After Slavery: Educator Resources

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7. North Carolina Conservatives Refuse to Seat a Black Republican Appointee

The following educational document corresponds with Unit Ten: Freedpeople and the Republican Party in the After Slavery exhibition. Note the "Questions to Consider" section included at the end of each document.

Congress and the executive branch, supported by federal officials and military commanders on the ground in the South, exerted considerable control over statewide and regional politics throughout Reconstruction. But at a local level, where the contest between the old order and the new was most visibly played out, conservatives held to power where they could, obstructing freedpeople in their attempts to take advantage of changed circumstances. Here a group of freedmen write to North Carolina Governor William Woods Holden to complain that Democrats have proscribed blacks from holding office.

North Carolina Conservatives Refuse to Seat a Black Republican Appointee

Weldon, N C. Jan. the 7th, 1869
Honord Govener

You must excuse the liberty I take in writing these lines to you but hoping you will not think that I am intruding on you by so doing the credentials you indorsed for me as a Town Commissinor was not respected at all, they have ruled out the colord officers and put in all white men and also say that colord men shall not hold office as a Commissinor, and I don't think it is Constitutional because it was indorsed by you at the city of Raleigh on the 10th day of August 1868, and we have a colord man here Beng. Franklin our Teacher who is worthy the office and I think he should have one of some kind, and I want to know [what] fault they had of Mr. Jackson Dockery and my self he was as this as [just as?] true Republican as lived, Please answer my letter.

Very Respectfully,
R. J. Baysmore

Noah Hicksa
Beng. Franklin
Sherid Long
Harnell De Loak

aHicks is the only signatory who can be found living in Halifax county in the 1870 census. He is listed as a 47 year-old mulatto.

Source: R. J. Baysmore and others to Governor William W. Holden, Jan. 17, 1869, Holden Papers, North Carolina Archives and History


Questions to Consider

  1. Judging from this document, what is the attitude of conservatives towards Holden's authority as Governor?

  2. Why might Franklin have been a likely candidate for office? If one of the desired criteria for officeholding among black Republicans is literacy, how much will officeholders represent the social and economic status of the freed population?

  3. What are Governor Holden's options for redressing the correspondents' grievances? What reaction might he anticipate from Halifax county conservatives?

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