The Seeds of Hate Were Thickly Sown
Below, Senator Zebulon Vance responds to the Republican Party’s attempt at a “Force Bill” in order to control elections in the South in the 1890’s – some 25 years after the war. As they claimed election fraud in the South and sought “purity” in elections, these same Republicans were silent on the rampant political corruption in the North, the legacy of Credit Mobilier and Whiskey Ring scandals, and the infamous Union League. The latter fomented racial hatred in Southern blacks and directed them to intimidate white citizens so as to keep them from voting. This is the sad legacy of Reconstruction and postwar Republican dominance.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
The Seeds of Hate Were Thickly Sown:
“At the present moment there are in the Union but twelve Republican States, representing some 9,000,000 of people, whilst there are thirty Democratic States containing 53,000,000 of people; yet the 9,000,000 control both Houses of Congress and every department of government….The
The policy of subjecting the intelligence and property of the South to the control of ignorance and poverty is not a new one. It has been tried. To the candid man who really desires the welfare of his country, the experiment resulted in a failure so disastrous that he would never desire to see it repeated. The carpetbag rulers were infinitely worse than the Negroes. The evil propensities of the one were directed by intelligence, and the ignorance of the other became simply the instrument by which the purposes of the white leaders were carried out. The material and moral ruin wrought under this infernal conjunction of ignorance and intelligent vice was far greater than that inflicted by war. The very foundations of public virtue were undermined, and the seeds of hatred were thickly sown between the races.
In this great struggle to escape Negro rule and restore our State governments to the control of those who made them, and whose ancestors had established their principles in their blood, we had both the aid and the sympathy of Northern Democrats everywhere. We had neither from you.
You did not even stand by with indifference. You upheld the party of misrule and ignorance in every way you could. You kept the Army of the United States in the South to overcome the struggling whites as long as you dared. You sorrowed when the plundering of our people was stopped, and you received to your arms as martyrs the carpetbag fugitives expelled by the indignation of an outraged people.”
(The Federal Election “Force Bill,” excerpts of speech by Senator Zebulon B. Vance of North Carolina in the Senate of the United States, December 15, 1890)