After Slavery: Educator Resources

Exhibit Splash Image

3. A North Carolina Republican Seeks to Clear his Name

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.

White conservatives organized in the Democratic Party adopted a range of measures to obstruct freedpeople from playing an active role in politics. As the following document makes clear, nearly four years after emancipation the legacy of the old order weighed heavily upon those seeking to assert their rights in the new one. The subject of the communication below, John M. Mitchell, is listed in the 1870 census as a mulatto and a father of eight. From this text it appears he had been free before the Civil War.

A North Carolina Republican Seeks to Clear his Name

Stat of N. C. Columbus county January the 1th 1869

John M. Mitchell a bout 20 years ago traded with a slave and a serspison Return him to cort and delt with him as if he had Stolen[.] all Person nows how the Dimacrats Laws was South if a man of coller jest serspison and col not prove wheare he was at that time he was punish for the crime with out any prof attall and that was the way he was don and now I don't Look or Expect any assistance from any but the Republican party and I want you if you please to Remove his disability so I Leave this to the genalasemely[.]a

he is a nomated by his frinds and fellow sittinzin to offer for Justes of the Peace[.] We the Republican party of Columbus county wod not Reckormend any person that tha though not worthey of ofis[.] [We] sent one befour and naver got no returns But when We heare from this Letter we hop to hear from it with Joye we will send this to the Reppresentive of Bladen county Mr. F. W. Foster[.]

We don't Repli to any party but the Republican Party for any help what ever January the 17 1869
John M. Mitchell

Direct your Letter to Crowells Mill Bladen county N. C to Mr Jonas. A. Mooreb

aread "General Assembly"

bMoore (spelled "More" in the census) is listed as a 38 year-old mulatto laborer.

Source: F. W. Foster, Jonas Moore and others to Governor William W. Holden, Jan. 17, 1869, Holden Papers, North Carolina


Questions to Consider

  1. On what grounds do the Democrats seek to bar Mitchell from holding office? How do the petitioners try to counter their objections?

  2. The petition to Holden is signed by more than ten individuals, a majority of whom are likely to have been freedmen. How might the petition have been circulated? Is it likely that a meeting took place at which Mitchell's situation was discussed? How might the Republicans of Columbus have decided that a petition was the best means of seeking redress for their grievances?

  3. Do they expect a positive response from Governor Holden? What has been their experience previously?

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