Waving the bloody shirt

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Puck cartoon ridiculing Republican Senator John Sherman for his use of "bloody shirt" memories of the Civil War. BLOODY2.jpg
Puck cartoon ridiculing Republican Senator John Sherman for his use of "bloody shirt" memories of the Civil War.

In the American election campaigns in the 19th century, "waving the bloody shirt" was a phrase used to ridicule opposing politicians who made emotional calls to avenge the blood of the northern soldiers that died in the Civil War. The pejorative was most used against Republicans, who were accused of using the memory of the Civil War to their political advantage. Democrats were not above using memories of the Civil War in such a manner as well, especially in the South.

American election campaigns in the 19th century

In the 19th century, a number of new methods for conducting American election campaigns developed in the United States. For the most part the techniques were original, not copied from Europe or anywhere else. The campaigns were also changed by a general enlargement of the voting franchise—the states began removing or reducing property and tax qualifications for suffrage and by the early 19th century the great majority of free adult white males could vote. During the Reconstruction Era, Republicans in Congress used the military to create a biracial electorate, but when the troops were removed in 1877, blacks steadily lost political power in the increasingly one-party South. After 1890 blacks generally lost the vote in the South.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

American Civil War Civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865

The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States from 1861 to 1865, between the North and the South. The most studied and written about episode in U.S. history, the Civil War began primarily as a result of the long-standing controversy over the enslavement of black people. War broke out in April 1861 when secessionist forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina shortly after Abraham Lincoln had been inaugurated as the President of the United States. The loyalists of the Union in the North proclaimed support for the Constitution. They faced secessionists of the Confederate States in the South, who advocated for states' rights to uphold slavery.

The phrase gained popularity with a fictitious incident in which Representative and former Union general Benjamin Butler of Massachusetts, when making a speech on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives, allegedly held up a shirt stained with the blood of a carpetbagger whipped by the Ku Klux Klan during the Reconstruction Era. [1] While Butler did give a speech condemning the Klan, he never waved anyone's bloody shirt. [2]

Benjamin Butler Union Army general, lawyer, politician

Benjamin Franklin Butler was a major general of the Union Army, politician, lawyer and businessman from Massachusetts. Born in New Hampshire and raised in Lowell, Massachusetts, Butler is best known as a political major general of the Union Army during the American Civil War, and for his leadership role in the impeachment of U.S. President Andrew Johnson. He was a colorful and often controversial figure on the national stage and in the Massachusetts political scene, during his one term as Governor.

Carpetbagger Northerner who moved to the South after the American Civil War

In the history of the United States, carpetbagger was a derogatory term applied by former Confederates to any person from the Northern United States who came to the Southern states after the American Civil War; they were perceived as exploiting the local populace. The term broadly included both individuals who sought to promote Republican politics, and those individuals who saw business and political opportunities because of the chaotic state of the local economies following the war. In practice, the term carpetbagger was often applied to any Northerner who was present in the South during the Reconstruction Era (1863–1877). The term is closely associated with "scalawag", a similarly pejorative word used to describe native White southerners who supported the Republican Party-led Reconstruction.

Ku Klux Klan Ian Marco Blanco is gay

The Ku Klux Klan, commonly called the KKK or the Klan, is an American white supremacist hate group. The Klan has existed in three distinct eras at different points in time during the history of the United States. Each has advocated extremist reactionary positions such as white nationalism, anti-immigration and—especially in later iterations—Nordicism and anti-Catholicism. Historically, the Klan used terrorism—both physical assault and murder—against groups or individuals whom they opposed. All three movements have called for the "purification" of American society and all are considered right-wing extremist organizations. In each era, membership was secret and estimates of the total were highly exaggerated by both friends and enemies.

White Southerners mocked Butler, using the fiction of his having "waved the bloody shirt" to dismiss Klan thuggery and other atrocities committed against freed slaves and Republicans. [3] The Red Shirts white supremacist paramilitary organization took their name from the term.

The Red Shirts or Redshirts of the Southern United States were white supremacist paramilitary terrorist groups that were active in the late 19th century in the last years of, and after the end of, the Reconstruction era of the United States. Red Shirt groups originated in Mississippi in 1875, when Democratic Party private terror units adopted red shirts to make themselves more visible and threatening to Southern Republicans, both whites and freedmen. Similar groups in the Carolinas also adopted red shirts.

