Black Ministers and the Organization of the
Republican Party in the South in 1867: Letters from the Field
Volume VI, Number 1
In March, 1867, almost two years after the end of the Civil War, the United States Congress passed the first Reconstruction Act, which included among its provisions the enfranchisement of all Black males in the states of the former Confederacy. By this means Congress hoped to protect the newly-won freedom of the former slaves and keep ex-Confederates from resuming political power in the South. The measure was passed by the votes of the Republican majority in Congress, and most party members believed that they, rather than their Democratic opponents, would inherit the votes of the newly enfranchised citizens. Nonetheless, a competition for the Black vote between the two parties seemed certain, for southern Democrats were not about to abandon the Black electorate to their opponents.1
At the time the Reconstruction Act passed, the Republican party had only a handful of white adherents in the former Confederate states. Seeing in the new Black vote a chance to win control of their state governments, these southern Republicans, supported by northerners who held civil or military positions in the South, petitioned Republican Congressmen for assistance. They warned northern Republicans that without extensive outside aid they could not hope to cope with their ex-Confederate opponents who controlled most of the education, wealth, political experience, and social influence in the South. Southern white Republicans were especially concerned lest the freedmen be influenced by their former owners to vote for the conservative ticket in the South.2
A number of northern Republican politicians and newspaper editors recognized the importance of hurrying to the aid of their southern compatriots, before the Black voters were lost. The Boston Advertiser, noting that "the race for the Negro vote is on," worried lest the Black vote "be controlled as readily by former rebels as by Northern influence." Hence, the party had to send its best men into the most promising districts of the South; there was "a great field to be plowed." The Washington correspondent of the National Anti-Slavery Standard also warned that the success of the Republican party in the South depended on the clarity "with which the new voters see on which side their friends stand." According to the Indianapolis Daily Journal, "if we fail to embrace thepresent opportunity for building up true Republicanism there, we need not be surprised if the old rebel leaders sway the new as they did the old South."3
Responding to the challenge of the new voters in the South, the Republican party's national committees began planning to court political support there. In January, even before the Reconstruction Act passed, the Republican National Committee agreed to extend the party's organization into the South. Since the National Committee's customary responsibility was conducting presidential campaigns, however, it decided to turn over the day-to-day work of organizing in the South to the Union Republican Congressional Committee. This committee, which customarily supervised Congressional campaigns, received authorization from the Republican party Congressional caucus to disseminate knowledge of Republican principles "to the masses of the South, whites and Blacks alike."4
By early April, the committee had opened offices in Washington and had begun its work in earnest. The office was operated by an Executive Committee, chaired by Robert Schenck of Ohio. Its energetic secretary, Thomas Tullock, however, did most of the work of raising funds, mailing documents, and sending speakers and organizers into the South. Tullock kept a list of names of men in the ex-Confederacy who were ready to aid the party. He also kept in touch with the Republican National Committee, with Army and Freedmen's Bureau officers in the South, and with members of Republican state committees as they were organized in the South.5
At first Tullock concentrated on mailing documents to the South; by mid-July the committee had a list of 20,000 Southerners ready to distribute reading material to the voters. In doing this the committee was following its traditional procedure; in previous Congressional elections in the North it had distributed millions of documents to Northern voters. Now, however, it was confronted with a politically inexperienced and largely illiterate voting population, and it soon became clear that the committee would have to change its emphasis from supplying documents to sending speakers into the South.6
A few Northern Republicans did venture into the South to speak; Senator Henry Wilson of Massachusetts and Congressman William D. Kelley of Pennsylvania were the most important.7 Certainly their prestige helped to draw large crowds, and they provided visible evidence of northern sympathy and support to encourage their southern allies. Their speeches, however, were delivered in large towns and cities, and most Blacks lived outside these urban areas. Southern party organizers particularly stressed the difficulty of reaching rural Blacks, where communications were difficult and where landowners threatened their field hands with discharge if they attended Republican meetings. The president of the Republican state central committee of South Carolina warned Benjamin Butler that "it is with this class that a vast amount of work by way of instruction must be done or the state will be lost." One northerner living in Mississippi warned Senator Richard Yates that while Blacks in towns had access to Republican political propaganda, those living in the interior counties did not, and he urged northerners to send speakers into those areas. A single meeting with Black voters, he warned, would not do: "for they are in the midst of enemies, and unless continuously sustained, we will lose them." Another northerner in Mississippi begged Senator Charles Sumner for "brave white speakers and money to pay the expenses of Black ones," noting that "many of the latter can be found here."8
