomb; by Sword and
Torch and the Sacred Oath at Forrester's Altar, I bid you come! The clansmen
of Glen Iran and Alpine will greet you at the new-made grave.

Remember the Ides of April.

By command of the Grand D. I. H.

Cheg. V.

The work of the secret orders was successful. As bodies of vigilantes, the
Mans and the Councils regulated the conduct of bad Negroes, punished criminals
who were not punished by the state, looked after the activities and teachings
of Northern preachers and teachers, dispersed hostile gatherings of Negroes,
and ran out of the community the worst of the reconstructionist officials.
They kept the Negroes quiet and freed them to some extent from the influence
of evil leaders. The burning of houses, gins, mills, and stores ceased;
property became more secure; people slept safely at night; women and children
walked abroad in security; the incendiary agents who had worked among the
Negroes left the country; agitators, political, educational, and religious,
became more moderate; "bad niggers" ceased to be bad; labor became less
disorganized; the carpetbaggers and scalawags ceased to batten on the Southern
communities. It was not so much a revolution as the defeat of a revolution.
Society was replaced in the old historic grooves from which war and
reconstruction had jarred it.

Successful as was the Ku Klux movement in these respects, it had at the same
time many harmful results. Too often local orders fell under the control of
reckless or lawless men and the Klan was then used as a cloak to cover
violence and thievery; family and personal feuds were carried into the orders
and fought out; and anti-Negro feeling in many places found expression in
activities designed to drive the blacks from the country. It was easy for any
outlaw to hide himself behind the protection of a secret order. So numerous
did these men become that after 1868 there was a general exodus of the leading
reputable members, and in 1869 the formal disbanding of the Klan was
proclaimed by General Forrest, the Grand Wizard. The White Camelia and other
orders also gradually went out of existence. Numerous attempts were made to
suppress the secret movement by the military commanders, the state
governments, and finally by Congress, but none of these was entirely
successful, for in each community the secret opposition lasted as long as it
was needed. The political effects of the orders, however, survived their
organized existence. Some of the Southern States began to go Democratic in
spite of the Reconstruction Acts and the Amendments, and there was little
doubt that the Ku Klux movement had aided in this change. In order to preserve
the achievements of radical reconstruction Congress passed, in 1870 and 1871,
the enforcement acts which had been under debate for nearly two years. The
first act (May 31, 1870) was designed to protect the Negro's right to vote and
was directed at individuals as well as against states. Section six, indeed,
was aimed specifically at the Ku Klux Klan. This act was a long step in the
direction of giving the Federal Government control over state elections. But
as North Carolina went wholly and Alabama partially Democratic in 1870, a
Supplementary Act (February 28, 1871) went further and placed the elections
for members of Congress completely under Federal control, and also authorized
the use of thousands of deputy marshals at elections. As the campaign of 1872
drew near, Grant and his advisers became solicitous to hold all the Southern
States which had not been regained by the Democrats. Accordingly, on March 23,
1871, the President sent a message to Congress declaring that in some of the
states the laws could not be enforced and asked for remedial legislation.
Congress responded with an act (April 20, 1871), commonly called the "Ku Klux
Act," which gave the President despotic military power to uphold the remaining
Negro governments and authorized him to declare a state of war when he
considered it necessary. Of this power Grant made use in only one instance. In
October 1871, he declared nine counties of South Carolina in rebellion and put
them under martial law.

During the ten years following 1870, several thousand arrests were made under
the enforcement acts and about 1,250 convictions were secured, principally in
Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee. Most of these
violations of election laws, however, had nothing to do with the Ku Klux
movement, for by 1870 the better class of members had withdrawn from the
secret orders. But though the enforcement acts checked these irregularities to
a considerable extent, they nevertheless failed to hold the South for the
radicals and essential parts of them were declared unconstitutional a few
years later.

In order to justify the passage of the enforcement acts and to obtain campaign
material for use in 1872, Congress appointed a committee, organized on the
very day when the Ku Klux Act was approved, to investigate conditions in the
Southern States. From June to August 1871, the committee took testimony in
Washington, and in the fall subcommittees visited several Southern States.
Tennessee, Virginia, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas were, however, omitted
from the investigation. Notwithstanding the partisan purpose and methods of
the investigation, the report of the committee and the accompanying testimony
constituted a Democratic rather than a Republican document. It is a veritable
mine of information about the South between 1865 and 1871. The Democratic
minority members made skillful use of their opportunity to expose conditions
in the South. They were less concerned to meet the charges made against the Ku
Klux Klan than to show why such movements came about. The Republicans,
concerned mainly about material for the presidential campaign, neglected the
broader phases of the situation.

Opposition to the effects of reconstruction did not come to an end with the
dissolution of the more famous orders. On the contrary, it now became public
and open and resulted in the organization, after 1872, of the White League,
the Mississippi Shot Gun Plan, the White Man's Party in Alabama, and the Rifle
Clubs in South Carolina. The later movements were distinctly but cautiously
anti-Negro. There was most irritation in the white counties where there were
large numbers of Negroes. Negro schools and churches were burned because they
served as meeting places for Negro political organizations. The color line
began to be more and more sharply drawn. Social and business ostracism
continued to be employed against white radicals, while the Negroes were
discharged from employment or were driven from their rented farms.

