Thayer's Note: The gentle reader is invited to bear in mind that I did not write the text on this page; I transcribed it from a book published in 1919. It does not reflect my opinions or language, but those of its author and its time.
Charles Brantley Aycock
The ratification of the suffrage amendment and the inauguration of Charles B. Aycock mark, as sharply as ever is possible, the beginning of a new era in North Carolina. The enfranchisement of the negro in 1867 was scarcely, in fact, more a revolution than the disfranchisement of the mass of the race by constitutional amendment. Not that every hope aroused at the prospect of the removal of the negro from politics was at once gratified. The negro was himself immediately out of politics, but he did not, as will be seen, cease to be a political question. That he has since been in some degree an issue is the fault of both parties; of the republicans, for not frankly recognizing the question as settled; of the democrats, for bringing up the question at times when there was no real danger to be apprehended. But it is a fact that here began the disappearance of the issue, and with it a lessening factor in political life, came a revival and growth of interest in other things. The brake which for more than three long and dreary decades had checked the wheels of progress was at last lifted and the commonwealth, politically and socially, moved forward. And a new generation began to grow up which thought of other things. A new tolerance began to develop and men were able once more freely to debate political questions without thought of the negro or fear for the continued existence of white rule. And at the same time, to make the period still more revolutionary, came the development of public education which was to be the most important fact of the years which followed the opening of the century.
Aycock's campaign had shown that a new type of leadership was in control in the state, and his superb inaugural served to confirm the impression and to give promise to the people p317 of peace and progress. His very selection as a party candidate made it clear that the emancipation of the democratic party had finally come; it was a visible token that the party no longer owed anything save service to the people. Never was there a more suitable choice of a leader to open a new era. As Dr. Alderman said of him, he was "perhaps, the most conspicuous example of the Southern idealists, lifted beyond partisanship and carrying into politics the heart of the reformer and the training of a scholar." He had reached the hearts and minds of the people, he gave them the progressive leadership they had long lacked and earnestly desired, and for the following four years he was the dominating figure in the life and thought of the state.
From a legislative standpoint the session of 1901 was uninteresting. A new and improved election law was passed, the school law materially changed, and four new judicial districts created. There was a considerable increase in legislation limiting the sale of liquor in various localities, bearing evidence to the growth of the prohibition move. The legislature was confronted with a deficit and the new system of assessment and the new taxes adopted were bitterly unpopular in a great part of the state. After adjournment considerable pressure was exerted to induce the governor to call a special session to correct faults in the law but he refused, claiming that there was a pressing necessity of raising every possible dollar and that he had no reason to believe that the legislature would change the law, if indeed it was desirable to do so.
The legislative session was notable, however, for one thing. It closed with the impeachment and trial of Chief Justice Furches and Judge R. M. Douglas. Reference has already been made to the decision in the White case and its settlement. Two days afterward the News and Observer hinted at impeachment but the press generally was silent until after the election. To the majority of democratic laymen who thought about it at all, already not too well inclined towards the court, it seemed a clear case of the violation of the constitutional provision which declared that the decision of the Supreme Court in cases of claims against the state p318 should be merely recommendatory and that no process in the nature of execution should issue thereon but that it should be reported to the next session of the legislature for action. There was, however, no popular demand for impeachment but so far as can be judged from the press, widespread indifference or at most an inclination to delay judgment until the legislature met. On the other hand politicians who were hostile to the judges welcomed the opportunity to oust them and it was certain that the demand would come from them at least when once the session began.
Upon the assembling of the legislature there was much discussion of the question among the members. At first it seemed hardly likely that the movement for impeachment would prevail. But in addition to the politician class alluded to, there was a large group of able, sincere, and conscientious men who felt that a vital principle was at stake and that action should be taken. Their feeling was greatly strengthened by the demands made to the legislature by local attorneys, representing holders of North Carolina bonds who had not accepted the compromise of 1879, and who asked for a full settlement. What, argued this group of members, was to prevent the Supreme Court from enforcing the payment of such claims in the same way? Could not the repudiated special tax bonds also be collected? Still another group, a small one, however, while admitting the unconstitutionality of the judges' act, contended that they should be censured, but not impeached. The case was highly technical and the laymen were in the hands of the lawyers.
On January 3d, Locke Craig, of Buncombe, introduced a resolution of impeachment against the two judges. The resolution was referred to the judiciary committee and a sub-committee of investigation was appointed, which reported after taking testimony that the judges were impeachable, but declined to make a recommendation. Judge Connor,a a member of the sub-committee, wanted a resolution of censure passed, believing that the judges had over-stepped their powers and treated the legislature flippantly and contemptuously, but he was opposed to impeachment. The judiciary committee voted twenty-four to ten for impeachment and made a p319 favorable report on the resolution to the House on February 8th. The republican minority presented a strong legal report upholding the judges, and Judge Connor offered a resolution of censure.
The debate was opened by Craig in a bitter and fiery speech, and continued for several days. On February 18th, after the Connor resolution had been defeated, eighty-five to twelve, the impeachment resolution was adopted by a vote of sixty-two to thirty-three, thirteen democrats voting in the negative. In the action finally taken both the elements of the opinion discussed were present. It was not as often alleged purely a political prosecution, for it cannot be said to have been dictated by partisanship much further than is true in the large majority of impeachment cases. But, on the other hand, it would be a grave mistake to think that partisanship did not play a part and an important part. Many of the members, however, who voted for impeachment, had taken their position regretfully and only under the compulsion of principle and conscience. The case did indeed offer abundant room for difference of opinion and outside the legislature as well as inside, men differed widely. The republicans, of course, opposed the decision of the House and on February 21st filed a written protest against it.
A board of managers, consisting of William R. Allen, Locke Craig, George Rountree, A. W. Graham, R. H. Hayes, J. F. Spainhour, B. B. Nicholson, F. M. Shannonhouse, and A. A. F. Seawell, was elected and on February 20th, a committee of the House, headed by Francis D. Winston, impeached the judges at the bar of the Senate. On February 23d, five articles of impeachment were adopted and presented to the Senate by the managers in a body. As summarized by Judge Long they follow:
The first article charged that the respondents unlawfully and wilfully, and in violation of Art. I, Sec. 8, Art. IV and Sec. 9, and of Art. XIV, Sec. 3, of the constitution, and of the laws, caused the mandamus writs to issue in the case of White v. Auditor, when there was no appropriation for the payment of White's salary and account.
The second article charged respondents with intending to p320 bring the General Assembly into disrepute and wilfully and unlawfully and defiantly and contemptuously violating the provisions of chapter 21, Laws of 1899, and of the constitution respecting the issue of process in the nature of execution to collect a claim against the state.
