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Scalawags Essay, Research Paper

1. Who were the Scalawags?

? Scalawags is the name given to native or local whites who supported the Rep party. The origins of the word is uncertain but the term came from Scalway, a district in Sheton Island, where small cattle lived. Used in US before the Civil war to mean scrawny or undersized cattle. It was also a synonmy for good for nothing. Southern conservative whites found the scalawags uniquely hateful. Blacks were considerable more understand then the faults of a scalawags who was considered a traitor to the south and his own white race.

? They were primarily thought to be poor whites who had opposed the southern aristocracy and the confederacy and who now sought personal and class gains through the republican party. “The mean and lousy filty kind that are not fit for butlers or dogs.”

? Numbering in the 10s of thousands, they blurred the stark contrast in black/white racial division in southern politics. Thus, they provided an indigenous power base and respectabilty to the republican party that was recognized as crucial to its permanance in the south. “A party sustained by only black votes will not grow old.” It is impossible to maintain the republican party in the south without a division of the white votes: it could not maintain unless it got the votes of some whites. But conservative whites called them “white negroes.”

? For a time Scalawags dominated the state governments of 5 southern states: Ala, Ge, Tenn, Tx, NC. They also played a major role in Miss.

? Ex of two Scalawags who closely fit the conservativestereotype: Franklin Moses Jr, despite his pledge of honest administration was to provide SC with its worst governortorial administration of the reconstruction era. When he was speaker of the house in SC, he accepted bribes and submitted fradulent pay certificates. On one occasion, the members of the house reimbured him for his loses on a horse race. He missappropiated arms funds. He also took money for pardons and appointments. “He betrayed not only his state, but his class, his college, the negroes who voted him in the office and himself. When he finished his term as a governor, he was an hopeless bankrupt. His associates abandoned him. Because of Chamberlain’s (carpetbagger) effort to erase the corruption left by Moses, some democrats thought about relected him. His wife divorced him and he went to Mass where he was moderator of the town meetings

? Another Ex: Christopher Columbus Bowen (SC): best resembles the conservative stereoptye. Born in RI, he moved to Ge where he made his living as a card dealer. He joined the confederate army. Courtmarshalled and jailed in Charleston but was freed when the Union army occupied the city in 1865. In 1868, he was jailed again for alledgedly embezzling money from the freedmen. Acquited in 1872 on a bigomy charge. Pardoned by President Grant. Served two terms in the national house of reps.

? Most common elements of these native southerns who became republican were: Unionist background, lingering attachment to Whiggery, and a closely related attraction to the economic philosophy of the Rep party. Republicans also attracted number of urban and small town artisans and among southern’s foreign born working men. Some unionists and former whigs would not consider joining the democratic party for any reasons. Some never abandoned the whig party but became republican later on b/c not want to join the democratic party.

? Historians David Donald: he found most Scalawags in Miss to have been former members of the Whig party in the black belt and

wealthy men: the large planters and rr and industrial promoters who turned naturally to the party which in nation was dominated by business interests, the Republican party. Nationalists in orientation, these formerwhigs had opposed succession and they still opposed the equalitarian and states rights leanings of Miss democrats and they were anxious to guide the state republican party in a sensible direction. Donald believed that most whigs initially supported the Miss republican party but they were soon alienated by the radical demands and growing power of blacks and carpetbaggers within the state republican party organization. They were esp hostile to further racial equality and the result, defection was the major cause of republican defeat in the Miss.15-20,000 whites were Rep in Miss, but the true figure is about 9,000, 15% of the total white electorate in Miss was Scalawag.