The Ku Klux movement, it is to be noted in retrospect, originated as an effort
to restore order in the war-stricken Southern States. The secrecy of its
methods appealed to the imagination and caused its rapid expansion, and this
secrecy was inevitable because opposition to reconstruction was not lawful. As
the reconstruction policies were put into operation, the movement became
political and used violence when appeals to superstitious fears ceased to be
effective. The Ku Klux Klan centered, directed, and crystallized public
opinion, and united the whites upon a platform of white supremacy. The
Southern politicians stood aloof from the movement but accepted the results of
its work. It frightened the Negroes and bad whites into better conduct, and it
encouraged the conservatives and aided them to regain control of society, for
without the operations of the Klan the black districts would never have come
again under white control. Towards the end, however, its methods frequently
became unnecessarily violent and did great harm to Southern society. The Ku
Klux system of regulating society is as old as history; it had often been used
before; it may even be used again. When a people find themselves persecuted by
aliens under legal forms, they will invent some means outside the law for
protecting themselves; and such experiences will inevitably result in a
weakening of respect for law and in a return to more primitive methods of


"The bottom rail is on top" was a phrase which had flashed throughout the late
Confederate States. It had been coined by the Negroes in 1867 to express their
view of the situation, but its aptness had been recognized by all. After ten
years of social and economic revolution, however, it was not so clear that the
phrase of 1867 correctly described the new situation. "The white man made
free" would have been a more accurate epitome, for the white man had been
able, in spite of his temporary disabilities, to compete with the Negro in all

It will be remembered that the Negro districts were least exposed to the
destruction of war. The well-managed plantation, lying near the highways of
commerce, with its division of labor, nearly or quite self-sufficing, was the
bulwark of the Confederacy. When the fighting ended, an industrial revolution
began in these untouched parts of the Black Belt. The problem of free Negro
labor now appeared. During the year 1865, no general plan for a labor system
was formulated except by the Freedmen's Bureau. That, however, was not a
success. There were all sorts of makeshifts, such as cash wages, deferred
wages, cooperation, even sharing of expense and product, and contracts, either
oral or written.

The employers showed a disposition to treat the Negro family as a unit in
making contracts for labor, wages, food, clothes, and care.* In general these
early arrangements were made to transform slavery with its mutual duties and
obligations into a free labor system with wages and "privileges." The
"privileges" of slavery could not be destroyed; in fact, they have never yet
been destroyed in numerous places. Curious demands were made by the Negroes:
here, farm bells must not ring; there, overseers or managers must be done away
with; in some places plantation courts were to settle matters of work, rent,
and conduct; elsewhere, agreements were made that on Saturday the laborer
should be permitted to go to town and, perhaps, ride a mule or horse. In South
Carolina the Sea Island Negroes demanded that in laying out work the old
"tasks" or "stints" of slavery days be retained as the standard. The farming
districts at the edge of the Black Belt, where the races were about equal in
numbers, already had a kind of "share system," and in these sections the
economic chaos after the war was not so complete. The former owners worked in
the field with their ex-slaves and thus provided steady employment for many.
Farms were rented for a fixed sum of money, or for a part of the crop, or on

* J. D. B. De Bow, the economist, testified before the Joint Committee on
Reconstruction that, if the Negro would work, free labor would be better for
the planters than slave labor. He called attention to the fact, however, that
Negro women showed a desire to avoid field labor, and there is also evidence
to show that they objected to domestic service and other menial work.

The white districts, which had previously fought a losing competition with the
efficiently managed and inexpensive slave labor of the Black Belt, were
affected most disastrously by war and its aftermath. They were distant from
transportation lines and markets; they employed poor farming methods; they had
no fertilizers; they raised no staple crops on their infertile land; and in
addition they now had to face the destitution that follows fighting. Yet these
regions had formerly been almost self-supporting, although the farms were
small and no elaborate labor system had been developed. In the planting
districts where the owner was land-poor, he made an attempt to bring in
Northern capital and Northern or foreign labor. In the belief that the Negroes
would work better for a Northern man, every planter who could do so secured a
Northern partner or manager, frequently a soldier. Nevertheless these imported
managers nearly always failed because they did not understand cotton, rice, or
sugar planting, and because they were either too severe or too easy upon the

No Northern labor was to be had, and the South could not retain even all its
own native whites. Union soldiers and others seeking to better their prospects
moved west and northwest to fill the newly opened lands, while the
Confederates, kept out of the homestead region by the test oath, swarmed into
Texas, which owned its own public lands, or went North to other occupations.
Nor could the desperate planters hire foreign immigrants. Several states,
among them South Carolina, Alabama, and Louisiana, advertised for laborers and
established labor bureaus, but without avail. The Negro politicians in 1867
declared themselves opposed to all movements to foster immigration. So in the
Black Belt the Negro had, for forty years, a monopoly of farm labor.

The share system of tenantry, with its attendant evils of credit and crop
lien, was soon established in the Southern States, mainly in the Black Belt,
but to some extent also in the white districts. The landlord furnished land,
house, fuel, water, and all or a part of the seed, fertilizer, farm
implements, and farm animals. In return he received a "half," or a "third and
fourth," his share depending upon how much he had furnished. The best class of
tenants would rent for cash or a fixed rental, the poorest laborers would work
for wages only.

The "privileges" brought over from slavery, which were included in the share
renting, astonished outside observers. To the laborer was usually given a
house, a water supply, wood for fuel, pasture for pigs or cows, a "patch" for
vegetables and fruit, and the right to hunt and fish. These were all that some
needed in order to live. Somers, the English traveler already quoted,
pronounced this generous custom "outrageously absurd," for the Negroes had so
many privileges that they refused to make use of their opportunities. "The
soul is often crushed out of labor by penury and oppression," he said, "but
here a soul cannot begin to be infused into it through the sheer excess of
privilege and license with which it is surrounded." The credit system which
was developed beside the share system made a bad condition worse. On the 1st
of January, a planter could mortgage his future crop to a merchant or landlord
in exchange for subsistence until the harvest. Since, as a rule, neither
tenant nor landlord had any surplus funds, the latter would be supplied by the
banker or banker merchant, who would then dictate the crops to be planted and
the time of sale. As a result of these conditions, the planter or farmer was
held to staple crops, high prices for necessities, high interest rate, and
frequently unfair bookkeeping. The system was excellent for a thrifty,
industrious, and intelligent man, for it enabled him to get a start. It worked
to the advantage of a bankrupt landlord, who could in this way get banking
facilities. But it had a mischievous effect upon the average tenant, who had
too small a share of the crop to feel a strong sense of responsibility as well
as too many "privileges" and too little supervision to make him anxious to
produce the best results.