Responding to this need, Schenck's committee attempted to recruit speakers who were willing and able to carry the party's message into the interior of the South. By early June the committee had the names of fifteen such speakers on its rolls; within a month, the number had been increased to over seventy. In addition to hiring its own agents, the committee leaned heavily on the Union League of America to carry party organization into the remoter areas of the South. The League, which had emerged in the North during the Civil War as a patriotic organization to promote the war effort, had lent its considerable political influence to the Republican party. During the war it had spread into the South with the advance of the Union army and had begun to organize southern whites into the Republican ranks. Its most effective recruiting ground, however, proved to be among the freedmen who were attracted to the League because its secrecy and closed meetings promised protection from angry whites.9 By 1867 the League had access to many men in the South who were prepared to do grass-roots organizing for the Republicans, but the organization lacked money to pay their traveling expenses. The Congressional Committee, by promising to pay the expenses of League organizers, was thus able to add considerably to its list of agents in the South. By early 1868, the committee was carrying the names of one hundred and eighteen men on its rolls.10
Many of the speakers and organizers assisted by the committee came from the states where they were assigned. A few were Union war veterans who had remained in the South; some of the native whites were wartime Unionists. A large majority of the committee agents, however, were Black, and they proved most effective in reaching the potential Black electorate that was waiting to be informed and organized. A large number of these Black agents for the Republican party were ministers who were already at work organizing congregations among the freedmen across the South. These men, who came from both the North and the South, did not hesitate to risk their lives in order to bring news of the Republican party and its program to the freedmen. Using their influence among their church members, these ministers carried the brunt of Republican organizing in the interior of the South.11
Of the several Black churches competing for members among the freedmen, the African Methodist Episcopal Church was the most politically active. The church was based in the North, where it had developed a history of championing Black rights before the Civil War. The missionaries whom the church sent South often saw little difference between politics and religion. Ministers from the AME church were the first in the field in the South, and many of them brought with them a belief that the Republican party offered the freedmen their best hope for improving their condition. Hence, they used their pulpits, and their influence over their congregations, for political as well as religious purposes.12
The letters which follow were written by four Black clergymen who were working for the Union Republican Congressional Committee in the South in 1867. Thomas Tullock considered these men to be among the best agents the party had in the South; their services were continued at least through the 1868 Presidential election.13 The most prominent of the four, Henry McNeal Turner, was born of free parents in South Carolina in 1834. Initially a minister in the Methodist Church, South, in 1858 he joined the AME church. During the Civil War he served as a chaplain in the U.S. Army, and after the war worked for a time for the Freedmen's Bureau in Atlanta, Georgia before resigning to undertake full-time organizing for his church. When the Reconstruction Act was passed, he became an agent for the Congressional committee and worked hard for the Republican party in Georgia. He was elected to the state's constitutional convention in 1867 and to the Georgia legislature in 1868, becoming the state's most powerful Black politician. In that latter year he, along with the other Blacks elected to the legislature, was expelled by the votes of its white members, some of whom were Republicans. Disillusioned with politics, Turner eventually became an advocate of Black migration to Africa. In 1880 he was elected a bishop of the AME church. Turner lived until 1915, and throughout the remainder of his life he continued to speak out for Black rights and to denounce white racism.14
