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The Mississippi Plan:

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Jarod Roll

on 16 September 2016

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Transcript of The Mississippi Plan:

The Mississippi Plan:
The Restriction of Voting
South Carolina, 1895
Louisiana, 1898
North Carolina, 1900
Alabama, 1901
Virginia, 1902
Georgia, 1908
Oklahoma, 1910
National reconciliation around White Supremacy:
Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896

SC ruling: "We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff's argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it."

Williams v. Mississippi, 1898

SC ruling: 1890 constitutional provisions "do not on their face discriminate between the races, and it has not been shown that their actual administration was evil, only that evil was possible under them."

Mississippi, 1892:

Of 110,100 white men over the age of 21 who could register before 1890, 68,127 registered

Of 147,205 African American men over the age of 21 who could register before 1890, 8,615 registered


Registered voters before new constitution:
164,000 white, 130,000 African American

Registered voters in 1900:
125,000 white, 5,300 African American

Registered voters in 1904, after poll tax came into effect:
91,700 whites, 1,300 African Americans
1872 presidential election
(red, Republican; blue, Democrat)
1884 presidential election
After 1876, Democratic Party (white, most ex-Confederates) pushed Republican Party (mostly African American) out of power across the region
--used violence and fraud
--called the Mississippi Plan at the time
--one Mississippi Democrat, 1890:

"no secret that there has not been a full vote and a fair count in Mississippi since 1875--that we have been preserving the ascendancy of the white people by revolutionary methods."
Grover Cleveland (Dem.) elected President, 1884
Benjamin Harrison (Rep.) elected President, 1888
Federal Elections Bill (Lodge Force Bill), 1890
-- last gasp by Republicans to stop white Democrats from using violence and fraud in the Southern elections
--too little, too late; last gasp of the Civil War
Mississippi State Constitution, 1890
-- state convention, delegates elected by county officials; 134 white delegates, 1 black delegate
--in 1890, 58% of Mississippians were African American
-- legal moves to disenfranchise African Americans: a) poll tax, b) understanding clause, c) convicts barred
--the convention approved its own constitution; never approved by the state electorate
--became known as the new, or second Mississippi Plan
Delegates explain themselves:

--"It is the manifest intention of this Convention to secure to the State of Mississippi, 'white supremacy'"

--Senator Zachariah George: "Our chief duty when we meet in Convention is to devise such measures as will enable us to maintain a home government, under the control of the white people of the State."

--"The plan is to invest permanently the powers of government in the hands of the people who ought to have them--the white people."

Raymond newspaper:
--"The convention is called for the purpose of divising means by which the negro can be constitutionally eliminated from politics."
Results of the Mississippi Plan of 1890:
Black voters in 1868, 86,973 (96.7% of those registered)
Black voters in 1892: 8,922 (5.9% of those registered)
Black voters in 1964: 28,500 (6.7% of those registered)

All other southern states adopt similar methods between 1891 and 1908; some added "grandfather clause"
1900 presidential election
James K. Vardaman, D, Mississippi House (1890-1896), Governor of Mississippi (1904-1908), US Senator (1913-1919):

"There is no use to equivocate or lie about the matter. ... Mississippi's constitutional convention of 1890 was held for no other purpose than to eliminate the nigger from politics. Not the 'ignorant and vicious', as some of the apologists would have you believe, but the nigger. ... Let the world know it just as it is. ... In Mississippi we have in our constitution legislated against the racial peculiarities of the Negro. ... When that device fails, we will resort to something else." --quoted in Greenwood Commonwealth, August 17, 1900
Mississippi state legislature, first elected under the rules of the 1890 state constitution, adopted the current state flag in 1894

--official flag adopted to show "patriotic ardor" and "state pride"
--white men elected by constitution of 1890 interpreted what these things meant for all Mississippians
--Vardaman was Speaker of the House when flag adopted
--inseparable from the logic of the Mississippi Plan, Jim Crow, and national acceptance of white supremacy
--not defiant, but victorious, even celebratory
Same goals of disenfranchising African Americans, also weakening poor white political power, particularly in response to Populist uprising
Question of Confederate Commemoration:
--United Confederate Veterans (1889)
--United Daughters of the Confederacy (1895)
--J. B. Gordon: Confederate Governor of Georgia, KKK leader, US Senator, Railroad investor

--worked two ways: way to restore sense of American nationalism, unity between whites in the North and South; common experience of the war
--the other way: to display political, economic, and social power to African Americans in the South; to signal the victory of white supremacy

State flags are weird: most states did not have them until 1893, when they sought ways to distinguish their state displays at the Chicago Columbian Exposition

--states that did have them prior to 1893: those that had been colonies (New York, Vermont, SC) or those that had been countries (Texas, California) or those that had fielded armies for the Confederacy (although these flags went out of use in 1865)
1906 dedication: Confederacy and its "sacred flag"

Charles Scott, candidate for Governor:

--"the youngest, the noblest, the bravest of all the nations of the earth"

--now "homage paid by the civilized world to the memory of the old South, once radiant with all the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome. 'No nation rose so white and fair, none fell so pure of crime.' And the world is beginning to recognize this fact, and we are now, in part at least, understood."

--"The war is over. Its animosities have passed away . . . Nevertheless, we must keep the record clean. We owe this to ourselves and to our children and to our beloved Southland."

--His campaign platform, 1906: dedicated to "the preservation and maintenance of civilization and white supremacy in the south."

--Pro-education, "for the dominant race, adequate, indeed liberal, appropriations for educational purposes, so as to afford a good common school education, free of cost, to every child within the confines of the state." These "are my views with reference to the white population of the state."
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