The Negroes entered into their freedom with several advantages: they were
trained to labor; they were occupying the most fertile soil and could purchase
land at low prices; the tenant system was most liberal; cotton, sugar, and
rice were bringing high prices; and access to markets was easy. In the white
districts, land was cheap and prices of commodities were high, but otherwise
the Negroes seemed to have the better position. Yet as early as 1870, keen
observers called attention to the fact that the hill and mountain whites were
thriving as compared with their former condition, and that the Negroes were no
longer their serious competitors. In the white districts, better methods were
coming into use, labor was steady, fertilizers were used, and conditions of
transportation were improving. The whites were also encroaching on the Black
Belt; they were opening new lands in the Southwest; and within the border of
the Black Belt they were bringing Negro labor under some control. In the South
Carolina rice lands, crowds of Irish were imported to do the ditching which
the Negroes refused to do and were carried back North when the job was
finished.* President Thach of the Alabama Agricultural College has thus
described the situation:

* The Census of 1880 gave proof of the superiority of the whites in cotton
production. For purposes of comparison the cotton area may be divided into
three regions: first, the Black Belt, in which the farmers were black, the
soil fertile, the plantations large, the credit evil at its worst, and the
yield of cotton per acre the least; second, the white districts, where the
soil was the poorest, the farms small, the workers nearly all white, and the
yield per acre better than on the fertile Black Belt lands; third, the regions
in which the races were nearly equal in numbers or where the whites were in a
slight majority, with soil of medium fertility, good methods of agriculture,
and, owing to better controlled labor, the best yield. In ether words,
Negroes, fertile soil, and poor crops went together; and on the other hand the
whites got better crops on less fertile soil. The Black Belt has never again
reached the level of production it had in 1880. But the white district kept
improving slowly.

"By the use of commercial fertilizers, vast regions once considered barren
have been brought into profitable cultivation, and really afford a more
reliable and constant crop than the rich alluvial lands of the old slave
plantations. In nearly every agricultural county in the South there is to be
observed, on the one hand, this section of fertile soils, once the heart, of
the old civilization, now abandoned by the whites, held in tenantry by a dense
Negro population, full of dilapidation and ruin; while on the other hand,
there is the region of light, thin soils, occupied by the small white
freeholder, filled with schools, churches, and good roads, and all the
elements of a happy, enlightened country life."

All the systems devised for handling Negro labor proved to be only partially
successful. The laborer was migratory, wanted easy work, with one or two
holidays a week, and the privilege of attending political meetings, camp
meetings, and circuses. A thrifty Negro could not make headway because his
fellows stole from him or his less energetic relations and friends visited him
and ate up his substance. One Alabama planter declared that he could not raise
a turkey, a chicken, a hog, or a cow; and another asserted that "a hog has no
more chance to live among these thieving Negro farmers than a June bug in a
gang of puddle ducks." Lands were mortgaged to the supply houses in the towns,
the whites gradually deserted the country, and many rice and cotton fields
grew up in weeds. Crop stealing at night became a business which no
legislation could ever completely stop. A traveler has left the following
description of "a model Negro farm" in 1874. The farmer purchased an old mule
on credit and rented land on shares or for so many bales of cotton; any old
tools were used; corn, bacon, and other supplies were bought on credit, and a
crop lien was given; a month later, corn and cotton were planted on soil that
was not well broken up; the Negro "would not pay for no guano" to put on other
people's land; by turns the farmer planted and fished, plowed and hunted, hoed
and frolicked, or went to "meeting." At the end of the year he sold his
cotton, paid part of his rent and some of his debt, returned the mule to its
owner, and sang:

Nigger work hard all de year, White man tote de money.

The great landholdings did not break up into small farms as was predicted,
though sales were frequent and in 1865 enormous amounts of land were put on
the market. After 1867, additional millions of acres were offered at small
prices, and tax and mortgage sales were numerous. The result of these
operations, however, was a change of landlords rather than a breaking up of
large plantations. New men, Negroes, merchants, and Jews became landowners.
The number of small farms naturally increased but so in some instances did the
land concentrated into large holdings.

It was inevitable that conditions of Negro life should undergo a revolutionary
change during the reconstruction. The serious matter of looking out for
himself and his family and of making a living dampened the Negro's cheerful
spirits. Released from the discipline of slavery and often misdirected by the
worst of teachers, the Negro race naturally ran into excesses of petty
criminality. Even under the reconstruction governments the proportion of Negro
to white criminals was about ten to one. Theft was frequent; arson was the
accepted means of revenge on white people; and murder became common in the
brawls of the city Negro quarters. The laxness of the marriage relation worked
special hardship on the women and children in so many cases deserted by the
head of the family.

Out of the social anarchy of reconstruction the Negroes emerged with numerous
organizations of their own which may have been imitations of the Union League,
the Lincoln Brotherhood, and the various church organizations. These societies
were composed entirely of blacks and have continued with prolific reproduction
to the present day. They were characterized by high names, gorgeous regalia,
and frequent parades. "The Brothers and Sisters of Pleasure and Prosperity"
and the "United Order of African Ladies and Gentlemen" played a large, and on
the whole useful, part in Negro social life, teaching lessons of thrift,
insurance, cooperation, and mutual aid.

The reconstructionists were not able in 1867-68 to carry through Congress any
provision for the social equality of the races, but in the reconstructed
states, the equal rights issue was alive throughout the period. Legislation
giving to the Negro equal rights in hotels, places of amusements, and common
carriers, was first enacted in Louisiana and South Carolina. Frequently the
carpetbaggers brought up the issue in order to rid the radical ranks of the
scalawags who were opposed to equal rights. In Florida, for example, the
carpetbaggers framed a comprehensive Equal Rights Law, passed it, and
presented it to Governor Reed, who was known to be opposed to such
legislation. He vetoed the measure and thus lost the Negro support.
Intermarriage with whites was made legal in Louisiana and South Carolina and
by court decision was permitted in Alabama and Mississippi, but the Georgia
Supreme Court held it to be illegal. Mixed marriages were few, but these were
made occasions of exultation over the whites and of consequent ill feeling.

Charles Sumner was a persistent agitator for equal rights. In 1871 he declared
in a letter to a South Carolina Negro convention that the race must insist not
only upon equality in hotels and on public carriers but also in the schools.
"It is not enough, " he said, "to provide separate accommodations for colored
citizens even if in all respects as good as those of other persons . . . . The
discrimination is an insult and a hindrance, and a bar, which not only
destroys comfort and prevents equality, but weakens all other rights. The
right to vote will have new security when your equal right in public
conveyances, hotels, and common schools, is at last established; but here you
must insist for yourselves by speech, petition, and by vote." The Southern
whites began to develop the "Jim Crow" theory of "separate but equal"
accommodations. Senator Hill of Georgia, for example, thought that hotels
might have separate divisions for the two races, and he cited the division in
the churches as proof that the Negro wanted separation.

