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John R. Lynch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 209 pages of information about The Facts of Reconstruction.

CHAPTER XXV

THE FEDERAL ELECTIONS BILL

It was during the administration of President Harrison that another effort was made to secure the enactment by Congress of the necessary legislation for the effective enforcement of the war amendments to the National Constitution,—­a Federal Elections Bill.  Mr. Lodge, of Massachusetts, was the author of the bill.  But the fact was soon developed that there were so many Republicans in and out of Congress who lacked the courage of their convictions that it would be impossible to secure favorable action.  In fact there were three classes of white men at the South who claimed to be Republicans who used their influence to defeat that contemplated legislation.  The white men at the South who acted with the Republican party at that time were divided into four classes.

First, those who were Republicans from principle and conviction—­because they were firm believers in the principles, doctrines, and policies for which the party stood, and were willing to remain with it in adversity as well as in prosperity,—­in defeat as well as in victory.  This class, I am pleased to say, while not the most noisy and demonstrative, comprised over seventy-five per cent, of the white membership of the party in that part of the country.

Second, a small but noisy and demonstrative group, comprising about fifteen per cent of the remainder, who labored under the honest, but erroneous, impression that the best and most effective way to build up a strong Republican party at the South was to draw the color line in the party.  In other words, to organize a Republican party to be composed exclusively of white men, to the entire exclusion of colored men.  What those men chiefly wanted,—­or felt the need of for themselves and their families,—­was social recognition by the better element of the white people of their respective localities.  They were eager, therefore, to bring about such a condition of things as would make it possible for them to be known as Republicans without subjecting themselves and their families to the risk of being socially ostracized by their white Democratic neighbors.  And then again those men believed then, and some of them still believe or profess to believe, that southern Democrats were and are honest and sincere in the declaration that the presence of the colored men in the Republican party prevented southern white men from coming into it.  “Draw the race line against the colored man,—­organize a white Republican party,—­and you will find that thousands of white men who now act with the Democratic party will join the Republicans.”  Some white Republicans believed that the men by whom these declarations were made were honest and sincere,—­and it may be that some of them were,—­but it appears not to have occurred to them that if the votes of the colored men were suppressed the minority white vote, unaided and unprotected, would be powerless to

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