(January 27, 2019) The Three 1867 Reconstruction Acts passed over President Andrew Johnson’s vetoes famously gave voting rights to all black adult males in ten of the eleven former Confederate states. Tennessee was excluded because it already had a Republican puppet regime and was the first state to allow significant numbers of blacks to vote.
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Less well known, however, is that the Acts also started a trend toward denying votes to former Confederates. The disfranchisement of former Confederates came in two waves.
The first wave was triggered by the second of the three Reconstruction Acts. Voters in the ten applicable states were ordered to elect delegates to state conventions that were to form new constitutions for new governments. Once written, those constitutions had to be approved by Congress. The second Act stipulated how voters for convention delegates would be registered. All adult black males were to be registered. But about 150,000 white males were denied registration because they were formerly connected in specified ways to the Confederacy. Consequently, the first white disfranchisement wave resulted in 703,000 black registrations and only 627,000 white registrations, even though whites were a decided majority of the population.
The second wave of white voter disfranchisement resulted from adoption of the applicable constitutions, or acts by the legislatures of the newly formed Republican vassal governments. That wave was concentrated in the states of the upper South where blacks represented a smaller share of the population as compared to the Gulf states. Consider the examples of Arkansas and South Carolina.
Since only 25% of Arkansas’s population was black, in order to insure that it would remain in power the state’s 1868 Carpetbag constitution disfranchised additional former Confederates beyond those already denied the vote by the Second 1867 Reconstruction Act. In contrast, since blacks composed the majority of South Carolina’s population that state’s Carpetbaggers declined to disfranchise additional ex-Confederates
I am unaware of estimates concerning how many whites were disfranchised in the second wave, but the numbers were significant enough to tip the balance of power toward the Carpetbag governments in the pertinent states. Even though border states like Missouri were not required to form new constitutions, the Missouri Republican state government also disfranchised many former Confederates.
Perhaps one reason the post Civil War white voter disfranchisement in the South is little known is because Wikipedia has no article about it. In contrast, Wikipedia does provide this article about black voter disfranchisement in the South that happened between 1890 and 1902. As usual, when it comes to topics with political overtones, Wikipedia editors evidently require that articles conform to the viewpoints of the mainstream media and/or academic elite . . . and that includes ignoring topics that are not germane to accepted grievance groups.
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