About 1874, it was plain that the last radical Congress was nearly ready to
enact social equality legislation. This fact turned many of the Southern
Unionist class back to the Democratic party, there to remain for a long time.
In 1875, as a sort of memorial to Sumner, Congress passed the Civil Rights
Act, which gave to Negroes equal rights in hotels, places of amusement, on
public carriers, and on juries. Some Democratic leaders were willing to see
such legislation enacted, because in the first place, it would have little
effect except in the Border and Northern States, where it would turn thousands
into the Democratic fold, and in the second place, because they were sure that
in time the Supreme Court would declare the law unconstitutional. And so it

In regions where the more unprincipled radical leaders were in control, the
whites lived at times in fear of Negro uprisings. The Negroes were armed and
insolent, and the whites were few and widely scattered. Here and there
outbreaks occurred and individual whites and isolated families suffered, but
as a rule all such movements were crushed with much heavier loss to the
Negroes than to the better organized whites. Nevertheless everlasting
apprehension for the safety of women and children kept the white men nervous.
General Garnett Andrews remarked about the situation in Mississippi:

"I have never suffered such an amount of anguish and alarm in all my life. I
have served through the whole war as a soldier in the army of Northern
Virginia, and saw all of it; but I never did experience . . . the fear and
alarm and sense of danger which I felt that time. And this was the universal
feeling among the population, among the white people. I think that both sides
were alarmed and felt uneasy. It showed itself upon the countenance of the
people; it made many of them sick. Men looked haggard and pale, after
undergoing this sort of thing for six weeks or a month, and I have felt when I
laid [sic] down that neither myself, nor my wife and children were in safety.
I expected, and honestly anticipated, and thought it highly probable, that I
might be assassinated and my house set on fire at any time."

By the fires of reconstruction the whites were fused into a more homogeneous
society, social as well as political. The former slaveholding class continued
to be more considerate of the Negro than were the poor whites; but, as misrule
went on, all classes tended to unite against the Negro in politics. They were
tired of reconstruction, new amendments, force bills, Federal troops-- tired
of being ruled as conquered provinces by the incompetent and the dishonest.
Every measure aimed at the South seemed to them to mean that they were
considered incorrigible and unworthy of trust, and that they were being made
to suffer for the deeds of irresponsible whites. And, to make matters worse,
strong opposition to proscriptive measures was called fresh rebellion. "When
the Jacobins say and do low and bitter things, their charge of want of loyalty
in the South because our people grumble back a little seems to me as
unreasonable as the complaint of the little boy: 'Mamma, make Bob 'have
hisself. He makes mouths at me every time I hit him with my stick.'"*

* Usually ascribed to General D. H. Hill of North Carolina, and quoted in "The
Land We Love", vol. 1, p. 146.

Probably this burden fell heavier on the young men, who had life before them
and who were growing up with diminished opportunities. Sidney Lanier, then an
Alabama school teacher, wrote to Bayard Taylor: "Perhaps you know that with us
of the young generation in the South, since the war, pretty much the whole of
life has been merely not dying." Negro and alien rule was a constant insult to
the intelligence of the country. The taxpayers were nonparticipants in the
affairs of government. Some people withdrew entirely from public life, went to
their farms or plantations, kept away from towns and from speechmaking,
waiting for the end to come. There were some who refused for several years to
read the newspapers, so unpleasant was the news. The good feeling produced by
the magnanimity of Grant at Appomattox was destroyed by the severity of his
Southern policy when he became President. There was no gratitude for any
so-called leniency of the North, no repentance for the war, no desire for
humiliation, for sackcloth and ashes, and no confession of wrong. The
insistence of the radicals upon obtaining a confession of depravity only made
things much worse. Scarcely a measure of Congress during reconstruction was
designed or received in a conciliatory spirit.

The new generation of whites was poor, bitter because of persecution,
ill-educated, overworked, without a bright future, and shadowed by the race
problem. Though their new political leaders were shrewd, narrow, conservative,
honest, and parsimonious, the constant fighting of fire with fire scorched
all. In the bitter discipline of reconstruction, the pleasantest side of
Southern life came to an end. During the war and the consequent reconstruction
there was a marked change in Southern temperament toward the severe.
Hospitality declined; the old Southern life had never been on a business
basis, but the new Southern life now adjusted itself to a stricter economy;
the old individuality was partially lost; but class distinctions were less
obvious in a more homogeneous society. The material evils of reconstruction
may be only temporary; state debts may be paid and wasted resources renewed;
but the moral and intellectual results of the revolution will be the more


The radical program of reconstruction ended after ten years in failure rather
because of a change in public opinion in the North than because of the
resistance of the Southern whites. The North of 1877, indeed, was not the
North of 1867. A more tolerant attitude toward the South developed as the
North passed through its own period of misgovernment when all the large cities
were subject to "ring rule" and corruption, as in New York under "Boss" Tweed
and in the District of Columbia under "Boss" Shepherd. The Federal civil
service was discredited by the scandals connected with the Sanborn contracts,
the Whisky Ring, and the Star Routes, while some leaders in Congress were
under a cloud from the "Salary Grab" and Credit Mobilier disclosures.*

* See "The Boss and the Machine", by Samuel P. Orth in "The Chronicles of

The marvelous material development of the North and West also drew attention
away from sectional controversies. Settlers poured into the plains beyond the
Mississippi and the valleys of the Far West; new industries sprang up;
unsuspected mineral wealth was discovered; railroads were built. Not only
bankers but taxpaying voters took an interest in the financial readjustments
of the time. Many thousand people followed the discussions over the funding
and refunding of the national debt, the retirement of the greenbacks, and the
proposed lowering of tariff duties. Yet the Black Friday episode of 1869, when
Jay Gould and James Fisk cornered the visible supply of gold, and the panic of
1873 were indications of unsound financial conditions.

