After Slavery: Educator Resources

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6. Blacks Organize against Discrimination in the Republican Party

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.

By the late 1860s a great deal of resentment had begun to build up amongst freedmen towards the unwillingness of white Republican leadership in both Carolinas to offer them representation in proportion to their actual numbers. At a time when Democrats missed few opportunities to try to convince African Americans that Republican 'carpetbaggers' were using them as mere pawns, discrimination against black Party members could have a demoralizing effect. Some broke with the Republicans completely and joined the Liberal Republican coalition (drawing together former race militants like Martin R. Delaney and diehard white conservatives); others vowed to vote only for native-born Carolinians, or for exclusively black candidates as a protest against northern white domination. This early document suggests that some freedmen pursued a different strategy; they tried to counter attempts at marginalizing black Radicals through organized political networks.

Blacks Organize against Discrimination in the Republican Party

[W]e are about forming a Board in each precinct, each having five delegates for the purpose of forming a kind of link, in order to put down the abuses which have been practiced upon us by making nominations which was contrary to our wishes, and contrary to our Constitution not being qualified for the offices which they may be seeking, according to our constitution, and also there are many of those who are not our political friends are endeavoring to insinuate themselves into our Meetings, endeavoring to make the peoples meeting into a Meeting of nomination and thereby taking Men into office who should not hold office which imposition is done in a great measure through the County commissioners they not knowing the individuals only from hearsay, not giving the colored man the same chance of a white man, and we think that by this Board which we are now forming in each precinct...that the abuses which have been practiced upon us may in some measure be removed...

Source: Joseph Larkin ['x' his mark] (Orangeburg) to Governor Robert K. Scott, March 30, 1869, Governor's Papers, South Carolina Department of Archives and History


Questions to Consider

  1. Judging from the correspondence, who is responsible for the "abuses" which Larkin complains of? How does their intervention change the character of the Republican meetings?

  2. Why might people who were "not [the freedmen's] political friends" want to "insinuate" themselves into the Republican Party rather than work through their own, separate organization? What might be the effect of such intervention if it is ultimately successful?

  3. Are Republican voters concerned merely about the lack of black representation that such methods will result in, or are there other issues bound up with their complaints?

Return to Exhibition: Unit Ten