The third article charged that on the 14th day of June, 1900, twenty-three days after the decision and judgment, in White v. Auditor, the legislature passed a resolution of inquiry, and made inquiry by two of its members of the treasurer, whether the claim of White had been paid, and that the legislature intended thereby to forbid payment to White, and that the respondents, knowingly, wilfully and wrongfully directed the writ to issue in violation of the constitution and of the acts of the General Assembly.
The fourth charged the respondents with directing the writs to issue unlawfully and contrary to the course and practice of the courts, (1) because the claim was one against the state, and should have been brought originally to the Supreme Court, and not submitted in the first instance to the Judge of the Superior Court; (2) that the writs were issued in wilful disregarded of statutory provisions relating to writs for mandamus; (3) that the writs were issued contrary to the course and procedure of the Supreme Court; (4) because the writs were in disregard of chapter 19, Laws of 1899; (5) because one of the associate justices was denied the right to file a protest and dissent respecting the issue of the writ at the fall term, 1900, this being about five months after the case had gone off the docket by final judgment.
The fifth article indefinitely charged that at various times, and in numerous decisions (referring to the office-holding cases), the respondents wilfully, unlawfully, persistently, intentionally, contemptuously, and by a specious course of reasoning, disregarded, nullified, destroyed and defeated, as suited their purpose, the acts of the General Assembly in violation of the constitution, and that in culmination and consummation of this persistent, wilful and unlawful intent, caused to be issued the writs of mandamus, and the claim of White for $831.15 to be paid.
On February 25th the Senate organized as a court of p321 impeachment and summoned the judges, who replied through F. I. Osborne, T. J. Jarvis, C. M. Cooke, William P. Bynum, Jr., F. H. Busbee, B. F. Long, and J. Lindsey Patterson as counsel. The managers associated with themselves as counsel C. B. Watson, T. F. Davidson, W. Guthrie, J. H. Pou and C. M. Busbee.
On March 6th the answer of the judges was made. It was a long and elaborate document and in itself constituted an able defence. The respondents admitted of course the fact of the decision and the issuance of the mandamus, but denied that it was issued illegally or that they had shown any disregard of their oaths or their official duty to obey the constitution and laws of the state. They also denied any usurpation of legislative authority or intention to bring the General Assembly into disrepute or disgrace. They argued that the claim of White was not against the state, and replied to the charge of political partisanship by reciting the history of the court in relation to the "office-holding cases."
The trial lasted seventeen days. Judge W. R. Allen, the chairman of the board of managers, opened for the prosecution which then introduced eleven witnesses. The managers sought to show a partisan spirit running through all the decisions in the "office-holding cases," and, while they denied any necessity to prove a guilty intent, sought to prove "an attempt to prevent the people from controlling the exercise of their public offices" and "to weaken the power of the General Assembly." They were successful in proving that the judges had contradicted themselves in the decision of the case and that they had taken a position at variance with certain precedents of the court. They were, however, unable to prove political partisanship or evil intent.
The case for the respondents was opened by Judge Bynum in a speech of great power, after which sixteen witnesses were introduced, including the two respondents who proved to be powerful witnesses in their own behalf. A large group of prominent lawyers, most of them democrats, had been summoned as expert witnesses to testify as to the legality of the judges' action, but were excluded by the court as incompetent. The defence, basing their action upon the case famous p322 in North Carolina legal history, of Hoke v. Henderson, sought to prove the constitutionality of their action and contended that even if they had erred it was an error and not a deliberate violation of law and that it was necessary to prove a guilty intent to secure conviction.
After argument of counsel, closed for the respondents by Osborne in a superb speech which was the most impressive of the trial, and for the managers by Watson, the vote was taken on the first article. It resulted in acquittal twenty-seven to twenty-three, twelve democrats voting "Not Guilty." The manager then declaring that the first article contained the most serious charge, offered to withdraw the others, or have a verdict of "Not Guilty" entered. It was finally decided to have the vote taken on each, at the conclusion of which the Senate as a court adjourned sine die. The votes resulted:
A majority of people in the state, apparently, had already decided just as the Senate did. There was much confusion of thought in regard to the legal questions involved, but there was nothing like a general belief that the judges had been guilty, with intent, of any offence worthy of conviction. Both Judge Furches and Judge Douglas had prior to their elevation to the bench been men of pronounced political convictions and had been active in politics, but on the bench, up to the White case, at least, they had very successfully divested themselves of any bias, and worthily upheld the high standard of the Supreme Court of North Carolina. It was impossible to make the mass of thoughtful men believe that the two judges who in twenty-three of the thirty-nine "office-holding cases," involving judges, solicitors, railroad commissioners, and the control of state institutions, had either written or concurred in opinions which ruled in democrats and excluded republicans p323 and fusionists, were biased judges, or, as Judge Long phrased it, that, corrupted, they "hauled seines for minnows." Many, however, who opposed impeachment, believed the judges' position in the case wrong and their action a dangerous precedent.
During the course of the trial there was, as during Holden's trial, much loose talk and numerous threats of federal interference. There was of course no talk of a new reconstruction, but it was confidently urged that if the judges were convicted, the amendment would be overthrown, the indicted registrars severely punished, and the state visited by some federal punishment, undescribed and mysterious, but full of horror. These had no effect of course. Soon after the conclusion of the trial the cases of the registrar were all nol. prosed by agreement, largely through the influence of Senator Pritchard.
Reference has been made to the attempt to secure from the legislature a settlement of certain of the state bonds belonging to the second class under the compromise of 1879, the owners of which had declined to accept the terms of the compromise. Each bond carried the pledge as collateral of ten shares of railroad stock owned by the state. The claimants were Messrs. Schafer Brothers who owned bonds to face value of about $250,000. Through their attorney, F. H. Busbee, they filed a memorial asking payment, but the legislature declined to take any action and on October 7, 1901, the State of South Dakota applied to the Supreme Court of the United States for permission to file a bill against the State of North Carolina, Charles Salter, and Simon Rothschilds, the two last representing the other bondholders, to enforce the payment of ten bonds then owned by it. No demand had been made upon the state for payment and it was presently to appear that this was not an oversight.
It developed later that Senator Butler, who had been in South Dakota in 1900 in the interest of Senator R. F. Pettigrew, had suggested to the latter that he might be able to get a donation for the state university. In March, 1901, probably at the instance of Pettigrew, the legislature of South Dakota passed a law providing for the acceptance of gifts of bonds p324 and for suit if necessary to enforce payment. In January, Senator Butler and Daniel L. Russell had been employed as counsel by Schafer Brothers and after failure to secure a settlement from the legislature, Simon Schafer donated ten of the bonds to South Dakota. In his letter appeared the following paragraphs:
The owners of these bonds are mostly, if not entirely, persons who liberally give charity to the needy, the deserving and the unfortunate.
