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Redemption and Redeemers

Discussion in 'Post Civil War History, The Reconstruction Period' started by Bee, May 14, 2018.

  1. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    A relatively new word has been added to my Civil War lexicon over the last year: Redemption (Redeemers) Until tonight, I really did not have a handle on what the word actually meant, and who it exactly referred to. I am offering up a bit of what I have discovered, thinking that there might be others who reside a bit in the dark, regarding this term.

    I did view this often contentious thread that included Redeemers in the OP, however, it deteriorates into ranting, opinion, and the usual polarity. I did not find it useful for a straight forward approach to my query: https://civilwartalk.com/threads/carpetbaggers-scalawags-freedmen-and-redeemers.143442/

    Reconstruction vs. Redemption (article)

    By 1873, many white Southerners were calling for “Redemption” – the return of white supremacy and the removal of rights for blacks – instead of Reconstruction. This political pressure to return to the old order was oftentimes backed up by mob and paramilitary violence, with the Ku Klux Klan, the White League, and the Red Shirts assassinating pro-Reconstruction politicians and terrorizing Southern blacks. Within a few years, Northern attentions were consumed by apathy and fatigue and the South slipped back toward many of the patterns of the antebellum era. So dire was the situation that historian W. E. B. DuBois described the period as one where “The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” https://www.neh.gov/news/reconstruction-vs-redemption


    Redemption 1877

    Regardless of the direct cause of the end of Reconstruction, by 1877 it was thought to be over; the Redeemers were thought to have overturned Reconstruction and returned the South to its pre-war hierarchical system. In North Carolina specifically, by 1871 the Democratic-controlled legislature impeached Republican Governor William W. Holden, and by 1877 gained control over both the executive and legislative branches of government in the state. According to Paul Escott, with the gains of the 1876 state campaigns “Reconstruction had been overthrown. The brief period of change that had begun to modify a conservative social structure was over…North Carolina had been returned to aristocratic control, and it was not surprising that the democratic forms of government initiated by Reconstruction lived on in full vigor only briefly.” (Escott 1985, 169) North Carolina had been Redeemed. https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/exhibits/show/second-redemption/redemption--1877


    Redemption in Georgia

    In the context of southern politics, the term Redemption refers to the overthrow or defeat of Radical Republicans (white and black) by white Democrats, marking the end of the Reconstruction era in the South. In addition to its biblical allusions, the term also underscores the widely held belief among white southerners of that era that the Republican state regimes that ruled during Reconstruction had been inefficient and corrupt, and that the "Redeemers" who reestablished white Democratic control of the state also restored effective and honest government. In recent years historians have come to avoid the term because of both the bias it suggests and the very different way in which modern scholars interpret the overthrow of Reconstruction. In Georgia, Redemption became complete when Governor James M. Smith took office in January 1872. To an even greater extent than in other southern states, Redemption in Georgia ushered in a long period of Democratic dominance in state politics: for the next 131 years, every governor of Georgia would be a Democrat. https://www.georgiaencyclopedia.org/articles/history-archaeology/redemption


    [​IMG]

    Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War

    by Nicholas Lemann

    Nicholas Lemann opens this extraordinary book with a riveting account of the horrific events of Easter 1873 in Colfax, Louisiana, where a white militia of Confederate veterans-turned-vigilantes attacked the black community there and massacred hundreds of people in a gruesome killing spree. This began an insurgency that changed the course of American history: for the next few years white Southern Democrats waged a campaign of political terrorism aiming to overturn the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and challenge President Grant's support for the emergent structures of black political power. Redemption is the first book to describe in uncompromising detail this organized racial violence, which reached its apogee in Mississippi in 1875.https://www.amazon.com/Redemption-Last-Battle-Civil-War/dp/0374530696
     
    Last edited: May 14, 2018

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  3. cash

    cash Brev. Brig. Gen'l

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    It's part of the language that privileges racism. White Southerners who helped work for black equality were known as "scalawags." Those who returned white supremacy to power were termed "redeemers."
     
  4. NH Civil War Gal

    NH Civil War Gal Sergeant Major

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    Thank you for posting this @Bee. The word Redeemers sounds so positive for mankind as a whole until you discover who and what was being redeemed. I didn't have a handle on the way the word was being used in Reconstruction either.
     
  5. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    If your enemies are carpet baggers, scalawags and n's, your advocating "redemption" and "reform" who can be against that?
    And the answer is probably teachers from New England and investors who are wondering if they have a chance to redeem their bonds in court if things don't work out.
    Outsiders left the southern states alone.
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
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  6. DRW

    DRW Sergeant

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    I'm surprised that the usual Brownlow bickering hasn't already started.
     
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  7. MaryDee

    MaryDee 2nd Lieutenant Trivia Game Winner

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    It appears, from my reading of a number of sources, including others than those Bee has cited, that "Redemption" basically equaled terrorism. Which is why I put it in quotes!
     
  8. Bee

    Bee Captain Asst. Regtl. Quartermaster Gettysburg 2017

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    'Tis why I listed the other thread in the OP: if people want to bicker and whine, please use that thread.

    I am interested in the who, what, where, why, and when, of the terms "Redeemers & Redemption" as it applies to Reconstruction. Suggested readings, articles, and informed insight. I am hoping for an informative, educational thread. Emotions checked at the door, please.

    Exactly. The word finds itself most often used in a religious context, thus, in this case, it is perpendicular to its original meaning.
     
