Most modern historians give the post Civil War Republican Party a free pass on racism. They generally presume that the Party’s demand for black suffrage and civil rights in the South was motivated by the intrinsic morality of racial equality and pejoratively contrast it with the violent resistance such policies sometimes encountered from the region’s whites.
Earlier historians, however, more often explained that the Party also had a second agenda.
Specifically, Republicans realized that they could lose control in Washington if the Southern states re-entered the Union without a significant Republican voting block, which almost certainly would have happened if whites dominated the Southern electorate. Continued Republican control, therefore, required two federally imposed actions. First, was to create a Republican-loyal constituency out of the freed slaves, which accounted for 40% of the former Confederacy’s population. Second, was to shrink the South’s opposition electorate by denying voting rights to many former Confederates
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