These bonds can be used to great advantage by state or foreign governments; and the majority owners would prefer to use them in this way rather than take the trifle which is offered by the debtor.
If your state should succeed in collecting these bonds, it would be the inclination of the owners of a majority of the total issue now outstanding to make additional donations to such governments as may be able to collect from the repudiating state, rather than accept the small pittance offered in settlement.
The donors of these ten bonds would be pleased if the Legislature of South Dakota should apply the proceeds of these bonds to the State University, or to some of its asylums or other charities.
In October, 1900, ten bonds of the same class had been offered for redemption under the compromise of 1879 and had been cancelled by the treasurer when Governor Russell held up the transaction and notified his law partner, who was employed as counsel for some of the holders of state bonds, of the fact of their presentation. A few days later a demand was made for the return of the bonds and the treasurer was compelled to write a certificate on each that its cancellation was void. Eight of these were in the number given South Dakota. These facts did not become known until later.
Governor Aycock at once employed counsel to assist the attorney-general in defending the suit and it was argued in April, 1903. A rehearing was asked for by the court and was held in January, 1904.
In its complaint South Dakota asked for an accounting of all the railroad stock owned by the state and its sale to satisfy not only the judgment prayed for, but also to pay the other outstanding bonds.
Rothschilds filed no answer but testified that his interests were all in the hands of Schafer Brothers. Salter filed an answer containing the plea that all the pledged stock should be sold and applied to the payment of the bonds.
p325 The state in its answer denied the jurisdiction of the court and also the title of the plaintiff. It claimed that the bonds had not been issued in conformity with the statute and denied that the mortgages were properly executed or that they had the effect of conveyance or transfer of the stock pledged. It further sought to show that the suit was not bona fide, but was the result of a conspiracy of the bondholders.
In February the court handed down its decision in favor of South Dakota, Mr. Justice Brewer writing the opinion with Mr. Justice White writing a dissenting opinion which was concurred in by Chief Justice Fuller and Justices McKenna and Day. The court ordered the marshal to sell the pledged stock at public auction to pay the amount of the judgment which was $27,400. The state then asked for an extension of time until the meeting of the legislature. This was granted and when the legislature met the governor laid the matter before it.
The democratic platform adopted in June, 1904, contained the following plank: "The Democratic party approves the settlement made in 1879, and will forever oppose any and all attempts from any quarter to set aside the settlement then made. It will abide the mandate of the courts, but it will not consent to re-open a settlement that was alike creditable to the State and fair to the holders of its securities." It was nevertheless clear that the judgment had to be paid or the stock sold and that unless some arrangement was made for the settlement of the other bonds of the same kind the state would be continually annoyed and harassed by similar suits. Consequently the claim of South Dakota was paid and the matter of the other bonds taken up. The holders made propositions ranging from $395,000 to $242,000, but finally agreed to accept 25 cents on the dollar of the principal together with interest on the bonds and coupons from 1879, amounting to $982 on each bond, a total of $214,000, at which figure a final settlement was made.
Many people in the state felt relief at the payment of what was generally regarded among the informed as an honest debt. But this was largely obscured and overwhelmed by the more dominant feeling in the state which was one of p326 disgust and anger at the method of procedure, the underlying purpose of the suit, and the participation in it, as counsel, of the governor and a United States senator. Senator Butler was not a universally beloved figure before but his part in this business made him possibly the worst hated man in the history of the state and made him henceforth an object of suspicion to thousands who before had for him no particularly hostile feeling. He has explained his acceptance of the position as counsel plausibly and by no means unconvincingly, but his explanation has not served to dispel the dark cloud of popular disapproval, a fact which his political opponents have not been slow to take advantage of.
From the time the suit began one great blunder was made in general by the democratic politicians and the democratic press. Persistently the bonds were spoken of as "carpet-bag bonds," and "special tax bonds," and generally they were declared fraudulent. In consequence the valid bonds in question became confused in the public mind with the repudiated bonds, and when the Supreme Court upheld the validity of the construction bonds, many people, in and out of the state, believed that the validity of the carpet-bag bonds had been sustained. In this way, those who thus erred, some from ignorance and some deliberately, played into the hands of the conspirators who desired to enforce the payment of the special tax bonds. As a matter of fact, it is a question if it would not have been wise to pay the bonds without contesting the suit in order to make as sharp a distinction as possible between the two kinds of bonds. But of course the circumstances attending the suit and the motives behind it made it difficult to do this. But certainly the settlement by the legislature in the end was wise and just and placed the state in a better position than before for contesting any claim based upon the special tax bonds.
This matter concluded, the purposes of the South Dakota suit were soon made more apparent. In 1901 the North American Trust Company of New York City had begun to collect Southern bonds for collection on a 50 per cent commission basis. In April, 1905, advertisements for North Carolina special tax bonds, inserted by John G. Carlisle and p327 Jefferson M. Levy on behalf of a bondholders' syndicate or committee, began to appear in New York newspapers. A little later the following advertisement appeared in several papers, including the Evening Post:
The recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States, entitled "South-Dakota vs. North Carolina," wherein the former state secured a judgment against the latter on ten bonds, par value, $10,000, amounting with interest to $27,400 (which has just been paid) has greatly enhanced the value of all other repudiated state bonds, because it has established the law and the procedure by which they can be enforced.
The undersigned committee, in 1901 pooled all of one issue of North Carolina bonds and originated the plan by which the above successful results were brought about, and obtained a settlement for the individual bondholders, at a little less than par, of their entire holdings of these bonds.
This committee is now ready to proceed with the collection of all other repudiated bonds of every class, of each state.
This committee has no connection with any other committee, and it knows that it alone is now in a position to avail itself of the benefits of the above mentioned decision.
Those who desire to enforce the collection of their bonds will deposit the same with the North American Trust Company, 195 Broadway, New York City, and receive receipts therefor and a contract agreement under which the undersigned committee will undertake to collect the same.
W. N. Coler & Co.,
R. F. Pettigrew,
D. L. Russell,
North American Trust Co.,
195 Broadway, New York City.
Wheeler H. Peckham, Counsel.
Senator Butler in a speech made in Raleigh in 1910 stated that when he found that carpet-bag bonds were being accepted by the committee he had the advertisement stopped and declined to have anything further to do with the matter. In 1906 he was approached by a representative of the Carlisle syndicate which wished to employ him. The following are extracts from his reply:
These bonds were issued by a Legislature largely controlled by aliens and irresponsible native associates, mostly blacks. These bonds p328 sold for little on the market, and that left was largely, if not wholly, stolen by the carpet-baggers and their associates.
