John Goyder

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Howard Brotz




Following the Civil War, the Negro in the southern sates was officially freed and given the full rights of citizens of citizens of the United States, including the right to vote. The evidence indicates that, to a modest extent, this franchise was exercised, but in the following decades a movement to disfranchise the Negroes grew up in the South; first by intimidation, and then officially through changes in state law and constitutions. Certain conditions for this movement are examined; weak leadership in federal politics, splits in Congress, social and economic life for blacks and whites during the reconstruction period, and so on. It is contended though, that the crucial causal factors can be traced to the rivalry in state politics between various white groups; the wealthy whites from the plantation country bordering the Mississippi River, against the poorer white farmers from the More barren lands. In between this, the Negroes were caught as "political footballs", unable to protect their position. This hypothesis is considered in the case of Mississippi, the leader in the disfranchisement movement, and finally, the problem is formulated in a more general way, to consider certain implications the study raise both for democratic government, and for the study of race relations.

McMaster University Library

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