Virginia, William Mahone, Doctor Levin discussed on Transition Virginia


I mean, just UN's face the coalition itself was Biracial, but it's worth pointing out for the modern listener that they were not in favor of desegregating anything right so To, Doctor Levin good talk about this nuanced from our perspective. It's nuance racial element to this where they're a biracial coalition that actually was not for integration. I I. Don't. I. Don't know on the on the African American side, what the what the feeling was along these regards but only for white readjustments, this was you know black public schools in white public schools. blacking I mean Virginia. You mentioned Virginia State is founded. That's very deliberately at a normal school, a school to create black teachers who can teach in black school So this is not a moment of. You know coming together racially it's I. think it is more a recognition that there are shared interests of the poor and working classes of both races that need to be met that need to be satisfied, and now it was not an turning of that of that order of the races and remember you know this is not an enlightened period racially outside of Virginia I mean this is. Sometimes, it's easy easy to forget that the civil war. Did Not Create you know an instant sort of racial utopia anywhere in the United States it it settled the question of slavery, but it did not settle the question of equality even with the reconstruction acts clearly. So that's you know it it probably is not shouldn't surprise us that someone like William Mahone who was a slave owner before this war fight for the confederacy does not then become the figurehead of a party that is looking to overturn the racial order but is reflecting the reality that there is a block of black political power now and pent-up black desire for. Various services to be rendered by the government that needs to be acknowledged needs to be met, and it is a wing of this coalition who has the power in political clout to demand this of their white partners. and. Also one thing to add their to to kind of even nuances even more. If you look at Mahone himself, he campaigned against the only black Republican running for Congress in Virginia during this time period, and so there was kind of and we'll talk about this when we get to the downfall among the white readjusts tres, how far they were willing. To go it is very limited I think you even arguably at the time, but definitely by modern day comparisons and so I think that's important to note as well. Another aspect of this is that it is by many accounts the first political machine in Virginia which I know probably people have various perspectives on whether or not. It was machine Doctor Levin. Good. Mahone lead a political machine perhaps even you could say Virginia's first political machine. Well Certainly Mahone, recognized. the power of patronage and recognize that there's an awful lot of ground to be made as the leader of this party in the political patrons that he can go out of that leader. I mean I I guess I mean I mean. One, man's machine is another man's. System right I I. I don't know whether I would describe the readjustment machine. As the first machine in Virginia politics certainly, political patronage played a part in. Virginia politics going back to the colonial period. I it. It's doling out favours going out positions and sinecures has always gone on I think Mahone might have been a little more blatant about it. In some ways you know Mahone is in some ways he's a classic newsouth figure in that. If you if you study that period, you know he's a guy certainly on the come I mean he's all about. He's all about money. He's all about. Showing his own money and showing his power. He's not he's not doing it. Subtly you nothing there's nothing really subtle about him. So maybe in some ways, it's the first sort of evident machine or the first machine that doesn't try to in any way math what it's doing and as a precursor to the the Democratic Machine of of the twentieth century. So I guess in a way, it's the first machine, but I wouldn't. I wouldn't push that too far because it's kind of a the logical evolution I think of what of what had taken place but I would say that I don't I don't think it is because I think when you talk about political machines, people talk about entrenching their own power and while he did engage in behaviors that we would associate with a machine you know patronage in correspondence and all these other things did they're out of power so quickly, I actually think if you WanNa talk about the first machine, it's actually his railroad rival. John Barbara who who, kind of helps defeat the readjusting and creates the the kind of modern day. Well, the re constance, the Democratic Party and creates the machine that will lead to the bird machine. Barber campaign managers guy named Thomas Staples Martin who created the Martin machine that of course was by any standards. But you know just because they only held power for a brief period of time doesn't mean it wasn't a machine. It just wasn't a very successful machine at having longevity and part of that. Is something that starts leading toward their downfall, which is there central organizing principle? Was this thing about the debt where they're in disagreement with the other party because the party wants to pay off the debt at the expense of public education and so they campaign on readjusting the debt and not paying it off at the expense of public education? Well, guess what the other party says you don't let your right we shouldn't do that doctor. Levin. Good. The other side essentially folds says you're right right And and they do repudiate the debt by about a third. They reduced the interest rate by half. So they really do succeed in this and I think the Democrats. or their their opponents I think once this passes I think then the pretense of well, this is about honor and all this kind of stuff kind of can fade away and they recognize that this is actually freed whoever follows the readjusts free them up to. Do. A number of different things that they wouldn't have been able to do if they've been fully funding that debt, the way they had claimed they wanted to So yeah, I mean th they managed they managed to do it and I, think it's one of those things ca you know be careful what you what you wish for because I think they did create an environment for themselves where their reason for existing started to wane a little bit I mean when you're sort of almost a one issue for one primary issue party and that issue goes away to a degree then you know it is it is. Probably the best thing for your for your future success. If you can't redefine yourself, it's funny. The mention that because I'm thinking about the Brexit Party. So once brexit happens what uses the BREXIT party anymore. Yeah and one thing that's fascinating I did want to make sure that your listeners ended up realizing too is there's a little funny side piece of the debt, which is when all of this debt is incurred Virginia before the war included West Virginia the West Virginia breaks away during the course of the civil war and there's a long and contentious fight between Virginia and West Virginia as to what portion of that debt West Virginia should. Really. Be Responsible for because were railroads and canals West Virginia that were funded by this and so it actually I don't think it's till Nineteen fifteen or something that it's finally established what dollar amount West Virginia owes toward retiring this debt, which is just kind of a little side note that I thought. It just fascinated me at the time to think that you know they had to take it to the Supreme Court to finally figure this all out. So, delegate Van Valkenburgh, can you put all of these reforms in the context of what's happening nationally and the reason I asked that is because now just like then Virginia's politics often parallels national politics and a lot of ways. So what's going on during this time? Well I mean you're seeing the end of reconstruction you see the north, the northern population losing its will to. Its involvement in the south you see. An economic panic in the mid eighteen seventies that causes kind of a change in priorities. So you're seeing the Republican, party, that goes from the Party of Lincoln, kind of into the party of big business, and so the south is slowly getting its autonomy back in you're getting Kinda slow drip drip that will lead to Jim..

Coming up next