3 Episode results for "Virginia Historical Society"

The Readjusters

Transition Virginia

1:09:31 hr | 5 months ago

The Readjusters

"How are the readjust remember today? They're not I mean they they sort of vanish. On this episode of Transition Virginia, it represents the promise and the tragedy of reconstruction. The Re adjusters with Paul Lebanon their successes thumb ways really invigorated their rival and delegate Schuyler van Valkenburgh. Your democracy is only as the as the people who participate in join us for a deep dive into a forgotten moment in history when blacks and whites formed progressive coalition in the eighteen eighties all that and so much more on this episode of Transition Virginia. All Welcome to Transition Virginia. The podcast they usually examines transition of power from Republican to. Democrat. Although today we're going to do something a little different. We're GONNA get in our time machine and go back to the eighties the eighteen eighties I'm. And I'm Thomas Bowman Today on the pod. We're going to take a break from examining the transition from Republican to Democrat and look at transition from Bourbon to readjusted. Wait Wait Thomas Thomas did you say Bourbon, yeah but calm down at today Oh. All right. All right to help us navigate through the transition from Bourbon Democrat, to the by racial and radically progressive readjusted coalition. We have an amazing panel. Paul eleven good is the former president of the Virginia Historical Society. He's currently president of the George C Marshall Foundation doctor. Levin. Good. Thank you for joining us. Thanks for having me. I'm looking forward to the conversation and we're also joined by delegates. Schuyler van Valkenburgh a Democrat from Henrico as a member of the House of delegates. He witnessed the transition of power from Republican to. Democrat but delegates. Van. Valkenburgh isn't just a garden variety politico. He's also civics teacher at Glen Allen High School and he's about to take us to school delegate Van Valkenburgh. Thank you for joining us. Thank you for having me for having the on and thank you for doing this topic. I think it's it's a really interesting Virginia history. It is a really interesting topic admittedly a bit. Quirky but let's jump right into it. One of the reasons that the struck says worth talking about thinking about is when the Democrats took power recently, there was a lot of talk about as being the most Progressive General Assembly in the history of Virginia to which I responded. Wait a second. What about the eighteen? Eighty s there was this group called the readjust yours that had. Increases. For Public Education that repealed the poll tax that increased taxes on corporations that increase funding for state asylums that had money for higher education that abolished the whipping post I mean, this is a by eighteen eighties standards extremely progressive, even radical Doctor Levin. Good. I wouldn't start by setting the scene here. So when the readjusts are formed and take power in the General Assembly in. Seventy nine give us the setting here. So this is like we're not even talking about reconstruction anymore. Reconstruction is like nine years past give us a window of what was going on in the late eighteen seventies that allowed this to happen. Well, I guess you're right to point out that reconstruction was over ended in Virginia and eighteen seventy when Virginia was readmitted to the. Union. But there was kind of this interim period questions were being determined as to who was going to be allowed to hold power. you it enfranchised the state, African American population. There were African Americans winning local offices. So the political social kind of setting was was really kind of a bit in flux. You know when you had some politicians and figures from the prewar Arrow returning and trying to get back into power and you had new voices being heard. So it was just a lot of tumble at the time and it created I think this unique situation in Virginia history where there was this. Void and the void in some ways was really filled by as you mentioned, the adjuster what comes to be called a readjust her party, and also it is important to point out that one of you know the key debate in this entire period is a financial debate. The the Commonwealth's finances are really hamstrung by the issue of prewar debt which sounds really boring except this is we're talking about more than probably half of the State's budget is being paid in interest payments. For the debt that it incurred. In. The antebellum period mainly building things like roads and railroads and canals, all sorts of internal improvements which. I'm sure. Delegates. Van. Valkenburgh, you know talks to students about sometimes in that in that pre war era that era of improvements the Virginia had invested in these things borrowed money to do it. And then of course, there most of them are destroyed by the civil war, and now they're left trying to figure out how they're going to pay this massive debt this in these interest payments and do everything else they need to do. And this question really lingers and hangs over the head of all this politics. We're going to get to the legacy later on in the podcast but delegate van. Valkenburgh. I'm GonNa sort of hinted that right now at the top of the show, which is how we think about the readjust now in the modern world, like what is their legacy? How do we think about this time period today? Yeah, that's a good question and I think there's there's two things that I think we should address when we talk about it I think. One thing we have to note is that the reason why they were even possible is kind of the structure that allowed them to come into power. In. So when you look back kind of the history of of Virginia politics, you look back at the history of Virginia Governance we we've had many constitutions you had the constitution seventeen, seventy, six constitution of eighteen, thirty, the constitution, eighteen, fifty one, and it's really only with the constitution of eighteen sixty nine which provided African Americans the right to vote which I did not have a poll tax was added. It was done by the readjusting now, but it was only within the context of that of that constitution that this moment could even rise and I think that speaks to how important it is to have a constitution that facilitates. Democratic participation whether that's in the vote or how you draw the lines. You Know Rep Tartar talks about the Great Gerrymander of eighteen thirty, which was basically baking into our constitution, the legislative power for the eastern part of the state, and what that did was give slave owners the power in Virginia all the way through until eighteen, eighteen, sixty, four in the nineteen, sixty, nine with the kind of postwar constitutions I? Think. That's one thing that's really important to know is how the fundamentals help lead to different policies in different politics, and then the second thing is it is an interesting moment is an interesting moment about what matters to people. Coming out of this, the debt was the important thing. There's this huge conversation around school debt. So the Eighteen seventy eight, the general MB passes a school appropriations bill and the Governor Vetos it. When you look back at the language of his veto and why he vetoed it is incredibly inflammatory but it's basically talking about we're GONNA pay off this debt and schools is optional thing. And then that kind of folds in that leads to Mahone the confederate general turned egalitarian who calls a conference and says, you know this conferences for anybody who wants to come in makes kind of explicit call to people from both races and out of that. You could this coalition that exists in almost you know immediately after once they're successful, the rug is kind of pulled out from under them because the debt is no longer the important thing in race kind of respect to the forefront, and so I think it speaks to. The contingency of politics as well and how coalitions will change, and you know how you guys talk about the transition from Republican to Democratic power and how maybe this General Assembly. Assembly was the most progressive in history and maybe it was. But you know what that means in two years is going to be a lot different because some of these issues have now been taken off the table or have been or maybe have been taken off the table on what does that mean for politics in two thousand and twenty, two to twenty four, right So I think. The lesson is both structural but also the kind of day today politics in what issues drive people in eighteen seventy, eight poor white folks poor black folks were incredibly concerned about schools in the debt issue didn't play. five years later. Everybody agreed that the readjusts did the right thing debt or seemingly right. They put it to bed in the issue became about race again. and. So I think those are two kind of interesting lessons. And I think what? Telling you know Michael Getting back to your question. There is how are the readjusts remembered today? We'll. They're not. I mean they they sort of vanish 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 eighteen, sixty, four at Petersburg if you've ever visited the battlefield and seeing the crater that was created Union Union miners. Dug under the confederate lines and blew up. try to create a gap in the line and what ended up happening was A. as. Union troops poured into that gap. They found that actually putting themselves into rather a gap really into a pit crater where they were sitting ducks and a lot of African American troops were involved in that and were singled out to be massacred by among other officers involved when Mahone. So this is a guy with a really. I mean, Bizarro back story if you were picking the leader of a biracial coalition coalition which I do think lend some credence. To the detractors who say he was really looking at this as a matter of political expediency more than anything else he had been. He'd been a Democrat he came out of the the war A. Member, what they call the Conservative Party conservative faction, which were mainly prewar Democrats and you know I think he found you know he ran for he ran for. Governor and lost and I think he found this was a different a different route to political power I. Think MOANS. Commitment to racial equality needs to be held in a great deal of question Any certainly saw this as an opportunity. Now, I don't maybe not being completely fair to him, but he you certainly have to at least. Afgha- that question and one of the interesting things about Mahone I heard this from someone a few years ago you know. Mahoney. There's never been a great biography of Mahone. and which would also lend us may be some some aid in deciding why did he do this? And the reason Friday the most prosaic reason I've ever heard he has a massive collection of papers that he left to posterity. There are Duke University, his handwriting is so bad. But the people have people have tried to go in the papers. To do a biography of that's fascinating character and they've given up because they can't deter decipher handwriting saw his motivations are lost. In some way just because the man had appalling penmanship but. But let's mind-blowing if you stop and think about it like it. had better penmanship how much more we would know about the eighteen hundreds in Virginia but I didn't mean interrupt you I think it's Fun I would have to You know what I think what's interesting is he comes about in a moment and I think we should be cynical about the reasons why he did what he did but I also think it's interesting right? You'RE A he's he's a confederate general he was in the Conservative Party. And he splits off on this readjustment issue in know there's two ways politicians can go in this moment, and one is to kind of fully embrace the eighteen, sixty nine constitution voting rights for all and to try to create a coalition and the other path. is to try to you know create amendment poll tax, which some folks did and to try to suppress the vote which you know after Mahone other white folks. Do you know they decide not to try to amend the constitution, but you have to famous laws from eighteen, eighty, four and eighteen, ninety four, which essentially disenfranchised the entire African American community by creating these local electoral board's the Democrats could control which kind of become the foundation for the bird machine. And he doesn't do that and I think if we're going to give him credit, we give them credit there, which is a in a moment where he could try to weaponize the constitution of the General Assembly as a form of suppressing the African American vote. Instead when he dies in, you go to those papers you can find a list of black pastors that he frequently corresponded with because he was engaging in interracial alliances, and so I think we should be cynical about his his reasoning. But at the end of the day, he ended up embracing a more FR in franchise any ended up. Communicating and being in touch with in in helping patronage for the black community and I think that's a it's a really interesting story because so many people in the south didn't do that. Yes. So the sky full of contradictions, confederate general who later becomes a railroad president he was president of a railroad and that's actually how he got involved in politics because he was trying to help himself financially and then decides in eighteen seventy nine to found a new political party. This is another really in my mind really bizarre part of this is the timeline how quickly all of this comes together. So Eighteen, seventy, nine, he has this convention that you mentioned. He forms the readjustment party the same year they take control the General, assembly they had fifty six seats in the House fifty, six, hundred seats they had twenty four seats in the Senate is twenty, four out of forty seats. So that's pretty decisive. Win For having formed the party that year. Eighteen seventy, nine, they take control the General, assembly eighteen, eighty, one, they elect a governor and then in eighteen eighty, two, they win six of the ten seats in Congress, House seats in the Congress. So in the course of just three years, the readjustments capture the General Assembly the governor's office both seats in the US Senate and a majority of the House seats Doctor Levin Good How did that happen? Well, yea. You catagor- you're sort of show the the the meteoric rise. Of course, there's unequally meteoric descent I. mean it it it comes and it goes very very quickly But I go back to what I said to begin with which was there was really this. Kind of strange period after Virginia's readmitted where the parties are still figuring themselves out there. There's a foothold of Republican is in especially in the western part of the state you know in the in the mountains and valley part of Virginia, you have these free blacks you have A. You have a really unsettled political situation which I think allows for that rise to come. So quickly because you don't have you know you didn't return to classic. So dual party you know vying for vying for control or single party control the way you did prewar week party went away and prewar Virginia. The Democrats essentially had almost unrivalled electoral success. So you didn't really have the reestablishment of that. There's so a lot of flux which I think is why? You know why this party kind of is able to come about and come together. So quickly and I think clearly, it was also tapping into something that was of great interest to this. Biracial coalition of people who had long been. White and black kept out of the political process that they had not been allowed to vote and they had not had say economically. And socially in. Virginia Direction. In. That would add to that that I think one of the reasons why if you look at the coalition, the coalition is South Central and southeast African Americans the African American population was at its greatest flood of free. Slaves. And it was cities where debt in public schools are a more pressing issue in it was