13.1 Constitutional Conventions
New State Constitutions • Black men first participated in politics in the south as delegates to constitutional conventions • The southern states were writing new state constitutions to replace the ones written under President Johnson’s supervision • The delegates were mostly Republicans made up of carpetbaggers- white northern migrants who moved to the south, scalawags-native white southerners who sought economic relief from Republican governments and African Americans • Most Democrats boycotted these conventions and the elections to choose the delegates that would participate in them
New State Constitutions • The delegates produced impressive constitutions that that ensured all males right to vote and gave guarantees of civil rights • Several states provided the first state wide public schools • Republicans hoped to gain the support of white southerners by supporting private business, especially railroad construction
Black Political Leaders • Over the next decade 1,465 black men held political office in the South • Black politicians would eventually occupy very important political positions • There were fourteen black men in the US House of Representatives, two black Senators and even a black Governor for a short time
Black Political Leaders • Many of these men were well qualified. Others were not • 195 of the 1,465 public officials were illiterate • But, 64 of them had college of professional educations • Black men didn’t dominate any state politically, but, many were dominate in certain districts
The Issues • These new state governments focused on several key issues • Education and increased literacy was promoted but had opponents because it was funded through increase taxes • Attempts to end segregation in public transportation were undertaken throughout the south
Economic Issues • Black leaders enacted laws to promote business and industry • Some southern states increased property taxes on large landholders so that they might be forced to sell land to poor residents in the region • In this way African Americans hoped to gain land
Assignment • 1. How did Democrats in the South respond to the election for state conventions? • 2. What important political offices were held by African Americans in the South? • 3. What issues most concerned black political leaders? • 4. How many black leaders served in office in this time period? • 5. How did newly elected Republican leaders hope to gain the support of southerners?