* * * So my advice is to have nothing to do with the Carlisle Committee. At any rate, I will have nothing to do with their efforts to collect these bonds or any other fraudulent bonds issued by a carpet-bag Legislature. My position is that I will not act as counsel, or directly or indirectly have anything to do with any effort to collect any bonds that are not honest, and for which the state did not get a valuable consideration.
* * * If an attempt is made to collect these bonds, I not only will not be employed, but I will oppose such an effort.
In 1905 the bondholders planned to induce Venezuela to accept some of the bonds for suit but the plan for some reason fell through. The following year the committee offered a large number to Colombia with an expression of regret at the treatment of that country by the United States. Hayne Davis, a native North Carolinian, who was at the time counsel in the Colombia legation, advised against acceptance and the offer was refused.
In 1905 the legislature of New York, presumably at the request of the committee, passed a law providing for the acceptance of gifts of bonds, and directed the attorney-general to bring suit on them when necessary to secure payment. Bonds were then offered the state, but Governor Glenn wrote Governor Higgins such a statement of the character of the bonds that the offer was promptly refused. In the same year a similar offer was made to Michigan which in 1901 had passed a law providing for acceptance. Governor Warner laid the matter before Governor Glenn whose letter of reply and explanation made acceptance impossible.
By this time South Dakota had attained a rather unpleasant notoriety and the governor, in his message of 1907, urged that the proceeds of the suit be returned to North Carolina.
In 1910 the State of Rhode Island demanded the payment of bonds which had been given by the Carlisle syndicate the year before. These were fifty-three bonds issued for the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad, thirty bonds issued for the Western, twenty bonds issued for the Atlantic, Tennessee, and Ohio, fifty issued for the Western North Carolina, and thirty-two issued for the Williamston and Tarboro, with a total of 11,367 coupons attached, the total face value p329 being $511,010. It then developed that in May, 1909, a law had been quietly put through the legislature, making the acceptance of such gifts mandatory. When Governor Kitchin stated the nature of the bonds to Governor Pothier, the latter gave the matter very careful consideration and finally decided that it would be a blot upon the state to accept such a gift. Public sentiment in the state endorsed this view and the legislature, which was in session at the time, repealed the act over the protest of the bondholders, represented by E. L. Andrews who stated that an effort would be made to induce other states and some of the South American republics to accept them. The Providence Bulletin and the Providence Journal both opposed acceptance, the former saying:
When a state receives as a gift from men who are actuated by ulterior motives a claim against another state, there seems to be something peculiarly dishonorable about attempting to collect it by recourse to the courts. Rhode Islanders of sensitive feelings will not thank the committee which gave the state repudiated bonds and coupons of the State of North Carolina to the full value of over a million dollars and they will find fault with the Legislature that passed a law compelling the general treasurer to bring suit to collect such a "debt."
In 1910 Nevada was offered certain of the bonds and Governor Dickerson refused to accept them. An application for a mandamus to compel acceptance was made and went on appeal to the Supreme Court of the state which upheld the application, whereupon the legislature repealed the law providing for acceptance.
In 1916 the syndicate offered the State of Missouri a large number of the bonds. Governor Major, who was opposed to acceptance, consulted Senator Simmons and upon receiving information as to the bonds was able to persuade the other members of the board, charged with the decision of such questions, to refuse the offer.
Doubtless other states have been offered bonds, but if so, the facts were not made public, and with the failures in Nevada and Missouri the bondholders apparently lost hope of inducing any state of the Union to share in the disgraceful business. From time to time they have made demands upon the governor to bring the matter to the legislature but of course have gained nothing thereby.
p330 Although there was nothing to be gained in this country, there was still hope in a foreign country and in 1916 Cuba filed a petition in the Supreme Court of the United States for leave to sue the state for the payment of certain of the bonds held by that country. The state at once employed counsel and preparations had been made for contesting the petition when Senator Overman, who had introduced in the Senate a resolution of inquiry into the matter, was notified by the Cuban minister that President Menocal had revoked the decree giving authority for the suit, and thus ended the matter.
The campaign of 1902 was in many ways the most interesting conducted in the state since 1900. It preceded the first election to be held under the provisions of the new amendment and both parties exerted every effort to carry the state. For victory the republicans relied on the natural reaction, and upon the discontented democrats, whom they now declared to be emancipated from negro question. By 1902 every negro postmaster in the state but one had been removed and the soft pedal was put on hostile discussion of the amendment. But the amendment was not accepted as a finality and at intervals it was bitterly attacked as unconstitutional and politically immoral. Talk of the setting aside of the amendment by the Federal courts was frequent and there were constant threats of the indictment of all registrars or election officials who denied to any negro the right to vote. Consequently the "Lily White" movement which began in North Carolina in this campaign, although it seriously alarmed the democrats, was really of comparatively little importance, particularly after President Roosevelt made it known that, contrary to the general belief, he opposed it.
That there was a considerable body of discontented democrats was well known. A large element in the party was opposed to Bryan and all his works. A growing number, chiefly manufacturers and other business men, were friendly to protection and the new imperialistic tendency of the republican party. Others were unfriendly to those in control of the democratic party. They had all been kept in line by the presence of the negro in politics and the misgovernment which had always attended the dominance of the race in the republican party. p331 With the negro finally removed they thought they saw an opportunity to re-shape, even to re-create, the party, although the majority were not quite ready to take the final plunge which was involved in a change of name. In other words, traditional dislike of the republican party was still a powerful factor in politics in the state. The republicans of course welcomed the possibility of an alliance which would restore them to power.
The only state officers to be chosen were the chief justice, two associate judges and the superintendent of public instruction. Judge Clark was a candidate for chief justice and considerable scattered opposition to him developed in the party, although it was soon apparent that his nomination was certain. Henry A. Page delivered the first democratic attack upon him without much apparent effect. In April, Maj. James W. Wilson, the former railroad commissioner, published a bitter attack, charging that he had been hand and glove with the fusionists, that he had tried to persuade them to elect him to the Senate in 1895, that he had been the confidential political adviser of Butler and Russell, even seeking to secure from the latter the appointment as chief justice to succeed Faircloth, and that he had only come back into the democratic camp when he saw that fusion faced certain defeat. He also declared him unfit for the office because he had interfered in the preliminaries of cases upon which he would later sit. He declared that letters proving his contention were still in existence. The Charlotte Observer and the Raleigh Morning Post aired the matter fully and much attention was aroused. Demands for the letters grew loud and the immediate defence offered by the friends of the judge was seen to be hopelessly weak without them. Finally in May Judge Clark published a reply which included certain letters to Russell which he defended. They showed that he had advised Russell legally but they did not bear upon the political charges at all.