These new developments and the new domestic problems which they involved all
tended to divert public thought from the old political issues arising out of
the war. Foreign relations, too, began to take on a new interest. The Alabama
claims controversy with England continued to hold the public attention until
finally settled by the Geneva Arbitration in 1872. President Grant, as much of
an expansionist as Seward, for two years (1869-71) tried to secure Santo
Domingo or a part of it for an American naval base in the West Indies. But the
United States had race problems enough already and the Senate, led by Sumner,
refused to sanction the acquisition. Relations with Spain were frequently
strained on account of American filibustering expeditions to aid Cuban
insurgents. Spain repeatedly charged the United States with laxness toward
such violations of international law; and President Grant, seeing no other way
out, recommended in 1869 and again in 1870 that the Cuban insurgents be
recognized as belligerents, but still the Senate held back. The climax came in
1873, when the Spanish authorities in Cuba captured on the high seas the
Virginius* with a filibustering expedition on board and executed fifty-three
of the crew and passengers, among them eight Americans. For a time war seemed
imminent, but Spain acted quickly and effected a peaceable settlement.

* See "The Path of Empire", by Carl Russell Fish (in "The Chronicles of
America"), p. 119.

It became evident soon after 1867 that the issues involved in reconstruction
were not in themselves sufficient to hold the North solidly Republican. Toward
Negro suffrage, for example, Northern public opinion was on the whole
unfriendly. In 1867, the Negro was permitted to vote only in New York and in
New England, except in Connecticut. Before 1869, Negro suffrage was rejected
in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Kansas, Ohio, Maryland, Missouri, Michigan, and
Minnesota. The Republicans in their national platform of 1868 went only so far
as to say that, while Negro suffrage was to be forced upon the South, it must
remain a local question in the North. The Border States rapidly lined up with
the white South on matters of race, church, and politics.

It was not until 1874, however, that the changing opinion was made generally
effective in the elections. The skillfully managed radical organization held
large majorities in every Congress from the Thirty-ninth to the Forty-third,
and the electoral votes in 1868 and 1879 seemed to show that the conservative
opposition was insignificant. But these figures do not tell the whole story.
Even in 1864, when Lincoln won by nearly half a million, the popular vote was
as eighteen to twenty-two, and four years later Grant, the most popular man in
the United States, had a majority of only three hundred thousand over Seymour,
and this majority and more came from the new Negro voters. Four years later
with about a million Negro voters available and an opposition not pleased with
its own candidate, Grant's majority reached only seven hundred thousand. At no
one time in elections did the North pronounce itself in favor of all the
reconstruction policies. The break, signs of which were visible as early as
1869, came in 1874 when the Republicans lost control of the House of

Strength was given to the opposition because of the dissatisfaction with
President Grant, who knew little about politics and politicians. He felt that
his Cabinet should be made up of personal friends, not of strong advisers, and
that the military ideal of administration was the proper one. He was faithful
but undiscriminating in his friendships and frequently chose as his associates
men of vulgar tastes and low motives; and he showed a naive love of money and
an undisguised admiration for rich men such as Gould and Fisk. His appointees
were often incompetent friends or relatives, and his cynical attitude toward
civil service reform lost him the support of influential men. When forced by
party exigencies to select first-class men for his Cabinet, he still preferred
to go for advice to practical politicians. On the Southern question he easily
fell under control of the radicals, who in order to retain their influence had
only to convince his military mind that the South was again in rebellion, and
who found it easy to distract public opinion from political corruption by
"waving the bloody shirt." Dissatisfaction with his Administration, it is
true, was confined to the intellectuals, the reformers, and the Democrats, but
they were strong enough to defeat him for a second term if they could only be

The Liberal Republican movement began in the West about 1869 with demands for
amnesty and for reform, particularly in the civil service, and it soon spread
rapidly over the North. When it became certain that the "machine" would
renominate Grant, the liberal movement became an anti-Grant party. The "New
Departure" Democrats gave comfort and prospect of aid to the Liberal
Republicans by declaring for a constructive, forward-looking policy in place
of reactionary opposition. The Liberal chiefs were led to believe that the new
Democratic leaders would accept their platform and candidates in order to
defeat Grant. The principal candidates for the Liberal Republican nomination
were Charles Francis Adams, Lyman Trumbull, Gratz Brown, David Davis, and
Horace Greeley. Adams was the strongest candidate but was jockeyed out of
place and the nomination was given to Horace Greeley, able enough as editor of
the "New York Tribune" but impossible as a candidate for the presidency. The
Democratic party accepted him as their candidate also, although he had been a
lifelong opponent of Democratic principles and policies. But disgusted
Liberals either returned to the Republican ranks or stayed away from the
polls, and many Democrats did likewise. Under these circumstances the
reelection of Grant was a foregone conclusion. There was certainly a potential
majority against Grant, but the opposition had failed to organize, while the
Republican machine was in good working order, the Negroes were voting, and the
Enforcement Acts proved a great aid to the Republicans in the Southern States.

One good result of the growing liberal sentiment was the passage of an Amnesty
Act by Congress on May 22, 1872. By statute and by the Fourteenth Amendment,
Congress had refused to recognize the complete validity of President Johnson's
pardons and amnesty proclamations, and all Confederate leaders who wished to
regain political rights had therefore to appeal to Congress. During the
Forty-first Congress (1869-71) more than three thousand Southerners were
amnestied in order that they might hold office. These, however, were for the
most part scalawags; the most respectable whites would not seek an amnesty
which they could secure only by self-stultification.* It was the pressure of
public opinion against white disfranchisement and the necessity for meeting
the Liberal Republican arguments which caused the passage of the Act of 1872.
By this act about 150,000 whites were reenfranchised, leaving out only about
five hundred of the most prominent of the old regime, most of whom were never
restored to citizenship. Both Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis died

* The machinery of government and politics was all in radical hands--the
carpetbaggers and scalawags, who were numerous enough to fill practically all
the offices. These men were often able leaders and skillful managers, and they
did not intend to surrender control; and the black race was obedient and
furnished the votes. In 1868, with Virginia, Mississippi, Georgia, and Texas
unrepresented, the first radical contingent in Congress from the South
numbered 41, of whom 10 out of 12 senators and 26 out of 32 representatives
were carpetbaggers. There were two lone conservative Congressmen. A few months
later, in 1869, there were 64 radical representatives from the South, 20
senators and 44 members of the House of Representatives. In 1877 this number
had dwindled to two senators and four representatives. The difference between
these figures measures in some degree the extent of the undoing of
reconstruction within the period of Grant's Administration.

