UNC Libraries
Search using this query type:

Search only these record types:


Advanced Search (Items only)

Helen G. Edmonds. The Negro and Fusion Politics in North Carolina, 1894-1901. New York: Russell & Russell, 1951.

Helen G. Edmonds. The Negro and Fusion Politics in North Carolina, 1894-1901. New York: Russell & Russell, 1951.

Item Information

Title

Helen G. Edmonds. The Negro and Fusion Politics in North Carolina, 1894-1901. New York: Russell & Russell, 1951.

Rights

https://rightsstatements.org/page/InC/1.0/?language=en

Identifier

https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/exhibits/show/enriching_voices/item/6896

Text

CHAPTER NINE NEGRO OFFICE-HOLDING: MUNICIPAL

NEGROES ENTERED THE PICTURE of office-holding in municipal as well as in county government. Towns and cities in North Carolina received their individual charters of incorporation from the General Assembly. These private charters prescribed the governmental machinery for administration, offices, finances, elections, and city welfare. From 1876 to 1894, the Democratic feature of centralization provided for the appointment of major city officials by the state legislature or by city aldermen. When the Fusionists took over the reins of government in 1895 and extended the system of popular election to state and county officers, it was expected that they would be the same to municipal government.

North Carolina was predominantly a rural state. In 1900, only 17.9 per cent of its 1,893,810 people lived in incorporated places. North Carolina cities were comparatively few and small in size. According to the census reports of 1890 and 1900, there were twenty-eight cities which had a population of 2,500 or more. These towns and cities may be classified into three groups in relation to the ratio of their Negro population. The first group consisted of eight in which Negroes were more than 50 per cent of the population. The second group consisted of four in which the Negro and white populations were approximately equal. The third group consisted of sixteen in which the whites were more than 50 per cent of the population.

The Democrats charged that the Fusionists altered the charters of towns and cities in North Carolina in order to turn them over to Negro rule. An examination of the charter changes reveals that of the first group wherein the Negroes were in the majority, the Fusionists amended two and altered four charters of the eight towns and cities; that in the second group wherein there was a parity in racial constituency, they amended three and altered one; and in the third group wherein the whites exceeded the Negroes by a goodly number, they amended one and altered six of the sixteen. The story involving the amending and altering of city charters cannot be told so simply because the Democratic allegation of turning towns and cities over to Negro rule stands or falls not on the number of charters amended and altered but upon the precise alterations prescribed in each Fusion charter and the number of Negroes who held offices under the amended charters.

An examination of the charter changes made in the first group wherein Negroes exceeded whites in numbers reveals that the city of Edenton was among the first to undergo Fusion revision. The Democrats, in amending Edenton's charter in 1891, provided for six wards. The first and second wards by joint ballot elected two councilmen, and so did the third and fourth and the fifth and sixth. The six councilmen elected a mayor from the city at large. The Fusionists reduced the number of wards to four, each elected one councilman, and permitted the four councilmen to elect a mayor from the city at large. Obviously, the Fusion system of electing a mayor was the same undemocratic system as used by the Democrats.