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Virginia in the Jim Crow Era Jim Crow—A term referring to laws establishing segregated facilities and restricting blacks’ activities in the South following.

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Presentation on theme: "Virginia in the Jim Crow Era Jim Crow—A term referring to laws establishing segregated facilities and restricting blacks’ activities in the South following."— Presentation transcript:

1 Virginia in the Jim Crow Era Jim Crow—A term referring to laws establishing segregated facilities and restricting blacks’ activities in the South following Reconstruction. Jim Crow was a character in the 19 th -century minstrel shows, dating back to 1828.

2 Reconstruction in Virginia  Federal military government  Radical republicans favored civil (voting) rights for blacks  Radicals controlled constitutional convention

3 Constitution of 1867  “Underwood Constitution”  Gave blacks right to vote  Former Confederates could not vote  Secret ballot  System of public education  Opponents formed Conservative Party


5 Conservative leader Alexander H.H. Stuart  Pre-war Whig  Denounced Black voting rights (“Negro supremacy”) as “abhorrent to the civilization of mankind.”  Black status and rights became central issue of Virginia politics


7 Role of J.M. Schofield Conservatives were aided in their efforts to “redeem” state by Federal military governor, General J.M. Schofield. Schofield was troubled by Confederate disqualification, fearing that there would not be enough qualified people to run things. Permitted a separate vote on disqualifying clauses


9 Role of William Mahone  Railroad executive and former Confederate general (“hero of the Crater”)  Wished to consolidate RR lines from Hampton Roads westward into Tennessee  Opposed by RR south from Alexandria through Lynchburg  Mahone engineered nomination of Gilbert Walker, a conservative republican, for governor.


11 Election of 1869  105,000 black voters  120,000 white voters  27 of 180 new legislators were black  Gilbert Walker won governorship  Conservatives used fear of “Negro control” to attract votes  Underwood Constitution passed  BUT: Confederate disqualification clauses were defeated

12 Virginia returned to Union in 1870  State “redeemed” by conservatives  Opposed federal/military control of state  Opposed former slaves’ access to rights and responsibilities of governing  Lists of voters separated by race  Poll tax and whipping post (1876)  Preservation of white control

13 Who were the Conservatives?  Mainly former Democrats  State’s elite socially and economically  Continuation of ante-bellum pattern  EXCEPT: slave holding no longer a measure of wealth and status

14 Conservative fiscal policy  Emphasized fiscal responsibility  Regressive tax policy, low level of state services  Education, medical, roads, etc., received little funding  Maintenance of elite’s own economic leadership

15 Issues  RR consolidation (and state investment in pre- war RRs.)  Public education (mandated by constitution)  debt

16 RR Consolidation  Fight between Mahone’s southside plan and Barbour’s Valley plan  Norfolk vs. Baltimore as rival terminals  Mahone plan won

17 Sale of state interests in RRs  War had damaged RRs  Prices greatly deflated  State needed funds  Private investors got a great deal (incl. out of state groups)

18 Debt  By 1870 state debt was more than $45,000,000  Full funding became a question of state’s “honor.”  Funding Act passed March 1871  Put state in hole by about $1,000,000 annually  Act challenged but upheld in state Supreme Court

19 Judge Walter R. Staples  From SWVA  Dissent from majority decision  Funding Act diverted funds from state education system  State legislature cannot bind future legislatures  BUT Funding Act applauded by business interests (seen as Conservative program)

20 Gilbert Walker (1869-1873)  Supporters claimed he had saved state from “negro domination”  Opponents claimed he sold out to railroad executives  Originally from NY, thus also seen as a “carpetbagger.”

21 1873 election  Conservative nominee—  James Lawson Kemper  Native Virginian  Confederate hero  Wounded in Pickett’s charge  Carried cane and had  a visible limp

22 Kemper  Supporter of “lost cause”  But advocated acceptance of victory of Union  Decried “despicable adventurers from North, who left their country’s fill the mind of the superstitious and semibarbarous negro with purposes and plans of vengeance against the white race.”

23 Kemper  Believed blacks were human beings, but  Blacks did not qualify for “social equality with the white man, entitling him to the same seats and privileges in hotels, churches, theatres and making him eligible to all offices state and federal and legalizing amalgamation.”  “two parties in this Commonwealth, the white man’s party and the negro party. There is no middle ground.”

24 Kemper  Promised black Virginians “liberal facilities for education, but  Also said he would close the schools rather than permit integration  Vetoed a bill designed to abolish election of blacks to city council of Petersburg  Whites burned him in effigy

25 State Debt  Kemper wished debt reduced, but not without agreement of creditors  School funding suffered from poor revenues and debt service  Kemper resented charges that he neglected schools

26 1877 election  William Mahone became a major force  Advocated adjusting the debt  Conservatives nominated instead F.W.M. Holliday of Winchester  Holliday evaded issue  In House, many candidates who favored modification of the Funding Act were elected

27 Barbour Bill  Debt placed last among priorities after government operation and schools  Holliday vetoed the bill  Beginning of “Readjuster” movement

28 Readjusters  Sought to reduce or “readjust” state debt  Mahone was leader  Won control of legislature in 1879  Mahone elected to Senate (by legislature)

29 Conservatives opposed Readjusters  Charged state’s “honor” depended on funding debt  Charged Mahone with political opportunism and corruption  Played “race” card—victory of Readjusters meant victory of “Negro” rule