? James Lusk Alcorn was the leader of the Miss Scalawag. He had been wealthy delta planter before the war and after a brief stint he had opposed succession and after a brief stint in the southern army, he retired to his plantation. He smuggled contraband cotton into northern hands along the Miss river and invested his profits in land and in Union currency, not in Confederate bills or bonds. After the war, he sought to set up a republican party in Miss, which would rest on a collition of old line whigs, like himself, and newly enfranchised black voters. As a governor of Miss, Alcorn favored legal equality for blacks in exchange for their support of his legislation. He called for rebuilding levies along the Miss river at state expense so that planters like himself could drain their floodes fields and grow corn again. The leasing of convicts to private individuals or corporations, a reduction in land taxes, and state aid for rr construction. Even though he eventually became disenchanted with reconstruction, be refused to go over to the Democratic party, his lifelong political armies: “I was a whig and a glory in the fact that I am not a democrat.”

? Allen W. Trelease: a study of votin patterns in the south in the presidential election of 1872 concluded that “most white republican voters of 1872 were small famers, noticible poorer than the southern average and had little in common of the slave owners who had dominated the affairs in their respective state.” The 1872 election was the first postwar election in which all 11 states had been readmitted to the Union. (11 states participated in the election and Grant had been reelected.) Coming from counties that relatively poor and contained few blacks and these people were less likely to be swayed by appeals to white supremacy, since the few blacks among them posed no threat. Geographically, the counties containing the largest proportion of white republicans “were chiefly contentrated in the mt. regions of E Tenn, W NC, and NW Arkansas (the ozarks). Other centers of white republican strenghts were the hilly northern parts of Ala and Ge, SW Missouri, SW Virginia. These my counties had been regions of Union strength in 1860 and of war time loyalism to the Union during the war. And they are precisely the area, according to this person, where white republicans …. In 1872. In Texas, the greatest amount of white republicans were found among the mexican pop along the Rio Grand and among the large german element in central texas, in San Antionio. The german of SW texas comprised of the largest block of Southern immigrants. (The republicans offered the blacks economic opportunity but the republicans were denied he funds and had to resort to highter taxes and alienated the common white consituency). In 1872, in no state taken has a whole were white republicans even close to a majority of all white voters. According to Trelease, white Republicans cast a total of about 150,000 popular votes in 1872 in the 11 states; almost half in Tenn and NC. Throughout the south, White republicans cast 10% of all the votes cast by whites and blacks. In other words, about 1 in 10 were scalawags. About 20% of those cast by whitemen (1 in 5) was a republican in the south. And about 80% of the republican votes in the south were blacks. Trelease also challenges that portion of Donald’s thesis which held that most scalawags were former whigs, writing that a sound basis for identifying prewar whigs with postwar republicans exists only in Tenn, NC, and to some extent in Virginia. Elsewhere, most of the white republican in 1862 seems to have been Jacksonian democrayts before the war, that would have been true in eastern Tenn but not true in W NC, which was whig. Portions of Trelease’s methodology have been challenged and recent studies of Miss, Ala, and Lous together with studies of the whig heritage have strengthened Donald’s thesis.

? Warren A. Ellen: concluded that when scalawag percentages in each counties in each election were converted to estimate the number of scalawag vote, it became evident that the bulk of the scalawag were located in the delta counties. The black belt in delta counties contained the highest concenration of scalawag strength in Miss throughout the reconstruction era, which lasted until 1875.

? Sarah Woolfolf Wiggins: In the only book-length study of Scalawag in the south, she follows Alabama scalawags leaders from the earliest postwar years through their era of power during the reconstruction era and onto the leaner times of 1880s. She concludes that Scalawag leaders were not the Alabama scums that many thought they were. A majority of this group’s highest leaders were professional men, many with college education, and some were from black belt counties in central Alabama. Moreover, some Scalawag leaders were quite wealthy and others were sons of prominent Alabama families. They had been active in state politics before the war and had been equally been divided among the whigs and democrats. So on this issue, she seems to come down on a position between Donald and Trelease. She also contends that the Scalawags dominated the state republican part of Alabama. Scalawgs constantly complained that Carpetbaggers and blacks were running the state republican party but her evident does not support them.

