Radical Distinctions Vs. Negro

October 8, 1870


Despite what many may think, the editors of The Daily Dispatch want to make it clear: the white Radical Republicans are the ones using the African-Americans. Despite what they may say, the Radicals only need African-Americans for their vote, and have no interest in letting them hold important offices.


It is very curious to observe the dodging of the Radicals - i. e, the white Radicals. They do not, and never did, like the negro, and nothing annoys them more than the pretensions of office set up here and there by the negro. He was only intended to vote, and it is both perverse and obstinate for him to be claiming office. It must not be thought of. Whenever he undertakes to be the competitor of a white Radical he is denounced as a "disorganizer", a getter-up of "revolution". But where a negro has the nomination, and a white Radical is by an outside caucus set up against him, that is a different matter. The white man is never the "disorganizer." When we consider how the white Radicals have cajoled the negro, how they claimed to be his especial friends, and how they fight for his equality with the white man, this conduct is downright fraud and hypocrisy. We have just had a striking example of this foul play towards the negro in the action of the Republican State Executive Committee of last Thursday. They took up to two cases of the split in the Radical party in the first and second congressional district. In the first Dr. Norton (colored), of Williamsburg, a quick-moving, sharp, and smart person, received the nomination of the Congressional Convention; but the white Rads of that body finding what was coming, withdrew before the nomination was made, and set up and opposition convention (contrary to party usage) and nominated Dr. Douglas (white). The trouble growing out of this conflict was brought before the State Committee. After considering the matter, they dodged the question by referring it back to the people of the district, with the recommendation that a new convention be held. In this case, the whites were bolters, the thunderbolts of the Executive Committee are bottled-up. There is no talk of "disorganization" and "revolution." The patriotic indignation of Mr. Wells and his knot of wire-pullers is soothed down to an expression of regret, and a recommendation that another convention be held to settle the question. It is clear that it is hoped that at this second convention the cards will be better stocked, and the colored man will be beaten. But Dr. Norton is very lively and wide-awake. Radical aversion to colored officeholders will hardly be gratified in this case by the negro voters, whom the whites have so misled and abused. In the first district Mr. Platt, the present member of Congress, seems to have been nominated in order, as was Dr. Norton; and the indomitable Dr. Bayne as true a negro as ever breathed the breath of life, has gotten up a call for another convention, to be held at Suffolk on the 17th inst., to nominate a candidate for Congress. This movement is quite a different affair. It is against a white nominee. So, "the case being altered, alters the case," and Mr. Wells, the Radical Jupiter, hulls his thunders at the bullet-head of Dr. Bayne most fearfully. The Radical Jupiter and his Olympic satellites pronounce the act of Dr. Bayne and his friends, calling another convention on Mr. Plait, as " revolutionary," a word that will stagger Dr. Bayne. They also pronounce it "subversive of harmony" and "pernicious". These be bitter words, indeed; and if they don't turn poor Bayne's head, will certainly enrage him to run at the Radical red flag with increased venom. Finally, they call upon every Republican to have nothing to do with the "proposed movement" - to "keep away from the meeting,'' "avoid all such disorganizing enterprises," and go unanimously for Mr. Flatt! The difference is everything in this matter. Dr. Norton is left to take care of himself on account of his color. The plausible Col. Platt is taken graciously under the wings of the committee, and its most terrific thunders are showered on all who would oppose him. And why? Because he is white, and the whites in the Radical programme, were to hold the important offices and the negroes were only to vote. And yet these whites have by their malign agitations banded the negroes against their own people - natives of Virginia - and made thus to oppose the election to office of their only true friends the only persons who were to be trusted, and the only people who could give employment and practical protection to the negro. Those white Radicals are indeed the " disorganizers", and "revolutionists" - alike the enemy of black and white.
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Travis Terry




“Radical Distinctions Vs. Negro,” Reconstructing Virginia, accessed October 27, 2020, https://reconstructingvirginia.richmond.edu/items/show/1855.