30 1881 election  William E. Cameron, readjuster candidate, won governorship  Riddleberger Debt Act, 1882  Assessed one-third of debt to West Virginia; reduced remainder by another one-third; lowered interest

31 Readjuster social legislation  More money for schools  Poll tax repealed; whipping post abolished; assessments on corporations increased  Became responsibility of Board of Public Works; previously corporations had assessed themselves

32 Anti-Mahone  Weakness of Readjusters was character of Mahone  Built “machine” to maintain power  Fused with Republican Party  Became target of Conservatives  Conservatives accepted Riddleberger Act  Targeted Valley and SWVA  Became “Democratic” Party

33 Campaign of 1883  Democrats charged Readjusters with favoring mixed schools, mixed marriages and social equality  Danville race riot right before election  Blacks present in local government  During scuffle, shots were fired, riot broke out

34 Race Issue--1884  Jubal Early, Confederate general, led meeting in Lynchburg  “Negroes must know that they are to behave themselves and keep in their proper places.”  More people in Va. voted in this election  Democrats won about 2/3 of legislative seats  But Mahone’s Gov. Cameron still in office

35 1884 legislative session  Passed Anderson-McCormick election law  “to perpetuate the rule of the white man in Virginia”  Gave Democrats control of local elections: registrars, election judges, and clerks  Cameron’s veto overridden

36 1885 gubernatorial election  Democrats nominated Fitzhugh Lee, nephew of RE Lee  Former Readjuster JE Massey for Lt. Governor  Rufus Ayers of Big Stone Gap for Attorney General  Republican/Readjusters, controlled by Mahone, nominated John Wise, son of Henry Wise

37 1885 election  Mahone charged Dems as “Bourbons,” Funders, anti-education  “An assassin-like blow at the Public Schools, by Bourbon managers.”  Dems responded by “mounted processions” throughout SWVA  Claimed that Fitz Lee was riding on RE Lee’s saddle

38 1885 election  Democrats won governor and majorities in both state houses  End of effective Republican/Readjuster challenge  Henceforth, political fights would be between Democrats  In 1887 Democrats had further gains in House

39 1889 election  Mahone himself ran for governor  Race issue “a scarecrow to excite prejudice and fear”  Defeated by Philip McKinney  article in Roanoke paper, Nov. 7, 1889  “We Are Saved, White Men Will Continue to Rule Virginia”  Ended Mahone’s domination

40 John Mercer Langston  Black Congressman from 4 th district  Split with Mahone  But in 1882 had said: “The success of the Mahone movement in Virginia means education, liberty, a free ballot, and a fair count for the colored man and the abolition of the whipping post...”


42 Democratic Ascendancy  Confederate heroes such as Fitzhugh Lee and John W. Daniel  “Lame Lion of Lynchburg”  “I am a Democrat because I am a white man and a Virginian”  “I have always believed that the next thing to being a good Christian was being a good Democrat.”


44 Anderson-McCormick Election Law 1884  General Assembly chose local election boards on recommendation of county Democratic party chairman  Election boards chose election judges and clerks, also as recommended by county party chair  One of three judges was supposed to be a Republican, but was usually compliant

45 Walton Act 1894  Ballots did not list party affiliation  Voters marked ¾ way through names they did NOT want, leaving only preferred candidate unmarked  Only specially appointed constable could assist voters  Election judges could be all same party

46 Issues of the 1890s  Depression  Rise of Populism  Outgrowth of Farmers’ Alliances  Tight money  Free silver became issue  Railroad charges  Farmers wanted independent commission to set rates

47 Tom Martin  Railroad lawyer and lobbyist  Distributed RR money to members of legislature  Became US Senator in 1893, surprising Fitz Lee (senators still elected by legislature)  Quiet, unassuming, possessed the money and the secrets (“still hunt”)


49 Charles T. O’Ferrall  Elected governor in 1893 (ran against Populist candidate E.R. Cocke—see article in Roanoke Times)  Vague on money issue: “I am a Democrat”  Anti-lynching

50 Roanoke Lynching, Sept. 2, 1893  Thomas Smith  Jailed for “fiendish attack” on elderly white woman  Militia fired on angry mob, killing 12  Smith was lynched and his body set on fire

51 Murder of Lucy Jane Pollard  June 1895  Lunenburg County  Charles O’Ferrall governor  Danger of lynching

52 Election of 1896  Democrats adopted free silver platform  Nominated William Jennings Bryan  “Cross of Gold” speech  Dems split: Regular Dems favored Bryan, National Dems favored Palmer-Buckner  Bryan carried Va. but McKinley (Republican) won

53 1896 campaign in Va.  Silver Democrats played race card  Some national Democrats supported Republicans  Widespread fraud in voting, esp. among Bryan supporters  Tom Martin had reluctantly come out for Bryan, but only because he thought he would win: “Statesmanship becomes reduced to shifty politics, expediency takes the place of courage.” (describes Martin)

54 Post 1896  Following the 1896 election, there was a move toward reform of the political process, chiefly led by Martin opponents within the Democratic Party  Reformers wished popular election of Senator  Resented Martin’s upset victory over Fitz Lee in 1893 (using RR money)  A.J. Montague elected governor in 1897

55 Constitution of 1902  Culmination of calls for reform  Limited voting rights for blacks and poor whites  Poll tax (paid 6 mos. Before election)  Understanding clause  Descendants of Confederate or Union veterans were exempt from above  After 1904 new registrants had to sign up on blank piece of paper without any instruction

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