The End of Reconstruction

Readmission to the Union

In December of 1869, the new Mississippi state constitution, written by the state convention was passed, and in 1870 Mississippi was formally readmitted to the Union. The Republicans had a firm grip on the state government, led by Governor James L. ALcorn. The party promised to help all Mississippians regardless of race or wealth, but many whites still hated the Republican organization.

There were a number of prominent African American Members of the Republican Party from Vicksburg. Hiram R. Revels, the first black man to serve in the US Senate, and a former Chaplin in the United States Colored Troops stationed at Vicksburg; Albert Johnson who served in teh state legislature; Thomas W. Stringer, who was a delegate to the Mississippi Constitutional Convention in 1868 and served in the Mississippi Senate in 1870; Wesley Crayton, the first African American alderman of Vicksburg,; Thomas W. Cardoza, appointed state superintendent of education in 1874, and I. D. Shadd, who served in the state legislature and was the Speaker of the House of Representatives from 1874-1876.

 

Race Riots of 1874

To fight against Republican rule, many white Southerners joined groups such as the Ku Kluk Klan, which sought to intimidate blacks and keep them from voting. It is not know how many citizens from Vicksburg served in these organizations, but reserach has shown that large numbers of Confederate veterans joined such groups. Matters came to a head in Vicksburg in 1874, when a white faction made an effort to remove all black office holders from city and county government. Several black officials, including Warren County Sheriff Peter Crosby, were indicted by a Warren County grand jury in the fall of 1874. After teh indictment, an armed white mob forced Crosby from his office and took control of the county courthouse. Crosby's supporters marched on the city to try and restore him to office, and several skrimishes were fought between the two groups, and at least two whites and twenty-nine blacks were killed in the rioting. This would become known as the Vicksburg Race Riots of 1874.
 

The Mississippi Plan and Political Turmoil

Ub 1875 white conservatives in the state came up with the "Mississippi Plan" to insure their victory in the upcoming elections. This plan used intimidation of black voters and outreight fraud to guarantee that white Deomcrats would take control of the state government. The Mississippi Plan was very successful in undermining the Republican-led government and in 1875 the resurgent Democratic Party took control of the state legislature. In 1876, the Republican governor and lieutenant governor were impeached and Deomcrat John M. Stone became the new governor.

White Democrats took control of the judicial branch of government as well in 1876, and Congressional Reconstruction in Misssissippi was all but finished. The next year saw the offical end of Reconstruction, with the Compromise of 1877 that made Rutherford B. Hayes President of the United States, removed all military forces from the former Confederacy, and the authorized southern states to "deal with blacks without northern influence." In the years that followed, the politiical and civil gains made by African Americans in VIcksburg and throughout Mississippi were systematically erased.

In the aftermath of the Democratic victory, conservative whites in Mississippi promoted a number of myths about Reconstruction to justify their takeover of state government. Black politicans were stereotyped as incompetent and ignorant, and claimed the Republican government was corrupt. History has proved these myths false, but helped to create the optics of "the failed policies of Reconstruction."

With the end of Reconstruction and the compromise of 1877, oppression of African Americans, became rampant under the "Jim Crow Laws." It would be over a century until equality for all races would be granted under the Civil Rights Act of 1966, however the struggle for equailty and quest for Civil Rights still transcends our society today.

Last updated: January 27, 2018

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