How the Southern whites escaped from Negro domination has often been told and
may here be sketched only in outline. The first States regained from
radicalism were those in which the Negro population was small and the black
vote large enough to irritate but not to dominate. Although Northern
sentiment, excited by the stories of "Southern outrage," was then unfavorable,
the conservatives of the South, by organizing a "white man's party" and by the
use of Ku Klux methods, made a fight for social safety which they won nearly
everywhere, and, in addition, they gained political control of several
States--Tennessee in 1869, Virginia in 1869-1870, and North Carolina and
Georgia in 1870. They almost won Louisiana in 1868 and Alabama in 1870, but
the alarmed radicals came to the rescue of the situation with the Fifteenth
Amendment and the Enforcement Laws of 1870-1871. With more troops and a larger
number of deputy marshals, it seemed that the radicals might securely hold the
remaining states. Arrests of conservatives were numerous, plundering was at
its height, the Federal Government was interested and was friendly to the new
Southern rulers, and the carpetbaggers and scalawags feasted, troubled only by
the disposition of their Negro supporters to demand a share of the spoils.
Although the whites made little gain from 1870 to 1874, the states already
rescued became more firmly conservative; white counties here and there in the
black states voted out the radicals; a few more representatives of the whites
got into Congress; and the Border States ranged themselves more solidly with
the conservatives.

But while the Southern whites were becoming desperate under oppression, public
opinion in the North was at last beginning to affect politics. The elections
of 1874 resulted in a Democratic landslide of which the Administration was
obliged to take notice. Grant now grew more responsive to criticism. In 1875
he replied to a request for troops to hold down Mississippi: "The whole public
are tired out with these annual autumnal outbreaks in the South and the great
majority are ready now to condemn any interference on the part of the
Government." As soon as conditions in the South were better understood in the
North, ready sympathy and political aid were offered by many who had hitherto
acted with the radicals. The Ku Klux report as well as the newspaper writings
and the books of J. S. Pike and Charles Nordhoff, both former opponents of
slavery, opened the eyes of many to the evil results of Negro suffrage. Some
who had been considered friends of the Negro, now believing that he had proven
to be a political failure, coldly abandoned him and turned their altruistic
interests to other objects more likely to succeed. Many real friends of the
Negro were alarmed at the evils of the reconstruction and were anxious to see
the corrupt political leaders deprived of further influence over the race. To
others the constantly recurring Southern problem was growing stale, and they
desired to hear less of it. Within the Republican party in each Southern
State, there were serious divisions over the spoils. First it was carpetbagger
and Negro against the scalawag; later, when the black leaders insisted that
those who furnished the votes must have the larger share of the rewards, the
fight became triangular. As a result, by 1874 the Republican party in the
South was split into factions and was deserted by a large proportion of its
white membership.

The conservative whites, fiercely resentful after their experiences under the
enforcement laws and hopeful of Northern sympathy, now planned a supreme
effort to regain their former power. Race lines were more strictly drawn;
ostracism of all that was radical became the rule; the Republican party in the
South, it was apparent, was doomed to be only a Negro party weighed down by
the scandal of bad government; the state treasuries were bankrupt, and there
was little further opportunity for plunder. These considerations had much to
do with the return of scalawags to the "white man's party" and the retirement
of carpetbaggers from Southern politics. There was no longer anything in it,
they said; let the Negro have it!

It was under these conditions that the "white man's party" carried the
elections in Alabama, Arkansas, and Texas in 1874, and Mississippi in 1875.
Asserting that it was a contest between civilization and barbarism, and that
the whites under the radical regime had no opportunity to carry an election
legally, the conservatives openly made use of every method of influencing the
result that could possibly come within the radical law and they even employed
many effective methods that lay outside the law. Negroes were threatened with
discharge from employment and whites with tar and feathers if they voted the
radical ticket; there were nightriding parties, armed and drilled "white
leagues," and mysterious firing of guns and cannon at night; much plain talk
assailed the ears of the radical leaders; and several bloody outbreaks
occurred, principally in Louisiana and Mississippi. Louisiana had been carried
by the Democrats in the fall of 1872, but the radical returning board had
reversed the election. In 1874 the whites rose in rebellion and turned out
Kellogg, the usurping Governor, but President Grant intervened to restore him
to office. The "Mississippi" or "shot-gun plan"* was very generally employed,
except where the contest was likely to go in favor of the whites without the
use of undue pressure. The white leaders exercised a moderating influence, but
the average white man had determined to do away with Negro government even
though the alternative might be a return of military rule. Congress
investigated the elections in each State which overthrew the
reconstructionists, but nothing came of the inquiry and the population rapidly
settled down into good order. After 1875 only three States were left under
radical government--Louisiana and Florida, where the returning boards could
throw out any Democratic majority, and South Carolina, where the Negroes
greatly outnumbered the whites.

* See "The New South", by Holland Thompson (in "The Chronicles of America").

Reconstruction could hardly be a genuine issue in the presidential campaign of
1876, because all except these three reconstructed States had escaped from
radical control, and there was no hope and little real desire of regaining
them. It was even expected that in this year the radicals would lose Louisiana
and Florida to the "white man's party." The leaders of the best element of the
Republicans, both North and South, looked upon the reconstruction as one of
the prime causes of the moral breakdown of their party; they wanted no more of
the Southern issue but planned a forward-looking, constructive reform.