out in the West and if you if you look at the history of Antebellum America, it's the history of the West being disenfranchised is around the eighteen forties where the western part of the state becomes kind of dominant population force but the General Assembly reflects kinda slave owners in the. East power in an the eighteenth thirty in the eighteenth fifty constitutions it's important to note that those those constitutionally Gerrymander the General Assembly to give the power to the eastern part of the state. You know the eighteen thirty constitution broke Virginia into four regions and then gave each region a certain number of delegates senators in a skewed to the east and in eighteen fifty one rewrite. the Senate skewed to the East something like twenty to thirty seats and so you got a lot of folks in the West who prior to eighteen fifty one can't vote because of the freeholder requirements. who can't get anything past even through their representation because of the skew General Assembly, and then all of a sudden eighteen, sixty nine in that constitution kinda opens up all of that right and allows more people to vote. It allows for a little bit more regional less disparity. And it speaking issues that directly relate to this kind of east west divide and WHO's paying taxes in one of those taxes four remember the western part of the state has less slave owners has lessslaves has historically not liked the slave power and I think that creates a perfect storm But of course, right the flip phlebitis, it creates a perfect storm and then as soon as has gone, it just as quickly goes away 'cause right it's gone within three years. Well. Let's take a quick break because when we come back, we want to talk about what the readjust did during their time in power delegates Schuyler Been Valkenburg, Dr Paul Good. Thank you so much. We'll be right back. And we're back on transition. Virginia we're not talking about the transition of power from Republican to Democrat. Instead, we're talking about the transition of power from Bourbon Democrat conservative Democrat to readjust this almost today unknown coalition of Bi Racial Coalition of progressive politicians that did all kinds of things. So let's examine what they actually were able to accomplish when they were in power I, read this list at the top and it's Worth repeating because it's just sort of mind blowing. If you think about this is the eighteen eighties we're talking about the increased funding for public education they repealed the poll tax they increase taxes on corporations they increased funding for state asylums they increase money for higher education. They abolished the whipping post Doctor Levin Gun talk about the whipping post and the significance of abolishing the whipping post in the eighteen eighty S. Well if you think about public spectacle of criminal punishment, especially in times of slavery, the public whipping post is perhaps the most. Striking example of the the the levers of control that white elite bridge held over everyone else, and so you can imagine if you were living in a maybe a courthouse. Town, a county seat. Very. Often there was a public whipping post which could be used. By for crimes committed by slaves brought to the courthouse square and publicly flogged Mathur's who didn't want to do it. Themselves could actually pay local sheriff to do the same thing and it was public spectacle that was meant to reinforce the power structure very very clearly to everyone You know obviously whites could be flawed to, but it was mostly mostly punishment that was meant to keep an African American population in line. So I think for the African American. Ri. adjusters. Both symbolically, and in terms of you know modernizing the processes of criminal. Justice. Abolishing the whipping post was an incredibly powerful symbol and I'm and I think probably. You know they're they're the probably their influence in the party's platform. As. Much as anything else in that kind of a movement. I'm also kind of curious about the politics here of increasing taxes on corporation increasing taxes on railroads, and then spending that money on public education and higher. Delegate van Valkenburgh is this the beginning of? Liberals. No you know what I think this reflects as kind of thinking about this podcast in thinking about what they did I they would have explicitly said this, but it strikes me that This is an embodiment of a very cohesive kind of idea of what I would call the Frederick Douglass wing of the Republican Party at the time, which is the government being used in order to create kind of inequality of opportunity you. You can just see with the emphasis on education in. Wouldn't have called a K. twelve at the time. Right but K. twelve education a higher ran decrease in Virginia State University. It's all founded on a sense of equality is the first mental silence for African, Americans as well in you know once again, you go back to anti-american you look at the taxation in Virginia and one of the big complaints of folks in the western part of the state was that poor people were being taxed in slave owners weren't and I think what you're seeing is you're seeing a foundation of equality of opportunity of using the government to try to uplift all people and I'll go back to the kind of education speeches they gave If people I'm not GonNa read on. But if people go back and look at the eighteen, seventy, eight veto of governor holiday and then they go back and look at Forgetting the governor's name, the the readjusted Governor Han, Cameron Cameron. You go back and read his statement about the value of public education just in the space of like a year the difference in philosophy behind the to the two. Speeches I mean it's stunning and so I. I don't know the beginning of Texas than liberal but I do think it's the beginning of the idea that the government can be used as a force of good to create a kind of a quality of opportunity, which is, of course, a thread that you see in that certain segment of the Republican Party in the civil war and afterwards which you see in FDR, right which you see in Lyndon Johnson, the Great Society in which I think you could argue see in Virginia Democrats today. So you know I don't think it's a perfect comparison, but I do think you can see lineage. No let me I don't want to jump in with thin with a bit of cynicism here but let's also remember that someone like Mahone loses control of his railroad to outside interests I mean his railroad end up being held by receivership of people in Philadelphia and elsewhere, and so taxing outside companies making money in. Virginia. Is a real a popular thing to be able to propose. So you know you're you're. In some ways you're also That's the kind of something you see in modern politics as well. It's you know this this notion of well. Those who are getting those who are making money off of doing in Virginia or doing business wherever should also pay some price for the things we WanNa, do in Virginia. Info. Virginia's people. That's that's true and also note to that. If you actually look at their tax plan, taxes went down for the average Virginia taxpayer. So they decrease taxes on farmers, the decrease taxes on small businesses in increase taxes on the railroads. In in you know. So what happened is they raised substantially more revenue, but they actually brought down the tax bill for the average Virginian in those series of proposals which I think ties back to that senator or not I think probably both one method explicitly that they use to restore. Virginia's economic base was rebuilding infrastructure or at least that's what they campaigned on Doctor Levin. Good. What did they rebuild when they came to power? Their more notable developments readjust are credited with our things like education I don't I. Don't know that in their brief period, you can attribute an enormous amount of. You know infrastructure improvement and really where where things like railroads common make significant progress in Virginia comes because you do have so much out of state and foreign investment in railroads that penetrate the coalfields in South West Virginia, and so on. In in in that kind of late nineteenth early twentieth. Century period. I WanNa talk about the racial part of the story which is complicated and nuanced. So you had African American members of the General Assembly forming a COA who are mainly Republicans forming a coalition with this readjusting African American readjust as well, and so 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. Crow, and we were talking at the very beginning of this about how people just kind of think it's it's the civil war reconstruction Jeff. KROGH. But there's really this kind of drawn out period that's occurring. Where there are these kind of possibilities that pop up around a moment like the readjusts tres but as as it starts to settle down, you start to move into the. Start to the gilded age where big business the thing in in the south you start to slowly settle into Jim Crow. That's thirty year kind of evolution into Jim Crow if you look at Virginia specifically wants the readjusting our out. You know you start to slowly get the electoral law change stat disenfranchises African Americans, which you know the machine uses for about twenty years until they don't it's enough in the nineteen o two constitution where they kind of explicit goal is disenfranchise African Americans but you're actually disenfranchises almost everybody and so you know, I think Virginia, in many ways, it's Kinda story. We've been telling us this brief moment of hope where maybe something can happen in I. Think in Virginia happens a little bit more than another southern. States but as the realities of national politics, kind of moves away from the south, you know it's not about the southern issues anymore it's about big businesses of global trade. It's about immigration in the northeast in the late eighteen hundreds, the south is really allowed to kind of become its own place and there's a lot of you know you can look through the history you know the solid sow one party south south is different from the rest of the country and it's in this time period around the adjusters in Virginia after the adjusters where we really start to see that on truly happen and if I could add. Nationally. This is really. The between the end of reconstruction and the First Years of the twentieth century. This is really an incredibly. Tumultuous moment you know the the readjustment movement in Virginia is one example of poor people coming together the same happens in the Midwest. The People's Party the populist movement is a you know it's a farmer's movement thing. You know we're we're done being the pawns of big interest. We're going to stand up for the Yeoman farmer and there's actually some of that in the south is well and you've got labor unrest all across the country as working people say you know we're not going to sit there and just be dominated by management by big business. So there's It's in some ways the readjust your movement with his. On you know the poor and working classes. Is. A part of broad or moment that I think finally by the end of the nineteenth early twentieth century Kinda gets quashed down overall and you do move into what scholars mentioning sort of you know the hegemony of big business and the the sort of linkage of big business and government in a sort of a fairly tight way that really does make it difficult for popular movements to rise up like this again. But there is that period of a couple of decades where there seems to be. Maybe, something else that's going to the possible and I'd also eh to that the Virginia trajectory of disenfranchising African Americans disenfranchising poorer voters has a broader is a broader American narrative I'll go back to Frederick Douglass had this speech in the kind of reconstruction and post reconstruction world that he would give frequently called are on our composite nationality. And he was talking about. The words. He would use the things he was talking about sound a lot like what John Lewis was talking about right. You know who's in the news you know and the kind of message he had about a multiracial democracy of equality. And a positive nationality speech is it is kind of one of out of pessimism because what he's seeing as African Americans be disenfranchised in the south, but he's also seeing Asian Americans disenfranchised in the West in the speech talks about that, and if you look at the the late eighteen hundreds, you've got white southerners who are disenfranchising African American and doing it to a degree that's different everywhere else I wanna make sure we make that distinction but then you also have. In the West, you northeasterners who who are making claims magazines like the Atlantic to limit the vote against the immigrant population has they're not suitable to it. You the Mug won't reformers the government reformer who are. Are really restriction area on these issues, and so it's it is there is a broader kind of moment here happening at the end of the eighteen hundreds in some of our I truly restriction airy voting laws calm during this period where you see these kind of arbitrary voter registration laws where you see these arbitrary electoral board's and how they act. You know I'm from New, York originally, and you WanNa talk about a state that had awful laws in the late eighteen hundreds in some ways does still today go to New York where they put in place these absolutely disenfranchising laws to ensure that Catholics and Jews and eastern Europeans couldn't vote. Let's go and take a break. We are talking with Dr Paul Levin Good. The former president of the Virginia Historical Society and current president of the George C Marshall Foundation, and also our friend delegates. Schuyler van Valkenburgh from Henrico. And we're back on Transition Virginia Brunell going to talk about the fall of the readjustment. So this is a group that we talked about earlier had a meteoric rise to power eighteen, seventy nine. The party is founded in the early part of the year. By the election in November, they were able to gain a majority in both house of delegates and the Senate. They had fifty six out of the one hundred seats mouse twenty, four out of the forty seats and the Senate and the next election cycle and eighty one they kept the general assembly and elected their own Governor Governor Cameron, and then the. Next year and the congressional election they had six out of the ten house seats meanwhile, the General Assembly of course, at this time is picking the US senators. So they pick Mahone who went to the Senate and ran the political machine from his US Senate office and they also picked the other US senator. So they had both seeds of the US Senate. They had six out of ten house of representative seats. They had the house ability. They had the state Senate, they had the governor's office when that's all within three years and then it all falls apart doctor Levin. Good. What happens to the readjustments? It's a really good question. Michael I mean I think we've touched on a little bit of this before in that. I think they certainly achieved some of their goals and I don't know that they had. They had great vision for what the what was going to be next but I think they also their successes in some ways. Really invigorated their rivals, you know I think we were talking a little earlier scholar was talking about the. The constitution and looking at what the Constitution's tell us about certainly those who hold the levers of power and if you look at the kid, the next constitution of Virginia, which is one, thousand, nine, hundred, eighty, one. It is it in some ways almost reaction point by point to the adjusters in their there. And I think what? What really ends up happening is. As? We just talked about a little bit before the break. White Southerners get better at. Figuring out how the new landscape can be controlled to their advantage how the limits of federal intervention in state of matter, such as this, the degree to which local control can be reassumed. You know that that period that