James Lynch was also born a free man in Baltimore in 1838. He obtained two years of schooling in an academy in New Hampshire and then became a minister in the AME church in the North. During the Civil War he entered Georgia with Sherman's army. In 1867, he resigned from the AME church and went to Mississippi to serve as a missionary for the Methodist Episcopal Church, North. At that point the Union Republican Congressional Committee met with him in Washington and asked him to recruit for the Republican party in Mississippi. Lynch, a powerful orator, soon became an influential figure in the party in that state and in 1869 was elected secretary of state on the Republican ticket. He died in 1872.15
Less is known of John Costin and John Givens, the other two Committee agents whose letters are reproduced here. Costin was apparently born in Virginia and lived in Washington, D. C. before the war, where he was employed in the House of Representatives. When Turner went to Georgia in 1867, Costin accompanied him as an AME missionary. Because of his ardent work on behalf of the Republican party the Congressional Committee made Costin an agent. He was elected, along with Turner, to the Georgia Constitutional Convention in 1867 and also served with Turner in the state legislature, where, like Turner, he was unseated in 1868.16 John Givens was a native of Charleston, South Carolina who moved to Virginia and in 1866 helped organize the Virginia Conference of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church. The Congressional Committee assigned him to organize Black voters in Virginia and he gave a number of speeches there in 1867 and 1868.17
All of these men championed Black rights in the South; however, Turner, Givens, and Lynch took moderate political positions before their Black audiences and preached conciliation, forgiveness, and brotherhood with whites. They also sought to work with the white Republicans in their states who tended to be more conservative in their economic and social views. Costin, however, voted in the Georgia convention to disfranchise ex-Confederates, and also voted for a proposal to guarantee Blacks equal access to public office; Turner voted against both propositions. After Turner's expulsion from the state legislature, however, he became more militant and denounced the actions of white Republicans who had helped to unseat him.18
The following letters, which were addressed by these four men to the Union Republican Congressional Committee, reflect the role that they played in organizing the Republican party in the South.19 They provide vivid testimony concerning the physical risks involved in recruiting Black Republican voters in the face of angry white opposition; they also suggest that not all whites were threatening or unsympathetic. Several of the correspondents indicate how they were able to combine their religious and political missions, often in the same day and with the same audiences. The letters provide plenty of evidence of the commitment these men made to both their causes and reveal the exhausting schedule they were forced to maintain. Written in the summer after the passage of the first Reconstruction Acts, the letters reflect both the anxiety and the euphoria among Blacks that accompanied the opportunity to vote, and the eagerness with which they responded to the messages brought to them by the ministers. The letters also testify to the inspirational quality of the men who were willing to risk their own lives so that their listeners could learn of their rights and exercise their newly-won franchise effectively.
[Farmville, Va., July 15, 1867]
I arrived today at Farmville. I met my appointment [at] Nottoway C[ourt] H[ouse] and addressed, at 12 o'clock, a dense mass of men, both white and colored. I spoke from 12 to half past 2. My address was radical. Slaveholders and slavedrivers cried - yes, wept like women - and all vied with each other in treating me kindly.
I left Nottoway C[ourt] H[ouse] at 3 o'clock and rode twelve miles on horseback across the country, and addressed the people of Burkeville at 5 o'clock the same day. Thousands gathered at Burkesville. My address was well received. I returned the twelve miles and preached at Nottoway C[ourt] H[ouse] Sunday morning. After service took horse and travelled twelve miles to the junction and preached in the afternoon and evening to a multitude beyond the capacity of any church in the United States to hold. Also organized a Union League council the same day, called the Mount Olive Council of Nottoway County. I also organized a Republican club. Spoke four times Sunday, July 14. I leave today for Cumberland C[ourt] H[ouse]. I shall speak at all of the appointments made on the days assigned. Send a few more constitutions for Republican clubs.
A colored speaker was killed three weeks ago at Lunenburg. I shall go there, and speak where they have cowed the black man so that they dare not even register, and, by the help of God, give them a dose of my radical Republican pills and neutralize the corrosive acidity of their negro hate. I want nothing. Congress has made a man of me! The white men tell me (please do not think me egotistical) that I am the equal of Fred Douglass.20 I have improved very considerably since I left Washington. May God bless your committee.
Yours, [John Givens]
[Jackson, Miss., July 9, 1867]
My Dear Sir:
I have been in this state about ten days, have preached several times, have delivered three political speeches, besides forming Union Leagues twice at Vicksburg and once in this place.
