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Unequal FreedomsEthnicity, Race, and White Supremacy in Civil War-Era Charleston$
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Jeff Strickland

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780813060798

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813060798.001.0001

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Postwar Municipal Politics and the Failure of Reconstruction

Postwar Municipal Politics and the Failure of Reconstruction

(p.241) 7 Postwar Municipal Politics and the Failure of Reconstruction
Unequal Freedoms

Jeff Strickland

University Press of Florida

Germans, Irish, and African Americans profoundly influenced municipal politics during the Reconstruction period. African Americans, Germans, and Irish immigrants took advantage of universal suffrage to run for political office and exercise their right to vote. The majority of African Americans voted Republican, but a small minority moved toward the Democratic Party. The Germans were primarily Democrats, but some Germans supported the Republican Party and several even served as Republican Party officials. When German immigrants took control of the Democratic nomination conventions in Charleston during the 1870s, it caused considerable conflict with conservative white southerners and African American Republicans. The 1871, 1873, and 1875 municipal elections revealed significant ethnic divisions in both the Democratic and Republican parties that often led to violence. In 1871, a municipal riot occurred in which African Americans assaulted German shopkeepers and destroyed their property, which highlighted the growing tension between both groups. By the mid-1870s, first-generation German immigrants and second-generation German Southerners had become more middle class than ever before, and most Germans decided to support the Democratic Party even though it had returned to a white supremacist platform by 1876.

Keywords:   Municipal Elections, White Supremacy, Republican Party, Democratic Party, Political Machinery, Political Riot, German Immigrants, Irish Immigrants, African Americans, White Southerners

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