we had that we had talked about the kind of whatever you WANNA, call it between reconstruction and the. Solidifying of the of. White control over a place like Virginia you know comes it comes to an end. Not Evenly. But it comes to an end really in that time. As much as anything else because I think white southerners figure out knowing nothing's going to happen to us if we reassert this. Whether it's the the bargain that ends reconstruction whether it's you know the clear weariness of a national Republicans to deal with you know. How how much energy do they have to keep up with the energy of of of certainly what motivated reconstruction, which is to allow for African American voting and other rights, and I think that once they realize but they were not going to be there was not going to be interference long they became increasingly bold and aggressive about reverse course on this and you know in Virginia it it it doesn't Virginia's way is not to be quite as as in your face about it as some other southern states You know you're not just driving blocks away from the polls through you know night night riding and guys in hoods running around, but it takes effect. You know in some of the same in some, the effects are somewhat similar in that it does eventually reassert itself. When you see that you know African Americans working in cities in you know tobacco companies enrichment well suddenly when those tobacco company owners and management can reassert themselves and say you know. We really think this is how things need to be, and we really think if you're going exercise. your franchise. You may not have a place to work here. That's a form of control that begins to take place, and eventually it moves to disenfranchisement within a couple of years. So I think it's just that you know it's it's that moment there was this flash of a great deal of promise and then the. The wielders of power before realize that they can regain power and there's probably not to be consequences for their action and you know we've noted before too. But I mean the issue that brought them together with settled. After that was settled, it allowed the other party to play to racial fears and you know it's it's it's a sad continuing through history that we can see even up to today with some of the ads in the presidential race around urban protests. But you know one of the big moments in that eight hundred eighty-three campaign where the readjusts lose the general. Assembly. Is there an animal? Over a perceived a slight from African Americans to white people that were walking by them in the street, you know some of these kinds of cultural racial. Codes that were informal that white people and black people followed equal and and so that fight led to a huge amount of propaganda that allowed the opposition to win. You know was one of the reasons that the opposition was able to win the election and and you see that playbook and George Wallace you see that play book in Richard Nixon and you see that playbook right now and so when racial issues were able to rise to the four kind of white conservatives were able to re assert power and I would know one thing about that nineteen o two Constitution nineteen, no one of two constitution. Is the members that convention explicitly said, it was about rolling back racial voting rights. They had passed a series of laws in the late eighteen hundreds that allowed them to disenfranchise voters, but they had to do it in a corrupt way. You know they had to rig the ballot box they had to. Throw out legitimate ballots and so when they came to that convention carver glass who becomes a future? Senator. Says Explicitly The convention will inevitably cut from the existing electorate four-fifths of the Negro voters and that was the purpose of the convention. That's a direct quote. And End, they actually cut greater than fifty percent of the white electorate in greater than ninety percent of the black electorate in we became the state with the lowest proportion of adult voters to the early twentieth century to the point where a famous political scientists said that by contrast Mississippi as a hotbed of democracy. Yet I'm glad you mentioned Danville because gamble wed. it's almost it almost created itself as an opportunity for white supremacist to come back and say, this is what happens right the Danville actually, Alexa Majorities Majority City Council is black in eighteen, eighty three, and so this incident, some call it a riot, some just called it a math. Was it was the details are not are not entirely clear, but it was it was custom made to show to white people say look what happens look what happens when African Americans take control of the city this is how white people get treated. And so they they they used it sort of shamelessly in that regard. And this was an era of yellow journalism as well. Right and beard on an environment where you have the Democrats retaking control nationally was that was at grover Cleveland who comes back into power And and so one point that people make who say that Mahone was just a powerbroker in his own right I guess is that he started flipping patronage to Democrats and does that what kind of consequences does that have for? The readjust your party in Virginia. You know I actually I. think There's an interesting point here, which is once grover Cleveland becomes president that Senator Mahone. No longer has the kind of patronage to Dole out the way he used to right so. The change in the national scene actually sort of was one of the things that sort of lead to the demise right and sort of the patronage and the way that they were able to distribute power. And Mahone I mean from the moment you get to the Senate he's very cagey about who's going to caucus with I mean. He's certainly not rigidly adhering to some code of behavior. He's he's looking to see which way the wind blows in a sense, and so it shouldn't be it shouldn't be surprising. Realize Mahone is. In some sense almost a lame duck senator because the readjusted party is falling from power and he's still senator to wet eighteen, eighty, nine, I think So yeah. So the Party is essentially falls apart underneath him and he's he's still serving. So he kinda has to figure out what do I do next I'm not I'm not sure he was overly troubled by in some ways, but he did have to figure out how do i. kind of land this now that my party is basically gone. That's a good point because after he's no longer in the Senate, he runs for governor right in is unsuccessful. So I mean the whole thing kind of falls apart, which leads us to important question, which is what is the legacy of not just home, but the larger readjust her movement. One thing that I think could be significant and worth mentioning is this biracial coalition, which is kind of singular in the United States and the south right Doctor Levin good like what's the significance of this biracial coalition that they put together nineteen eighties? Yeah I mean it's I pointed earlier too. There's a moment when the People's Party, the populists might have done something I mean in. North Carolina and and a little bit in. Georgia. But yeah, you're right in that. It's the only truly successful coalition. Coalition of blacks and whites in the pre civil rights era So I think the legacy of it in that way although it's perhaps not as remembered as it might be it is one of those counterpoint to this notion that somehow. African Americans and whites couldn't work together politically and so I think it does belive that it does be live that myth it obviously has some real lasting legacy in I think the strength of the public. School. movement in Virginia certainly never goes back direction of some of the readjusted enemies would've would have had it had the readjusting not come on the scene so I think that becomes kind of enshrined in Virginia public life and in electoral politics obviously things like State University funding whether it's Virginia State or the expansion of Virginia. Tech. There's some real lasting thing was there. Even. If some of the other things, the poll tax that they remove gets reinstated I mean there are things that don't go away and I think you know in some ways when we look back on it now it's heartening in a way it kind of gives you some psychic income to realize that. There was a point in history where black and white Virginians came together especially those of of certain economic status and said, enough we're GONNA start our power and there's some real. There's some real value in remembering that and it's something that we really ought to. Remember and talk more about and no more about. Yeah and I think it's it represents the promise and the tragedy of reconstruction and how for as far as reconstruction in those amendments win. They didn't go far enough and I think it speaks is speaks to a gun. I'm going to go back to John Lewis kind of what he wrote in his op Ed in the New York Times that was published on the day of his of his funeral, his last words if you will, and he talks about democracy being an action. In democracy being continuous movement, you can't give. And I think they they kind of speak to the sense in which the vote is never enshrines it could he he says can always be taken away in what we see as we see a brief moment where they're able to come together able to get things accomplished some of which I agree the education piece is long lasting some of which isn't, but it speaks to the fact that if you don't continue to cultivate a healthy democracy, you will not get a healthy democracy thirty years after the readjusts their forgotten their buried A convention explicitly meant to a race them and the possibility of them from Virginia. and. And then you know you have the legacy after that of Jim Crow in the bird machine and so I think it speaks to the promise, but it also speaks to the tenuousness of of people being able to participate in continue to participate successfully in democracy. Delegate van Valkenburgh. What lessons learned are there for you as a member of the General Assembly that other members could take from this era of history. Not sure that there's a lot of lessons policy wise from what they do I. I, I think. I think the lesson is ultimately, you can't take anything for granted. You have to continue to shape a coalition. You have to continue to shake things relevance to people's lives. You have to continue to argue for why a multi-racial coalition is necessary. You have to continue to Kinda stand against racial division. Some of their tax policy in some of their school policies are things that I think in Virginia. We can take a lesson from to this day properly funding schools. You know reason I originally ran. I would argue we don't do that and I think that the lessons of how they got to that make a whole lot of sense but I do think the bigger lesson is the equality and democracy peace and I think it's important to recognize that There's never an endpoint it's never over you've never achieved your goal because democracy there's always tomorrow. Now. Recently, in the Capitol building in Richmond, The statue of Robert e Lee was removed from the old house. This is instantly the same house chamber that the readjustment once ruled and delegate Valkenberg tweeted about this about this particular statue and he said many of these statues like that statue of rubber used to be in the old house chamber gifts from other Southern States has recently the nineteen fifties then tweeted let's celebrate the readjust instead. What did you mean by that and how do you think the justice should be celebrated? Yeah, look I mean there's a difference between history and memory right? We want to study history warts and all because we need to know where we were to know where we're going. Never GonNa Change. But what we memorialize and what we hold up to be true I think should be shaped by what we think is important now and you have tour groups that go into that old house building for decades. All they see is a shrine to the loss caused you go in and you look to your left in there's a bust of Alexander Stevens, a Georgian who was the president of confederacy that was gifted to us in nineteen fifty two you look to your right you saw busted Jefferson Davis, and this is sippy man who was the president of the confederacy that was gifted to us from Mississippi state legislature in nineteen fifty three. and. I don't think that that rep you know we need to know that history we need to know that that. That the capital was used for the confederacy and we need to know the that we had a convention at asked us to see from the Union and we did. that. We had former presidents in that convention weeping when we seated tears of joy, we need to know that history, but we need to celebrate the moments where we reached our finest moments right where we lived up to our values lived up to our democracy in Virginia I cannot think of a better moment there's others but I can't think of a better one. Than the readjust there's a kind of what they stood for because they weren't perfect. They don't live up to twenty twenty values Mahone a great example of that. I do think they transcended their moment to live up to a constitutional values in a way that has been very rare in Virginia history and I think that's worth teaching fourth graders. Doctor Levin Good. Any final thoughts about the legacy of this group that's now almost completely forgotten. Yeah I really like what scholars just had to say I'm trying to think how you how you might physically memorial is that I don't know that you want to put up a statue of Mahone Other wouldn't take up much space. He was a very small guys get along lifestyle catch. Yes. Just doesn't aside I love the comment his his wife had when she heard during the civil war that he had received a flesh wounded battle and she said something like well now I know it must be very serious because William doesn't have much flesh to begin with which I thought was a great. Great great comet. He's. He's really a small cadaverous dude. Yeah you know I I i. mean. It's it's hard to say how you How you might spread this legacy a little more widely. you know obviously. In the Sol's is one is one manner that and I'm speaking to an educator here. You know that's one way we kind of. You know we we can say what we value as a as a state is what we decide. We WanNA enshrine in the standards for all their warts and everything. The standards of learning are at least one way to express that as as a society and I think that that's you know that's one way to do it and to continue like this to talk about them and to make sure that you know where when we have opportunities, we bring up this subject and we let people know a little bit more about it and I. Hope this podcast at least take some. Tiny step toward raising. Public awareness about a really interesting and significant. Brief period in the Commonwealth history although I must step in one last thing to say is I. Think when we talk about statues, we typically talk about very important people right. So we're talking about should we have a statue? I'll leave you with this. I think we should do more memorializing everyday people whether it's the Black Union soldiers or it's the average citizen who you know. Let's get that African American guy from new who was at the convention stood up and said you know what I'm more of a readjusted than half the you because I'm I'm all in on this because it's the citizen like that who leads to the readjustment movement. And and it's also when you're citizen in, you go to the citizens capital, you should understand your role. So this is maybe my call that we should. We should recognize the citizenry more than we do because you're democracy is only as healthy as the people who participate in. That is good of a place as any to leave it Dr Paul Levin. Good delegates Schuyler van Valkenburgh. Thank you so much for being on our podcast today and thank you for listening to Transition Virginia find us on spotify apple podcasts. Or. Anywhere. You like to get your podcast. We're on twitter at transition va, and as always you can hear more at Transition Virginia Dot Com.

