The Convention of "Mean Whites"

September 6, 1866


Critiquing the Loyalist Convention that was held in Philadelphia as a convention that blamed southern whites for all the wrong of the day. Suggests that the attempt to strain race relations between white and black Americans only serves the Conservative cause.


The Convention of "Mean Whites." The telegraph announces such strange proceedings in the Convention of "Sneaks,'" "Southern White Trash," and Northern "Destructives," that it perplexes the public mind not a little. The Convention was originally called for "southern loyalists" alone. But the northern sympathizers seeing how slim in numbers, and how threadbare in character they were, and fearing that they would present so sorry an appearance, and be so badly off for consolation and cheer, determined to meet them in "the city of brotherly love," and make the most of them. The name of the assemblage was then changed to "Loyalists" Convention." To illustrate the martyr, Dr. Dostie's, and Brownlow's, and Hamilton's broad creed of "liberty, equality, and fraternity "to black and white, Fred Douglass and some other persons of African descent were delegated to seats in the Convention. The reader knows all about its organization, and how the bellowing was carried on over the New Orleans riot It the manner of an excited herd of thicks which has just scented the place Slaughter of one of their kind. All went well, and the fuss over the martyrs and the threats of vengeance on the heads of southern people were rung out in full chorus and perfect harmony. But as soon as the motley body of all colors and all characters--save of those of decent, patriotic, and well-bred people--went to work to plan for the campaign, the northern loyalists found that their south ern brethren were about to involve them in trouble. They drew back and considered. They feared to commit their constituents to the extreme principles that were avowed by the "sneaks " and "riffraft" of the South who had nothing to lose, and whose only hope was to deprive all white people, save themselves, of votes, and confer the right to vote upon the negroes. This was a beautiful theory; but it was archly suggested that the northern people were not exactly "educated " to that exalted point of human perfection and virtue! And a split is foreshadowed. The fact is, the northern people, with a full knowledge of the wretched characters they were to meet from the South, were prepared to do a pretty considerable contraband business with them; but they were not exactly ready to go the whole hog, or rather the whole sheep. Upon looking into the haversacks of the southern pilgrims and discovering the wool, they became alarmed, and were not disposed to be caught as companions in the full measure of the outrage! It is a rare pass to which the affairs of these delectable conventionists have been brought. We apprehend that treachery will be suspected--that it will be conjectured that there are persons in the Convention who are employed to aid the Conservatives. Indeed, they promise to do more for the Conservatives than they did for themselves, as much as that was!
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Nat Berry




“The Convention of "Mean Whites",” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed July 17, 2018,