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between the planters and the “mean whites,” and in this capacity exercised considerable influence over the latter, which made them the great electors of the locality, and even enabled them often to mould the policy of their masters. Monopolizing politics, the members of the ruling class no doubt used them for the narrowest and most selfish of interests, to defend the accursed institution; but however sordid the motives by which they were guided, their object was rather the interest of their class, of the “section,” than that of individuals. Public functions were never a source of personal gain to them; they looked on them as a means of gratifying their dignity, their pride. The small places, which did not hold out these inducements, were left to people who were akin to the type of the “politicians” in the North, but for this very reason the type in the South was a poor and stunted one; the professionals of politics played an altogether suborilinate part there.
All this was changed after the Civil War, when the victors gave the suffrage to the whole ignorant and degraded mass of freed negroes and cut off the old leadership by depriving the men who had pronounced for secession of political rights. The old political society was dissolved; the new one presented only incoherent elements. The Republican party undertook to bring them together, as much with a view to consolidate the results of the victory, and in particular the emancipation of the negroes, as to keep itself permanently in power. For this purpose it made use of the party Organization in vogue in the North. The negroes adapted themselves to it with extraordinary rapidity; without understanding anything of the issues of polities, they grasped its externals aclmirably, — the devices and stratagems of organization, the dodges and tricks of procedure at the ineetings,- and in a short time they maneuvred in the conventions and the committees like veterans. They were controlled by whites, some of whom had hurried down from the northern States, and who got the nickname of "carpet-baggers," since become famous, from their exasperated opponents. Many of them were very respectable men, who were really bent on working for the triumph of the principles of liberty and the moral regeneration of the South, but the majority was composed of adventurers, who had come to make their way in the conquered country. They found associates on the spot in the "mean whites," released from their old social ties by the fall of the slave power, in ex-overseers of slaves, accustomed to electioneering work under the slavery régime, etc. In concert with those southerners who joined the Republican party (the “Scalawags," as they were called in the South), and with the help of the negroes enrolled in its organization, the carpet-baggers got into possession of the electoral machine. When installed in power, the negroes and their white mentors indulged in an unprecedented robbery of the public purse. They made the Legislatures issue bonds on the State to provide for public works, which were never taken in hand, and shared the proceeds among themselves, leaving the tax-payers to submit to fresh taxation; they openly passed fraudulent disbursements or swelled the expenses incurred for furnishing offices, etc., in the wildest fashion, fitting them up, for instance, with clocks at $480 apiece, with chandeliers at $650.
1 Introduced on this occasion for the first time into political language, and since then travsported to the other side of the Atlantic, into England, where, bowever, it obtained a very moderate and almost inoffensive application,"
* Cf. Vol. I, p. 448.
the nickname of “carpet-bagger” originated in the American North-west, at a time when in this still virgin country there were founded soi-disant banks of issue which, for the better concealment of their shady speculations, led a wandering existence, like wild-cats (“wild-cat money"). The notes issued by them were secured by the mortgage of land; but to escape from legal proceedings in case their notes were protested, the speculative bankers neglected to provide for a place of business, which the law omitted to enjoin on them. Having no permanent office, they circulated their paper by means of itinerant agents, who carried them in carpet bags, and were dubbed carpet-baggers. A journalist of the South, an old carpet-bagger, having exhausted his stock of opprobrious epithets on the Yankee intruders, at last flung in their face his own nickname, which was at once adopted by the whole Press. I take this explanation from the novel by Albion W. Tourgée, A Fool's Errand, by One of Themselves, N. Y., 1880, p. 166. Whatever may be its value as a work of fiction, this tale is a historical document of undeniable importance for understanding the South during the period of Reconstruction which followed the close of the war.
1 Thus in less than four months the legislature of North Carolina voted more than 25 millions in bonds, mostly intended for railroads, of which 14 millions were issued and sold at from 9 to 45 per cent. of their nominal value. In South Carolina the debt of the State rose in the space of four years from 5$ millions to 185 millions, without any public work of importance having been executed or begun. The four years of Republican domination cost Louisiana 106 millions of dollars.
The public offices were distributed among illiterates; in one State there were more than two hundred negro magistrates unable to read or write; justice was openly bought and sold. For years it was a regular Saturnalia, exhibiting a caricature of popular government, and supplying, as it were, a demonstration ab absurdo of the effects of a rough and uneducated universal suffrage worked by the perfected machine of a scientific organization flying the party flag. On the specious pretext of defending the cause of which the Republican party was the champion, its Organization offered these gangs of thieves a base of operations, when it did not openly place itself at their head. Several public posts were simply a branch of the Organization; its officers, chairmen of committees, etc., unblushingly combined their duties with federal or State functions.
