1860s: Freedom at Last | 1870s: Representation | 1880s: Repression | 1890s: End of an Era | The Biographies | Conclusions


The 1880s: Repression


"Negro Turn Back" at the county line This 1911 photo shows an example of the repression faced by African Americans during the days of white supremacist rule. This graffitti was found at the county line between Edwards and Kimble Counties. R.S. means Rock Springs in Edwards County. J.C. means Junction City in Kimble County. African Americans were not welcome in either county. Photographed July 8, 1911 by L.K. Smoot and presented to the Texas State Library the same year. Prints and Photographs Collection, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

White Republicans, Union men, and African Americans were the primary targets of the Ku Klux Klan. Locally known as Pale Face, Knights of the White Camellia, or the White Brotherhood, Klan activities were reported east of the Trinity River as early as 1868. Klan beatings, whippings ,and murder — conducted at night by disguised men—were responsible for the marked decline of the African-American vote in the South by 1870, despite the 15th Amendment's guarantee of this right.

Those who sought to change the racial system in the South after the turn of the century faced a growing threat of violence. Between 1880 and 1968, nearly 3,500 African Americans were lynched in the United States, the vast majority in the South. Representative Goldstein Dupree was eventually killed by the Klan, and Senator Matthew Gaines, in a speech, was quoted as saying, "I have heard that the Democrats have threatened to kill me. . . ."

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Page last modified: April 22, 2015