  9. James N.

    James N. Major Forum Host Civil War Photo Contest
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    I'm not so sure about this one - I believe there have been several books recently about what was called variously the Colfax Riot and Colfax Massacre. (The name depended which side you happened to be on politically, and seems not to have been so clear-cut as this blurb would suggest.) I have what may be called personal reasons for my curiosity about the event and have traveled there a couple of times and read one or two of the books about it and am still confused about its scope and meaning. As usual, and as should by now be familiar to participants on this forum, the actual situation on the ground is now murky at best, and although Redemption as defined here (white supremacy) seems to have been a prime motivator for the white participants it's equally hard for me not to understand form whence their motivations arose in the tangled web that was Louisiana Reconstruction.
     
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  10. DRW

    DRW Sergeant

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    Do we know when the terms "redeemers" and "redemption" came into common use? Did Southern whites refer to themselves and their movement that way in the 1860s and 1870s?
     
  11. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    If you say his name three times in a thread "they" will appear.
     
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  12. WJC

    WJC Moderator Moderator

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    I was first introduced to the term and topic several years ago by Nicholas Lemann, Redemption: The Last Battle of the Civil War. (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2006). I highly recommend it.
     
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  13. 5fish

    5fish Captain

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    Here is one description of the world before the redeemers came to power... Read the horror...

    https://www.americanhistoryusa.com/redeemers-rise-of-white-supremacy/

    What did the Republicans do with the power they held over the south?

    In many cases, the inevitable result of occupation was exploitation and graft on a massive scale. Many Republicans in the north were honest motives and ideals, and were genuinely concerned with the rights of freed slaves and with their education. Among those, however, who actually made the trek down into the south to govern, ambition and greed were usually the greater motivators.

    The Department of the Treasury sent agents to collect a 25% tax on cotton owned by the Confederate government. They were paid on commission for the cotton that they confiscated, and left with little supervision. Through innumerable tricks and bribery, most of them managed to both collect the commission on the tax, and sell the confiscated cotton for their personal profit (contrary to the law). Seeing this in action, many opportunists began to impersonate the Treasury agents and collect the money and cotton for themselves.

    Property taxes increased astronomically in most states, as did the salaries of government workers. Before the war, property owners had generally been allowed to assess their own property, and even on that "value" of the land the rates were under one percent in many states. Now the property tax rates were sometimes multiplied by a factor of ten or more. The results were immediate -- an increase in foreclosures and tax sales. The newspapers filled up with announcements of such auctions. In some cases the victims were confederate war widows.

    Who purchased this confiscated land? Northern speculators in many cases, attracted by the low real estate prices, and by the chances for collusion with the friendly state governments. In few places did this collusion express itself more drastically than it the area of railroad "construction", and the word construction can be used loosely here.

    In one case, the Boston-owned Alabama and Chattanooga railroad secured $2 million in bonds from the state of Alabama. These bonds were taken to Europe and re-sold, and the proceeds put to use in constructing a hotel and opera house in Chattanooga.

    In another instance, two "investors" swindled the state of North Carolina out of $4 million while that legislature was under Republican control. These were massive sums of money at that time, and they saddled the southern states with an oppressive debt burden for many years to come.

    You can see the mismanagement by the Black and Tans in the south...
     
  14. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Don't be a sucker, 5fish. The "Redeemers" were not responding to anything that black politicians or voters were doing, they were responding to the fact that people were voting while black.

    Anything done in the South was dwarfed by the Tweed Ring. Did anyone think the appropriate response to that was disenfranchising all the people of New York, for all time?
     
  15. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Also I'm entirely unhappy with the use of Black and Tan. It has a specific use in Irish history that is not appropriate to the Reconstruction Era. In this context it sounds racist.
     
  16. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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    So who wrote what you quote?
     
  17. 5fish

    5fish Captain

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    No... The Republics were referred to as Black and Tans in the South... I have put it in the wrong context...


    Black-and-tan faction - Wikipedia
    The black-and-tan faction was a faction in the History of the United States Republican Party in the South from the 1870s to the 1960s. See also Negro Republican Party.

    Southern Republicans were divided into two factions: the lily-white faction, which was practically all-white, and the biracial black-and-tan faction. The former was strongest in heavily white counties.[1] The final victory of its opponent the lily-white factioncame in 1964.[2]


    The black-and-tan faction was biracial. It sought to include most African-American voters within the party. They often took a prominent part in the national conventions of the Republican party. One reason for the continuance of the black-and-tan faction was its effect in holding the African-American Republican vote in northern states. The black-and-tans predominated in counties with a large black population, the whites in these counties being usually Democrats. The lily-whites were mostly found in the counties where fewer blacks lived.

    The factionalism flared up in 1928[3] and 1952.[4] The surviving Black-and-tan factions lost heavily in 1964 and practically disappeared.[5]
     
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  18. 5fish

    5fish Captain

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  19. matthew mckeon

    matthew mckeon Brigadier General Moderator

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    Thanks for the reference. Still seems like a racially tinged put down.
     
  20. Pat Young

    Pat Young Brev. Brig. Gen'l Forum Host Featured Book Reviewer

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  21. wausaubob

    wausaubob Captain

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    But Bee was asking about the derivation of the political uses of the words, not why the governments were redeemed.
    The biggest railroad scandal was the Union Pacific. Ames' brother sat on the board on the railroad, and Dodge worked for the railroad, while both were in Congress. Did anyone try to disenfranchise Iowans or New Englanders?
    Frankly I do not see the connection between political corruption and burning down schools.
     

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