(November 28, 2017) Given that “Lost Cause Mythology” has mutated into a phrase synonymous with racism, a contra-term is required for the false belief that nineteenth century Republicans advocated for Southern blacks purely on the merits of racial justice. One choice might be “Pious Cause Mythology.”
One “Pious Cause Mythologist” suggests, for example, that the claim of a “white Northern Retreat from Reconstruction” is a dubious “trope.” Since he is among those who will most readily label others as “Lost Cause” proponents and portray them as racists, perhaps he will consider evidence from a Reconstruction-era black leader that validates the very “trope” he doubts.
Specifically, in September 1874 Mississippi carpetbag Governor Adelbert Ames asked President Ulysses Grant to send federal troops to protect black voters in the November election. Grant declined and Mississippi Republicans lost decisively at the polls. Ames ever afterward blamed the defeat on Grant’s failure to send protecting federal troops.
Only after about four decades was the reason for Grant’s inaction made public when one of the Mississippi Republican congressmen who survived the election debacle explained what happened. Specifically, a former mulatto Congressman named John Lynch revealed that Grant had told him in November 1874 that Mississippi was politically sacrificed to Ohio.
Specifically, Ohio Republicans worried that they could lose their autumn elections if Grant intervened in Mississippi. Like many Americans, Ohioans were appalled when Grant’s federal troops forcibly installed a Republican regime in Louisiana that included one of his own brothers-in-law after the 1872 elections. The Ohioans urged that he keep federal troops out of Mississippi, and the President complied. Significantly, there is good reason to believe that the Ohio worries were justified because the state’s legislature adopted a resolution condemning Grant for interfering a second time in Louisiana after December 1874.
In short, a contemporary black leader disclosed that Grant confessed to him that the President “Retreated from Reconstruction” in Mississippi for purely political reasons that favored Northern Republicans over Southern (mostly black) Republicans. Thus, in order to reconcile history to their agenda some “Pious Cause Mythologists” might feel compelled to try to discredit Lynch’s statement, but . . . could that be racist?
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