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Tue Dec 13 2011, 02:53PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4037
War of Conquest, Not Emancipation

Following the War Between the States, the freedmen were given the vote in Southern States to assure the election of Northern radical Republicans who exploited and bankrupted their new constituents. The Union League and Loyal Leagues organized former slaves into radical and violent voting blocs to oppose their disarmed white neighbors, who understandably organized the Ku Klux Klan for protection.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

War of Conquest, Not Emancipation:

“Reconstruction” is a curious name to apply to the period following the war. Indeed, the war had left widespread destruction, but the government in Washington had no policy of reconstruction. The South was left to its own economic devices, which largely amounted to being exploited by Northern interests who took advantage of cheap land, cheap labor, and readily available natural resources. This exploitation and neglect created an economic morass, the results of which endure into the twenty-first century.

Not surprisingly, governments based on the leadership of carpetbaggers, scalawags, and freedmen, groups that represented a minority of the population, met widespread and violent opposition. This attempt to create a government based on racial equality was made even more ludicrous when many of [the] Northern States rejected the Fourteenth and Fifteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution, creating a situation where the States that said they had worked to free the slaves failed to grant equality to people of color.

(Nathan Bedford Forrest’s Escort and Staff, Michael R. Bradley, Pelican Publishing Company, 2006. Page 137)

Used With Permission)
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Tue Dec 13 2011, 03:06PM

Registered Member #1
Joined: Tue Jul 17 2007, 02:46PM
Posts: 4037
Klan Resisted the Seditious Influence of Carpet Baggers

There were many in the North who understood what fueled the rise of the Ku Klux in the postwar South. “The Nation” magazine commented on Klan activity in South Carolina in 1870 with: “this is all horrible, but we have no hesitation in saying that it is not an unnatural consequence of the caricature on government which has been kept up in that State for the last 4 years.” Very simply, had the abolitionists who brought war to the country in 1861 put their fanatical energies into peaceful and practical solutions to African slavery, no Klan would have emerged to protect white Southerners amid the ruin and devastation.

Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute

Klan Resisted the Seditious Influence of Carpet Baggers:

“While there is little doubt that [General John B. Gordon] became involved with the Ku Klux Klan – he was often referred to as the Grand Dragon of the Klan in Georgia – it is virtually impossible to penetrate the shroud of secrecy surrounding his association with it. Most of what is known about his role in the organization is contained in his testimony before a joint select congressional committee in July, 1871.

When asked directly what he knew of illegal organizations known as the Ku Klux, Gordon denied all knowledge of any combination by that name, except what he had read in papers or heard secondhand. He did, however, reveal his association with a secret organization whose sole purpose, he maintained, was the preservation of peace. Gordon stated that when approached by some of Georgia’s most respected men, he joined this “brotherhood of property-holders, the peaceable, law-abiding citizens of the State, for self-protection” from the threat posed by the black population that he thought was largely ignorant.

Although he asserted that he had personally “never entertained toward the Negro race anything but the very kindliest feelings,” Gordon again explained that it was the influx of “carpet-baggers” and their seditious influence upon the blacks that forced whites in the South to act. The introduction of this “class of men whose object seemed to be to stir up strife among the people, and to create animosity,” in his opinion, disrupted the normally harmonious relations between the races.

Organizing blacks into Union or Loyal Leagues, these unprincipled whites attempted to convince the former slaves that their interests “were in direct conflict with those of the white men of the South.” Gordon also blamed these “carpet-baggers” for reinforcing the commonly held notion that all of the lands in the South really belonged to the freedmen, and not to the whites.

Fearful that such incendiary preachings might well incite blacks to violence, native white Southerners had little choice but to act on their own, Gordon contended. Thus they formed what he called a “peace police organization” to protect themselves, their families, and their property from outrage. “We would have preferred death,” he asserted, “rather than to have submitted to what we supposed was coming upon us.”

Even though Gordon styled his association “purely a peace police – “a law-abiding concern” – he explained that native whites felt compelled to remain in the shadows because any attempt at public organization would be construed by the Federal authorities as a move antagonistic to the government. Gordon even asserted that his organization would gladly have united with Federal troops to quell racial disorders, but, as he pointed out, “we apprehended that the sympathy of the entire Government would be against us. “We did not want to have in our State a war of the races – to have property and our lives destroyed. We feared the peril to our women and children.”

(John Brown Gordon, Ralph Lowell Eckert, LSU Press, 1989, pp. 145-147)

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