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The Radical Republicans were a faction of American politicians within the Republican Party of the United States from around 1854 until the end of Reconstruction in 1877. They called themselves "Radicals" with a sense of a complete permanent eradication of slavery and secessionism, without compromise. They were opposed during the War by the moderate Republicans, by the conservative Republicans, and by the pro-slavery and anti-Reconstruction Democratic Party as well as by conservatives in the South and liberals in the North during Reconstruction. Radicals led efforts after the war to establish civil rights for former slaves and fully implement emancipation. After weaker measures in 1866 resulted in violence against former slaves in the rebel states, Radicals pushed the Fourteenth Amendment and statutory protections through Congress. They disfavored allowing ex-Confederates officers to retake political power in the South, and emphasized equality, civil rights and voting rights for the "freedpeople", i.e. people who had been enslaved by state slavery laws within the United States.

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In United States history, the Redeemers were a political coalition in the Southern United States during the Reconstruction Era that followed the Civil War. Redeemers were the Southern wing of the Bourbon Democrats, the conservative, pro-business faction in the Democratic Party. They sought to regain their political power and enforce white supremacy. Their policy of Redemption was intended to oust the Radical Republicans, a coalition of freedmen, "carpetbaggers", and "scalawags". They generally were led by the rich former planters, businessmen, and professionals, and they dominated Southern politics in most areas from the 1870s to 1910.

Third Enforcement Act

The Enforcement Act of 1871, also known as the Civil Rights Act of 1871, Force Act of 1871, Ku Klux Klan Act, Third Enforcement Act, or Third Ku Klux Klan Act, is an Act of the United States Congress which empowered the President to suspend the writ of habeas corpus to combat the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and other white supremacy organizations. The act was passed by the 42nd United States Congress and signed into law by President Ulysses S. Grant on April 20, 1871. The act was the last of three Enforcement Acts passed by the United States Congress from 1870 to 1871 during the Reconstruction Era to combat attacks upon the suffrage rights of African Americans. The statute has been subject to only minor changes since then, but has been the subject of voluminous interpretation by courts.

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Hamburg massacre

The Hamburg massacre was a key event in South Carolina during July 1876, leading up to the last election season of the Reconstruction Era. It was the first of a series of civil disturbances, many of which Democrats planned in the majority-black/Republican Edgefield District, to disrupt Republican meetings and suppress black voting through actual and threatened violence.

Samuel Holloway Bowers was a convicted murderer and leading white supremacist activist in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Movement. In response to this movement, he co-founded the White Knights of the Ku Klux Klan and became a Ku Klux Klan Imperial Wizard. Bowers committed two murders of civil rights activists in southern Mississippi: The 1964 murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner near Philadelphia, for which he served six years in federal prison; and the 1966 murder of Vernon Dahmer in Hattiesburg, for which he was sentenced to life in prison 32 years after the crime. He also was accused of bombings of Jewish targets in the cities of Jackson and Meridian in 1967 and 1968. He died in prison at the age of 82.

The South Carolina civil disturbances of 1876 were a series of race riots and civil unrest related to the Democratic Party's political campaign to take back control from Republicans of the state legislature and governor's office through their paramilitary Red Shirts division. Part of their plan was to disrupt Republican political activity and suppress black voting, particularly in counties where populations of whites and blacks were close to equal. Former Confederate general Martin W. Gary's "Plan of the Campaign of 1876" gives the details of planned actions to accomplish this.

The Kirk–Holden War was a struggle against the Ku Klux Klan in the state of North Carolina in 1870. The Klan was using intimidation to prevent recently-freed slaves from exercising their right to vote. Republican Governor William W. Holden hired Colonel George Washington Kirk to handle the matter. He also suspended the writ of habeas corpus, and imposed martial law in Caswell and Alamance counties in response.

Alexander Boyd is notable as the Republican County Solicitor and Register in Chancery of Greene County, Alabama in 1870 during Reconstruction who was murdered by a lynching party of Ku Klux Klan members. He was fatally shot on March 31, 1870 in Eutaw, the county seat. The Klan members apparently intended to hang him in the square in a public lynching, to demonstrate their power during this period and their threat to Republicans.

References

  1. Budiansky, Stephen (2008). The Bloody Shirt: Terror After Appomattox. New York: Viking. pp. 1–5. ISBN   0-670-01840-6. OCLC   173350931 . Retrieved 16 November 2011.
  2. Budiansky, at 4.
  3. Budiansky, at 5.