I trust that regular readers of this blog can tell from my posts that I take pride in being an American and enjoy studying the history of our nation. Alas, no American can take pride in all aspects of our history. One feature of our history that is a matter of shame and not pride is the treatment that Black Americans endured in our nation for centuries.
After the Civil War, “Redeemer” white governments arose after Reconstruction and fought to take away the newly won franchise from Blacks .
Senator “Pitchfork” Ben Tillman of South Carolina, he got the nickname Pitchfork from stating in his 1896 that he would drive a Pitchfork into President Grover Cleveland’s ribs, on March 23, 1900 in a speech in the Senate summed up what happened to the rights of blacks throughout the South:
We did not disfranchise the negroes until 1895. Then we had a constitutional convention convened which took the matter up calmly, deliberately, and avowedly with the purpose of disfranchising as many of them as we could under the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments. We adopted the educational qualification as the only means left to us, and the negro is as contented and as prosperous and as well protected in South Carolina to-day as in any State of the Union south of the Potomac. He is not meddling with politics, for he found that the more he meddled with them the worse off he got. As to his “rights”—I will not discuss them now. We of the South have never recognized the right of the negro to govern white men, and we never will. We have never believed him to be equal to the white man, and we will not submit to his gratifying his lust on our wives and daughters without lynching him. I would to God the last one of them was in Africa and that none of them had ever been brought to our shores. But I will not pursue the subject further.
Of course “Pitchfork” Ben prettied up the process for a national audience. Rights were taken away from Blacks in South Carolina through a long process of violence and murder. Tillman was involved in one notorious incident, the Hamburg massacre of 1876, that Tillman bragged about when he ran for governor in 1890.
The Attorney General of South Carolina made a report on the Massacre shortly after it occurred: (more…)