artoonist George Colt mocks New York Governor Samuel Tilden's letter of
acceptance, characterizing the Democratic presidential nominee's views as
"financial mysticism" and "political sophistry." The
cartoon's main point is to expose the conceit that Tilden's words could paper
over violence against blacks, which white Southern Democrats encourage, support,
As military forces gradually withdrew from the South and as Northern support of
Reconstruction waned, Democratic, white-only, "Redeemer" governments
gained power throughout the South. In 1876 South Carolina was one of the three
remaining states that had not undergone "redemption," and which still
had federal troops present. The Democratic party in the state was divided and
racial tensions were high.
In July 1876 two white farmers exchanged heated words with a black militia in
the predominately black town of Hamburg, South Carolina. The white men brought in
reinforcements, igniting a race riot. Twenty-five blacks were captured, with
five of them subsequently murdered, and the property of the black townspeople
was ransacked. One white man was killed.
Within South Carolina, the incident strengthened the Redeemer faction of the
Democratic party, which would win the fall elections. Nationally, the Hamburg
Massacre became a symbol of the anti-black, anti-Reconstruction violence of some
Southern Democrats. Seven white men were indicted for murder, but the case was
dropped after the Redeemers assumed office.