Of the white males were at first excluded from voting

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of the white males were at first excluded from voting or holding offi ce. That produced black majorities among Tenure of Office Act Johnson Acquitted voters in South Carolina, Mississippi, and Louisiana (states where blacks were also a majority of the population), and in Alabama and Florida (where they were not). But the government soon lifted most suffrage restrictions so that nearly all white males could vote. After that, Republicans maintained control only with the support of many South- ern whites. Critics called these Southern white Republicans “scal- awags.” Many were former Whigs who had never felt comfortable in the Democratic Party—some of them wealthy (or once wealthy) planters or businessmen interested in the economic development of the region. Others were farmers who lived in remote areas where there had been little or no slavery and who hoped the Republican pro- gram of internal improvements would help end their economic isolation. Despite their diverse social posi- tions, scalawags shared a belief that the Republican Party would serve their economic interests better than the Democrats. “Scalawags” THE BURDENED SOUTH This Reconstruction-era cartoon expresses the South’s sense of its oppression at the hands of Northern Republicans. President Grant (whose hat bears Abraham Lincoln’s initials) rides in comfort in a giant carpetbag, guarded by bayonet- wielding soldiers, as the South staggers under the burden in chains. More evidence of destruction and military occupation is visible in the background. (Culver Pictures, Inc.)
414 CHAPTER FIFTEEN White men from the North also served as Republican leaders in the South. Critics of Reconstruction referred to them pejoratively as “carpetbaggers,” which conveyed an image of penniless adventurers who arrived with all their possessions in a carpetbag (a com- mon kind of cheap suitcase cov- ered with carpeting material). In fact, most of the so-called carpetbaggers were well-educated people of middle-class origin, many of them doctors, lawyers, and teachers. Most were veterans of the Union army who looked on the South as a new frontier, more promising than the West. They had “Carpetbaggers” settled there at war’s end as hopeful planters, or as business and professional people. But the most numerous Republicans in the South were the black freedmen, most of whom had no previous experience in politics and who tried, therefore, to build institutions through which they could learn to exercise their power. In several states, African-American voters held their own conventions to chart their future course. One such “colored conven- tion,” as Southern whites called them, assem- bled in Alabama in 1867 and announced: “We claim exactly the same rights, privileges and immunities as are enjoyed by white men—we ask nothing more and will be content with nothing less.”The black churches that freedmen created after emancipation also helped give unity and political self-confi dence to the for- mer slaves. African Americans played a signifi -

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