Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 12.djvu/188

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178 Southern Historical Society Fcipers.

But they were almost the only force which he could trust. The Government would have preferred to leave the city at the mercy of the infuriate wretches who had bathed its streets with the blood of its citizens. All circumstantial evidence points to the conclusion that the thing- most desired by the Government was such a collision of races as would call for active military interference, and as this was solemnly believed by the whites they avoided such collision, even under circumstances when forbearance seemed to be very like weak- ness.

Corruption and disorder had so completely taken possession of the State that all hope of a change for the better seemed to have been destroyed, when it was determined to make some feeble effort to stay the progress of misrule by joining the ranks of the Republicans. The project was to leave the power in their hands, but to infuse into it a beam of purity by giving- offices to the white men. Accordingly a reform ticket was offered to the votes of the people, at the liead of which was the Republican Judge Carpenter, who had not unworthily filled the judicial bench ; General M. C. Butler consented to be a candidate for the office of Lieutenant-Governor, and in the selection of other candidates, while the most notorious rogues were excluded, a larger proportion of Republicans, more blacks than whites, were nominated. It was strictly and emphatically a Reform party; all par- tisan politics were studiously e.Kcluded. The effort failed, because it deserved to fail ; it deserved to fail because it associated itself with a party rotten to the core. The relief could not come, and did not come, until a sharp line was drawn and no compromise tolerated with the unclean thing.

General Kershaw, the chairman of the Reformed Committee, after the thorough discomfiture of his party, published a report announcing his failure. We cannot do better than tell the sad story in his own words :

" We entered the contest," he says, " by laying down a platform on the rights of race identical and co-extensive with the Republican Congress upon that subject. We invited men of all parties, upon that basis, to unite in an effort to reform the present incompetent, extrava- gant, prejudiced, and corrupt administration of the State Government, and to establish, instead thereof, just and equal laws, order and har- mony, economy in public expenditures, a strict accountability in office- holders, and the election to office only of men of known honesty and integrity.

"We put forward as the State candidate a prominent Republican,