While the local leaders of the Organization, most of them vulgar spoilsmen, were absorbed in plunder, the great chiefs pulled the strings from Washington, settled the candidatures for the most important posts in the southern States, and made the leaders of these States maneuvre to suit the requirements of their policy, not knowing exactly, or not wishing to know, what was going on under the rule of the carpet-baggers. The Republican Organization had to be supported in the South at all costs. The federal government itself, the administration of President Grant, on more than one occasion placed the military at the disposal of the Organization in its election struggles. The most typical case of this kind occurred in Louisiana. The Republican Organization of the State not having succeeded in carrying its candidates at the election of 1872, the defeated candidate for the governorship, Kellog, disputed the validity of the election. A judge who was a friend of his signed an order for the occupation of the legislative building by federal troops, to prevent the members elect of the Legislature from taking their seats. An illegal returning board, a tool of the Republican Organization, proclaimed Kellog Governor, and gave out the names of another set of men as elected to the Legislature; these sham members were the defeated candidates of the Republican convention. The intruders were admitted into the legislative building, and they organized themselves officially. At the same time the two contending parties made most earnest representations to
the federal government. The managers of the convention who supported Kellog and his friends telegraphed to the President, stating that if the judge's order were confirmed, it would “save the Republican majority and give Louisiana a Republican Legislature and State government." The attorney-general replied from Washington that the government of the Union recognized Kellog's Legislature and government. The real government of the State telegraphed on its side to Grant, begging him to defer his decision until a committee of citizens arrived in Washington to explain the case. The attorneygeneral replied on the President's behalf that the visit of the delegates would be useless, that the President had made up his mind, and that he would not change it. At the same time Grant sent an order to the officer in command of the troops at New Orleans, bidding him "use all necessary force to preserve the peace and recognize the authority of the Republican governor.'
The misdeeds of the Republican Organization exploiting the negro vote soon flung almost all the respectable white population into opposition; the humiliation of being governed by the slaves of yesterday, and of being ruthlessly plundered by their leaders, the carpet-baggers and scalawags, made the whites forget all their political differences, and they united under the flag of the Democratic party, without giving a thought to its principles, but simply because it was the opposite of the Republican party, of the party of the blacks.
Without stopping to consider the questions of the day on their merits, they voted invariably for the measures and the candidates of the Democratic party, good or bad. The whole South solidified into this attitude, which got it the nickname of “Solid South,” and became a mere appendage of an electoral machine. Political formalism invaded its whole existence. The comparative freedom from party spirit which existed before the war in local elections, and to some extent even in others, disappeared altogether. Party organization, so loose in the South before the war, was made supreme there, together with its system of "regular" nominations. The frame of mind developed in the southerners under the slavery régime naturally inclined them to such a renunciation of private judgment. The institution of slavery, raised to the level of a dogma by its champions,
proclaimed a Divine ordinance, held absolute sway over men's minds; every one who ventured to attack it, or even to discuss it, was put beyond the pale, and the terrible consequences of social ostracism stifled the desire for and the habit of free speech. Fostered by the concrete fact of slavery, the subjection of the public mind passed as a legacy to the abstract notion of party which succeeded the slavocracy, and, steeped in the feelings which had created the Solid South, it gave fresh strength and wider scope to the power of “regularity.
The whites, intrenched behind the Organization of the Democratic party, had soon succeeded in dislodging the Republicans in the South. They achieved it both by their superior strength of a homogeneous and self-reliant society and by means of electoral frauds or acts of intimidation aimed at the new coloured citizens, and justified in equity by the necessity of preventing “negro domination” to “save civilization.” But when the negroes had been reduced per fus et nefas to impotence, the Solid South, which arrested the free current of political life in the South, still continued to exist; guard was mounted around it, the politicians watched over it, in order not to lose their situation. Their tribe had grown and multiplied in the South since the close of the Civil War. We have seen them appear on the scene in the form of carpet-baggers, of scalawags, and of subaltern negro politicians all hoisting the Republican standard. Soon they installed themselves in the opposite Democratic camp as well. The old leaders of the South, whom the victorious Republicans thought they had dethroned by depriving them of their political rights (which, however, were restored to them in 1872), speedily regained their influence, because they represented at their fullest the passions and the grudges of the conquered, and still possessed the economic supremacy which made even the emancipated negroes in search of a livelihood gravitate towards them. But they could not exert their political influence in the old way after the suffrage was extended and the party Organization system, bringing in a large staff of workers, was developed throughout the country. The old leaders had all the more need of new intermediaries between themselves and the mass of the voters that most of the whites of good position, ruined by the war, gave up politics and devoted themselves entirely to re