White Supremacists "Redeem" the South
8 White Supremacists "Redeem" the South
Chattanooga, Tennessee, was the setting for an incident that became, in the troubled yet hopeful years of the Reconstruction era (stretching from the end of the Civil War in April 1865 to the 1870s), all too common in the Southern United States. The hooded henchmen of the Ku Klux Klan, one of several white terrorist groups that roamed the South during this period, trying to control blacks and their sympathizers through fear, severely beat a black man named Andrew Flowers. The attack was spurred by Flowers's recent election as justice of the peace (a kind of judge who can hear minor cases in towns and counties). One of many victims of such violence, Flowers later recalled that his attackers had "said they had nothing in particular against me, that they didn't dispute I was a very good fellow, but they did not intend any nigger [a derogatory word for African American] to hold office in the United States."
Flowers's only crime was having the nerve to imagine that a black citizen of the United States could become an officeholder. Such a development was unthinkable to many white Southerners, whose lives before the Civil War had been built around the institution of slavery. Established in the earliest days of white settlement in the United States, this system had involved the capture of blacks in Africa and their transportation to the Southern region of the new nation, where they were forced to become unpaid, often mistreated laborers in the fields and homes.
A new beginning
Slavery had ended with the victory of the Northern Union (the federal government) over the Confederacy, made up of eleven Southern states that had chosen to separate themselves from the rest of the country. The bitterness and resentment of white Southerners, however, had not only survived the war's wake but intensified. Their hopes for a return to the kind of society they had previously known were briefly lifted when President Andrew Johnson (1808–1875; served 1865–69) announced his plans for the Reconstruction of the South, for it seemed that they would be allowed to recreate the conditions of slavery.
The subsequent victory of the Radical Republicans, a group of U.S. senators and representatives fueled both by ambition and idealism, had put an end to such hopes. Through a series of legislative acts, including three important amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the Republicans had laid the groundwork for a Southern society in which blacks enjoyed the same civil and political rights as whites, and in which those who had helped the Confederacy were shut out of power. In the late 1860s, a remarkable experiment in multiracial democracy had taken place, with blacks participating fully in voting for, and even becoming, the new leaders of their states.
Resistance to Reconstruction
This experiment had been carried out not only with the energy generated by four million former slaves eager to make the most of their newfound freedom but with the support of sympathetic whites, most of them Northerners. Some of these Northerners, ridiculed as disreputable "carpetbaggers" by many white Southerners, served in the new state governments, along with the men called "scalawags" (another scornful nickname, this one for white members of the Republican Party) and both free blacks (those who had never been slaves or who had escaped to freedom in the North) and former slaves. Together, these individuals had created the fairest governments yet seen in the South. They had established the first public school systems, set up public services like prisons and orphanages, and provided free medical care and legal advice for the poor.
All these new benefits, however, had come at a high cost to the state treasuries. To pay for them, the governments had raised taxes, which caused widespread dismay among whites, especially the owners of plantations (large estates on which basic crops like cotton and tobacco were grown), who had previously paid very little. As time went on, corruption—a problem that was widespread in government across the United States during this period—caused further hostility toward the Reconstruction governments.
Most of all, though, white Southerners resented the idea that African Americans could enjoy equal rights and take part in public life. Convinced that blacks were inferior to those of European heritage and fit for nothing better than serving white people, the white Southerners could not accept the changes in their society. They fought back through violence, in brutal attacks like the one on Flowers after his election as a justice of the peace. They beat and murdered blacks. They burned down black schools, churches, and homes and intimidated and attacked whites they thought supported black rights. They threatened with future brutality—as well as the loss of jobs and credit—African Americans who dared to take part in activities (especially voting) that might lead to advancement.
The Redemption begins
During the first half of the 1870s, white Southerners would exert a mighty effort to, as they called it, "redeem" their homeland, to return it to the control of white supremacists (those who believe that whites are superior and should be in charge). This effort, referred to as the Redemption, took place against a backdrop of indifference on the part of the federal government and those Northerners who had previously supported the dream of creating a new and more just Southern society. The Republican governments would fall, and the cause of justice and equality for African Americans would be delayed for many, many years.
