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Northerners in the South: Primary Sources

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  Building Up the Country | Refusing to Pander to Prejudices


 
 

Refusing to Pander to Prejudices

Rufus Brown Bullock was born in New York and raised by abolitionists, but he fought for the Confederacy during the war. Bullock became the Republican governor of Georgia in 1868. The "carpetbagger" governor drew the wrath of Southern Democrats until he was ousted with charges of corruption before the end of his term.

In the first excerpt below, Bullock defends himself and his work during Reconstruction. The second two quotes are taken from novelist Margaret Mitchell's portrayal of Rufus Bullock in her famous novel, Gone With the Wind.

The great issue has been and still is the question of reconstruction. Lifting the negro from slavery to citizenship and establishing governments with the colored man as a voter has aroused the dying hate of the kuklux democracy... Had I seen fit, as I was earnestly urged to do, to pander to their prejudices, by betraying the principles of the republican party and shutting my eyes to a palpable violation of the laws and the wrong and injustice done by their expulsion of the colored members of the legislature ... I would not only have escaped this ordeal, but these persons would have been as loud and intemperate in their praise, as they are now in their denunciation of me.

From Margaret Mitchell's novel, Gone With the Wind:

...A week before Scarlett and Rhett announced their engagement, an election for governor had been held. The Southern Democrats had General John B. Gordon, one of Georgia's best loved and most honored citizens, as their candidate. Opposing him was a Republican named Bullock... Bullock had won. If the capture of Georgia by Sherman had caused bitterness, the final capture of the state's capitol by the Carpetbaggers, Yankees, and negroes caused an intensity of bitterness such as the state had never known before. Atlanta and Georgia seethed and raged. And Rhett Butler was a friend of the hated Bullock!...

...But far and above their anger at the waste and mismanagement and graft was the resentment of the people at the bad light in which the governor represented them in the North. When Georgia howled against corruption, the governor hastily went North, appeared before Congress and told of white outrages against negroes, of Georgia's preparation for another rebellion and the need for a stern military rule in the state. No Georgian wanted trouble .... All Georgia wanted was to be left alone so the state could recuperate. But with the operation of what came to be known as the governor's "slander mill," the North saw only a rebellious state that needed a heavy hand.

All excerpts from Russell Duncan, Entrepreneur for Equality: Governor Rufus Bullock, Commerce, and Race in Post-Civil War Georgia. Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1994.

  Rufus Brown Bullock  
page created on 12.19.03
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