My meeting here was an immense one; the mayor, several state officials and prominent citizens met with the great mass of freedmen. It was really the first radical meeting ever held here. The greatest enthusiasm prevailed and huzzas for the Republican party etc. rent the air.
There was not, prior to my coming here, any organization or radical Republican influence in any part of this country, which contains a colored population of 22,339 and a white population of 8,940.
I have set to work active colored men and I pledge that whatever Mississippi may do, Hinds county is all right. The best organized county is Warren; the Vicksburg Republicans have wrought well for their county, but outside of it they have done nothing.
Of the 437,000 colored people in the state of Miss., not sixty thousand live in cities and towns of which indeed there are few in the state. Many reside principally on farms and plantations and are very ignorant. You cannot imagine what unbounded influence one white man wields in a section where there is no counter influence. The rebel hope is to carry the localities distant from prominent towns along the lines of the railway. When such men as Gov. Sharkey 21 will tell colored men on the highways that "every colored man who registers will have to go into the army and fight the Indians" you may know how vigorously they are at work. There is no money in the God-forsaken country; the colored people are very dependent, but they have much spirit and it seems as if when instructed in the least degree as regards the political situation, they quickly comprehend the whole.
I hold a great meeting at Canton this week, also one at Brandon. I can work back in the counties without difficulty. Where visions of the "halter" rise up before me I commence as a preacher and end as a political spreaker!
I have commenced work under the most auspicious circumstances; and if afforded the means, I can carry the state for the Republican party.
[Macon, Ga., July 25, 1867]
I herewith transmit a report of my last canvassing tour. Left Macon June 6 and proceeded to Jefferson county and held a Republican mass meeting at Louisville June 8. It was a grand affair, largely attended by people of Jefferson as well as surrounding counties. Organized a Republican club and a Loyal League. Went from there to the help of our friends in Greene county. Here again the mass meeting was a tremendous success. I was met at the depot by about six hundred persons, having reached Greensboro about 11 o'clock. We proceeded to the grove where there was assembled a vast audience amongst which there were a number of rebels. I felt a little shy to begin with, but when I got warmed up, I forgot all about rebs and everything else except my duty. I have done good service in Greene county. From there I returned to Augusta and after consultation decided to make Burke county the next field of operation. Having heard so much about the rebels of Burke county, I confess I had some fears when I entered the county. The first sight that met my eye in arriving at Waynesboro, was a Johnny in a one horse buggy, driving at a fast rate, with a freeman chained behind him and manacled with an iron collar round his neck. I said to myself this looks rough. But nothing daunted, I applied to the bureau agent and informed him of my business.22 In two hours after I had my posters in the hands of a number of teamsters who had come to the place after corn and provisions, announcing a Republican Mass Meeting at Waynesboro on the following Saturday. It was Tuesday when I arrived. I started out that night with teamster and went twenty-four miles to a village by the name of Alexander. Here I remained all the next day and had quite a respectable gathering at night. After reading to them the registration and civil rights acts, I explained and commented upon each section and impressed upon the people the importance of registering as well as furnishing all the information I could. On my return I stopped at another town called Red Hills where I performed the same duties and organized clubs in each. I arrived at Waynesboro Friday evening. Our mass meeting was largely attended, all classes being present. To my surprise, I was offered the use of the Court House, but in consequence of the excessive heat and the large number of people, we took the grove. There were people at the meeting from a distance of 25 miles. It was a great success. Everything went off peaceable and pleasant. The freedmen declared it to be the first time since their emancipation that they had ever had explained to them their rights before the law. The rebs cursed me terribly, some threatening to shoot me, but the only thing that occurred was being spit upon by a rebel while passing the street. I took no notice of the insult, because there were nearly 2,000 colored persons in the place and nearly every one had a fire-arm.