These grim circumstances would come about through a number of factors, beginning with a shift in the interests and direction of the Republican Party. Historians trace the origins of this shift to the 1868 election of President Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885; served 1869–77). Instead of choosing a dynamic leader as their candidate, the Republicans nominated a military hero (one of several generals who had led the Union army to victory in the Civil War) with good intentions but little political ability or judgment. (This would result in poor Cabinet and staff choices that would bring dishonor to the Grant administration.) Lacking both a strong leader at its helm and a unifying vision, the Republican Party—which had been a force for change and a supporter of reform movements, from the fight against slavery to the struggle to win equal rights for the freed people, since the birth of the party in the 1850s—lost its commitment to the experiment it had begun in the Southern Reconstruction governments.
A number of factors played into this development. One factor was the death or retirement of the most influential members of the Radical wing of the party—the men who had lent the Reconstruction effort its fire and purpose. U.S. representative Thaddeus Stevens (1792–1868) of Pennsylvania, a longtime, tireless fighter for equal rights, died in August 1868, and former Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton (1814–1869) soon followed. U.S. senator Charles Sumner (1811–1874) of Massachusetts broke with the party early in the Grant administration, as did U.S. senator Carl Schurz (1829–1906) of Missouri, who had once written an influential report urging federal support for the South (see Chapter 4). Even the leaders of the abolitionist movement, who had worked so hard for so many years toward the goal of freeing the slaves, seemed now to feel that black people's problems were solved.
The Liberal Republicans
In place of the small but influential group of Radicals in Congress, there was now a group called the "stalwarts," extremely conservative men with close ties to business interests, who were in favor not of change or reform but of keeping things the way they were. In reaction to this group, as well as to the political corruption that was plaguing the nation, arose a new group called the Liberal Republicans. Members of this reform movement were disgusted not only by the bribery and other forms of misbehavior in which public officials were involved but also by high taxes and what they saw as extravagant public spending. Liberal Republicans were in favor of free trade and limited government; their strongest belief, though, was that the civil service (the network of federal government jobs) must be changed. Whereas in the past, government jobs had been used as rewards for supporting whoever had been elected, the Liberals thought they should be based on intelligence and ability, which could be proved by passing an examination.
The Liberals still accepted the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which guaranteed civil and political rights to African Americans. They had been disillusioned, however, by the Reconstruction governments, which they saw as riddled by corruption, incompetence, and overspending. Thus they favored "Home Rule" (local self-government) for the South and asserted that the former Confederates who had previously ruled the region should be offered amnesty (a pardon for their previous disloyalty to the Union). These white men were put forth as the "natural leaders" of the South and the only people capable of restoring order and stability to the region, which was necessary to attract the Northern investors who could pump money into the Southern economy.
A curious turnaround was now taking place, as Northern journalists warned of the dangers of allowing unworthy, ignorant, uneducated people (whether they were blacks in the South, Irish immigrants in the Northeast, or Chinese on the West Coast) to vote. Southern whites were now being portrayed as the victims of injustice, while blacks were seen as un-deserving of equal citizenship and carpetbaggers as thieves out for all they could steal from the South. As for the resentment and hatred that white Southerners had shown for African Americans, it was up to black people themselves to alter those feelings: "The removal of white prejudice against the negro depends almost entirely on the negro himself," declared the Nation magazine, as noted in A Short History of Reconstruction.
Indeed, even respectable, intellectual journals like the Nation were now joining their voices to those who had claimed that black people were fundamentally different from and inferior to whites, that they had perhaps been better off under slavery, that only white Southerners could really understand them, and that it was pointless to try to educate them. These new attitudes created new alliances between Northern Republicans and Democrats (the conservative party that had dominated the South before the war and now based its platform on white supremacy) of both regions.