To some of the Republican leaders, however, among whom was James G. Blame, it
was clear that the Republican party, with its unsavory record under Grant's
Administration, could hardly go before the people with a reform program. The
only possible thing to do was to revive some Civil War issue--"wave the bloody
shirt" and fan the smoldering embers of sectional feeling. Blame met with
complete success in raising the desired issue. In January 1876, when an
amnesty measure was brought before the House, he moved that Jefferson Davis be
excepted on the ground that he was responsible for the mistreatment of Union
prisoners during the war. Southern hot-bloods replied, and Blaine skillfully
led them on until they had foolishly furnished him with ample material for
campaign purposes. The feeling thus aroused was so strong that it even
galvanized into seeming life the dying interest in the wrongs of the Negro.
The rallying cry "Vote as you shot!" gave the Republicans something to fight
for; the party referred to its war record, claimed credit for preserving the
Union, emancipating the Negro, and reconstructing the South, and demanded that
the country be not "surrendered to rebel rule."

Hayes and Tilden, the rival candidates for the presidency, were both men of
high character and of moderate views. Their nominations had been forced by the
better element of each party. Hayes, the Republican candidate, had been a good
soldier, was moderate in his views on Southern questions, and had a clean
political reputation. Tilden, his opponent, had a good record as a party man
and as a reformer, and his party needed only to attack the past record of the
Republicans. The principal Democratic weakness lay in the fact that the party
drew so much of its strength from the white South and was therefore subjected
to criticism on Civil War issues.

The campaign was hotly contested and was conducted on a low plane. Even Hayes
soon saw that the "bloody shirt" issue was the main vote winner. The whites of
the three "unredeemed" Southern States nerved themselves for the final
struggle. In South Carolina and in some parishes of Louisiana, there was a
considerable amount of violence, in which the whites had the advantage, and
much fraud, which the Republicans, who controlled the election machinery,
turned to best account. It has been said that out of the confusion which the
Republicans created they won the presidency.

The first election returns seemed to give Tilden the victory with 184
undisputed electoral votes and popular majorities of ninety and over six
thousand respectively in Florida and Louisiana; only 185 votes were needed for
a choice. Hayes had 166 votes, not counting Oregon, in which one vote was in
dispute, and South Carolina, which for a time was claimed by both parties. Had
Louisiana and Florida been Northern States, there would have been no
controversy, but the Republican general headquarters knew that the Democratic
majorities in these States had to go through Republican returning boards,
which had never yet failed to throw them out.

The interest of the nation now centered around the action of the two returning
boards. At the suggestion of President Grant, prominent Republicans went South
to witness the count. Later prominent Democrats went also. These "visiting
statesmen" were to support the frail returning boards in their duty. It was
generally understood that these boards, certainly the one in Louisiana, were
for sale, and there is little doubt that the Democrats inquired the price. But
they were afraid to bid on such uncertain quantities as Governor Wells and T.
C. Anderson of Louisiana, both notorious spoilsmen. The members of the boards
in both States soon showed the stiffening effect of the moral support of the
Federal Administration and of the "visiting statesmen." Reassured as to their
political future, they proceeded to do their duty: in Florida they threw out
votes until the ninety majority for Tilden was changed to 925 for Hayes, and
in Louisiana, by throwing out about fifteen thousand carefully selected
ballots, they changed Tilden's lowest majority of six thousand to a Hayes
majority of nearly four thousand. Naturally the Democrats sent in contesting
returns, but the presidency was really won when the Republicans secured in
Louisiana and Florida returns which were regular in form. But hoping to force
Congress to go behind the returns, the Democrats carried up contests also from
Oregon and South Carolina, whose votes properly belonged to Hayes.

The final contest came in Congress over the counting of the electoral votes.
The Constitution provides that "the President of the Senate shall, in the
presence of the Senate and the House of Representatives, open all the
Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted." But there was no agreement
as to where authority lay for deciding disputed votes. Never before had the
presidency turned on a disputed count. From 1864 to 1874 the "twenty-second
joint rule" had been in force under which either House might reject a
certificate. The votes of Georgia in 1868 and of Louisiana in 1879 had thus
been thrown out. But the rule had not been readopted by the present Congress,
and the Republicans very naturally would not listen to a proposal to readopt
it now.

With the country apparently on the verge of civil war, Congress finally
created by law an Electoral Commission to which were to be referred all
disputes about the counting of votes and the decision of which was to be final
unless both Houses concurred in rejecting it. The act provided that the
commission should consist of five senators, five representatives, four
designated associate justices of the Supreme Court, and a fifth associate
justice to be chosen by these four. While nothing was said in the act about
the political affiliations of the members of the commission, every one
understood that the House would select three Democrats and two Republicans,
and that the Senate would name two Democrats and three Republicans. It was
also well known that of the four justices designated two were Republicans and
two Democrats, and it was tacitly agreed that the fifth would be Justice David
Davis, an "independent." But at the last moment Davis was elected Senator by
the Illinois Legislature and declined to serve on the Commission. Justice
Bradley, a Republican, was then named as the fifth justice, and in this way
the Republicans obtained a majority on the Commission.

The Democrats deserve the credit for the Electoral Commission. The Republicans
did not favor it, even after they were sure of a party majority on it. They
were conscious that they had a weak case, and they were afraid to trust it to
judges of the Supreme Court. Their fears were groundless, however, since all
important questions were decided by an 8 to 7 vote, Bradley voting with his
fellow Republicans. Every contested vote was given to Hayes, and with 185
electoral votes he was declared elected on March 2, 1877.

Ten years before, Senator Morton of Indiana had said: "I would have been in
favor of having the colored people of the South wait a few years until they
were prepared for the suffrage, until they were to some extent educated, but
the necessities of the times forbade that; the conditions of things required
that they should be brought to the polls at once." Now the condition of things
required that some arrangement be made with the Southern whites which would
involve a complete reversal of the situation of 1867. In order to secure the
unopposed succession of Hayes, to defeat filibustering which might endanger
the decision of the Electoral Commission, politicians who could speak with
authority for Hayes assured influential Southern politicians, who wanted no
more civil war but who did want home rule, that an arrangement might be made
which would be satisfactory to both sides.

So the contest was ended. Hayes was to be President; the South, with the
Negro, was to be left to the whites; there would be no further military aid to
carpetbag governments. In so far as the South was concerned, it was a
fortunate settlement better, indeed, than if Tilden had been inducted into
office. The remnants of the reconstruction policy were surrendered by a
Republican President, the troops were soon withdrawn, and the three radical
states fell at once under the control of the whites. Hayes could not see in
his election any encouragement to adopt a vigorous radical position, and
Congress was deadlocked on party issues for fifteen years. As a result the
radical Republicans had to develop other interests, and the North gradually
accepted the Southern situation.