? (Charles Hays): was a democrat, confederate soldier, and one of the wealthiest slave holders in Alabama blackbelt. He defied the scalawag mold. After Southern surrender when his white neighbors became democrats, he joined the republican party. Facing health problems and postwar economic difficulties, Hays was often absent from house debates. He accepted money for one of his nominations to the military academy. At times, he was the party’s pragmist. His felt that the republican party in the south couldn’t survive without white votes but he also promoted the freedmen’s rights.

? Joe Gray Taylor: He says that some native whites became republicans out of convicton. Some men who had been whigs became republicans b/c anything was better than being a democrat like Joshua Hill. Very few of the farmers class became republicans (speaking only of Louisiana). No figures of available of finding a reasonable estimate. In 1865 and 1866, Stamp observes that the scalawags were “an absurd of colliton of class conscious poor whites and yeoman farmers who hated the planters” and that would fit Trelease’s depiction of the native whites republicans living in upper south and “class conscious whig planters and business who dislikes the egalitarian democrats” and that would fit the profile of blackbelt planters. What the teacher’s suggesting is that in the upper south the radical (?) republican (?) members were commonfolk, small white farmers; whereas in the lower south, the leadership was recruited among the planter business class.

? Notable Texas scalawags included Andrew Jackson Hamilton of Texas, native of Ala, and a former congressmen and became unionist during the civil war and had been appointed military governor of Texas by Lincoln and then was appointed provisional governor by Johnson in 1865.

? Elisha Pease, a native of conn, who came to Tx in early 1835, served as 4 years as democratic governor, and was appointed in 1867 in place of another person. Served until 1869.

? Edmund Jackson Davis: native of Florida, president of the constitutional convention in 1869, became the radical republican governor of Texas in 1870. Pure personal life.

2. Scalawags and Blacks

? The Scalawags did endorse black suffrage; most openly courted the black vote (they couldn’t be elected without it), and most believed that the better educated blacks had the right to hold office as well as to vote, but it’s apparent from their congressional records on such matters as enforcement of civil rights legislation that most Scalawags simply could not lay aside their heritage and wholeheartedly embrace the black cause. This may have differed much from carpetbaggers but they were less able to camoflauge their ingrained racist views of blacks. “Some equalities that I don’t believe in.” “Each can have equal protection under the law without being integrated.” That view which was common among scalawags anticipated the separate but equal doctine, which the supreme court would ennunciate in the Plessy vs. Ferguson case of 1896. For most scalawags, the alliance with blacks remained an inconvenience.

3. Corruption under the radical republicans

? For several years following 1868, the radical had overwhelming majority in 7 state legislation and corruption was rampant. Politicans bribed legislators for party favors and busnissmen in corporation bribed politicans for economic priviledges. Votes were for sale everywhere at fixed prices. $600 would buy a senator’s vote in Lousiana. In Florida, sealed envelopes containing $100 or more were freely passed out on occasions of important votes. Blacks members of the florida legislation formed a smelling committee to .. Conditions were at their worst in SC, where state house supplies paid for out of public funds included liquors, table delicacies, furniture, and horses ad carriges. In little over a year, more money was spent for public printing than in the 78 previous years of all the years combined. The greatest cause of corruption was the endorsement of rr bonds by the state. Rr bons in some instance, were endorsed before the roads was built. Such grants in one administration exceeded $27 million. Ala issues estimate $17-$30 million. A ring of 20 men in Arkansas got state loans of more than $5 million. When the companies defaulted like most of them did, the state was left with the burden. Lobbyist and politicans benefited. Alabama and Florida, 2 fold and in Louisiana 5 fold (500%n increase ) in pay for politican and in Alabama tax rates increased 4 fold than prewar levels. For these and other reasons, property in some states decreased as much as 75%.