When the democratic convention met, Judge Clark was nominated for chief justice and Platt D. Walker and H. G. Connor for associate justices, the latter winning the nomination after a close race with Judge George Brown. Soon afterwards Thomas N. Hill, of Halifax, a democratic lawyer p332 of some reputation, announced his willingness to accept the nomination for chief justice as an independent democrat, if it was tendered by an assembly of democrats. A meeting of independents was held in Greensboro at which he was nominated and local meetings in a number of cases endorsed the nomination. The republican convention also endorsed him making no nominations for associate justices. But when the election came the names of Connor and Walker were placed upon the ticket.
The republican convention for the first time in the history of the party in North Carolina contained not a single negro delegate. A number appeared but were in all cases replaced by contesting white men. A resolution declaring the acceptance in good faith of the amendment was offered and defeated, and the following rather ambiguous plank inserted in the platform: "We declare that when the constitutional amendment was adopted by the people of North Carolina two years ago, it passed out of the realm of politics, and that if Governor Aycock, Senator Simmons, and others keep faith with the people in the pledges then made, there can be no such thing as a race issue in the present campaign."
In the campaign, however, the democrats declined to omit the race issue, declaring that until republicans accepted the amendment unreservedly, the negro could not cease to be a political question. There was, of course, some justification for this position. In addition, the effectiveness of the issue had been proved in 1898 and 1900 and there were many in the party, fortunately only a minority, who did not want to see it disappear. Consequently, it was discussed considerably throughout the campaign and with considerable effect, since most people believed that if the republicans should win, the amendment in some way would be overthrown and the right of suffrage restored to the negro. And there is but little reason to doubt that such would have been the case. For the rest, the democrats drew comparisons between republicans and democratic rule and asked the people if they were willing to restore the former. The "clean" administration to which the republicans invited the attention of the people was declared to be typified in the various scandals already described and in the p333 defalcation from the state treasury of more than $16,000 by Major Martin, a republican politician, who was a clerk in the office. This had only been discovered after the democratic administration had come in.
The republicans sought chiefly to secure the support of the business classes and to carry the legislature which would secure the re-election of Senator Pritchard. Senator Pritchard was active in the campaign and conducted a joint canvass with Locke Craig which excited much interest. On the whole, the contest was spirited but lacked entirely the intensity which had characterized the campaign of 1900. The Red Shirts did not reappear.
The election showed a decrease in the vote of approximately one‑third. The republican vote was about 70,000. The democrats were victorious at all points. Judge Clark received more than 60,000 majority, there was easy control of both houses of the legislature, and every congressional candidate was elected.
By 1902 Aycock's educational policy had aroused much mild opposition and some bitter antagonism in the state. His utter sincerity in continuing to press it caused considerable surprise as well, for there was a large element who had used education merely as a political catch-word designed to attract votes, and when they saw the party safely back in power, they were content to forget its pledges. Particularly was this the case as concerned the education of the negro. Feeling on this point was very strong in the East and very general. In the legislature of 1901, bills were introduced providing for the submission to the people of a constitutional amendment dividing the school taxes between the races on the basis of what each paid. These were strongly opposed by Judge Connor, who was chairman of the committee on education in the House. Governor Aycock finally made it clear that he would regard the passage of any such bill as so clearly a violation of the party pledge given through him to the people that he would resign. The bills never came to a vote, but in 1902 a number of democratic county conventions declared for division and the question was thus again brought up. In his message of 1903, Aycock attacked the proposition and by his p334 opposition secured its defeat as he did again in 1905 when the discussion was finally ended.
Governor Aycock lost some friends by his course and was the object of bitter criticism, but he never faltered and the fight he made was one of the bravest acts of his career and also one of his chief titles to fame. In the end he won the respect and support of all. Not that he did not go out of office with a diminished reputation; almost every governor of North Carolina does that, probably because the lack of power in the office prevents any man from living up to the hopes entertained of him. But he steadily regained power with every class and was the most beloved and trusted man in the state when death found him preaching the gospel of universal education.b Aycock never had just the same sort of hold upon the people that Vance had. Vance was beloved for what he had done in behalf of the people as war-governor, and his magnetic power and contagious broad humor. Aycock was also magnetic, not lacking in humor, it is true, but he was of a far more serious type than Vance and he was far more unselfish. He was a born politician in the sense that he instinctively knew the people and could arouse their sympathies and touch their hearts. In his dealings with them he was always utterly sincere, always preferring the open, despite the fact that he was never cautious in his convictions. His is the outstanding figure of his generation.
Just before the close of his term the governor had to settle a very vexing question, — that of the Atlantic and North Carolina Railroad. It was a valuable property, two‑thirds of which was owned by the state, and undoubtedly had not been developed to its full capacity although it had been improved under new management during Aycock's administration. In the winter of 1903‑1904 several propositions to lease the road were made, one of them by V. E. McBee, who had been prominent in the affairs of the Seaboard Air Line, and K. S. Finch. They proposed to pay 3 per cent on the stock. Governor Russell in 1901 had recommended that the North Carolina and the Atlantic and North Carolina roads be sold, and a number of different interests were thought to be seeking control of the latter. It was a p335 time for careful consideration and the governor, who had the decision of the matter, was giving much thought to it when Finch, who had never been a stockholder in the road, succeeded in making a contract for a sale to him of forty-five shares whenever a lease to him should be made. He then applied to Judge Purnell of the United States District Court for the appointment of a receiver, alleging mismanagement of the road. Judge Purnell, who was at the time out of the state, appointed McBee receiver without giving notice to the state or to the other stockholders. In his petition Finch asked that the road be leased. At the same time he and McBee withdrew their bid for a lease. The state was in an uproar immediately. Judge Purnell returned to the state and, aware that he had exceeded his power, signed a new order. An effort was at once made to reach Judge Simonton of the Circuit Court and after some delay he ordered a hearing. The governor then had the attorney-general and the officers of the road secure a bench warrant from Chief Justice Clark for the arrest of Finch and McBee. Upon investigation the case was seen to be clearly one of conspiracy, and on March 17th, Judge Simonton and Judge Purnell signed a decree dismissing the receiver.
But the matter was not ended. On May 3d, John P. Cuyler, of New York, a stockholder of the road to the extent of thirty-seven shares, applied to Judge Purnell for the appointment of a receiver and on May 28th T. D. Meares was appointed and a few days later McBee was made co-receiver. An appeal to the Circuit Court was made immediately after Judge Purnell's order.