Although the radical policy of reconstruction came to an end in 1877, some of
its results were more lasting. The Southern States were burdened heavily with
debt, much of which had been fraudulently incurred. There now followed a
period of adjustment, of refunding, scaling, and repudiation, which not only
injured the credit of the states but left them with enormous debts. The
Democratic party under the leadership of former Confederates began its regime
of strict economy, race fairness, and inelastic Jeffersonianism. There was a
political rest which almost amounted to stagnation and which the leaders were
unwilling to disturb by progressive measures lest a developing democracy make
trouble with the settlement of 1877.

The undoing of reconstruction was not entirely completed with the
understanding of 1877. There remained a large but somewhat shattered
Republican party in the South, with control over county and local government
in many Negro districts. Little by little the Democrats rooted out these last
vestiges of Negro control, using all the old radical methods and some
improvements,* such as tissue ballots, the shuffling of ballot boxes, bribery,
force, and redistricting, while some regions were placed entirely under
executive control and were ruled by appointed commissions. With the good
government which followed these changes a deadlocked Congress showed no great
desire to interfere. The Supreme Court came to the aid of the Democrats with
decisions in 1875, 1882, and 1883 which drew the teeth from the Enforcement
Laws, and Congress in 1894 repealed what was left of these regulations.

*See "The New South", by Holland Thompson (in "The Chronicles of America").

Under such discouraging conditions the voting strength of the Republicans
rapidly melted away. The party organization existed for the Federal offices
only and was interested in keeping down the number of those who desired to be
rewarded. As a consequence, the leaders could work in harmony with those
Democratic chiefs who were content with a "solid South" and local home rule.
The Negroes of the Black Belt, with less enthusiasm and hope, but with quite
the same docility as in 1868, began to vote as the Democratic leaders
directed. This practice brought up in another form the question of "Negro
government" and resulted in a demand from the people of the white counties
that the Negro be put entirely out of politics. The answer came between 1890
and 1902 in the form of new and complicated election laws or new constitutions
which in various ways shut out the Negro from the polls and left the
government to the whites. Three times have the Black Belt regions dominated
the Southern States: under slavery, when the master class controlled; under
reconstruction, when the leaders of the Negroes had their own way; and after
reconstruction until Negro disfranchisement, when the Democratic dictators of
the Negro vote ruled fairly but not always acceptably to the white counties
which are now the source of their political power.


The best general accounts of the reconstruction period are found in James Ford
Rhodes's "History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the
Restoration of Home Rule at the South in 1877", volumes V, VI, VII (1906); in
William A. Dunning's "Reconstruction, Political and Economic", 1865-1877, in
the "American Nation" Series, volume XXII (1907); and in Peter Joseph
Hamilton's "The Reconstruction Period" (1905), which is volume XVI of "The
History of North America", edited by F. N. Thorpe. The work of Rhodes is
spacious and fair-minded but there are serious gaps in his narrative;
Dunning's briefer account covers the entire field with masterly handling;
Hamilton's history throws new light on all subjects and is particularly useful
for an understanding of the Southern point of view. A valuable discussion of
constitutional problems is contained in William A. Dunning's "Essay on the
Civil War and Reconstruction and Related Topics" (1904); and a criticism of
the reconstruction policies from the point of view of political science and
constitutional law is to be found in J. W. Burgess's "Reconstruction and the
Constitution, 1866-1876" (1902). E. B. Andrews's "The United States in our own
Time" (1903) gives a popular treatment of the later period. A collection of
brief monographs entitled "Why the Solid South?" by Hilary A. Herbert and
others (1890) was written as a campaign document to offset the drive made by
the Republicans in 1889 for new enforcement laws.

There are many scholarly monographs on reconstruction in the several states.
The best of these are: J. W. Garner's "Reconstruction in Mississippi" (1901),
W. L. Fleming's "Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama" (1905), J. G. deR.
Hamilton's "Reconstruction in North Carolina" (1914), W. W. Davis's "The Civil
War and Reconstruction in Florida" (1913), J. S. Reynolds's "Reconstruction in
South Carolina", 1865-1877 (1905); C. W. Ramsdell's "Reconstruction in Texas"
(1910), and C. M. Thompson's "Reconstruction in Georgia" (1915).

Books of interest on special phases of reconstruction are not numerous, but
among those deserving mention are Paul S. Pierce's "The Freedmen's Bureau"
(1904), D. M. DeWitt's "The Impeachment and Trial of Andrew Johnson" (1903),
and Paul L. Haworth's "The Hayes-Tilden Disputed Presidential Election of
1876" (1906), each of which is a thorough study of its field. J. C. Lester and
D. L. Wilson's "Ku Klux Klan" (1905) and M. L. Avary's "Dixie After the War"
(1906) contribute much to a fair understanding of the feeling of the whites
after the Civil War; and Gideon Welles, "Diary", 3 vols. (1911), is a mine of
information from a conservative cabinet officer's point of view.

For the politician's point of view one may go to James G. Blaine's "Twenty
Years of Congress", 2 vols. (1884, 1886) and Samuel S. Cox's "Three Decades of
Federal Legislation" (1885). Good biographies are James A. Woodburn's "The
Life of Thaddeus Stevens" (1913), Moorfield Storey's "Charles Sumner" (1900),
C. F. Adams's "Charles Francis Adams" (1900). Less satisfactory because more
partisan is Edward Stanwood's "James Gillespie Blaine" (1906). There are no
adequate biographies of the Democratic and Southern leaders.

The official documents are found conveniently arranged in William McDonald's
"Select Statutes", 1861-1898 (1903), and also with other material in Walter L.
Fleming's "Documentary History of Reconstruction", 2 vols. (1906, 1907). The
general reader is usually repelled by the collections known as "Public
Documents". The valuable "Ku Klux Trials" (1872) is, however, separately
printed and to be found in most good libraries. By a judicious use of the
indispensable "Tables and Index to Public Documents," one can find much
vividly interesting material in connection with contested election cases and
reports of congressional investigations into conditions in the South.

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