A Black Congressman in the Age of Jim Crow: South Carolina's by John F. Marszalek

By John F. Marszalek

Born a slave in 1850s South Carolina and elected to Congress within the Nineties, George W. Murray seemed to be the antithesis of the African American male within the Jim Crow South and served as a beacon for African americans who observed their hopes beaten within the aftermath of the Civil battle. Early within the 20th century, notwithstanding, tragically defeated via corrupt Reconstruction politics and white supremacist attitudes he couldn't break out, Murray used to be pushed from place of work and from the nation. Drawing on broad learn to reconstruct Murray’s existence tale, Marszalek defines an age and its humans in the course of the compelling conflict of 1 guy and indicates how and why the nation’s efforts to reconstruct the South right into a biracial democracy failed.
            Murray’s profession, which spanned 1 / 4 of a century, incorporated phrases within the U.S. condominium of Representatives and management of South Carolina’s Republican social gathering. He was once an investor in addition to a landed owner of a house who bought tracts to bad blacks to ensure that them to qualify to vote. yet via the start of the 20 th century, along with his celebration in shambles, he discovered himself on trial for alleged forgery in a land take care of of his black land buyers. Murray was once came upon in charge, and the South Carolina ideally suited courtroom upheld the decision. Sentenced to demanding exertions on a series gang, he escaped to Chicago the place he spent the remainder of his lifestyles in obscurity.

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Such tasks were The 1890 Election: Success and Failure / 27 routinely assigned to party functionaries, but Murray had decided to run for Congress from the Seventh District, so this activity was part of his campaign effort. Once more, he displayed political audacity. He was not only running in the only district where Republicans had a chance to win, but he was also willing to challenge party luminaries such as Miller and Brayton for the post. His Sumter speech showed that the task did not awe him.

Republicans also had decisions to make. Should they wait for Haskell to declare himself before they took fur- The 1890 Election: Success and Failure / 31 ther action, or should they strongly endorse him in the hope of helping him decide? Would their support hurt more than it helped? Should they instead make overtures to Tillman despite his apparent lack of interest ? What about the Republican rank and file who could not vote despite the registration effort in the spring? Finally, how would those Republicans with the franchise react to an unpopular endorsement?

The rumor that a Colored Alliance bank with capital of $100,000 was being planned in Charleston also raised hopes, but again nothing concrete resulted. When the South Carolina group was encouraged to cooperate in a nationwide Colored Alliance cotton picker’s strike, and it never really materialized, the result caused conflict within the organization and between it and its white counterpart. 46 These failures were not the Colored Alliance’s major problems. The movement encountered its major difficulty when it attempted to cooperate politically with the state’s white farmers.

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