Understanding reconstruction and carpetbaggers

From: btzoumas@bellsouth.net


From time to time, people, mostly Blacks, slander the South by raising the old charge about keeping blacks off the voting rolls, the ballots, equal educational opportunities, equal access to everything and everywhere Whites are and go. They almost always say, "Since reconstruction…".

Then it behooves all us to understand why this was so. This did not happen in a vacuum; neither did it arise out of a sense of "sour grapes" for losing the bid for independence.

Below, is an excerpt I scanned and copied from the book, THE NEGRO: THE SOUTHERNER’S PROBLEM, published 1904, written by Thomas Nelson Page, pages 263-274. This reprint can be purchased from Greg Durand at his http://confederatereprint.com/index.php?cPath=32&osCsid=ad107e3d16924a3fe728bd8d200c780a website.

I heartily recommend everyone browse through his online bookstore and purchase these books. They are our ammunition of truth, our shield of history. Get these, read these and keep them. Never loan them out unless they are no longer needed. I keep my books so that I can refer back to them when I need to. Everyone who is going to defend the South needs to have the facts of history at their fingertips. How often I have seen posted South’s defenders claiming 200-400 years of American slavery, that it had nothing at all to do with secession. There are numerous others but these two are THE most glaring errors OUR people make. It is bad enough that we are still demonised all these years later but when our people make stupid, ignorant statements in our defence, well that is unacceptable. We then do look like ignorant hicks. The high ground belongs to us, the truth is on our side. With the internet, and Greg Durand’s website, there is no reason for us to fail because of a lack of knowledge.


Jimmy L. Shirley Jr.

The reconstruction acts gave the black the absolute right of suffrage, and disfranchised the whites. The Negro was invested with absolute power, and turned loose. He selected his rulers. The entire weight of the government -an immense force-was under the misapprehension, born of the passion which then reigned, thrown blindly in the Negroes’ favor; whatever they asserted was believed; whatever they demanded was done; the ballot was given them, and all the forms established by generations of Caucasian patriots and jurists, and consecrated by centuries of Caucasian blood, were solemnly set up and solemnly followed. The Negro at least then selected his own rulers. The Negro had thus his opportunity then, if ever. The North had put him up as a citizen against the protest of the South, and stood obliged to sustain him. What was the result? Such a riot of folly and extravagance, such a travesty of justice, such a mummery of government as was never before witnessed, save in those countries in which he had himself furnished the illustration.

In Virginia, where the Negroes were in a numerical minority and where the prowess of the Whites had been but now displayed before their eyes in an impressive manner which they could not forget, we escaped the inconveniences of carpet-baggism, and the Hunnycuts, Underwoods, and such vultures kept the carcass for their own picking, and were soon gorged and put to flight. But it was not so where the Negroes were in a large majority. In South Carolina, in Louisiana, in Mississippi, and in other Southern States there was a very carnival of riot and rapine.

Space will not permit the going into detail. Reference can only be made to one or two facts, from which the whole dreadful story may be gathered. Louisiana will be first cited.

Warmouthism and Kelloggism, in Louisiana, and carpet-baggism generally, with all their environments of chicanery and venality, and all their train of poverty and profligacy, cannot be done justice to in a paper of this character. Such a relation of theft, debauchery, and crime has not been found outside of those countries in which carpet-baggism has ruled, with the Negro as its facile and ignorant instrument.

In Louisiana, soon after Warmouth came into office, he stated in his message of 4th January, 1868, to his legislature: "Our debt is smaller than that of almost any State in the Union, with a tax-roll of $251,OOO,OOO, and a bonded debt that can at will be reduced to $6,000,000. There is no reason that our credit should not be at par." This was too good a field for Warmouth and his associates to lose. Says Mr. Sage: "The census of 1870 showed the debt of the State to have increased to $25,021,734, and that of the parishes and municipalities to $28,065,707. Within a year the State debt was increased fourfold, and the local indebtedness had doubled. Louisiana, according to the census, stood, in the matter of debt, at the head of the Union."

