Political Aliens in Their Midst
Like other postwar and occupied Southern States, North Carolina had to deal with an alien political class from the North, as well as black politicians who had adhered to the enemy of the State during wartime and escaped punishment for treason. The Northern Union League fomented hatred between the two races which formerly got along peacefully, and it ensured that black voters would work against the interests of their white neighbors to maintain Northern Republican political power.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Political Aliens in Their Midst:
“The [North Carolina] Constitutional Convention of 1875…was a fair fight between two enemies realigned. The Democrats could now be called Democrats; such qualifying adjectives as Conservatives, Union, etc., had disappeared and the party was reasonably unified. The Republicans were reinforced by a body of well-trained black voters, enfranchised ostensibly for freedom’s sake, really to keep a standing political army in the Southern electorate.
Banking on the Negro disposition, the schemers in the Republican party planned to amuse them with baubles. Not even this was necessary. No colored man voted with the sure-enough white man. If he did, he was a son of Belial and an outcast from his color. Be this said to the credit of the Negro.
The martial spirit was and still is so strong in us that the very first names to attract attention are those of the men who had held high military rank. [William P.] Roberts, the youngest of our cavalry officers. Tall, handsome, swarthy, almost Indian; he might have been Chief of the Tuscarora’s. [Rufus] Barringer, a small, well-knit Presbyterian, who had fought in sixty-six battles and who had kept in fitness the finest cavalry brigade in Lee’s army, to say which is to go beyond praise. Then there was [Thomas] Clingman, the scientist, lawyer and senator; a duelist who looked upon war as an interruption to be tolerated only because it excused his inordinate courage and delight in conflict.
[Also in the Convention was] A carpet-bag writer of agnostic pamphlets who believed in all the isms except the isms of the Bible. There was a particularly contentious Negro, a boaster of his mulatto blood. Another as black as the Duke of Hell’s boots, whose newspapers name was “Archives of Gravity.”
(Southern Exposure, Peter Mitchel Wilson, UNC Press, 1927, pp. 96-98)