South Carolina: A Short History, 1520-1948

By David Duncan Wallace | Go to book overview

CHAPTER LXIII
POLITICAL AND RACIAL PROBLEMS, 1919-1948

THE BITTER factionalism since 1910, partly submerged during World War I, was followed in the 1920's by a period of comparative calm soon seeding into political stagnation. Meanwhile, in the world of business, a period of inflated prosperity was followed by years of disillusionment, emotional exhaustion, and economic collapse.

Racial Unrest Following World War I. --The World War disturbed the traditional relations of the races, as was inevitable. A convention of South Carolina Negroes, January 4, 1919, resolved that the lethargy of the Republican party in South Carolina should be ended by every eligible Negro's registering. They demanded representation on every school board controlling Negro schools, better schools, and better Negro teachers' salaries, and protested, not against the "jim crow" car law, but against the unequal accommodation offered for Negroes, and the freedom allowed whites of coming into the Negro car to drink liquor. Bishop Chappelle said that what he desired was for the Negro to be the balance of power between white factions. He would be willing, he said, to follow the devil himself as the leader of a split in the Democratic party.

Serious race riots had just occurred in Washington. Rumors of an impending Negro uprising in Columbia led hundreds of men to arm and plan for assembling women and children in designated places. A committee of prominent citizens published a statement that they had investigated every rumor and found no "organized attack" being plotted by Negroes, but deprecated personal clashes and warned the Negroes against "allowing violent and incendiary speakers, especially those from a distance."

Two widely different organizations emerged to meet a danger which was serious over a large part of the United States--the Inter-Racial Conference and the Kuklux Klan. The one worked through conciliation and the other through inspiring fear. The secretly organized and excited Klansmen for some years not only held the Negroes in awe, mortified the Jews, and inflamed the Catholics by their loud propaganda of Anglo- Saxon Protestantism, but inspired dread of their political power among non-member whites. The movement subsided with the conditions by

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