Deepening divisions in the South
Meanwhile, in the South, the resentment against blacks of lower-class whites, who dominated but by no means monopolized the ranks of the Ku Klux Klan and other terrorist groups, grew with the perception that blacks were not only economic competitors in a time of economic hardship but threats to the very self-esteem of poor whites. Denying blacks an equal place in society, in this view, meant more room there for those at the bottom rungs of white society. Those on the top rung, however, viewed blacks more as a potential labor force than as social or economic competitors, so they did not have as much difficulty in allowing them some civil and political equality. In fact, the "New Departure" faction of the Southern Democratic Party even tried to attract black voters by focusing on such issues as taxes, government spending, and amnesty rather than on racial matters.
As the 1872 elections approached, however, a much more common stance for Democratic candidates was that of white supremacy. Candidates would try to gain support by stirring fears of rape of white women by black men, of miscegenation (sexual relationships between blacks and whites, which some believed would weaken or mar the purity of the white race), and the "Africanization" of the South, through which the concerns, rights, and privileges of blacks would overshadow those of whites.
Whereas there had once been a considerable (if never large) number of white Southerners in the Republican Party, a strict racial dividing line was now developing: blacks were Republicans, and whites were Democrats. Scalawags gave in to the scorn, ridicule, and sometimes mistreatment to which they and their families were subjected by dropping out of the Republican Party in large numbers.
Grant is reelected
As the 1872 presidential election loomed, the Republicans, of course, rallied behind the incumbent president, Ulysses S. Grant. The Democrats united with the Liberal Republicans in nominating a somewhat unlikely candidate, the popular New York Tribune newspaper editor Horace Greeley (1811–1872). The only issue that all of Greeley's supporters seemed to have in common was the need for a new policy in the South. Greeley came out in favor of local control of government and of Southern state governments headed by the region's "natural leaders," with blacks told to fend for themselves and not expect special favors.
Grant won a solid majority of the votes, carrying all of the states in the North, while Greeley won only in the ex-Confederate states of Georgia, Tennessee, and Texas and the border states of Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri. Thanks to the passage during the two previous years of the Enforcement Acts, which had been somewhat successful in closing down the Ku Klux Klan and curbing racial violence, this was a fairly peaceful election in which Southern blacks were allowed to cast their votes freely. Sadly, the next major elections, held in 1874, would present a much different picture.
The Panic of 1873
Before those elections, though, the nation was plunged into a period of major economic decline called the Panic of 1873. The crisis was sparked by the bankruptcy of Jay Cooke (1821–1905), one of the most powerful bankers in the nation, who had speculated too wildly in railroad bonds—Cooke bought and sold the bonds, with the assumption that the railroads would be successful and the intention of making a large profit. This event caused a drastic dip in confidence among the U.S. public. The resulting depression put more than a million people out of work and closed thousands of businesses. Farmers also suffered, for agricultural prices and land values fell. Miners and factory workers reacted to wage cuts with violent strikes, underlining the growing distinction and bad blood between the country's working and upper classes, each of whom frantically defended its own interests first and felt ill will and distrust toward the other.
In the South, which had already been suffering from a poor economy, the effects of the depression were felt even more strongly. The prices of cotton, tobacco, rice, and sugar all declined dramatically, leading to widespread bankruptcy and more families living in poverty. The prosperity that so many had hoped for in the years following the Civil War now seemed even farther out of reach than ever before. Abandoning their feeble attempts at a "New Departure," Southern Democrats focused on lowering taxes and controlling the plantation labor force as their main objectives, with the overriding theme of white supremacy as the way to accomplish these goals.
Using violence and intimidation
White Southerners were now determined to reclaim or "redeem" their state governments, and once again, they turned to violence and intimidation as weapons. These tactics had already worked well in the four states that had seen the earliest redemptions—Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, where the Republican governments had been overthrown between 1869 and 1871. In Georgia, for example, the success of the terrorist groups in keeping blacks from the polls had resulted in the Democrats capturing the state legislature in 1870, and the governorship the next year. When he took office, Redeemer governor James M. Smith (1823–1890) advised blacks to forget about politics and "get down to honest hard work." The state had quickly put a poll tax and strict residency and registration rules (designed to make it nearly impossible for poor blacks to vote) on the books.