Virginia William Mahone Doctor Levin General Assembly Public Education Van Valkenburgh Schuyler van Valkenburgh Virginia Historical Society United States president US Senate Conservative Party Democratic Party Bourbon Virginia State University Virginia
Sold My Soul to the Company Store (ep. 82) with Cutting Class

Your Brain on Facts

25:35 min | 1 year ago

Sold My Soul to the Company Store (ep. 82) with Cutting Class

"You Load Sixteen tons runs and what are you get another day older and deeper in debt Saint Peter. Don't you call me because I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store that Song Sixteen tons was a smash hit in one thousand nine hundred eighty five selling half a million copies in a month but why did a song with such depressing racing lyrics resonate with people and what are those lyrics mean my name's. Moxy and this is your brain on facts Tennessee Ernie Ford was singing about a company town accompany town was a community built by a business owner typically in the steel lumber or coal industry to house their employees it was also usually an exercise in microcosmic fascism where employees were told old how they could live at their height three percent of the US population and many of them immigrants lived in one of the twenty five hundred company towns in the country country workers lived in company owned housing the cost of which was taken from their wages. Many companies also pay their workers in scrip basically funny money that could only be redeemed at company owned stores the unions that fought to eventually eradicate this system saw it as a form of bondage edge designed to keep workers trapped in poverty without enough money in their pockets to even think about starting over somewhere else the West Virginia Historical Society diety who's sparsely populated state saw half a dozen company towns wrote pricing in the company stores often higher than in surrounding non-company establishments published wants. It's true that in the mining families coal operators had captive purchasers for their goods. When the miners wade the price of shipping his purchases this is from a mail order catalogue or a local merchant against the price of what could be purchased at the company store often? The store ended up being the better bargain for the company's companies script provided an easy way to pay the miners without the necessity of keeping large amounts of cash available minors drew scrip advances for many purposes this should he run short in need food for the next payday. Script credit was available. If a minor was sick or injured companies would advance scrip pending receipt of his worker's comp checks for the operators. This was a no lose situation. Companies had the ability to virtually garnish a worker's wage to collect on a debt uh it would appear that the availability of such easy credit most miners would in fact oh their souls to the company store to give us an example couple of one of the nation's most famous and infamous company towns are the hosts of one of my drop everything to listen to podcasts cutting class which you can follow on your podcast player cutting Class PODCASTS DOT com. Thank you Moxie for introducing us. We are cutting class podcast. We're just JOE and we do history from a teacher's perspective but also try to look at the lighter more fun side of history right and in fact today we're going to get Super Fun with George Poelman Ullman and the pullman town right now and it is it doesn't sound very exciting but it's probably one of the most well known examples of a company town in American history three and a little bit about why here what makes this town special. Why do we seem to always see it in a textbook well. Let's let's get to like pullman and why why pullman it was a well known figure and then we sort of get to why the town is sort of a well-known thing. George Pullman is going to make his name in the train car business he was working with these things called superpowers. which are you know the passenger cars that people would travel in and what pullman did to really make his name and to make his fortune was he took these? Dank Dank dirty grimy old school sleeper cars and made them luxurious and comfortable and sexy and more importantly fairly expensive to travel avalon. Yeah is the first class of the train yeah exactly if you wanted to travel in style if you wanted to see and be seen on the train. You wanted to be traveling in a pullman in car and that's exactly what he did is. He made those cars available. He would lease these cars to the major railroad companies so he would never quite sell them. I am so in fact you know he's constantly making some money off of the leasing of the cars but it was in the railroad owners best interest to continue leasing those cars because they noticed high class. Americans pickens lots of dollars to spend likes to travel on the wind sleeper so that's where you know pullman makes his name and his fortune and he really Kinda hits his high point in the eighteen seventies denise into the eighteen eighty s now what appointments sort of crowning achievements and this is what breaks him out of just sort of a sort of a Titan of American industry into now one of these dudes. It's chasing the capitalist Utopian. Dream is the PULLMAN Company town that he completes construction on an eight hundred eighty four. It's right near Chicago Illinois and it's this massive like four thousand. Acre think of it as like a compound where pullman workers could live and work. It's like kind of a college campus. If you WANNA think of it that way for your workspace you work all day and then you come home to your fancy house and these houses czar nice for the day right. You've got running water. You've got maybe a little yard for yourself. You've got some you know room. That's yours. You're not crammed into. I don't know entire slum with bunch of other immigrant families room and the idea behind the whole thing was you can work play and live all in the same town but things of course art the utopia that they always seem they actually turn out to be kind of dark and scary what goes wrong in this perfect community so it's like it's like an episode of the the twilight zone whereas like you know the neighborhood always looks perfect but isn't there something rotten on maple street or something like that and the thing that's going on is sure you may have you know basement and separate bathrooms and water faucets that you wouldn't probably have in other big cities but you also couldn't just go out and buy some cigarettes and booze like you would any other town because pullman had fairly strict rules against that type of advice and behavior and in fact. If you want that kind of ice you would just go live in Chicago itself exactly you don't come here to trash my town in this where you get. The George pullman thought police right he was not only new band name. It's not only like doc you can't buy booze and alcohol but you also can't read certain books and certain things work sold in the stores and get to the micromanaging part that seems to ruin almost every utopia via right pullman had final say over the literature that would have put in the libraries he had final say over performances that would happen in the local theater and that was kind of the price you paid for living in pullman so sure they'll collect your garbage. Every day ensures. You're going to have running water but at the same time you are kind of turning over a little bit of that freedom that you have in your free the time to George pullman not only that but then they suspend the ability to have public meetings and speak your mind basically take a lot of your basic American American rights and put them on hiatus because you're living within this town so you abide by all of our rules well. Hey let's think about this. PULLMAN is offering a sweet deal. What is it that you have to complain. Lean about or meet about or speak about publicly anyway right. Oh yeah maybe that was the thought process but again down a very very slippery road there and so that's just a little tease a little inkling of the pullman company town and there's a lot more interesting stuff about this that you can check out of course on the Internet and on different videos and stuff F. or you can always check out cutting class podcast and learn a little bit more about it including a very famous railroad strike that happens with the epicenter at the pullman the company town thanks guys the town of pullman featured more than a thousand homes public buildings and parks residences says had yards indoor plumbing gas daily trash removal rare amenities for industrial workers of the era pullman didn't build his workers good houses to to be kind to them though he thought the working class were barely better than animals and if he could surround them with good things they would become more civilized the houses this couldn't be purchased only rented managers lived in single family homes white workers pullman lived in row houses and despite the pullman woman company being one of the country's largest employers of black Americans as sleeping car porters. No blacks were allowed to live in pullman. Some white workers curse were allowed to live outside the city limits but it was at the risk of their job security. The city had a library with books approved by George Foreman German. A library card cost the equivalent of one hundred dollars so few people used it. It was the same with the arcade an impressive shopping center with a one thousand seat theater barbershop doctors offices post office and bank along with numerous overpriced shops and restaurants a banner across across the promenade posted the lowest prices in Chicago. This was of course bullshit. PULLMAN also forbade alcohol in his town except except the hotel Florence named after his daughter where industrialists than celebrities were entertained and the average worker was not allowed home would know if you were drinking in the privacy of your own rented home though because he had spies watching the employees after the stock market crash at eighteen ninety three. Eh poelman cut jobs and wages but he didn't cut the rent or the various taxes is workers were forced to pay since these were automatically deducted from the workers wages. People began receiving paychecks for literal pennies. One man worked as a mechanic for ten hours a day twelve days of a two week period period and earned nine dollars seven cents his rant on the same two week period was nine dollars leaving him with seven cents one hours. I reduced wage with which try to buy food in the overpriced stores needless to say a system like that was unsustainable but Pohlmann's greed greed was steadfast joining a union was illegal and pullman but four thousand workers went on strike anyway in May of eighteen ninety four what's called a wildcat strike Eugene debs at the American Railway Union stepped in to lead them. The pullman company refused to recognize her bargain with with depths so he called upon workers across the country to stage a boycott of Holman railroad cars around the country hundreds of thousands of working class. People were white ribbons to show their support for the strike. Meanwhile at DEB's command railway switchmen across the nation refused to hitch or UNHITCH UNHITCH pullman cars while at work costing the company an enormous amount money within weeks a quarter million workers across the country were striking pullman hired thugs to bust striking workers heads but those who lived in the company town felt they had nothing else to lose contrary contrary to what you might expect the clergy Chicago by and large denounced strike reverend e Christian Ogle of pullman declared. All strikes likes violated the golden rule and added. If a man thinks he can do better elsewhere there is no law compelling him to stay here. There was one notable exception irreverend Carwyn Dean who served a congregation that was too poor to have its own church in a fiery sermon in May of eighteen ninety four. He didn't hold back on his opinion of George Foreman when he reduced wages to the point of starvation. Why did he not reduce the rents in the water tax when he was reducing salaries agrees. Why did he