Monday, May 9, 2016

The 1869 Mississippi Republican Platform(s): So, What’s the Difference? Discerning Taxpayers Want to Know

This post is number thirty-nine in a historical series discussing Mississippi’s Whig/Republican governor and senator, James Alcorn, following the War Between the States and continues the “saga” resulting from the Democratic victory over the Republican progressive constitution framed during the Black & Tan Convention in the winter/spring of 1868, which resulted in a second election. For earlier posts in this Alcorn-driven series, (best read in sequence from oldest to most recent), see the sidebar on the right.

On 23 June 1869 the National Union Republican Party of Mississippi (and like-minded leaders of the Democrats, old-Whigs, and the unaligned who participated by invitation) met in Jackson and took steps to “promote general interests of the state.” To clarify, this was technically a Scalawag convention. [If you’re wondering why the Scalawags bear the name of the national party vice the Carpetbaggers, it’s because J. L. Wofford, a Mississippian, founded the Republican Party in Mississippi early on, before the Carpetbaggers were established.] These were the men who organized the defeat of the progressive constitution and the Republican ticket in the summer of 1868 and they were conspicuous in their opposition to the “committee of sixteen”, following that group to Washington in the early winter of 1868-1869 to counter Radical demands that Congress declare the Republican defeat a victory. Now, in June 1869, they appointed an executive committee and adopted a platform of principles: 

-that our state should be reconstructed in accordance with the acts of congress (that would be the Reconstruction Acts beginning in 1867) and the amendments passed by Congress

-toleration, liberality, and forbearance will inspire confidence, restore harmony, and bring peace and prosperity

-solicited the aid of very citizen, black, white, rich, or poor

-expressed unfaltering devotion to the National Union Republican Party (that would be the party in control back in Washington, folks, and the wing in control was the Radicals)

-endorsed the Fifteenth Amendment

-deprecated all attempts at further disfranchisement other than required by the Constitution and U.S. law (and, as an adjunct, declared that the Mississippi Reconstruction Convention’s attempt to bring the state back into the Union using the proscriptive clauses rendered it unworthy of respect

-thanked President Grant for rejecting the progressive Mississippi constitution

-voted to put the platform to the people

-called a state convention to nominate candidates (the group made no nominations at this time)

The Radical or Carpetbag wing met on 2 July 1869 in Jackson and framed a seventeen point platform: 

-unfaltering devotion to the National Union Republican Party (that would be the same group of Radicals in Washington)

-favored an impartial and economic administration of government

-free speech for all

-free schools

-tax reform

-equality for all before the law

-removal of disabilities, which the convention qualified, as soon as the “spirit of toleration” now dawning is so firmly established that Congress recognizes it as such to justify universal amnesty

-universal suffrage (a bit oxymoronic, don’t you think in reference to the previous point—but this is a reference to the Fifteenth amendment and to insuring the Negro vote)

-encourage immigration (I think they were talking about bringing in more white Yankees to lead recalcitrant white Southerners who didn’t know how to govern and the ignorant Negro who knew nothing about almost everything)

-endorsed President Grant

-expressed confidence in Ames (the same man who as provisional governor had supported them during the failed election of 1868 and who now, serving as both the commanding general of the Fourth Military District and provisional governor, has set up the upcoming election. The reader did note that in the Scalawag platform expression of confidence for Adlebert Ames was absent, right?)

-eulogized Congress as the assembled wisdom and “expressed will” of the nation [Does that turn your stomach, or not?] 

This group then organized for the upcoming election and adjourned without nominating a state ticket. 

Okay, now what about those Democrats? Next time.
Thanks for reading,




  1. The proscriptive clauses said that former Confederate soldiers who had not taken an oath of allegiance to the new Union could not vote, is that correct?

  2. For the Democrats it was more that they couldn't take the oath without lying--it's the iron-clad oath. Have you ever seen it? Basically it said if you never supported the Confederacy in any way--including sending your soldier son a birthday cake--okay, I'm being facetious here, but you get my drift. Anyone, civilian, much less a soldier, who in anyway had supported the Confederate gov. could not vote. But then, if you swore allegiance to the Union--basically swore to be good forever after and support the Reconstruction Acts (that meant support and vote for the Republican Party) then the state party would send a memorial to Congress requesting the encumbrances be removed--the lists were sent in one after another--all scalawags, but I don't doubt many gave lipservice to the Republicans to get those emcumbrances removed but still ended up back in the Dem party w/i the decade. Other men absolutely refused to take the oath of allegiance, much less the iron-clad oath, even if they could take the latter w/o committing a falsehood.


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