I will add a few words about my Crawfordville meeting as it is the residence of my old friend the Hon. Alexander H. Stephens.23 I was offered the Court House here and it looked so much like rain, I accepted it. The house was packed from top to bottom. Col. Bryant sent a number of letters complimenting me upon my effort, one from our staunch Republican friend, Judge Baldwin.24 Mr. Stephens invited me to quarter at his residence. I accepted the invitation and was treated with great distinction. We had some pleasant and agreeable conversations. I have hardly told you a fourth part of my campaign but it is too lengthy to go into full details. I set out trusting in the Lord and I know He has been with me. I have organized Loyal Leagues, Union Republican clubs, Educational and Temperance societies in nearly every place of any prominence where I have been. I have addressed sixty-five meetings during the campaign, my travelling expresses having been $142.40. I have travelled incessantly. I am under many obligations to you.
With great respect, I am Yours,
P.S. I have had great success and have held large county meetings in the following places: Penfield, Woodville, Lexington, Crawfordville and Sandersville. Besides this I have instructed the people in smaller ones, sometimes in the cabins, sometimes on the plantations, and wherever the chance occurred, in the churches after preaching. I have never failed to preach political sermons whenever I thought I could enlighten the minds of my people. I conceive I have the right to do so.
[Macon, Ga., July 8, 1867]
This will inform you that our Union Republican convention is over and our platform framed and adopted.25 It is not as complete with good sense and prudent feeling as I desired but they overrruled me in the committee room and I submitted to the majority.
After the convention adjourned, I ordered all the colored delegates to remain until the next day, which they did with few exceptions, and met in the Methodist Church. Some 40 counties were represented in this assemblage (Turner's convention as they called it) and I spent five hours in instructing them concerning their duties, assisted by Costin and Campbell (colored) and Mr. Timony (white). We read over the dialogues to the delegates and commented on them at great length, so that no mistake might be entertained.26 While we were reading the dialogue, I acted as the Freedman and Mr. Campbell as the true Republican, I asking and he answering in a suitable voice, giving emphasis to the facts being related. You ought to have seen the effect which it produced. When Campbell would read some of those pointed replies, the whole house would ring with shouts, and shake with the spasmodic motions and peculiar gestures of the audience.
The rule which we adopted is to have them read in our country churches, societies, leagues, clubs, balls, picnics, and all other gatherings, allowing one man to sit back in the audience and read the questions and the other to stand up in the pulpit or some conspicuous part of the house and read the answers. This, I find is much better than merely letting one man read them. The two voices and the interrogatory manner which can be assumed has double the effect upon the uneducated masses. I have ordered them read in our meetings until our people know them by heart and can relate them from memory.
The dialogues are sought for with eagerness everywhere. I went twenty miles in the country yesterday and while going along the road, I saw a crowd of 25 or 30 persons sitting under a tree. When I came up I found them reading the dialogue.
[Rev. Henry M. Turner]
[Macon, Ga., July 9, 1867]
A mass meeting was called last night at the Methodist Church to urge upon the people to exert themselves to save their Congressional districts from the wicked designs of men who are trying to prevent our people from registering. After listening to me very patiently an association was organized to raise money to pay a lecturer to travel through this Congressional district. The ladies fired by a similar zeal immediately organized another and each association had the names of fifty subscribers at 10 cents per week. By 10 o'clock we had so organized that we proceeded to elect the person to speak and organize when Lewis Smith of this city was selected.27 He accepts the position at $70 per month and will immediately enter upon the work. Fifteen counties were assigned to him. Mr. Smith is a brave and well informed man and will do much good. I trust the people of Savannah will go and do likewise. I shall visit all the large places and will try to induce each one to employ a traveling lecturer. After we were through with organizing last night and electing our man about one o'clock, the people shouted, jumped, clapped their hands and cheered till the white people in the vicinity were frightened. One man asked "what in h___ are the negroes doing - have they found Thad Stevens?"28 "No," replied one of them, "we are raising John Brown from the dead."