not reduce his own salary and the salaries of the higher official the town authorities and the straw bosses. Why did Mr Poelman when a women's Union which which was not called a relief committee for fear of hurting. Mr Pullman feelings approached him. Did he refuse to contribute a dollar and also sent a communication to the press denying laying there was destitution in pullman. Why did he not establish an emergency hospital which is so badly needed dead promise that if pullman recognized the union and then negotiated with them the strident instead poelman asked for and actually got government assistance to break up the strike six thousand in state and federal troops thirty one hundred police and five thousand deputy marshals the troops used bayonets on the strikers before moving on to live. Cammo the unarmed strikers fought back though when trains carrying soldiers came to town the strikers stopped them dead in their tracks and rocked the the train cars back and forth until they overturned more than a dozen people were killed in the clashes though sympathy strikes were called and other cities the American Federation of Labor refused to call an official general strike and the PULLMAN strike was quashed. The workers who had striked were fired and those who remained were paid the same low wage and charged the same high rent when the railway car magnate died in eighteen ninety seven his coffin was buried buried under layers of concrete reinforced with steel so no one could dig up and desecrate his body the following year the Illinois Supreme Court ordered the PULLMAN company to sell all of its non industrial property allowing workers to buy their homes. The neighborhood was annexed by Chicago but went into decline. Klein over the years and the factory closed in nineteen fifty seven there had been plans made throughout the years to demolish pullman Illinois but protests from residents have always stopped stopped from going forward company town life can lead to unrest even in places where life is supposed to be the most sweet in in nineteen hundred Milton sniffly. Hershey sold the successful Caramel candy business that he founded in order to become a pioneer in the mass production of milk chocolate awkward. He built a factory complex in the rural township of dairy Pennsylvania Spelled D. E. R. Y. Like the town in it talk to be close to local. Dairy farms fell the normal way for the milk needed for products with the remote location of the factory her she also built a town town for his employees like pullman her she was trying to create a model town or a town intended to act as a shining example of civilized life based on the CEO's personal beliefs of course workers could own or rent a home on chocolate avenue. Were Cocoa Avenue. Take the trolley to schools also clubs or to visit the Amusement Park Zoo unlike pullman. Hershey established a boarding school for orphan boys and started public works projects to keep people people employed during the Great Depression Building Hotel Civic Center and a sports arena how many of the workers were former farmers and the standard of living offered in Hershey with indoor plumbing central heat lawn maintenance and other amenities who certainly alluring that's not to say that things went to smooth is properly temper a chocolate despite her. She's altruism life in the sweetest. Place on earth had a bitter side. The Hershey Company tried to police their employees behavior behavior when they were off the clock and there were accusations of unfair hiring practices end disparate wages these conditions made employees receptive to the efforts parts of organizers from the Congress of Industrial Organizations in nineteen thirty seven some Hershey Chocolate factory workers organized the company's First Labor Union and went on strike but not everyone backed the workers great resistance came from thousands of dairy farmers in the surrounding areas who relied on selling their milk to the Hershey factory. They were losing eight hundred thousand pounds of milk per day enough to supply a city of a million people. The farmers tried to negotiate directly with the strikers and the strikers agreed to operate the creamery so the milk could be processed but no trucks were sent out out to gather milk the next day after five days more than three thousand. Hershey supporters rallied remove the strikers. Things started started well but insults from the strikers sitting in the factory soon saw men charging in with billy clubs and hammers dozens were injured. Although although the strike was short lived it marked the Communities Idyllic Image Hershey the man died in nineteen forty five but hershey the town survived and and chocolate is still made there today you can actually smell it from the highway bonus fact the Milton s Hershey Medical Center is the site of Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine a warm welcome and sincere thanks to our latest patriotic patron Tricia who support helps to keep the podcast going including buying a new microphone to replace the One I bought last week and after return. That's the way it goes sometimes times a five dollar membership which is seventeen cents a day gets you a sticker topic voting rights and a bonus mini episode but at the ten dollars a month membership you also get early access to the regular episodes and more bonus content in the form of the Patriot exclusive podcast spot the lie which comes out today also thanks to everyone who has boosted the signal on social media including the strange animals podcast Eric Parfait Eh augie Peterson conspiracy theory all Aji lie hard with a vengeance bad medicine comedy troupe in DC Richard and Rick Ace Charles with a hammer and the WNBA NBA that being the Women's National Book Association. Could this have something to do with the super secret project remains to be seen because I was hind schedule making last week's episode and I'm on or ahead of schedule making this week. There wasn't really a lot of time for people to get any new reviews use in but you can always leave a review on apple podcast or your podcast player of choice facebook and instagram. Dot Com slash your brain on facts and twitter at brain on on facts pod or on the contact form of the bottom of your brain on facts dot com. The website is also the place to find the show notes with all of the sources this for my research in the nineteen twenties cars were a booming industry and no one benefited more from that than Henry Ford Ford a man whose name was synonymous with success through innovation as Steve Jobs is today or synonymous with success through shady behavior as Mark Zuckerberg Kerber four revolutionized car manufacturing with the assembly line but he was equally proud of the personal side of his business paying his employees as well and treating them better than other companies did the model t was the best selling car by a wide margin so much so that it's still the eighth best best selling car of all time which meant that the Ford Motor Company needed a lot of rubber to make tires for all those cars rubber manufacturers fractures in East Asia held a monopoly over rubber trees which drove up the price of raw materials for decided to cut out the middleman and start his own rubber a plantation the world's largest in the middle of the Amazon forest complete with workforce. The location was actually the rubber trees natural habitat attack but forming them couldn't be standardized. If you tried to maximize your yield by planting more trees in the same amount of land their closest made them susceptible apt to blight and parasites the East Asian monopoly did begin to buckle when enterprising and sneaky botanists started planting rubber-tree seeds smuggled out of Brazil in other tropical locations where the rubber trees natural parasites didn't exist the British began growing growing rubber in Sri Lanka producing rubber that was superior to and therefore outsold Brazil's the economy of the Amazon Basin which was largely originally based on rubber was devastated enter a rich American wanting to buy land Ford's company town got off to a bad start art when he massively overpaid for the fifty six hundred square mile or fourteen thousand five hundred square kilometers of land around the topology hosts river a tributary of the Amazon prudent fears of river flooding saw them shoes a main building site at a higher elevation but it was more inland which meant that cargo ships couldn't reach it except during the rainy season when the river was higher that enough when you're moving equipment worse when you're trying to bring in food food and then there was the malaria the community Ford Land Area would eventually have a power Plant Hospital Library Golf Golf Course and hotel as well as small shops and restaurants once it got established workers were held to a mandatory healthy lifestyle this included attending poetry readings square dances English only sing along and of course there was no booze construction began in nineteen twenty eight on these segregated community Fila Americana White clapboard houses with indoor plumbing for the American workers while the native workers got other other housing what workers there were even with Ford's famously high wages. It was difficult to find people willing to clear the Amazon jungle after going through several general managers in the first few years by nineteen thirty. It seemed like four Lancia might actually work until an argument argument between a brick mason and a supervisor in the workers cafe in which the skilled workers were separated from the laborers spilled out into the streets and gathered a crowd uh a full-scale riot erupted with the laborers vandalizing the city destroying generators and overturning vehicles in the street for Atlanthia's managerial staff fled by ship until the violence died down about three days later. Even without the expense of riot damage to many buildings and pieces of equipment for Atlanta was still producing very little for the millions that Forbes Boring into it his planet bid to sell the lumber of the trees they we're clearing as a revenue stream until the rubber trees could grow but the wood was unsaleable. Many of the rubber trees that were planted died immediately and many the rest were hit by blight for Atlanthia's manager hired an expert botanist who made extravagant demands than walked off the job without telling anyone in nineteen thirty three four purchased a new plot of land down river and called it. Bell Tara Tara went about as well financially producing seven hundred fifty tonnes of rubber where Ford had projected for thirty eight thousand tonnes despite having outlived all realistic stick economic hope forty India and Bill Tara Clung on for nearly a decade a sports car manufacturing became increasingly involved in the Second World War effort his holdings in Brazil housed American military personnel by the time the war ended Henry Ford was in poor health and grandson Henry Ford. The second took over the company. One of his first act was to cut underperforming assets chiefly the Amazonian rubber plantations agents for the second Seoul the debate whose reason land back to Brazil for a fraction of what his grandfather had originally overpaid for it once news of the land sale reached Fort Lancia the American workers made a swift exit for home. The Brazilian workers were left without jobs and the machinery was left if to rest in the jungle heat Ford Motor Company got out of the rubber industry in Nineteen forty-five after losing over twenty million dollars in the Amazon equivalent to two hundred and eighty five million dollars today and that's where we run out of ideas at least for today you can visit for Atlanta even now now and not just all go the ruins of overly ambitious industry though the population languished at around one hundred people for several decades. It's grown do about three thousand now. In addition to articles documentaries on Portland Lia slanted minimalist composer Johann Johansen released least an entire album based on this company town which is easy to find on youtube by searching for Fort Land area as I discovered when I was trying to do my research leeway anyway. Thanks for spending part of Your Day with me.

