After Slavery: Educator Resources

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8. Republicans in Tallyho, North Carolina, Protest against Democratic Fraud

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.

As with the previous document, this letter to Governor Holden outlines Democratic resistance to Republican electoral gains—in this case through unspecified 'fraud' during local "township" elections. Holden's petitioners seem to perceive that conservative disruption at the local level is linked to a wider plan to undermine Reconstruction (and "the republican form of government") nationally. The correspondence of Republican governors across the South is littered with similar complaints.

Republicans in Tallyho, North Carolina, Protest against Democratic Fraud

Agust. 11th. 1869.

The Exencilence Governor W. W. Holden.

Dear Sir. We the Republican of Granville County most respetifully protest against - the township Election of talleyho in consiquience of The way it was conducted. and do Ernenstly believe - that it oght to be remoddled. and a fair and squar Election given - We most recollect - that the democrats will - and do - do all and every thing they can - to get in power, and they think. If they -can fool the republicans - as they have already don at tallyho And other places. and Get in power in the townships. By that means after awhile - they can Get the county ofices. And from that to the States ofices and unitedstates ofices. And then they can nulify - the the republican form of - Government and place the colored. Race - and labering Class of white people - in the same possion - only wors - As they were before.

and please your honor sir - if you can not Grant us a reelection - which we honestly - believe that we oght to have - what most we do. in such a case. and we can also prove by a colored man responcible one - that the democrat candidate told him that they [the Republicans] had beet them. and if the republican had had as meny more as they did have we would have beet them And as it was - they onley beet about thirty.

What most we do - most we put up with such - When we know there are frade - know we will die first[.] Recolect - that dividing in to townships all of the counties makes a concitable difference - among the Colored people - Egnorent as they are

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And meny and members are dissatisfied at the Election Except it had bin don fair, and we appeal to our Superer - our Surpream for refuse.
Most respetifully Your obedient
Servents -

Hopeing to here from you soon.

Silas L. Curtisa
Cuffee Major
Solomon Green
John norwood.
James Harris.
Thomas Curtis.
Lunchfored Wiliford

Benjamon Alden
Esau Lasiter
Robert Ridley
And meny others - too tedious to mention both white and Colored.

Answer to S. L. Curtis.
Oxford, N. C.

aCurtis is listed in the 1870 census as a 35 year-old shoemaker (34 at time of writing) living on his own. Green was a 20 year-old illiterate farm laborer listed (along with his twin sister, a cook) as living in the household of his white employer. Norwood was a 34 year-old foundry worker living in Tallyho; there are several black men in Granville county named James Harris, including a 45 year-old blacksmith in Tallyho living in the close vicinity of Thomas Curtis, listed as a 50 year-old farmer with $1200 in real estate; also in Tallyho is L. Williford, the only white signatory, listed as possessing property and assets worth $750; neither Alden nor Lasiter can be found, but there is a Robert Ridley listed as a 35 year-old farm laborer in adjoining Person county (formerly part of Granville).

Source: Silas L. Curtis and others to Governor William W. Holden, August 11, 1869, Governor's Papers, North Carolina Archives and History


Questions to Consider

  1. How might conservatives attempt to "fool" Republicans in order to win an election?

  2. The petitioners refer to conservative aims to subdue both freedpeople and "labering Class" whites. What does this tell us about their understanding of Reconstruction? Why might they express themselves in this way?

  3. Why might the petitioners suggest that they are "willing to die first" rather than allow the Democrats to return to power by fraud? What are the stakes in this contest as they see it?

  4. Why might the division of the counties into townships matter so much to African Americans?

  5. Read through note 'a' at the end of the document. How would you characterize the Republican constituency in social and economic terms?

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