The morning after, the News and Observer contained a sharp and entirely deserved criticism of Judge Purnell's conduct in the whole matter with particular reference to the action of the preceding day. The judge at once had a rule for contempt served upon Josephus Daniels, the editor, and, refusing any extension of time or argument, fined him $2,000 and ordered him jailed until the fine was paid, at the same time denying an appeal from his decision. This action was of course entirely without justification either in law or morals.
In the meantime the receivership case had been laid before p336 Chief Justice Fuller who at once issued an order allowing the officers of the road to give bonds and retain possession until the case was heard on appeal. When this order was presented to Purnell, he questioned the right of the chief justice to issue it but of course ended by obeying it. The receivers then declined to recognize the demand of the superintendent of the road to yield possession, upon which Governor Aycock ordered them dispossessed by force, even if necessary with the use of the militia, whereupon they surrendered.
Judge Simonton had died in April and Senator Pritchard had been appointed by President Roosevelt to succeed him. Application was at once made to him in the contempt case for a writ of habeas corpus and on June 3d, he granted it. Judge Purnell at the news of this hurriedly decided to allow appeal. Judge Pritchard, however, took jurisdiction and held an investigation on the writ of habeas corpus and dismissed the case, delivering an opinion which cut the ground from under Purnell who, after having been made a tool of by the conspirators, had yielded to bad temper, probably under the spur of a guilty conscience.
The Cuyler suit was finally dismissed and the attorneys claimed liberal allowances. These were refused and the state was completely triumphant in the discomfiture of those who had planned to loot the road. There had been much popular opposition to a lease, but this experience converted many and when in September, 1904, the road was leased to the Howland Improvement Company for a long term of years, there was little objection. A committee of investigation, appointed by the governor at the time of the first suit, had reported honest and economical management but had frankly advised against further control by the state, and this influenced many.
In 1907 there was another and more exciting contest in relation to railroad conditions in the state. The legislature of 1907 passed a law prescribing a lower passenger rate and setting heavy penalties upon any railroad or employe violating it. The law was argued before the corporation commission in May and the railroads not obtaining relief applied to Judge Pritchard who issued a restraining order against the corporation commission and the attorney-general, enjoining p337 from putting the law into effect. He also appointed a commission to inquire into the rates to ascertain if they were confiscatory and ordered the original rate maintained with rebate coupons attached to the tickets for use in the event that the new rate was upheld. The rate law went into effect without action of the corporation commission or attorney-general on August 8th, and agents in Asheville and Raleigh were arrested for its violation. In the Asheville cases, Judge Pritchard declared the penalty clause unconstitutional and released the agents. In the Raleigh case, the agent was arrested, tried before Judge Long, of the Superior Court, and sentenced, and the Southern Railway was fined $30,000. He was released by Judge Pritchard, and Governor Glenn replied to this by an order for the execution of the law by the state authorities. Another was arrested, tried, and convicted only to be released by Judge Pritchard. Application was made to him for the arrest of Judge Long and Governor Glenn announced his intention of protecting the latter, if necessary by the use of force. Judge Pritchard then declared, "This court is confronted with open and avowed opposition by the powers of the state," and laid the matter before President Roosevelt who sent down Assistant Attorney-General Sanford to effect a compromise. Governor Glenn demanded as a preliminary condition that the roads obey the law and on August 27th, the Southern Railway accepted the proposition. It was then agreed as part of the compromise to expedite the injunction suit and the habeas corpus cases, to have the Wake County case carried at once to the Supreme Court and then on writ of error to the Supreme Court of the United States, and that all other proceedings under the law be suspended until the courts should act.
In October Governor Glenn held a conference with Governor Comer of Alabama and Governor Smith of Georgia at which it was agreed that the states must control traffic within their borders. In November the governor held a conference with a large number of citizens of the state on the same subject.
The state Supreme Court upheld Judge Long except as to the $30,000 fine imposed on the Southern Railway. The p338 case then went to the United States Supreme Court which in the next year declared the law unconstitutional. But in the meantime a compromise with the railroads had been arranged and a special session of the legislature had been held to put it into effect.
The special session was notable not only for the settlement of the railroad question; it also marked a climax in the prohibition movement.
Mention has been made already of the growing sentiment in the state for prohibition. By 1903 more than half the state was "dry" territory through local laws. In the same year the Watts law was passed which forbade the manufacture and sale of liquor elsewhere than in incorporated towns. It also provided for local option elections. This was a great step forward and led to a more rapid progress of prohibition, but it was rendered less effective by the incorporation of towns purely for the purpose of traffic in liquor. So in 1905 the Ward bill was introduced which produced great excitement and caused gloomy predictions as to the certain defeat of the democratic party at the next election. This proposed law provided that no liquor could be manufactured or sold in towns of less than 1,000 population. Freedom of shipment from "wet" towns in the state had already almost nullified prohibition in some sections of the state and so in another act it was provided that the place of delivery was under the law to be regarded as the place of sale. There was so much opposition that a meeting of the democratic executive committee was called to consider what course should be pursued. Wisely, the committee declared liquor legislation not a party matter and declined to take any action. Both bills were passed and became laws.
Under these laws prohibition had a chance to prove its possibilities. Everywhere the results were good and sentiment for prohibition grew fast. State-wide prohibition, however, was regarded as a thing to be achieved in the distant future. But when the special session of 1908 was called, a wave of interest and enthusiasm on the subject appeared and rose steadily. When the legislature assembled it was flooded with petitions and sentiment became so strong that a bill was p339 passed submitting the question of state prohibition to the voters, for decision at a special election. A campaign followed which was without political significance, leaders of both parties taking part. Nor did it have any special interest although bitterly contested. Prohibition was carried by a majority of more than 44,000, only twenty counties voting against it and the western counties giving it heavy majorities. The law was effective and highly beneficial from the beginning. From time to time, in accordance with public sentiment it has been supplemented by other laws designed to check the traffic across state lines, such as limiting the amount that might be received within a given period.