? The sale of southern bonds at below par value in northern financial centers facilitated the creation of mountainous debts. Without an ignorant electors, such extreme extravagance and corruption could not have taken place. The ex-slave allowed him to be led by Republicans without protest. One blacks said that he couldn’t read and write so just so what they were told. Blacks were dupes rather than rascals. The more imporant bribes fell to the carpetbaggers and scalawags though some blacks received a smaller position and smaller amounts of money. Moreover, corruption was not confined to the radicals alone. Democrats also took part in what is known as the “great barbeque.” The legislature which engaged in these corruption in rr were controlled by the radicals but Democratic southerners also took advantage of openings even though they had fewer chances.

? The republicans probably profited more than the democrats, but the bankers and others who were involved were more conservative than radicals.

? During reconstruction much of the increase in state expenditure was need to remedy war’s destruction, to care for the freedman, and to satisfy the demand that the state assume new social functions.

4. Radical taxation in Perspective

? It’s true in Miss that taxes increased 1400%. Illinois had a tax rate of 45mills, only 15mills for the 11 states. In these 11 states, collected on 32million dollars total in state county municipal taxes whereas NY collected 48million dollars. If the south was corrupt in the postwar reconstrution, the same can be said of the north. The scandals of the Grant administration in Washington and the Tweed ring in NYC also occurred during this period. When Grant ran for president in 1868, this warrior turned politican said “Let us have peace.” He was presented as a national candidate rather than a candidate of any state or region. When asked from when he came, he said from….

5. Scandals during the Grant administration (1869-1877) (Credit Moblier, “Salary grabs,” Whiskey ring, Scandal in the war department, “Let us Prey,” The Tweed ring in NYC.)

? Grant’s administration was marked by scandals such as the credit moblier, involving the company which was organized to construct the continental rr, the Union Pacific line. The salary grab in which congress in 1873 doubled the president’s salary to $50,000/year and increased other government salaries (public indignation forced to repeal the law). The Whiskey ring of 1875, a conspiracy of revenue officials to defraud the government of the internal revenue taxes and spread rapidly to other cities. An investigation led to the indictment of 238 people as well as Grant’s personal secretary who was saved from conviction only through the president’s intervention.

? All these examples of corrption and extravagance, including those of the radical legislation, maybe construed as part of a national era of expansion, the so called gilded age, which promised land..unwise use of public funds.

6. Positive Benfits of radical reconstruction

? Radical reconstruction was not without its positive benefits. The new radical state constitutions were in harmony with the progressive and democratic attendants of the day, modeled as they were on northern constitutions of the era and have substancianly survived through the present. Through them the southerners learned in theory at least, of equality of all men before the law, the right of all children to a public education, the priviledges of all to enjoy civil and social liberties.

? The radical governments selected under these constitutions provided free public schools for blacks and whites with compulsory attendance, expanded state facilities for the deaf, dumb, and insane, provided poorr relief to people of both races, established state normal schools (teaching colleges for blacks), family state hospitals, and rebuilt or repaired roads and building and bridges.

? With the overthrow of radical reconstruction, the south trampled on many features of the democratic concept and cut back on social services such as schools. But the democratic ideal had been imbedded in the federal constitution through the 13 (abolished slavery), 14 (minumun guaratntees as a precondition to their readmission back into the Union), and 15th amendmentm (black suffrage). These amendments could have been passed any other time and in the second reconstruction (brown versus the board of …). Taylot, “What if anything reconstrution accomplised in Louisiana? The state did get a better constution but a subseqent changes made the law a joke.” Reconstrution in Lousianan brought temporary change. But it gave to another generation the opportunity to accomplish what their ancestors had failed to do during reconstrution. ”

7. Famous Scalawags:

? Franklin Moses (SC)

? Christopher Columbus Bowen (SC)

? Joshua Hill (Ga)

? John Pool (NC)

? Charles Hays (Ala)

? James Lusk Alcorn (Miss)

? Andrew Jackson Hamilton (Tx)

? Elisha Pease (Tx)

? Edmund Jackson Davis (Tx)


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