received full support from white Republicans for legislation they deemed essential to their well-being. Indeed, civil rights bills repeatedly failed to pass because Republican votes were cast against them. 89
Within a few years blacks would also lose the protections of the legal and constitutional order ostensibly guaranteed by Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment and formally enshrined in Florida's Reconstruction constitution. They did not lose those protections because there was any misunderstanding about the meaning or intended scope of Section 1, however. They lost those protections for two reasons. First, the resurgent Democrats captured control of the state government in 1876 and thereafter systematically excluded blacks from the political process and successfully relegated them to economic dependency. Second, Congress failed to use its powers under Section 5 of the Fourteenth Amendment (and Section 2 of the Fifteenth Amendment) to preserve and enforce the civil and political rights of blacks.
In the century-long reign of white supremacy that followed, the more hopeful prospects that Colonel John T. Sprague, the assistant commissioner for the Florida Freedmen's Bureau, had predicted in the spring of 1867 were all but forgotten. After commenting on some injustices suffered by the freedmen, the colonel hastened to promise: "Time and prosperity will, however, regulate these evils, and as communities, families and individuals feel the necessity of the colored man, prejudices will subside, old associations will be renewed, kindly relations must prevail without the feeling of servitude, and mutual responsibilities will insure justice in the course of law, and legislatures will see the necessity of enacting judicious laws to insure the prosperity of the State." 90