In the years following 1900 there was such a vast increase of local and special legislation that the legislative machinery was clogged by it at every session. Many of those who served in the legislature recognized the evil clearly, but the pressure of the system was too great to be overcome. In his message of 1911 Governor Kitchin recommended the amendment of the constitution in several respects but chiefly in the direction of limiting special legislation. At the same session a bill for submitting the question of a constitutional convention to the people was introduced, but received little consideration. Two years later there was considerable interest in the subject and quite extended discussion in the state press before the legislature met. When the session began there were before the members numerous proposals for amendment and a bill for a convention. The legislature admitted the necessity for amendment, but decided against a convention and created a commission on constitutional amendments composed of five persons chosen by the Senate from its own members, eight chosen similarly by the House, and five others appointed by the governor. The commission was charged with the consideration of all proposals for amendment, and the recommendation of such as it decided upon to a special session of the legislature. The commission was appointed and in July submitted fourteen amendments which were laid before the special session held in September. Ten were adopted which proposed (1) to substitute the phrase "War between the States" for the words "insurrection and rebellion p340 against the United States"; (2), to increase the compensation of members of the General Assembly; (3), to restrict local, private, and special legislation; (4), to fix the day of inauguration of the governor; (5), to prevent delays in trials by providing emergency judges; (6), to remove certain obsolete sections from the constitution; (7), to reform the system of taxation; (8), to prohibit special charters of corporations by the General Assembly; (9), to prohibit special charters of towns, cities, and incorporated villages by the General Assembly; and (10) to require a six months term in the public schools.
While these amendments were pending the democratic convention of 1914 met and refused to endorse the amendments or to consider them in any way, and omitted all mention of them from the platform. The republican convention endorsed them but with no particular enthusiasm and the party as a whole was opposed. An attempt to rouse enthusiasm and to carry on a campaign for ratification was made by a small group who were favorable, but the action of the democratic convention had been fatal and all the amendments were defeated, the slaughter of the taxation clause being particularly complete. The legislature of 1915, however, which met immediately afterwards, promptly re-submitted the third, fifth, eighth, and ninth amendments which were ratified in 1916. The discussion of the subject performed an educational service of value. One result was seen in 1917 when the legislature, by overwhelming majorities in each House, submitted the question of a convention to the vote of the people.
The politics of the period since 1900 has been in the main uninteresting. The democrats have been completely and securely in power in branches of the state government and in a large majority of the counties. Within the party there have been exciting contests but the campaigns between the two parties have been rather uninterested as well as uninteresting. The republican party is strong enough in the state to threaten uninterrupted tenure of power, and there is a growing independent element, so democratic control cannot be said to be irresponsible in a party sense, but the threat of defeat p341 is not serious and there have in consequence been tendencies, apparent at times, towards a disregard by a certain element of political leaders of what the masses desired and even demanded, and conservatism has been entirely in control. The primary, adopted in 1915, has had no fair trial, but is likely sometime to become a powerful instrument in the hands of the people.
In 1903 there was a long contest in the democratic caucus of the legislature for the nomination for United States senator between J. S. Carr, Locke Craig, R. B. Glenn, Lee S. Overman, and C. B. Watson, resulting finally in the choice of Overman who was elected. Pritchard retired from the Senate with the friendship and liking of the state, even so stalwart and partisan an opponent as the News and Observer paying him a tribute as a broad-minded public servant. His later appointment to the bench was popular with democrats as well as republicans and he has steadily grown in public estimation. In 1912 there was another bitter senatorial contest between Senator Simmons and Governor Kitchin with Chief Justice Clark running far behind. Aycock had announced his candidacy just before his death. The result in the primary was a majority for Simmons over both his opponents of more than twenty thousand. In 1914 Overman was without opposition in his own party and in the first popular election of senator defeated A. A. Whitener by thirty-four thousand votes.
Three of the four gubernatorial contests in the democratic party have been intense. In 1904 there was an excited pre-convention campaign between R. B. Glenn, Charles M. Stedman, W. D. Turner, and T. F. Davidson, but with only the first two really having a chance. Glenn was nominated on the fifth ballot and in November carried the state by forty-nine thousand, defeating Charles J. Harris, the republican candidate. In 1908 there was an intense contest between Locke Craig, W. W. Kitchin, and Ashley Horne. The convention which met in Charlotte was deadlocked for almost a week, but Kitchin was finally nominated on the sixty-first ballot and in the election defeated J. Elwood Cox by thirty-eight thousand majority. Locke Craig was nominated without opposition in p342 1915 and ran against Thomas Settle on the republican ticket and Iredell Meares on the progressive ticket, defeating both with a majority of more than fifty-six thousand. Meares led Settle by more than six thousand. In 1916 Thomas W. Bickett, who had leaped to state-wide reputation by his nominating speech in behalf of Ashley Horne in 1908, and had been nominated for attorney-general when he was not a candidate for the office, defeated Lieutenant-Governor E. B. Daughtridge in the primary by twenty-six thousand. The republicans nominated Frank A. Linney, and a spirited campaign followed in which the two candidates carried on a joint canvass, marked by debate of a high order and fine spirit. Bickett received a majority of forty-seven thousand.
Since 1901 there has been a marked tendency towards long terms for members of Congress. But few republicans have been elected. E. Spencer Blackburn was elected in the eighth district in 1900 and 1904. John M. Morehead in the fifth, and Charles H. Cowles in the eighth were elected in 1908 and served each one term; and James J. Britt was elected in the tenth district in 1914. Of the democratic members in the period, John H. Small has served since 1899; E. W. Pou and Claude Kitchin since 1901; E. Y. Webb since 1903, H. L. Godwin since 1909; and Charles M. Stedman and R. L. Doughton since 1911. During the same time, W. W. Kitchin, who had been elected in 1896, served until his resignation in 1908; Charles R. Thomas from 1899 until his voluntary retirement in 1911; and Robert N. Page from 1903 until his voluntary retirement in 1917. As a consequence, when the democrats came into power in the country in 1913, North Carolinians were in a position of greater influence than ever before. During the period since 1913 Simmons has been chairman of the finance committee and Overman chairman of the rules committee and acting chairman of the judiciary committee in the Senate. In the House Claude Kitchin was first majority leader and since then chairman of the ways and means committee. E. W. Pou is chairman of the rules committee, Hannibal Godwin and R. L. Doughton hold chairmanships of lesser importance. These, with Josephus Daniels, the Secretary p343 of the Navy, and a number of other important officials, have put the state in a remarkably prominent position.
As yet the republican party has not grown in strength and power as might have been expected with the negro vote eliminated. Three things serve to explain this failure to gain more. One is the fact that the party has never openly accepted and pledged its support to the suffrage amendment, although no one doubts that the great majority of the party rejoice at the exclusion of the negro. In 1906 the party platform demanded an extension of the grandfather clause to 1920, but that was capable of a double interpretation and the rank and file of the people in the state, remembering the negro in politics, demand a more definite pledge. Another cause is a widespread fear that republican success might mean the re-opening of the question of the special tax bonds and possibly their payment. This is highly unlikely but it is nevertheless widely believed with much political effect. The third and most important reason is the leadership of the party.