This was but the beginning. The total cost of four years and five months of Republican rule amounted to $106,020,337, or $24,040,089 per year. "To this," says Mr. Sage, "must be added the privileges and franchises given away and the State property stolen." Taxation went up in proportion-in some places to 7 or 8 per cent. in others as high as 16 per cent. This was confiscation.

The public printing of the State had, in previous years, cost about $37,000 per year. During the first two years of Warmouth’s regime the New Orleans Republican, in which he was a principal stockholder, received $1,140,881.77 for public printing. When Warmouth ran for governor, he was so poor that a mite chest was placed beside the ballot-box to receive contributions to pay his expenses to Washington. When he had been in office only a year, it was estimated that he was worth $225,000, and when he retired he was said to have had one of the largest fortunes in Louisiana.

The Louisiana State Lottery, with all the debauchery of morals and sentiment which it has occasioned, was chartered by Warmouth and his gang, and is a legacy which they have left to the people of that State, an octopus which they have vainly striven to shake off. Time fails to tell of the rapine, the vice, the profligacy in which the government-State and municipal-was the prize which was tossed about like a shuttle-cock, from one faction to the other; of the midnight orders to seize the government, the carnival of corruption and crime, until the Whites were forced to band themselves into a league to prevent absolute anarchy. It suffices to say that it was in Louisiana under Negro rule that troops were marched into the State House, and drove out the assembled representatives of the State, at the point of the bayonet, a thing which has happened during peace only twice before in the history of modern civilization, once under Cromwell and once under Napoleon.

"The vampire Warmouthism had reduced the wealth of New Orleans from $146,718,790 at Warmouth’s advent, to $88,613,930 at Kellogg’s exit-a net decline of $58,104,860 in eight years; while real estate in the country parishes had shrunk in value from $99,266,839.85 to $47,141,696, or about one-half. During this period the Republican leaders had squandered nearly $150,000,000, giving the State little or nothing to show therefor."

In Mississippi the corruption was almost as great, and the result almost as disastrous. The State levy for 1871 was four times what it was in 1869; for 1872 it was four times as great; for 1873 it was eight and a half times as great; for 1874 it was fourteen times as great. Six million four hundred thousand acres of land, comprising 20 per cent. of all the lands in the State, had been forfeited for non-payment of taxes.

In South Carolina, if it were possible, the situation was even worse, and the paper contributed to the series to which I have already alluded, by the Hon. John J. Hemphill, to which I wish to acknowledge my indebtedness, outlines briefly the condition of affairs, and presents a picture which ought to be read by every man in the Union. The General Assembly, which convened in 1868, in Columbia, consisted of 72 Whites and 85 Negroes. In the house were 14 Democrats, and in the senate 7; the remaining 136 were Republicans. One of the first acts passed was somewhat anomalous. After defending the rights of the colored man on railroads; in theatres, etc., it provided that if a person whose rights under the act were claimed to be violated, was a Negro, then the burden of proof should shift and be on the defendant, and he should be presumed to be guilty until he established his innocence. This Act was more or less expressive of the spirit in which a good many people at the North still appear to regard all questions arising between the Southern Whites and the Negroes.

When the legislature met, they proceeded to furnish the halls at a cost of $50,000, for which they appropriated $95,000. This hall has since been entirely refurnished at a cost of $3,061. They paid out in four years, for furniture, over $200,000, and when, in 1877, the matter was investigated, it was found that, even placing what remained at the original purchase price, there was left by them in the State House only $17,715 worth; the rest had disappeared.

"They opened another account, known under the vague but comprehensive head of ‘ Supplies, sundries, and incidentals.’ This amounted, in a single session, to $350,000. For six years they ran an open bar in one of the legislative committee rooms, open from 8 A.M., to 3 P.M., It which all the officials and their friends helped themselves, with cost–save to the unfortunate and helpless taxpayers.