pullman George Pullman pullman company Chicago Mr Pullman Ford Motor Company Hershey George Foreman Ernie Ford Illinois Tennessee West Virginia Historical Socie US official Henry Ford Brazil The Hershey Company business owner Seoul
Why are Virginia felons disenfranchised?

Transition Virginia

1:05:22 hr | 1 d ago

Why are Virginia felons disenfranchised?

"So if you think about the actually effective felony disenfranchisement. It is a running sore in virginia. Politics on this episode of transition for the definition of corruption gets corrupted career of felon disenfranchisement. This was not coded language. We're joined by a e. Dick howard the founding father of virginia's constitution. I o concerned that if you refer to me as valve volvo that somebody might want to bring a charge suit against me. And the former president of the regina historical society paul levin this notion that convicts were of a lower status in our society and could be deprived of rights has long historical roots. We go through the complicated history of felon disenfranchisement. I don't think. The commissioners had the problem of felony disenfranchisement front and center the way we do now from universal suffrage to mass incarceration the nineteen seventy-one constitution did not anticipate the war on drugs facing the legacy of jim crow. They were there to disenfranchise as many african americans as they could all that and so tomorrow on this episode of transition virginia. Welcome to transition virginia. The podcast that documents the ongoing transition of power in virginia. I'm michael lapoma. And i'm thomas bowman today on the podcast felon disenfranchisement controvercial constitution straight. The democrats have wanted to undo for years. Now the general assembly considering a constitutional amendment to ditch the provisions and allow former felons to vote without petitioning the governor to restore their rights. Now you may think felon disenfranchisement as something that was created during the era of jim crow. You're not alone. Many people have talking points. They say something like felon disenfranchisement was created in the constitution of nineteen o two but felon disenfranchisement actually stretches all the way back to eighteen thirty during the age of jackson. That's seventy years before the jim crow constitutional so felon disenfranchisement was not created to exclude black voters during the era of jim crow but it was undoubtedly weaponized during the convention that brought back the poll tax and made a new literacy tests specifically to black voters and poor white voters spa and it worked. The electorate was cut in half today. One and five virginians are permanently. Disenfranchised african americans make up about one-fifth virginia's population but more than half of those disenfranchised virginia is one of only eleven states. That common lead disenfranchises voters. That's why the general assembly is considering a new constitutional amendment. That would be on the ballot next year to ditch felon disenfranchisement and we've got a fantastic panel to dig into this issue. Joining us is the founding father of virginia's current constitution. He was executive director of the commission. That wrote the nineteen seventy-one constitution. That's the one that we still have today. He's the water booker. distinguished professor of international law. Movie a a e dick howard. Thanks for joining us. It's great to be here also. Joining the transition team is the former president of the virginia historical society. He's currently george. C marshall foundation president at is making a return appearance on the podcast. Paul levin good. Thanks for joining us again. It's great to be back. This is such an exciting panel. I'm really glad that i talked both of you to actually doing this today. To to walk through these different constitutional issues and talk about felon disenfranchisement and perhaps we should set the stage here by talking about the very first constitution. The which happened in seventeen seventy six. So let's set the stage here and talk about that that founding document and and who was able to vote so obviously we're not talking about women voting right and african americans can't vote and even poor whites can't vote right so like back in that seventeen seventy six constitution who was able to vote. Well that's an interesting document was drafted in williamsburg and may seventeen seventy six by george mason and his his distinguished colleagues and that declaration famous declaration of rights opens on a very inclusive note. It seemed talks about constitutions being made for the common benefit talks about the natural rights of all men so it opens on a note of inclusiveness but then when it charged to the question of who can vote It's rather more qualified. Because the drafters who met in williamsburg would not interested in enlarging the elected at that time. Indeed they talk about health. If you won't vote you have to show that you have some permanent interest in an attachment to the community language of that sort and of course what they were talking about was property owners back in those days it was even among the white male population. If you didn't own property you didn't vote. It's interesting turning to our topic today. It's interesting that the seventeen seventy six constitution does not explicitly talk about people who are disenfranchised because of crime at something that actually appears later when that first constitution was ultimately revised there was a great convention at eighteen twenty nine and thirty the first rewrite the constitution that's when they begin to include constitutional language about who's not allowed to vote so in the intervening years between seventeen. Seventy six and eighteen. Thirty disenfranchisement was a matter. Statute would be only in the code not in the constitution. Apparently in eighteen twenty nine and thirty at the convention they begun to think well maybe ought to make clear in the constitution itself. Though that's so that's when they they don't yet use the word felony but they use something very like it they talk about disqualifying people for what they called infamous offenses leaving that as opposed to judicial interpretation or legislative implemetation. mr levin. good. I want to bring you in here. And and sort of set the stage in terms of what was going on the political environment and eighteen thirty. So we're talking about a time period here. The age of jackson as we as we mentioned in the intro where This was a time when you had more and more people who were wanting to be part of the process so you had white men who did not own property but they wanted to vote and so there was sort of a movement and can we sort of view the eighteen thirty constitutionists kind of a reaction to that. Yeah i think in a lot of ways. that's true. I mean just to put a little bit of context around us by the time the convention sits virginia is one of only gosh. I can't remember exactly but it's very few states that had still limited voting to landowners That was in some ways very much. An antiquated notion and obviously in the age of jackson the move toward more popular participation in electoral politics is a hallmark of the era. So i think the other thing that you have to remember. Is that virginia. In some ways in the early nineteenth century really into the mid nineteenth century is a tale of two states. It's eastern virginia which is still dominated by large plantations big planters kind of entrenched power. That went back. Generations and then western. Virginia which is more newly settled less dominated by the plantation system and large scale slavery at. And so it's i mean maybe it's a little overly simplistic to call it. Planters versus yeoman farmers but always a little more complicated than that but it really was a question of whether virginia would continue to be dominated by those who had held the reins of power since ask dick said the seventeen seventy six constitution or whether this would be a sort of expansion of the the real small d democracy that seemed to be a legacy that many virginians thought came out of the revolution but they were not able to enjoy so it is very much of the time as all. Constitutions are really a created by the circumstances in which virginia found itself in this tension over the scope of participation in power By not just common people but even people of means in a part of the state that felt they were being held back by the entrenched interests in the east. I want to read part of this language here from eighteen thirty and get a reaction to it because it is kind of. I think this language is really interesting. Where they deny the right to suffrage to quote any person of unsound mound or who shall be popper or a noncommissioned officer soldier seaman or marine in the service of the united states or by any person convicted of an infamous offense. So this is an interesting group of people they've chosen to deny the franchise here to And it's i mean essentially people who were in a state of dependence right. So like a convicts and servicemen or people who have maybe in some ways ostracize themselves from the interest of the community. What do we make of this list here. that's in the eighteen. Thirty constitution in terms of who can't vote. Liz seems to me that there's almost point counterpoint. Taking place here because as long as the ballot was limited to property owners as it had been in seventeen seventy six then the drafters. The people in power didn't have to worry as much as they would a later point in time about who should be disqualified. But as you get as paul points out the jacksonian period the enlargement of democratic notions the franchise is given to more people than those people draft. The eighteen thirty constitution. Say well if we're going to move at all in that direction. We have to think about making exceptions to that enlargement. And they enlarge they made was a fairly modest one. They refused to create universal white manhood suffrage. At that point they did extent extend the franchise somewhat modestly to lease holders. People who might be own a big house in town but maybe not a lot of land so then moving a little bit in the right direction but as the intellectual gets larger and larger finally in the eighteen fifty one constitution. They do at that point. Something like quite universal white male suffrage and at the same time as on the other side of the coin. They're saying well let's be careful now. They're still something that don't belong. And i think he used the word dependency. And i think that's a critical notion because in the early nineteenth century one of the political theories that abounded even among people that you might call liberal minded. Was that in order to be entitled to the ballots. To be a voter. You had to show your independent of judgment. You were not dependent upon somebody else so they would be telling you how to vote. I think that's one of the themes that runs through the modest. Step-by-step enlargement of the ballot. That takes place in the early nineteenth century period. Dick do you. Can you remember from any of the arguments or discussions at the eighteen thirty convention. Was there any discussion about even the prospect or the possibility of that slavery might be. I mean let's put it this in context by eighteen thirty. You have a growing abolition movement around the world There's you know the colonization movement and questions about slavery in virginia a are have come to the fore obviously you're just before nat turner's rebellion. So there they're still has been intellectual conversation and religious conversation around slavery. You think there was any hedge in could here in the eighteen thirty constitution. Should slavery either eliminated or changed in some significant way. When you talk about dependents because of course slater the ultimate independence in the minds of white. Virginia's eighteen thirty. I think when they were talking about dependence in the like they really still had in mind largely the white male population. Of course the notion that women would vote was not on the table. If that point i think it's a little bit early for them to have been thinking about well. What would happen if abolition came about. I think they were assuming the old order would stay in place of indefinitely and you say the rebellion on that turner's rebellion takes place a little bit after this. I think there's the notion that they're aware of abolition. There were manumit notion of colonizing sending blacks back to africa Thing i think really what they basically have in mind in the eighteen. Twenty nine thirty convention debates is as we move in this jacksonian direction of a larger of franchise. We really have to worry about the kinds of people really poor whites people who might be not not have their own freehold in the like and there are more and more of them and i think you're right in emphasizing the sectional debate eastern. It's the piedmont the valley and the trans montaigne regions of what is now west. Virginia the these aries growing in population it will become a more prosperous. Land was wearing out in the east and the plantations were not as productive as they had been and yet the east was very much in the saddle and eight hour would have to say after eighteen thirty until eighteen fifty one the old eastern tide war counties still had the majority in the legislature and they were still able to for that twenty year period of be the ones who were making state policy. Virginia's ruling elite is concerned with who gets to be part of the group. And who's part of the out group and so in eighteen fifty one. They add bribery to the list of infamous offenses. And then after the civil war in eighteen seventy they include treason and corruption. What do we make those additions. And how does that fit into the through line that is felon disenfranchisement in history will luckily if you talking about the successive enlargement of the franchise from eighteen thirty to eighteen fifty one to eighteen seventy right on through the nineteenth century there. Not only is they're concerned about. Who is independent enough to be able to make a judgment without looking to somebody else call. We call the piper. I think as the electric gets larger and also as you begin to get immigration Especially in the north. But to some extent virginia from ireland and germany and other other places in europe the people who are running the show the the leading leaders of the political system are increasingly worried about Electoral corruption the worried about people who are not only dependent in the economic sense but people who basically will buy or sell their vote and so this concern about corruption in the like really sets. I think in a big way in the mid nineteenth century and it's increasingly we'll talk about the reconstruction period in a few minutes but it's increasingly on the minds of virginia. Legislators political leaders that they have to sort of save virginia and it's people from electoral corruption and there is some irony here. The eighteen seventy constitution says if you've been convicted of treason or corruption. You cannot vote and the the irony is that this ushered in an era of unprecedented corruption. Right mr levin good to set the stage here in terms of just. How corrupt was virginia politics in the late. Eighteen hundreds. Well i mean this is the era of machine politics not just in virginia. This is a national phenomenon. Virginia certainly had these kind of succeeding waves from the adjusters in the late eighteen seventies into the early eighteen eighties and then the democratic machines that followed it which regardless of whether they came about due to call for anti-corruption or purifying the ballot box. They used to put. It ended up in the same kind of vein of being dispensers of patronage and loose organizations. That did really control almost every aspect of political and in some way social and economic life in virginia so of course one man's corruption is another man smart exercise of political power and it's also always very interesting to see where people draw those lines but it seems as if every movement against a machine or against administration of political power kind of another maybe in some ways different but in another version of of kind of corruption. Now that self. So we all talk about the bird machine. And before that the morton machine and the readjusting patronage machine the short lived it was this is certainly an era in which the deals are made. Smokey back rooms. There are a couple of people who hold a strings and quite interestingly. Of course the the role of virginia's national figures i it's statewide officers. It's senators play an enormous role. Perhaps a very unfamiliar role to those of us. In the twenty first century in state politics themselves that the sort of flag bearers of the commonwealth are often as you save the the people who are representing virginia in congress rather than a governor or a state legislative leader and so there's a very interesting very hierarchy goal kind of top down administration of this kind of machine politics now. One definition of that corruption involves courthouse ring stuffing ballot boxes etc but after the civil war especially after the eighteen seventy constitution. The definition of corruption itself gets corrupted. Michael forwarded me a really fascinating article about the virginia constitutional convention of nineteen one where they talk about corruption as corruption of the electorate involving black people so we get racially tinged definitions of corruption as we move into the nineteen to constitution as we move into our next segment. Can you explain. Or expound upon how the definition and popular conception of corruption changes from one of progressive reform to one where they're using corruption as a vehicle to mystically discuss race. I think it's absolutely important to realize that it's after eighteen. Seventy that race becomes part of the picture before the civil war. of course blacks were largely. Slaves were handful of friedman but the civil war as the price of rejoining the union of the former confederate states were obliged to ratify the fourteenth amendment and to write a new and progressive state constitution and in the drafting of that eighteen. Seventy constitution of the traditional white conservative leader pre sub ward leadership were excluded. So you had a convention where i think like twenty five members of the hundred or so members of that convention were actually black mostly mostly former slave some some friedman and you have a constitution. Which after that point is black. Part of the part of the electorate and Many of them indeed. About half the electorate after eighteen seventy was black paul mentioned the readjustment movement and you had counties in virginia. Same southside virginia were more. They were majority black counties so in many elections in virginia in the late nineteenth century blacks where the balance of power. They were actually being bid for by candidates. Well that gives rise to twin concerns on the part of traditional conservatives. I concerned about corruption with real enough but also the concern that blacks would be the people who would be helping decide public policy in virginia. And that leads you right up to the one thousand nine hundred thousand nine hundred ninety two