After Slavery: Educator Resources

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9. A Desperate North Carolina Republican Appeals to Governor Holden for Land

The following educational document corresponds with Unit Three: Land and Labor in the After Slavery exhibition. Note the "Questions to Consider" section included at the end of each document.

Freedpeople were not the only ones who needed land and felt that their loyalty to the Union entitled them to some consideration.

In this letter, an unknown "union man" from Mitchell County, North Carolina, in the mountains forty miles north of Asheville, complains to Governor W. W. Holden that not only was it difficult for men like himself to acquire land of their own, but that their "Rebel" landlords had evicted them for voting for Republicans. This conflict was at its most extreme in the North Carolina mountains, where unionist sentiment had divided the population during the war and laid the groundwork for a durable Republican party afterwards, despite the relatively low numbers of African Americans in the region.

A Desperate North Carolina Republican Appeals to Governor Holden for Land

November the 30th [18]68

No. Carolina Mitchell County

Honorable govener W. W Holden in your Excellency I take the opportunity of writing you a few lines concerning the condition of our Republican party I have the opinion that our party will go down unless there is some way found for the landless population to have homes the Rebels holds the most of the land property in our Country and a large majarity of poor union men is destitute of land and is tenants on this Rebel property and is all the chances for a home they have for homes those tenats as soon as they voted the Republican ticket these Rebel notified them that they must hunt them new homes for no Radical could turn a turf on there land now if there is not some way provided for these people to have homes they will have to leave the State or turn and vote with the Rebels untill it is bound to break down our party in this State the loyal people was oppress and every thing they had taken from them by the Rebels then the state legislator anacted such laws to prohibit them from maken any collections for there proper and abuse that they received the poor union man that lost all had in this war and it is all fell in to hand of these leading Rebels it looks hard for the poor union man who was oppress and ground down by there unhumane and tyranical oppressions for four long years to still remain under their oppressions

Source: Governor William W. Holden Papers, North Carolina Office of Archives and History.


Questions to Consider

  1. How did the agricultural economy in the North Carolina mountains differ from other parts of the state?

  2. How might the "Rebels" have acquired property from "poor Union men" during the war?

  3. Would the author of this letter have the same reasons for voting for the Republicans as a former slave in the plantation districts of eastern North Carolina? What obstacles might there be to their political cooperation?

Return to Exhibition: Unit Three