In Mississippi, a newspaper writer frankly announced the Democrats' intentions for the upcoming elections, as quoted in The Era of Reconstruction: 1865–1877: "All other means having been exhausted to abate the horrible condition of things, the thieves and robbers, and scoundrels, white and black, deserve death and ought to be killed.… [They] ought to be compelled to leave the state or abide [by] the consequences.… [We will] carry the election peaceably if we can, forcibly if we must." Thus began the pattern of violence that would come to be known as the "Mississippi plan," which would become a blueprint for the other six states yet to be redeemed.
The Mississippi Plan
Mississippi Democrats known as White Liners (white supremacists) organized rifle clubs and militia groups and began drilling and parading through black communities. They broke up Republican meetings and provoked bloody riots. For example, in Vicksburg in December 1874, the White Liners demanded the resignation of the town's black sheriff, Peter Crosby (1846–1884). When an unarmed group of blacks showed up to support Crosby, a white mob attacked them, then went on a rampage through the countryside, killing over three hundred blacks. At the polls, armed guards prevented blacks from voting or forced them to vote for Democrats. Economic forms of coercion were also used, as blacks were threatened with the loss of their jobs—or even the denial of medical treatment—if they voted for Republicans.
Mississippi governor Adelbert Ames (1835–1933) was shocked by these developments, but felt powerless to stop them. He issued a proclamation ordering the private militias to disband, but it was ignored. Ames appealed to President Grant to send federal troops to help stem the violence, but the request was refused. As noted in The Era of Reconstruction: 1865–1877, Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont (1817–1892) informed Ames that people were "tired of these annual autumnal outbreaks in the South." This was yet another indication that Northern interest in the South and the problems of Southern blacks was waning.
On election day, scores of Mississippi blacks were either too scared to show up at the polls or driven away as soon as they arrived. In Aberdeen, the White Liners set up a cannon and sent armed thugs through the crowds of waiting voters, and the town's Republican sheriff actually locked himself in his own jail for safety. The town's election results typify what happened throughout the state: The Democrats won with a majority of 1,175 votes, even though in 1871 the Republicans had had a majority of 648.
Mississippi had now been redeemed. Thoroughly disgusted, Governor Ames wrote to his wife, as quoted in Reconstruction and Reaction: The Emancipation of Slaves, 1861–1913: "Yes, a revolution has taken place—by force of arms—and a race disenfranchised—they are to be returned to a condition of serfdom—an era of second slavery." The following March, the Democrats invented outrageously false charges against Ames in order to threaten him with impeachment (an attempt to remove him from office), so Ames left the state. Within a year, Mississippi's Republican Party had dissolved.
The downfall of Reconstruction begins
Another outcome of the 1874 elections was that the Republicans lost control of the U.S. House of Representatives, which they had dominated for so many years. Responding to both the nationwide economic depression and the corruption of the Grant administration, voters turned against the ruling party. Before the election, the Republicans had had a 110-vote majority in the House, and now the Democrats had a majority of 60. With the South now holding half of the committee chairs in Congress, the prospect of continued federal intervention in Southern affairs seemed unlikely.
Thus during his second term as president, Grant presided over a retreat from the Reconstruction policies so carefully crafted by the Radical Republicans. As he lay dying in March 1874, one of these old Radicals, Charles Sumner, had urged his colleagues to push through one more piece of legislation to try to safeguard equality for all U.S. citizens. In Sumner's honor, Congress passed this legislation, the Civil Rights Act of 1875, which guaranteed civil and political rights and also prohibited segregation (separation of people by race) in public places and, most notably, in public schools. The act, however, laid the burden of enforcement at the door of black litigants (those involved in a lawsuit) and was not effective.