constitution. It's clear that most of the delegates who were elected in nineteen to one to that convention understood that they were there to disenfranchise as many african americans as they could. They wanted blacks outta politics. They talked about corruption on the one hand but they also patently clear that they understood. The premise of virginia government should be white supremacy that the anglo saxon race was the natural superior race and the blacks is. They had a place in virginia belong to own the land. They belonged in the two in the cotton field or the tobacco barn but they were clearly not going to be allowed to help shape public policy in this commonwealth. So they i think at the nineteen one thousand nine two convention while corruption was clearly on the nines of the candidates corruption becomes as you point out it becomes redefined in a way that is not simply a matter of buying and selling ballots clearly a matter of the role that blacks were playing and they were not to play in the future in the politics of virginia. And just remember. This is the period in which the white elites are defining african american participation in politics in government in these incredible stark. An awful terms. I mean you think of the contemporary cartoons about african legislators sitting in the state house in louisiana or south carolina or wherever you wanna pick and this becomes very much a part of the white cultural conclusion that reconstruction itself was this corrupt process. And that all it. All it did was open. Pandora's box to corruption corruption. I think as you know as you've pointed out comes very tied to a race to african american participation that somehow african americans are inherently going to be corrupt politically perhaps because of what was conceived as as as their inferior character so that the reconstruction era which remember is weighing very much on the minds of people in night at one nineteen. O two. i think is really important as shaper for the impulse to this convention. Those very poignant. Poignant moment at the opening of the nineteen ninety-two convention. The president of the convention is making his remarks sort of setting the stage and he refers to the fifteenth amendment to the us constitution one. That says that the show be no discrimination. In voting on the basis of race or pre previous condition of servitude or color and he proclaims the fifteenth amendment to be a crime against civilization and christianity. This is in the opening remarks setting the stage of courses general applause in agreement with that and then one delegate after that goes on during the debates to sort of tilonia say yes. It's an evil. That blacks were allowed the ballot. It was the federal ban at that forced us to do. This was punishing the south of what it had done that off and on in that sort of and and one delegate gets up and says i wanted to be understood. I'm a i'm a white man. I'm here to defend the interests of white people and another says You know we. We can't have this inferior race Telling us what to do they. They invoke history. They vote theology. They say it's god's plan for the universe of the white show be superior to and the blacks to be inferior It just makes an amazing transcript to today. I think you would probably dress it. Upper prettier language. But i have to say nineteen thousand nine hundred to the delegates at that convention. Made it clear what they were there for and what they will therefore was white supremacy are. That's a great segue into our next segment where we're going to discuss nineteen to constitution. We're here with eighty dick howard from uva one. Virginia's very own founding fathers and paul levin good of the george c marshall foundation. I'm thomas bowman and my co host is michael pope. We'll be right back. And i'll tell you what doesn't help is when we have reporters like michael pope from wwltv f. These were not rioters and looters. These were patriots. I never called the people who stormed the capital. These were not rioters and looters were patriots. I never called the people who storm the capital patriots. We have to hold armenia accountable. You can help our podcast hold. People in power accountable head over to transitions. Virginia dot com and hit the button. That says contribute on patriotic. For as little as three dollars a month you can help us speak truth to power and we're back on transition virginia. We're talking about the history. The long and complicated history of disenfranchisement in virginia. And we're going to talk about the nineteen o two constitution. Which of course is the jim. Crow constitution Has of course very strained legacy and people think about it and very negative way justifiably. So i want to set the stage by talking about a conflict that was going on inside. The virginia. democratic party at the time so for virginia was a one party state so the democrats held all the reins of power but there was a huge debate inside of the democratic party between the sort of machine wing which was led by. Thomas staples martin who was us. Senator who sort of led the machine at the time and then there was a separate wing of progressive democrats and they believed in things like three silver better schools better roads and clean elections and their solution to cleaning up. All the corruption and problems with elections was to disenfranchise black voters. So this is counterintuitive to the modern. Mind because we don't think of progressives wanting to prevent black voters from participating in the electoral process. But that's exactly what the progressives circa nineteen o two were interested in doing and so you had people like carter glass who is a progressive newspaper editor in lynchburg and came to the convention and became sort of the driving force here. What do we make the political dynamics in nineteen o to lead to this jim crow constitution. Well there was an interesting dynamic between the more conservative traditional machine type leadership and the progressives at the convention we tend to think of that era at the end of the nineteenth beginning of the twentieth century is being the era of progressive politics and my sense of what was going on is that the more conservative factions needed the progressives on board to bring about the nineteen two constitution and they were pretty much all agree that that black was a problem because it led to corruption and should be african americans should be ousted from the suffrage but there was also as you say this progressive thread and so among the things they nine thousand nine hundred convention did was to create the state corporation commission Railroads sort of bought and sold legislators. They were that was a corruption of a of a corporate gun worth pointing out here that the martin machine was led by the us. Senator senator martin who was a railroad executive who used money from the railroads to finance his campaign. So this is sort of like the today in our modern context. We think about money from manian in this era. We're talking about railroad money. And of course. That's how martin came to power and maintain power was railroad money. So what you're talking about is. The state corporation commission was a reaction to that right. That's that's correct. I think the creation of that commission was a gesture in the direction of the populace who the more conservative wing needed to have on board. And i think by and large the nineteen ninety-two convention. If you judge it looking back at what progresses hoped would happen was a failure a may despite the creation of the corporation commission. They get to give you an example. It was the nineteen o two constitution that introduced the poll tax as a prerequisite devoting. Now that was only a dollar. A half a year doesn't sound like a lot of money to us today. But in nineteen o two to a working man that was a lot of money and so the combination of the poll tax and fairly complicated registration procedures which were nominally directed at black. Voters turned out to disenfranchise a large number of poor whites. The actual number people voting after nineteen to plunged nearly among blacks. Most of whom were disenfranchised but a lot of poor whites as well so the result was to reinforce machine rule the martin machine morphed into the bird machine. Hurry birds machine and so People who might have been a progressive state of mind. I think we're worse off after nineteen to than they were going into the convention. Say that one more time dick. How much was that. Paul tax dollar and a half dollar fifty so it was also if you didn't pay last year yoed three dollars this year. What's interesting about that is a dollar fifty and nineteen two is worth forty five dollars and sixty two cents and twenty twenty one so imagine basically every year you wanted to vote getting slapped with a fifty dollar charge not only that but the registration requirements were very complicated you to register in that first round of elections after nineteen o two. If you are a property owner you are automatically on the roles. That was not a problem. If you were a son of a confederate veteran you got the. This is the so-called grandfather clause. You've got to vote otherwise you had to register. The registrar could present you with the virginia constitution and open it to any place at random. Show you a section of the constitution. Ask you to interpret it wealth. There are provisions of the virginia constitution. That i can't really interpret so if you're just the average citizen back in those days and the registrar distant. He didn't like the cut of your jib. He could just say sorry. You didn't interpreted Interpretation won't do this again. Was aimed particularly a would be black voters but it could be applied to white voters well with so when you take the poll tax on the registration requirements. And all the rest of it and you're working. Then why would you take off day day lose a day's pay to go in and go through the process which probably was gonna be unsatisfied. Anyway so i think it was all structured in a way that they black voter was the was a nominal and the real of object of these religions but the there was a collateral sort of effect on poor whites. There were some points in the convention debates where delegates would not only saying. We won't black solve the roles but they would say we don't want the rabble we want people who are respectable people to be exercising the franchise and running the state. So i don't think that whereas upfront about that as they were about disenfranchising blacks but they were not uncomfortable with the notion that they ought to keep the hands of the state at has falsely in the hands of the of the right people. Can i just jump in and make a note about progressivism and remember. Progressivism isn't a national movement but it had quite different terp retations regionally so but but one of the things. I think that you know if you look at the eighth overall goals of the progressive movement it was toward efficiency and against corruption and against waste. And so i think Really in the southern context in a place like virginia the corruption can be interpreted in a way that if you were a progressive in you know chicago and you were. You may be thought that big city bosses controlling immigrant. Votes was inherently corrupt similarly. I think for some progressives in virginia they legitimately thought that black votes were easily manipulated by powerful whites and so i think there may have been some initial impulse toward some of the tenets of the progressive movement. But they take on this starkly racial tone in a place like virginia. That is very much. At odds with maybe a our conception of progressivism today and of course distinguish between the use of progressive in current political terms. With what would have be considered progressive in the early twentieth century. But i do think that's kind of an important thing. When we we learn about progressivism at school we we tend to focus. I think on more on northern locations and less on places like virginia where progressivism kind of had a different variant. Let's put it that way. It was very populist to be progressive back. Then you even have president at the time. Teddy roosevelt getting elected on a progressive platform. So i find it fascinating. Paul your point. Progressivism bore regional characteristics for sure. Absolutely absolutely you know. It's really interesting. That there's this southern flavor of progressivism That was so racist. And it's it's actually difficult for the modern mind to think of progressives as being racist but mr levied you're making this point but it's worth sort of sort of underscoring this. The progressives from this era thought the black vote was inherently corrupt because their view was the black vote was for sale and so preventing black people from voting was a way to in their minds. Clean up elections right absolutely now. I mean obviously inherent in that judgment is that somehow black votes are for sale because blacks are willing to be corrupted So there is a you know. There are assumptions under girding. That but i think that's absolutely the case one other point about nineteen two. That's worth mentioning. This was sort of alluded to earlier. But it's again worth underscoring is how openly willing they were to talk about white supremacy and racism. I mean so today you would. You would try to do dog whistles or try to use other language but they literally are talking about white. They're using the words white supremacy in this in this constitutional convention right. Dick pointed this out. This was not this was not coded language. This was very very overt that the goal the goal of this was to disenfranchise black voters and to although they stated their goal was to not disenfranchise too many white voters a result of this but i think they were very clear what they were doing. And it's as dick mentioned. I think today you would not have been quite so you know bald-faced about it but they certainly were you mentioned. Carter glass the debates. Where he he was floor manager. The franchise provisions and one of the delegates asked him about the poll tax on the registration requirements. And all that and said we won't these provisions. Discriminate said discriminate. What do you think we're here for. We're here. We're here to discriminate justice far. The us constitution will allow us to do and what he had in mind. Was the supreme court in eighteen ninety had decided to challenge to the mississippi post-reconstruction constitution. That was the one that about eighteen ninety started. All this often had the poll tax and the grandfather clause under registration requirements. All that the ones they then used in virginia and the us supreme court had rejected that challenge rebuff that challenge on the grounds that on the face of it. The constitution was looked to to satisfy the requirements of equal protection. And they weren't willing to look into how these laws might be administered in practice so they they basically. We're giving a green light to the post reconstruction conservatives in the in the south generally so each of the former confederate states between eighteen ninety thousand nine hundred two rewrote their reconstruction period constitutions to have a post-reconstruction constitution that set out to disenfranchise blacks. You know what. I find quite fascinating about this point in history as you have one of the few times in history where progressives however you might defined them are in charge relatively of virginia cheryl assembly and they put together this constitutional convention and a point four independent democrats to some of these commissions and committees who in turn appoint conservatives to the rest of them and so one of the criticisms about this era is that you get progressive reformers who they got hoodwinked by corporate interests and to making them even more powerful so you have a few. Let's call them legitimate bones of contention with the existing system so one thing they wanna do is get rid of courthouse rings where the general assembly appoints judges and those judges appoint local officers. Like commonwealth's attorney Sheriffs clerks court who carry out that judges interpretation and at leads to vary cliquish ruling classes in localities. One thing they wanna do is installed the state corporation commission to control rates We still see as a political flashpoint today back then. It was for railroads and insurance today. It's for electric utilities etc. But we see the roots of a lot of today's issues and one of those issues that really start in their modern dialogue and their modern context is felon disenfranchisement. So dick howard explain the through line. Where are we on this through. Line of felon disenfranchisement. Once we get to nineteen o two. Well we've talked a bit about the nineteenth century and helped the word. Felony as grounds for disenfranchisement came into the constitution of eighteen. Seventy in one thousand nine hundred two they drafters of that constitution vestment expanded the classes of people who would be disenfranchised. Not not only felons but all entries are the light but also bribery. Petty larceny Obtaining money under false pretenses embezzlement forgery perjury on and on and on that was clearly aimed at black loaders on the theory that they would be convicted of these petty crimes. and therefore they would be disenfranchised. Right longfellow with felons wealth in the drafting of the nineteen seventy-one constitution the present constitution the commission constitutional revision eliminate all of all those those other categories petty larceny. And the like but kept the felony disenfranchisement. I have to be candidates. Say i don't think they commissioners who worked on the president constitution had the problem of felony disenfranchisement front and center the way we do now Because it's not enough that a constitution be neutral on his face. You run out to think about the impact of it and as you pointed out already so many more african american persons of color who are disenfranchised by the provision is true. The white population vastly disproportionate. So if you think about the actually effective. Felony disenfranchisement is a running sore in virginia politics. I think the commissioners who worked on the draft that became the president constitution. I think they thought it was enough. That the governor could restore the voting rights of felons on distance on application and fifty years ago when the president constitution came into being felony disenfranchisement was far more pervasive among the american states than it is today as a practice. That's happily atrophying. And i think one of the assumptions the commissioners made in producing the president constitution. Was that the governor could really handle the problem. It's clear to me reading the cup. President constitution that the governor has the power to restore the rights voting rights of former felons as a of people he can do it wholesale as well as retail. That's my reading of the constitution. It happens that in a case that was brought when governor terry mcauliffe set out to to to restore the vote to about two hundred thousand a former felons. The supreme court of virginia read the provision talking about much more narrowly that i would have liberated and they said no sorry. The governor has to restore voting