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Republican Governor William W. Holden


Republican Governor William W. Holden
Republican Governor William W. Holden

For many reasons, including the participation of blacks and Northerners, derogatorily called carpetbaggers, the Republican administration was disliked by most whites. Extravagance, waste, and corruption were widespread; taxes increased enormously, and the state debt doubled. The Democratic, or Conservative, Party publicized these abuses and regained control of the legislature in the elections of 1872 under the leadership of a group of conservatives called Bourbons. Victory was aided by the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, a secret terrorist organization that kept blacks and Republicans away from the polls by a campaign of threats, whippings, and occasional murders. In 1871 the Bourbon legislature impeached and convicted Republican Governor William W. Holden for abuses of power, and he was removed from office.

In 1875 the legislature called a constitutional convention that adopted 30 amendments, the most important of which returned local government to the control of the legislature and thus to the Democratic Party. All these amendments were ratified by popular vote. In 1876 the Democratic candidate for governor, Zebulon B. Vance, defeated the Republican candidate by a small majority.

The Bourbons controlled the legislature from 1872 to 1893 and the governorship from 1877 to 1897. Government was generally honest and economical, but all tactics were aimed at keeping the party and the white people in power. Voting and officeholding by blacks were permitted only within closely guarded limits.

Public education was provided for blacks, but not on an equal basis with whites. Democratic leaders tended to follow a policy that favored the railroads and business interests over the farmers. Cotton textiles, tobacco, and furniture industries grew rapidly. The Democrats, who had difficulty perceiving the changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution, generally ignored the growing desires for aid to agriculture, equitable taxation on the new concentrations of wealth, regulation of the new economic power, and popular control of local government. "North Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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