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The political life


State capitol at Columbia
State capitol at Columbia

By the 1880s many white farmers were dissatisfied with the traditional leadership of the Democratic Party. That leadership rested with the Redeemer, or Bourbon, faction, consisting of the wealthier planters and business leaders. In 1890 an upcountry farmer, Benjamin R. Tillman, sought the Democratic nomination for governor. Inveighing against the wealthy classes on one hand and the blacks on the other, Tillman rallied white farmers to his support and won the Democratic nomination and the governorship from the Bourbons. Tillman’s proudest achievement was the new state constitution passed in 1895. It replaced the Reconstruction constitution of 1868 and made it difficult for most blacks to vote, using techniques that were not explicitly racial and thus avoided the protection of black voting rights afforded by the 15th Amendment to the Constitution.

Another means of disfranchisement was the so-called white primary—the statewide primary election of the Democratic Party, first held in 1896, in which only white voters could participate. Because this was a party vote only, not a state election, it circumvented the 15th Amendment. However, it effectively denied any voice to the few black voters because under one-party rule the Democrat who won the primary always won the general election. About this time, state laws began to impose racial segregation, or separation of white and black citizens, in every area of life. "South Carolina" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia

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