rights. One at a time each one on its own own facts. I don't say. I don't agree with that reading of it but the virginia supreme court after all does have the final word on what the constitution means so that that ruling has simply heightened the i think the fact that looking to the governor to solve. The problem isn't enough. I think what's now needed is to change the language of the constitution itself on other remove felony disenfranchisement all together or at the very least make it clear that once a former fellow has served his or her time in prison. Once they're restored society they should become a citizen in every sense of the word. They should be offered radically at that point of the resources to the ballot. If i could just jump into. I think it's important to remember that. The nineteen seventy-one constitution also did not anticipate the war on drugs which has exploded the prison population. Why don't we take a quick break so that we can come back and discuss the nineteen seventy-one constitution in depth. We've got one of those. Founding fathers here joined by. At dick howard from uva as well as paul levin good of the george c marshall foundation. We'll be right back if you want to benefit from pay to play. Now you can buy joining transition. Virginia's exclusive patriotic community chip in as little as three dollars to help us produce. This podcast sustaining members. Get their questions asked on the show. Which means you know the next guest before the episode comes up so if you want us to ask questions or even if you just want to support the show up over to transition. Virginia dot com and click. The orange button to become patriarch patron today and were back on transition. Virginia were talking about the long and complicated felon disenfranchisement in virginia tracing all the way back to its roots in eighteen thirty and how developed in the eighteen. Hundreds and of course was weaponized era of jim crow so we arrive at nine thousand nine hundred seventy one and mr howard. Your their president the creationist. They say Talk about the discussion. If there was any on felon disenfranchisement You and your compatriots chose to keep it in the constitution. So we've got in our current constitution of course What was there discussion of getting rid of felon disenfranchisement and nineteen seventy-one. Well not not the way you would have today. The they certainly. The the revised stores went through the constitution of line by line section by section reconsidered. Consider all of them to see if any changes ought to be made. And i think it was felt at the time the president the drafting was done in actually in the late sixties leading up to the nineteen seventy-one constitution. I don't think the weight of the felony disenfranchisement questioned fellas heavily on their shoulders as it would today. I would like to think they would take a different approach of it if they were at work today. As opposed to fifty years ago it was cut Pointed out a moment ago that We didn't have the war on drugs. News in the clinton years in the nineteen nineties that some many persons of color of fell under the weight of going to prison. At that time there was just an enormous increase in prison population. I would point out that the commission on constitutional revision. The one that was afforded by governor mills godwin was a bipartisan. Headed had a ted dalton leading republican of that period. It was racial. it had oliver hill. Who was the leading civil rights attorney of that generation. He was the thurgood marshall virginia. So you had voices at the table. Who would have pointed out the need for change if it was necessary. And as a say i think they didn't realize that they didn't predict at the time. How much would drag. On the african american population the felony disenfranchisement provision would be and they probably also were part of that sub. Lingering notion that goes back to the very beginning in virginia that you have certain people who have not earned their place it at a citizenship table that if they are convicted of a felony. That's pretty serious stuff and that they are going to be removed from the ballot until at least They're they're they're back in the general population again. And i mentioned a moment ago. That i thought i think the revised stores understood that the governor's power to restore the voting rights of former. Felons was the safety valve in that that that would suffice as it turns out. It has not sufficed It is true that you've had the reinstatement by number by governors like mcauliffe. North them the. Reinstatement of a number of former felons. But that power in the governor is no better than whoever the incumbent is you could have another governor who was much more strict in these matters and chose not to act. So that's was as i in my judgment. That's why amending the article. Two provisions that deals with disenfranchisement felons Needs to be to be undertaken. So there's a pretty significant of virginia history that we've glossed over somewhat enabled by that nine hundred ninety two constitution where you see the progressives Sees in a way sees the means of production behind political organizations right. They didn't stop any of these corrupt practices. They adopted them and they molded them. And what you get then is the byrd organization a few decades later and then it exists into this era that you're talking about In a lot of ways the nineteen seventy-one constitution is a reaction to forty fifty years of bird organization control on virginia politics. mr howard. Can you explain how that bird era played into some of the reforms that you and your compatriots made in that nineteen seventy-one constitution liquid with the nineteen sixties and. What a period of upheaval. It was it was a period. Where you would assassinations of jack. Kennedy robert f kennedy martin luther king you had riots and arson and some of the major cities but it was also a period during which there were significant changes in federal constitutional and statutory law. You had the supreme court decisions laying down the one person one vote rule. The supreme court struck down the poll tax. You had the enactment of the voting rights act of nineteen sixty five. Which covered virginia as well as other southern states. So there was a massive shift in the way politics would be configured in virginia. It was also. The era of one has to realize the era of toast brown versus board of education so called massive resistance where in virginia for example prince. Edward county closed at school. So you had all of that. As the backdrop so that commissioners among other things set out to step forward get out of that period of massive resistance and opposition to brown into different age. I among the things they did was make it. Clear that there's a constitutional mandate on the general assembly to provide education for every child of school asian virginia coupled with a mandate on all the localities counties and cities to put up their share of the the school money in other words it will not be any more prince edward county's in the future in virginia so they revise rules were setting out. They hope to close the door. That euro virginia history. They put into the constitution the first anti-discrimination provisions that the shelby. No governmental discrimination on the basis of race or color or might add sex. They put education into the virginia bill of rice. They set up the provision for standards of quality and virginia education. It was both an effort at one time to put an unhappy period. Virginia history behind us and at the same time to look prospectively to a more inclusive period. And that's why the felony disenfranchisement rule seemed to not resonate well because they constitution taken as a whole was meant to sort of put the era of harry byrd in his machine rule behind us and look towards a future that one would hope would be fair of more just more and more inclusive. Could i jump in here for a second. I think dick makes a great point. And i think putting all these constitutions that we've discussed context is important and i'd dick wrote a piece in the richmond times dispatch. I think it was last year about the constitution. And he touched on a number of issues including felon disenfranchisement. And i like how you put up dick. In that piece you talked about the various constitutions defining the political community going back to george mason virginia declaration of rights and on through and so. I really think it's interesting to see. We've come to the point where we've as a society said you know. The political community includes all males regardless of property holding and then it becomes all males regardless of race and then it becomes Women and then in more recent days the political community is broadened to include lgbt q. Americans and it seems to me. It's almost of a continuum that we then turn to in some ways one of the the last of groups that sort of lacks that kind of recognition and inclusion in the political community and that is people who have been convicted of felonies. And i just think it's an interesting An interesting sort of point on this spectrum that we that we talk about as we as we enlarge that political community. And i think it's also important to remember that in some ways convicts felons have always been thought of as in As less than full participants in our society in virginia back to the to the pre revolutionary days to the colonial period when convicts are imported into virginia and exploited terribly by those who utilize their labor In a quasi sort of slavery moment. And you know you go through the through the early national period at post civil war I don't know if any of you ever read the book john. Henry is steel driving man by scott nelson. Who used to william and mary but he talks about finding the actual john. Henry who in eighteen sixty six is arrested and sent to the state penitentiary and then leased out as a convict so that john henry story of him fighting against or racing. The machine and digging a railroad tunnel has basis in history and it's convict labour And so this notion that convicts were of of of a lower status in our society could be deprived of rights has long historical roots. And it's finally kind of being addressed but it's not just in the constitution but it's in our society's view and treatment of those people that we get to this point and i think that's just i think it's just an important thing to remember that it's part of that evolving notion and is what what's made this country sort of fascinating and great in its own ways that we make mistakes but we we do what we can for hopefully do what we can to try to write those mistakes as we move forward. You know paul you bring up an interesting point. And if if i can have a little too political philosophy. There's an alternative reading of america's political history where we never outlawed slavery we just regulated it under the thirteenth amendment to people who are imprisoned. And and so if you carry that through line where you know. People who are in prison can be forced to work that can be there. They're not extended a minimum wage. They're they're not extended the ability to vote. What you have is a legacy slave system that basically got regulated and now you have entire populations of people who count for the purposes of a census and they don't count at all for the purposes of being able to vote right. It's interesting by the way that the european conventional human rights that governs human rights in the european scene up actually gives the vote to to those who are in prison that would be very controversial. I think i'd be surprised if that were adopted. In virginia adult that we would necessarily go that far but it does raise the question of are there portions of the community around us. Who really are seeing in. Constitutional terms is not counting. That would change the spirit of politics anywhere that got instituted because one of the through lines we see is that nobody ever scores political points for being soft on crime. This is throughout united states. History a political history. One reason for that is because felons can't vote or people incarcerated can't vote. I imagine if they could vote they might have something to say about the people representing them and conditions imposed upon them. That would completely change the course of history it would make it more democratic also point out to any democratic members of the legislature currently listening to our podcast that it would create for them far more voters because you would have a situation where one party all of a sudden cares about the thoughts and opinions and the the political outcomes of a brand new electorate. That has never before been cared for by virginia's political class. I think that's i think that's true. And i think the interesting thing of course is that you had was that a year or two ago. A change to the law in in in florida an amendment to the florida constitution which was voted on popular in passed overwhelmingly. And i think it I mean it passed in a bipartisan manner. That it was not a black and white issue it was it was and i remember reading news coverage of it that there were some wight florida politicians. Who said you know if we're seen as getting on board with this. This might be good for us politically. It isn't lodging the electorate with people who may think favorably upon us so there is an interesting political calculation to be made as well if the general assembly decides to pass one or another form of the pending amendments. That would reinforce. Ranch is former felons. They have to be very careful about how it might be implemented by future legislatures. That florida example is a is a is instructive. I think because the people fought as paul pointed out. The people of florida overwhelmingly approved that amendment. Something like Almost two to one and then the florida legislature stepped in and added the requirement. That former felons have to pay off. All of their court caused any fees fines. whatever they have to be completely out of mona. Some of them can't do it. Most of them are poor and can't afford to do that. But moreover florida keeps its records county by county and it's often impossible to find out what you actually. Oh i mean put. Your obligations are so they. Basically the legend worker in florida deliberately in my judgment tried to cripple amendment of the florida and so always tell some legislative friends in richmond the proponents of restoring the voting rights and felons to be sure that they nail it down in a way that it can't be given with one hand and taken back with the other. That's a great point tick mister howard. Does our founding father are living. Founding father have any opinions on updates to this document. I am concerned that if you refer to as a founding father that somebody bring a paternity suit against me. I have to be careful about accepting that but your questions about other amendments to the constitution. Yes do you as somebody who played an outsized role and the current constitution have any opinions on some changes. You might like to see oles interesting. Thomas jefferson famously. Said that each generation should take a close look at the constitution and decide whether it's serving the needs of that particular place in time he he and james madison in their cars. Fondants fond of the of the expression. The earth belongs always to the living generation. So even though the commissioner soup reduce the nineteen seventy-one constitution that were a mentioned oliver hill. You had lewis powell who later settled supreme court hardy dillard who later said on the world court at the hey go. Colgate darden former. Uva president than governor. virginia. I mean really first class people extraordinary insight but they could not predict the future completely. Obviously some things change among the changes that i would like to see is i would hope that. The commissioned draws district lines will work out. I personally would have gone for a commission. It was entirely made up a citizens. The legislature decided to have half and half sort of commission while i wish godspeed may hope that works out. I would certainly Amend the constitution to to deal with what we've been talking about on this program namely a felony the former felons who ought to be restored to full citizenship and have have the right to vote I would raise questions at least ought to be the subject of public. Debate about dylan's rule. That's the rule that says that courts will construe the powers of locality strictly they only have that which explicitly given to them by the legislature of thomas. Jefferson trusted local government. And and so so do i. I would think about The one term rule for the governor. Where the last state in the country that says. The governor can't run to succeed himself. I i'm inclined to think that it would be helpful if the people could decide that they'd like the job. The governor is doing in. Give him a second term. I think that might be good for the budget and administration of state policies and laws generally. So they're number ways in which i think one might walk through the constitution of look for changes There's an article eleven on the environment on conservation which unfortunately courts have construed as big little more than a advice to the legislature. I think may maybe they are teeth. Thought to be put into that provision so that it will actually have more vote a bite in terms of construing reviewing legislation and ordinances But you know by large yester- specific things. I'd look at but i'm pleasantly surprised that after the passage of time i think the constitution has been basically serviceable. It certainly dealt with the problems of this time. I mentioned things like massive resistance in the light I think it's pretty well as a basic law. it's probably a good idea not to take her with it too much. I am a little concerned. For example when social issues are put in the constitution. The the marriage amendment is a good case in point. I think it was that should have been debated as a matter. Legislative and other public policy should not have been in the constitution in the first place. And does tim tation as you feel strongly about something to turn it into a constitutional question of maybe that's endemic in american society. That americans liked to think. If something's really important it must be a matter. Constitutional rights so I think i'd look closely at selected provisions of the cresent constitution but I would not for example. Want to call a convention. I think a overhaul of general overhaul is not necessary and given the politics of the time the partisanship they way. The country is so closely divided left. And right i think Trying to overhaul the whole constitution probably would be turned out to be a disaster. That's all for this episode. If you have comments or questions about what you just heard or maybe you only want to tell us what you think about our show right an email. Send it to us at transition. Va podcast at g. Dot com so we can read it on the air. Subscribe to transition virginia anywhere. Podcast follow the transition team on twitter at transition. Va and find us on the web at transition. Virginia dot com. Don't forget to like and subscribe so you can enjoy our next episode of transition virginia.

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