[Rev. Henry M. Turner]
[Macon. Ga., July 23, 1867]
Hon. Thomas L. Tullock:
I have just returned from the Southwest portion of the state. Have travelled through that hell-charged section, under the garb of a presiding elder, preached at each place, lectured politically and formed Union Leagues, Republican clubs etc. At Fort Valley, Rev. Isaac Anderson is doing good work.29 At Americus they have a strong league and the colored people and poor whites are pretty well republicanized. The mayor of the city is right, but he has not spunk to let the people know it. That is the trouble with a great number of whites, they are afraid of being called radical. At Albany, I formed a grand League. Was two whole nights drilling them in their duties. The whites are rebs to the pith, but the colored are brave and defiant.
After leaving Albany, I went to Cuthbert where the rebels are very bitter and was advised by the bureau agent not to lecture. But after preaching, I lectured awhile on registration and formed a Union League which I think will save Randolph county. James A. Jackson of Cuthbert is a fearless fellow and stands up for his race like a hero.30
At Fort Gaines bordering on Alabama and Florida, I lectured and formed another magnificent league. I cannot pass by a reference to Rev. Robert Alexander who is stationed at the above point.31 Here and throughout Clay county there is an immense number of colored people and no one to lead them. So at our conference meeting, I had brother Alexander sent to that circuit. He has revolutionized the whole county. The rebels fear and hate him. He knows nothing but radical gospel, prays it in every prayer, preaches it in every sermon, talks it in every conversation and dreams it every night. I hope you will aid him.
At Dawson, the people were very ignorant about their rights and very indifferent concerning their duties. But I think they are awake now. I was somewhat afraid to organize a league here, as confidential men seemed rather scarce. But I have recently sent a preacher named Rev. Wm. Ravens, who is a whole-souled fellow and a radical to the back bone.32
The prospect is good, but not so bright as I would like it. The whites boast of a majority in the state and swear they will bribe as many negroes against registration as there are whites disfrancised and they are, without doubt, making a desperate effort. The letters of [Benjamin H.] Hill and [Hershel V.] Johnson have terribly emboldened the wretches of late and they are as impudent as the devil himself.33
Lewis Smith is doing well and pushing forward bravely. I sent another colored man through the country yesterday to read the dialogues to everybody. I told him to go and preach the radical gospel to every creature and tell them, he that accepts shall be saved but he that refuses shall be damned.
Every preacher in the African Methodist Episcopal Church in this state is working well in the Republican cause expect two and they say if I will remain at Macon and issue any order, they will carry out every request. There is some grumbling with a few of our fastidious church members owing to the fact, as they say, that elder Turner don't preach as well as formerly because he is so absorbed in politics. A small delegation waited on me last night and told me it was admitted by whites and colored that I was one of the ablest ministers in the state, but of late, my sermons were dry and cold and they thought I had better desist a while from political declamations. I simply replied by asking them if I had called on the church for a cent of money in three months? They answered negatively. Then I said, well, brethren, when you are not paying a man for his services you ought to be satisfied with what he gives you. They very politely changed the subject.
This report is quite incomplete but I am not feeling very well. I expect to send you a few more items for publication in a few days on the indispensable necessity of registering which I desire to have accompany the dialogues.
I am very truly,
[Rev. Henry M. Turner]
1Michael Perman, Reunion Without Compromise: The South and Reconstruction, 1865-1868 (Cambridge, Eng., 1973), 269-93.
2John Minor Botts to Richard Yates, 7 Mar., 1867, Richard Yates Papers, Illinois State Historical Society, Springfield, Ill.; Gillett F. Watson to Benjamin Butler, 23 Mar., 1867, Benjamin Butler Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; F.R. Cape to John Covode, 28 Aug., 1867, John Covode Papers, Library of Congress; G. Gordon Adam to Charles Sumner, 19 Apr., 1867, and J.J. Noah to Sumner, 25 Mar., 1867, Charles Sumner Papers, Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.
3Boston Daily Advertiser, 27 Mar., 1867; National Anti-Slavery Standard quoted in William A. Russ, "Congressional Disfranchisement, 1866-1898" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Chicago, 1933), 277-78; Indianapolis Daily Journal, 27 Mar., 1867, quoted in Willard H. Smith, Schuyler Colfax: The Changing Fortunes of a Political Idol (Indianapolis, Ind., 1952), 250.
