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Hiram Rhodes Revels: First Black Republican Senator | Owlcation
Start your free 30 days. Page 1 of 1. Close Dialog Are you sure? Also remove everything in this list from your library.
Are you sure you want to delete this list? Remove them from Saved? No Yes. Explore now. A black man assaulting a white man in defense of his wife's good name was not a common occurrence in nineteenth-century South Carolina. Many of the black Congressmen spoke of the abuse they suffered while traveling to the Capitol.
Joseph Rainey was removed from a hotel dining room; Robert Elliott was refused service at a restaurant in a railroad station. Even when they reached Washington, hazards remained and insults swirled about them. A number of black Congressmen faced death threats and defended themselves by posting armed guards at their homes. In the House, one Virginia Democrat announced that he was addressing only "the white men," the "gentlemen," not his black colleagues.
The Wrong Kind of Redemption: A Civil War That Never Ended
Another spoke of slavery as a civilizing institution that had brought black "barbarians" into modern civilization. Black Congressman Richard Cain of South Carolina responded that his colleague's definition of "civilizing instruments" seemed to encompass nothing more than "the lash and the whipping post. The Congressmen Dray profiles came from diverse origins and differed in their approach to public policies.
Some had been free before the Civil War, others enslaved. Some favored government action to distribute land to former slaves; others insisted that in a market society the only way to acquire land was to purchase it. Some ran for office as representatives of their race, others as exemplars of the ideal that, with the end of slavery and the advent of legal equality, race no longer mattered.
Reconstruction's black Congressmen did not see themselves simply as spokesmen for the black community. Blanche Bruce was one of the more conservative black leaders; yet in the Senate he spoke out for more humane treatment of Native Americans and opposed legislation banning immigration from China.
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Like Obama, many of the sixteen black members of Congress discussed by Dray had enjoyed opportunities and advantages unknown to most African-Americans. Bruce was the slave son of his owner and was educated by the same tutor who taught his white half-siblings. He escaped at the outset of the Civil War, organized a black school in Missouri and was a Mississippi newspaper editor and local officeholder before his election to the Senate. Some Congressmen had enjoyed unique privileges as slaves. Benjamin Turner's owner allowed him to learn to read and write and to run a hotel and livery stable in Selma.
Others, however, had experienced slavery in all its brutality. None of these men fit the old stereotype of Reconstruction officials as ignorant, incompetent and corrupt. All were literate, most were seasoned political organizers by the time of their election and nearly all were honest. One who does fit the image of venality was Governor Pinchback of Louisiana, whose career combined staunch advocacy of civil rights with a sharp eye for opportunities to line his pockets. Pinchback grew up and attended school in Cincinnati. In the s he worked as a cabin boy on an Ohio River steamboat.
He fell in with a group of riverboat gamblers and learned their trade.
He turned up in New Orleans in and expertly navigated the byzantine world of Louisiana's Reconstruction politics. Pinchback was undoubtedly corrupt he accumulated a small fortune while in office but also an accomplished politician.
Blacks had not been citizens long enough the Democrats would argue to allow them to be elected or selected and then seated in either the House or Senate. The reality is that their was some legal ground for this challenge, as the constitution requires Senators to have been citizens for nine years. Of course still this was a racist claim…blacks had not been citizens but they HAD been Americans, born and raised in the country.
Confusion also reigned about the eligibility of previously free blacks, had they been citizens in the first place?
Hiram Rhodes Revels: First Black Republican Senator
Unfortunately the realities of the South meant that terrorism from the Ku Klux Klan which was essentially simply a paramilitary extension of the Democratic Party in many states worked to overthrow Republican Reconstruction governments, disenfranchise blacks or force them to vote Democratic. The intelligent exercise of the right of suffrage … is as yet beyond the capacity of the vast majority of colored men.
He also boasted about making the state a one party and one race entity through fraud and violence:. By fraud and violence. We tried to overcome the thirty thousand majority by honest methods, which was a mathematical impossibility. After we had borne these indignities for eight years life became worthless under such conditions. Under the leadership and inspiration of Mart[in] Gary … we won the fight. Republican lawmakers in the north would raise issue from time to time but as we know it would not be until that it would actually be addressed.
Many similar stories are told in this excellent book including anecdotes from state legislatures where white Democrats similarly tried to block the seating of black Republicans. You are commenting using your WordPress.