In addition, during the next decade the Supreme Court would undo many of the gains of the early 1870s in a series of decisions known collectively as the Slaughterhouse Cases. In effect, these rulings denied blacks the right to use the federal courts to fight unfair state laws. In 1875, a ruling on women's suffrage that the U.S. Constitution did not "confer the right of suffrage on anyone" had a negative impact on blacks. The next year, in the United States v. Cruikshank case (which arose out of a bloody racial incident known as the Colfax Massacre), the Court voided parts of the Enforcement Acts. Finally, in 1883, the Supreme Court struck down the Civil Rights Act of 1875, ruling it unconstitutional.
The 1876 elections
The Southern state elections of 1876 were as bloody as those held during the previous two years. In South Carolina, Florida, and Louisiana, the Mississippi Plan was again put into effect, with similar results. On the national level, the results of the presidential election gave blacks and those concerned about justice in the South more reason to despair.
Hoping to counteract the negative feelings created by Grant's crooked administration, the Republicans chose a morally upright but rather bland candidate, Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893), whose campaign promises included support for local self-government in the South. The Democratic nominee was New York governor Samuel Tilden (1814–1896). The election was extremely close, and the results set off a political crisis: while Tilden won more popular votes, Hayes had a one-vote lead in the Electoral College (a body of people representing each state, who formally cast votes for the election of the president and vice president). The Republicans immediately proclaimed many Southern votes invalid because of the widespread violence and intimidation used there, while the Democrats contested these charges.
Meanwhile, other crises stemming from Southern election results were brewing. In Louisiana, federal troops surrounded the state capitol, keeping Republican governor William P. Kellogg (1830–1918) in office as a huge mob of White Liners gathered outside, demanding his removal. In South Carolina, Democratic candidate Wade Hampton
Rutherford B. Hayes: An Unthreatening Choice
Chosen as the Republican nominee because of his moderate views and integrity, Ohio governor Rutherford B. Hayes won a close presidential election that ended with a compromise. Its terms meant that he would preside over the end of Reconstruction.
Hayes was born in Delaware, Ohio, in 1822. His parents had earlier migrated from Vermont. His father died before his birth, and he and his sister were raised by their mother. Weak and sickly as a child, Hayes received a good early education. After graduating from Kenyon College in 1842, he entered Harvard Law School and earned his law degree three years later. From 1845 to 1849, he practiced law in Upper Sandusky, Ohio. Then he moved his practice to Cincinnati.
In 1852, Hayes married Lucy Ware Webb (1831–1889), who was involved in various types of reform, such as the temperance movement (which tried to curb people's use of alcohol; when he became president, no alcoholic beverages were served in the White House) and abolitionism. His wife's activism inspired Hayes's own interest in such causes. He began defending runaway slaves for free, and he helped to found the Republican Party in Ohio.
Hayes became city solicitor of Cincinnati in 1858, and he was still in this position in 1861 when the Civil War began. Hayes started organizing local volunteers to serve in the Union army, and in June he was commissioned a major in the Twenty-third Ohio Volunteer Infantry. He served throughout the whole war and was wounded four times. By the end of the war, Hayes had been promoted to major general. Before the war was over, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Hayes served in Congress for two years, coming out in strong support of the measures proposed by the Radical Republicans for the Reconstruction of the South. His pet project, however, was developing the Library of Congress.
Hayes resigned from Congress in 1867 in order to run for governor of Ohio. He won the election and was reelected in 1869. As governor, he oversaw his state's ratification of the Fifteenth Amendment and the establishment of Ohio State University.
In 1872, Hayes returned to his home in Cincinnati. After an unsuccessful run for Congress, he retired from politics. But when the Republican Party urged him to become its candidate for governor again in 1875, he reluctantly agreed. Hayes was elected, and began serving his third term. The next year, however, facing a presidential election in a period of widespread corruption and public distrust, the national Republican Party chose him as its candidate for president. He was considered a dignified, honest, moderate alternative to the other choices, all of whom seemed to be either too corrupt or too radical. His Democratic opponent was New York governor Samuel Tilden.
