Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912-1916

Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912-1916

Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912-1916

Republicans, Negroes, and Progressives in the South, 1912-1916

Excerpt

The central concern for all political parties in the American South following the Civil War has been the so-called Negro question. In the eleven former Confederate states the Republicans more than any other political group have been forced in their deliberations to grapple with the rightful place of the Negro. Although the GOP occupied a minority status in a sea of Democrats throughout the South in the decades following 1900, the party was nonetheless influenced by Bourbon moves to bring about black disfranchisement. As Democratic politicians in one state after another barred the Negro from the polling booth, Republican organizations in all of them divided into lily-white and black-and-tan factions. Many Republicans sought "respectability" by making their party all white in the aftermath of disfranchisement, while other GOP groups in the South continued their traditional affiliations with the Negro after 1900. When Theodore Roosevelt launched his famous Bull Moose crusade to challenge William Howard Taft for the presidency and worked to build a viable white opposition party in the region, it was inevitable that southern Republicans would divide into warring camps. The Republican schism in the old Confederacy was complicated by the lily-white-Negro struggle already under way among southern Republicans for control of jobs handed out by Republican administrations in Washington. An important outcome of the titanic confrontation between the Roosevelt and Taft loyalists which this book seeks to clarify is that both camps made it nearly impossible for the Negro to continue his associations with the GOP after 1912. Though mass exodus of southern Negroes to the Democratic party did not come until 1932, their departure was hastened by the conservative-progressive fight for control of the GOP.

This monograph is a study of the disastrous schism in the Republican party during 1912-1916 as manifested in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. It is not intended to be a study of Theodore Roosevelt's Bull Moose campaign in the old Confederacy, but an account of how the eleven GOP organizations in the South reacted to disruption of the national party. Yet from the moment in late 1911 when Roosevelt began to act like a contender for the 1912 Republican nomination, the party in every southern state divided into contesting Roosevelt and Taft factions. I spent countless hours poring over southern newspapers to map out the 1912, 1914, and 1916 campaigns from the Republican-Bull Moose point of view. Once the main outlines of the southern campaigns were established from the oftentimes frustrating search through newspapers for the merest notice of minority party activity, I augmented the study with materials from various national and state manuscript collections and from biographical data gleaned from libraries all over the South.

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