7On Wilson, see Richard H. Abbott, Cobbler in Congress: The Life of Henry Wilson, 1812-1875 (Lexington, Ky., 1972), 184-94; on Kelley, see Sarah W. Wiggins, "The 'Pig-Iron' Kelley Riot in Mobile, May 14, 1867," Alabama Review XXIII (Jan., 1970), 45-55.
12Clarence E. Walker, A Rock in Weary Land: The African Methodist Episcopal Church During the Civil War and Reconstruction (Baton Rouge, La., 1982), 4, 51; Edmond L. Drago, Black Politicians and Reconstruction in Georgia: A Splendid Failure (Baton Rouge, La., 1982), 18-32.
15William B. Gravely, "James Lynch and the Black Christian Mission During Reconstruction," in Black Apostles at Home and Abroad, ed. David W. Wills and Richard Newman (Boston, 1982), 161-189, and William C. Harris, "James Lynch: Black Leader in Southern Reconstruction," The Historian XXXIV (1971), 40-61.
18Drago, Black Politicians In Georgia, 31-32, 43-44, 46-47, 50-53; New York Tribune, 15 Aug., 1867; William C. Harris, "Mississippi: Republican Factionalism and Mismanagement", in Reconstruction and Redemption in the South, ed. Otto Olsen (Baton Rouge, La., 1980), 79-80; Richard L. Hume, "The 'Black and Tan' Constitutional Conventions of 1867-1869 in Ten Former Confederate States: A Study of Their Membership" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Washington, 1969), 240, 242.
19These letters can be found in the Robert C. Schenck Papers and are published with the permission of the Hayes Presidential Center. The letters were addressed to the Union Republican Congressional Committee and were all transcribed from the originals by the same person, probably Thomas L. Tullock, Secretary of the Committee. I have been unable to locate the original letters. Tullock also excerpted portions of the letters for distribution to Republican Party newspapers.
20Frederick Douglass was a former slave who had escaped to the North prior to the Civil War; he was a prominent figure in the abolitionist movement, the most well-known black advocate of the rights of freedmen, and a staunch Republican.
21William Lewis Sharkey was chief justice of the Mississippi supreme court before the Civil War; in 1865 he was appointed provisional governor of the state by President Andrew Johnson. In 1867, along with Robert J. Walker, he sought to obtain a Supreme Court injunction against the enforcement of the Reconstruction Acts in Mississippi.
23Alexander H. Stephens was Vice-President of the Confederate States of America. Before the Civil War he had served as a member of the House of Representatives from Georgia. Since Costin worked in the House, presumably they formed a friendship then.
26The dialogue was distributed widely in the South, under the title of "The Position of the Republican and Democratic Parties: A Dialogue Between a White Republican and a Colored Citizen." In the printed conversation, which was intended to be read aloud, the freedman asked his Republican friend for advice upon his political duties. The "White Republican" responses were intended to convince his listeners to vote for the Republican party. The dialogue was published by the Union Republican Congressional Committee, Washington, D.C., from 1867-1869.
27Lewis Smith, of Macon, was a member of the Republican party's executive committee; he was also listed on the Union Republican Congressional Committee's rolls as an agent of the party. Washington Daily Morning Chronicle, 11 May, 1867.
29Issac Anderson of Georgia was a member of the Colored Methodist Episcopal Church. In 1867 he served in the state constitutional convention and also was elected to the Georgia Senate in 1868. See Drago, Black Politicians in Georgia, 166.
31Robert Alexander, a minister in the AME church, was born in North Carolina; he served in the Georgia constitutional convention. In 1866, while preaching in Opelika, Alabama, Alexander had been beaten and stabbed by whites who were opposed to the opening of Black churches and schools. See Drago, Black Politicians in Georgia, 166, and Leon Litwack, Been In the Storm So Long: The Aftermath of Slavery (New York, 1979), 279.
33Benjamin H. Hill and Hershel V. Johnson had both served Georgia during the Civil War as Confederate senators. In 1867 they published letters condemning Congressional Reconstruction, and calling on white Georgians to defeat the Republicans in the forthcoming elections.