They organized railroad frauds, election frauds, census frauds, general frauds-whatever they organized was filled with fraud. They enlisted and equipped an armed force, the governor-one Scott-refusing to accept any but colored companies. Ninety-six thousand colored men were enrolled at a cost, for the simple enrollment, of over $200,000. One thousand Winchester rifles were obtained, for which the State was charged about $38,000; 1,000,000 cartridges cost the State $37,000; 10,000 Springfield muskets were bought, and charged at a cost, they claim, of $187,050; it was all charged to the State at $250,000. The troops, as organized, were employed by Scott and the notorious Moses as their heelers and henchmen. The armed force, or constabulary, were armed and maintained for the same purpose.

Governor Scott spent $374,000 of the funds of the State in his canvass. Eight porters were employed in the State House; they issued certificates to 238; eight laborers and from five to twenty pages were employed; certificates were issued to 159 of the former and 124 of the later. One lot of 150 certificates were issued at once-all fraudulent. During one session pay certificates were issued to the amount of $1,168,255, all of which but about $200,000 was unvarnished robbery.

The public printing was another field for their robbery. The total cost of the printing in South Carolina for the eight years of Republican domination, 1868-76, was $1,326,589. The total cost for printing for 78 years previous-from 1790 to 1868-was $609,000, showing an excess for the cost of printing in eight years, over 78 years previous, of $717,589. The average cost of the public printing under the Republican administration per year, was $ 165,823 ; average cost per annum under Hampton’s administration, $6,178. The amount appropriated for one year, 1872-73, by the Republicans, for printing, was $450,000; amount appropriated in 25 years ending in 1866, $278,251. Excess of one year’s appropriation over 25 years, $171,749. The cost of printing in South Carolina exceeded in one year by $ 122,932.13 the cost of like work in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Maryland together.

In 1860 the taxable values in the State amounted to $490,000,000, and the tax to a little less than $400,000. In 1871 the taxable value had been reduced to $184,000,000, and the tax increased to $2,000,000. In 19 counties taken together, 93,293 acres of land were sold in one year for unpaid taxes. After four years of Republican rule, the debt of the State had increased from $5,407,306 to $18,515,033. There had been no public works of any importance, and the "entire thirteen millions of dollars represented nothing but unnecessary and profligate expenditures and stealings."

The governor’s pardon was a matter of mere bargain and sale. During Moses’s term of two years, he issued 457 pardons-pardoning during the last month of his tenure of office 46 of the 168 convicts whom he had hitherto left in jail.

In May, 1875, Governor Chamberlain declared, in an interview with a correspondent of the Cincinnati Commercial, that when at the end of Moses’s administration he entered on his duties as governor, 200 trial justices were holding offices by executive appointment who could neither read nor write.

These statements are but fragments taken from the papers by Mr. Hemphill, Governor Hampton, and others, who cite the public records, and are simply bare statistics. No account has been taken of the imposition practised throughout the South during the period of Negro domination; of the vast, incredible, and wanton degradation of the Southern people by the malefactors, who, with hoards of ignorant Negroes just freed from the bonds of slavery as their instruments, trod down the once stately South at their will. No wonder that Governor Chamberlain, Republican and carpet-bagger as he was, should have declared, as he did in writing to the New England Society: "The civilization of the Puritan and Cavalier, of the Roundhead and Huguenot, is in peril." A survey of the field and a careful consideration of the facts have convinced me that I am within the bounds of truth, when I say that the Southern States, with the exception, perhaps, of one or two of the border States, were better off in 1868, when reconstruction went into force, than they were in 1876, when the carpetbag governments were finally overthrown; and that the eight years of Negro domination in the South cost the South directly and indirectly more than the entire cost of the war, inclusive of the loss of values in slave property. I think if Mr. Cable, and those who accept his theorem, will study the history of the Southern States, even as written only in the statistics, taking no account, if they please, of the suffering and the humiliation inflicted on the white race of the South during the period in which the South was under the domination of the rulers selected by the Negroes, they will find that there is not so much difference between the proposition which he formulates and that which the South states, when it declares that the pending question is one of race domination, on which depends the future salvation of the American people.