When the November election results came in, it initially appeared that Hayes had lost. Tilden had won the popular vote, but the Republicans alleged that twenty electoral votes from Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, and Oregon were invalid owing to election fraud. When Hayes thus won the Electoral College count by a single vote, the Democrats objected. A stalemate that would last into the first months of 1877 began, with neither side willing to concede the election. It was resolved only after a somewhat mysterious series of negotiations resulted in a compromise: the Democrats would accept Hayes's election, and the Republicans agreed to allow "self-government" in the South.
The compromise signaled the end of Reconstruction and the triumph of the so-called Redeemers, who would restore rule by white supremacists (those who believed that whites were superior and should be in charge) in the South. In April, Hayes withdrew federal troops from the state capitols of Louisiana and South Carolina, allowing the Democratic winners of the suspect elections in these states to take office. The new Southern leaders assured Hayes that black civil and political rights would be protected, and the new president thereafter pursued a "let alone" policy toward the South. Meanwhile, the Democratic governments not only broke their promises to Hayes but eventually established the "Jim Crow" system (separation of people by race) of legalized and restricted rights that would dominate the South well into the twentieth century.
Hayes had resolved to serve only one term as president, and he was true to his word. His successor was a fellow Ohioan and Republican, James A. Garfield (1831–1881; served 1881). After leaving office, Hayes set out on a nearly three-month tour of the West, during which he traveled by a colorful variety of vehicles that ranged from a train to a stagecoach to a ferry boat. He enjoyed a very active retirement that included work on such causes as black education and prison reform as well as organizing veterans' reunions. Hayes died in Fremont, Ohio, in 1893.
(1818–1902)—while calling for racial peace and referring to blacks as his "true friends"—had won the gubernatorial election through a program of violence carried out by supporters called the Red Shirts, who appeared on horseback wearing shirts that were intentionally the color of blood. Republicans refused to accept the election results, and Governor Daniel Chamberlain (1835–1907) remained in office. As in Louisiana, the South Carolina state capitol was surrounded by federal troops.
Prominent Redeemer Wade Hampton
Wade Hampton was a Confederate war hero who sat out most of the Reconstruction era but became the governor of South Carolina once the "Redeemer" movement restored white supremacist rule in the Southern states.
Born into a wealthy family that was a well-established part of the Southern aristocracy, Hampton grew up on the Mill-wood plantation in South Carolina. His father raised cotton and thoroughbred horses and owned hundreds of slaves. Hampton graduated from South Carolina College in 1836 and—despite having studied law—returned to manage his family's plantations, including several in Mississippi.
He was elected to the South Carolina state legislature in 1852 and reelected twice before becoming a senator in 1856. He resigned that position in 1861. Although Hampton had not approved of the idea of secession (separation from the Union), once it occurred he gave his full support to the Confederacy, offering both money and military service to the cause. As an infantry officer, he was wounded at the battle of Manassas. His military skills were noticed by his superiors and he was promoted to brigadier general in May 1862. After being wounded again in the battle of Seven Pines, Hampton became second in command of a cavalry unit and took part in several major battles. At Gettysburg, he was wounded a third time. He took command of all Confederate cavalry forces in May 1864.
After the war, Hampton returned to South Carolina. Most of his fortune had been lost during the war, and he spent the Reconstruction years tending to his plantations. By the mid-1870s, the white Democrats of the South had determined to restore their power by whatever means necessary. Nominated for governor in 1876, Hampton entered into the campaign with gusto. He took what was known as a "cooperationist" approach, attempting to attract the African American vote by supporting some limited rights for blacks and emphasizing racial peace. At the same time, however, he was always accompanied by an imposing band of mounted supporters called "Red Shirts," whose clothing was intended to mimic the color of blood.
