Virginia, William Mahone, Democratic Party discussed on Transition Virginia
There this little weird interim period between reconstruction and you know the reemergence of the Democratic Party and the the you know essentially the the machine democratic politics that dominate Virginia from then you know the eighteen ninety s until the nineteen. Well apparently to the civil rights movement, and probably you could argue at least until the eighties. So it really is whether it is conscious and deliberate or not the readjust just vanish. No I mean that's that's a really interesting point. In fact, that's one of the reasons I wanted to do this podcast is because everything that we're about to talk about actually challenges the narrative that have in their head about how what happened in the eighteen hundreds you know like. I think in the popular mind it's okay. The civil war happened the confederacy was vanquished but almost immediately white supremacist to power and started you know a government and so they just sort of skip over this brief but radical period of time when black people had power and held political office and were part of a coalition that did incredibly progressive things and got rid of the tax and did criminal justice reform it had mental health reform reactor education. and. I mean there's all this. So it's really it challenges the narrative that people have in their head because it just doesn't make sense with what people think that they know about history. So doctor, Levin? Good. Let's talk about language a little bit. So I think a lot of our listeners are going to say readjusted what the heck is a readjustment and then Bourbon. Made this at the script at the top of the show made this joke about Bourbon like what explained to us the playing field in eighteen seventy nine what is a bourbon and what exactly is a rid or what do they want to readjust While the readjusting are taking their name from their attitude toward Virginia's public debt, and this notion that they thought that the debt that they were saddled with was gonNA cripple the state, make it unable to fulfill its promises about public education and all sorts of other things and so there You know there's sort of reason they're proximate reason for being is to readjust that debt to repudiate part of it to adjust the interest rate downwards. Let me ask a question about that. So the debt is huge. This is pre war debt and war dead and so what was The debate like if you want if you supported paying off the debt who were you and why what was your motivation if you did not want to support paying off the debt? Who what kind of group were you associated with them? What was the motivation they're sort of what's the debate about paying off the debt versus not paying off the debt? Yeah. I. Think over I mean maybe overly simplistically but those who wanted to the funders as they called themselves they wanted to fully fund the debt were more the business class, the affluent the the the wealthy elite. Bargains the verbs which comes from the Libor Bowl, the European royal elite of sort of idea of of what the Bourbon, not not the not the whiskey variety comes from. So that's Kinda that that class of people the readjusting as as Schuyler just mentioned, were you know this kind of coalition of poor and working class whites and blacks You know it's a some others thrown in like William Mahone who will talk about? I'm sure was a strange character in quite quite interesting. and. And so this notion that what they what they wanted to be able to do was fulfilled the promise of. All the things you mentioned, public education You know higher education, all of these things that were to benefit. A wider range of Virginians and if you're pay more than half of your your in your state budget every year paying more than half toward this interest it was you're not going to allow you to do that. So he's going to continue to benefit the the funders. You know. They really had a couple of motivation for people who wanted to pay the debt in full. You know one they kept talking about a matter of honor its honor to pay the debt, we need to fulfil our state honor. which you know it sounds good I think. But let's also face fact they were also worried that if the debt was repudiated, it would make Virginia kind of a pariah among moneyed interests who might invest in Virginia again. So there was worry that if he repudiated the debt, you drive investment away. And I think that that those two things both the honor of paying that debt in some ways and the the business ramifications we're driving, we're driving them. and I would also add in there too that you have to remember that in Virginia and in much of the south. This kind of concept that the everyday person should be able to vote or the everyday person should have access to education. Was not kind of baked into the populace the funders you know when you look back to the eighteen, seventy eight veto message governor holiday he's a, he's basically saying look we have education for the people who need it and they can go and get it. We don't need to fund education for All these folks and so it's not just. funding the debt although it certainly I think is the is the main thing but there is also just an inherent belief that everyday people shouldn't have a say in elections in don't need public education and that that that lineage goes back to the founding fathers in and the kind of folks who were arguing in this kind of classical Republican philosophy that it was the free. Holders and the people who had leisure time who could get an education and in represent the kind of common good whether that's the common good of Virginia or the common good of the United States, and of course, that's butting up against the reality of Jacksonian. America it's butting up against the reality of the reconstruction amendments and it's kind of you've got these two worlds and I. Quote from one of the one of the African. American. Men who came to the convention that Mahone called to create a new party the readjusting. And he says, you know it's this freed slave he he's from new and he says as to the debt, we don't WANNA pay a cent of it. We think we paid our share of it by our long years of servitude. You'd think it kind of that argument and you think that language of and it's it's it's it's true when it's fascinating horrifying though I have a question. How does a biracial political coalition? Actually a whole political party in Virginia, which is spires to break the wealth and power of privilege. Come to be led by a former confederate general. Yeah that's a great. That's a great question Here's where maybe a opportunity to talk about William Mahone. Who you know really becomes the figurehead of the party he he's. He as you mentioned I mean he is a A. Say. Confederate, general. He's actually involved in one of the more horrific events. perpetrated by the confederacy in.