When Hampton won the very close election, it was as much through the organized campaign of terror that white groups like the Ku Klux Klan had used to keep blacks away from the polls as through his popularity. When Republican governor Daniel Chamberlain and his supporters refused to concede the election to Hampton, a standoff began at the state capitol, with Chamberlain kept in office only through the presence of Union troops. It ended with the compromise by which Democrats agreed to accept the election of Republican presidential candidate Rutherford B. Hayes and the Hayes administration agreed to leave the South alone to manage its own affairs. The troops were withdrawn from South Carolina, and Hampton took office.
Reelected in 1878, Hampton subsequently became a U.S. senator, serving in that office until 1891 when he was defeated by Benjamin R. Tillman (1847–1918), the candidate of the Populist Party (a group made up of small farmers and craftsmen). Hampton later served as commissioner of Pacific railroads for nine years. He died in 1902.
A compromise is reached
In Washington, D.C., a series of somewhat mysterious meetings took place at which Republicans and Democrats worked out a deal in which the Democrats would accept Hayes's election in exchange for allowing the Southern states to govern using Home Rule. Thus, they would be empowered to complete the process of Redemption. On April 10, 1877, Hayes ordered the federal troops to leave South Carolina's capitol, and Hampton took power. Two weeks later, federal troops also marched away from Louisiana's state house in Baton Rouge, leaving Democrats in control of that state.
For most historians and students of history, these events signaled the end of the Reconstruction era. As noted by black Louisiana citizen Henry Adams and quoted in Reconstruction and Reaction: The Emancipation of Slaves, 1861–1913, "The whole South—every state in the South—had got into the hands of the very men that held us as slaves." In the North, as reported in A Short History of Reconstruction, the magazine the Nation predicted that "the negro will disappear from the field of national politics. Henceforth, the nation, as a nation, will have nothing more to do with him."
Indeed, it seemed that the nation as a whole had completely forsaken its black citizens. For the rest of Hayes's administration, he would follow a "let alone" policy toward the South. The Southern states would be overtaken by white supremacy, and blacks would be pushed out of politics and public life. Within the next few decades, the oppressive laws known as the Jim Crow system—which made segregation a legal fact of life in the South—would be put in place. (The name "Jim Crow" came from the black minstrel shows popular during the era, which featured exaggerated, stereotypical black characters.) During the earlier years of the Reconstruction era, the federal government had felt a responsibility to protect the fundamental rights of all U.S. citizens. It would be many years before it would again take up that responsibility. Meanwhile, African Americans would continue to hope, work, and struggle for expanded educational opportunities, for civil and political rights, and for the equality promised in both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.
For More Information
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Benedict, Michael Les. A Compromise of Principle: Congressional Republicans and Reconstruction, 1863–1869. New York: Norton, 1974.
Cox, LaWanda C., and Cox, John H., eds. Reconstruction, the Negro, and the New South. New York: Harper & Row, 1973.
Foner, Eric. Freedom's Lawmakers: A Directory of Black Officeholders During Reconstruction. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.
Foner, Eric. A Short History of Reconstruction. New York: Harper & Row, 1990.
Golay, Michael. Reconstruction and Reaction: The Emancipation of Slaves, 1861–1913. New York: Facts on File, 1996.
Litwack, Leon, and August Meier, eds. Black Leaders of the Nineteenth Century. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1988.
Perman, Michael. The Road to Redemption: Southern Politics, 1869–1879. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1984.
Smith, John David. Black Voices from Reconstruction, 1865–1877. Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1997.
Stampp, Kenneth M. The Era of Reconstruction: 1865–1877. New York: Vintage Books, 1965.
Wagner, Margaret E., Gary W. Gallagher, and Paul Finkelman, eds. Civil War Desk Reference. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002.
Wharton, Vernon L. The Negro in Mississippi, 1865–1900. New York: Harper & Row, 1965.
Williams, Lou Faulkner. The Great South Carolina Ku Klux Klan Trials, 1871–1872. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1996.
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