Since 1872 the control of the republican party has been largely in the hands of Federal office-holders whose quarrels over the spoils have alienated thousands of young men whose political affiliations were still to be formed, not to mention many older men not hostilely inclined towards the political doctrines of the party. Nor has the situation met with approval in the party. Judge Bynum, one of the foremost men in the state in ability and character, after the state convention of 1904, thus expressed himself:
The time has come in the tide of Republican politics in North Carolina when one of two things must be done: Either the Federal office-holders must own, control and manage the affairs of the party absolutely, as they seem to be doing at this convention, or they must abdicate and allow the party to be managed and its policy shaped by those whose policies and principles are governed by other considerations than office-getting, greed, grab and graft. If the Federal office-holders continue in control, then no self-respecting man can or will be induced to take part in Republican politics in this state. If they are forced to abdicate, as should be done, then there is a future for the party. This may as well be said here and now. The party seems to be drifting without a leader or any one who has the courage to speak above a whisper. Everything is subrogated to the chance of being a delegate or getting an office. The thoughtful, prudent p344 people of North Carolina never will and never ought to consent to the management of the affairs of this great state by such an irresponsible cabal as now controls the affairs of the Republican party of this state.
When criticised for this utterance, he replied:
"The rank and file of the Reparation Party in this State constitute a band of Spartan heroes — noble men who have pronounced political principles and convictions in which they believe and on which they act for their own and their country's good. But some of those who would lead them are little more than political cutthroats and pirates. It was said of Washington that he was first in war, first in peace and first in the hearts of his countrymen. It may, with equal truth, be said of these men that they are always at war, never at peace and forever in the pockets of their countrymen."
The same idea was expressed by Mr. Taft in 1906, while Secretary of War, who said in a speech in Greensboro:
"I do not wish to seem ungracious, but I must be candid. In my judgment the Republican Party in North Carolina would be much stronger as a voting party if all the Federal offices were filled by Democrats. Of course I cannot deny that a wish to fill public office is an honorable aspiration, whether by appointment or by election, but when all hope of choice by the people is abandoned, and everything is given over to influencing a distant appointing power to choose particular men to perform official functions in a community politically hostile to those men, the result is not good for the men or the community. * * * As long, however, as the Republican Party in the Southern States shall represent little save a factional chase for Federal offices in which business men and men of substance in the community have no desire to enter and in the result of which they have no interest, we may expect the present political conditions of the South to continue."
The view of a more recent convert, Marion Butler, who since the disappearance of the populist party has been a republican, is thus pithily expressed:
They wanted it to grow smaller, they wanted their States to stay Democratic as to their State and local governments, and they wanted to have a small coterie of men calling themselves the Republican Party who would control and dish out the Federal patronage among themselves.
Their constant regret has been that the party was already so large that there was not an office for each Republican. If this condition could have been reached then there would have been perfect harmony for the first time in the Republican Party in certain localities and States in the South, provided they had not quarrelled over the question as to which one was entitled to the biggest office.
p345 These so‑called leaders often made themselves offensive to the best white people so as to make it sure that no decent member of the other party would join the republican party.
So fierce became the contest that in 1906 the following statement was incorporated into the platform:
It is therefore now resolved, That the State Executive Committee of the Republican Party be and is hereby instructed to assemble, and each and every member thereof, in Greensboro, North Carolina, on the first day of September, 1906, and on the first days of March and September in each and every year hereafter, and shall then and there before adjournment consider applications for appointment to all Federal offices in North Carolina, the terms of which shall expire in the next six months, and to recommend to the appointing power in each instance a suitable person for each position, except in such districts as are represented by a Republican Congressman. That no application shall be considered unless the applicant shall state in his application that he will submit to the action and recommendation of the committee without further contest.
In 1912 the party was split into two factions and President Taft in his search for delegates withdrew ten nominations for federal office from the Senate in order to force agreement. A conference was held in Washington in March in which the leaders agreed to support Taft. But the party had no love for him remembering his Greensboro speech and cherishing a bitter grudge against him for the appointment of a democrat, Judge H. G. Connor, to the district judgeship, an appointment, by the way, that has begun to destroy the distrust and even hatred of the Federal courts generally, and with just cause, prevalent in the state since Reconstruction. So when the state convention met, the Roosevelt delegates captured it and passed resolutions which bitterly condemned Taft. The party then divided for the campaign.
These are the things which have militated against a more equal division of parties in the state. The republican party has still, however, a great opportunity and in the course of time may grasp it.
The absence of the negro from politics has had many good results in North Carolina. Not the least of these was thus described by Aycock:
I declared in my speech of acceptance that with the adoption of the Constitutional Amendment, "We will have peace in the land." "There p346 will be rest," I said, "from political bitterness and race antagonism. Industry will have a great outburst. We shall have intellectual freedom. Public questions will stand or fall in the court of reason and not of passion. We shall forget the asperities of those years and shall go forward into the twentieth century a united people, striving in zeal and in generous rivalry for the material, intellectual and moral upbuilding of the State. May an era of good feeling among us be the outcome of this contest."
There are those among us who fear that these predictions have not been fulfilled. These doubters are looking upon the surface of things. They do not look at the great underlying truth. They declare that bitterness is more rife than ever before; that the era of good feeling has not come; that criticism is more severe than ever; that freedom of speech is not permissible. They have mistaken appearance for fact. There is bitterness between individuals. There is strife and enmity between some people. There is, of course, a reckless criticism. Our people had been so long restrained by the necessity of staying united in order to face the danger of negro control of the state, that when they first gained their freedom under the Constitutional Amendment they naturally felt called upon to exhibit their freedom from restraint by frequent and undue criticism. * * * Speeches and publications which heretofore would have attracted universal approval or universal condemnation, according to the side which they were on, have met with a divided support and a divided criticism. Controversies have grown large about small things. Personalities have frequently taken the place of the discussion of great problems. All of these things have been done in assertion of our new-born freedom. They are ever the first fruits of liberty of speech. They mark the beginning of real liberty, which will hereafter be restrained by judgment. They show that the minds of our people are active; that they are alert even in fault-finding. They can be destructionists, but this is the beginning of the constructive power as well. If we pull down now, we shall build hereafter. If we criticise now, we shall in the future learn that effective criticism is that only which is based on fact, and then only to be indulged in for the correction of evil and for the purpose of turning men toward better things. This bitterness and this strife has not reached the great body of the people. They have gone about their work undisturbed by fault-finding and the asperities of discussion. They have found in industry the best outlet for their superabundance of energy and they are bringing to pass a wonderful day in this state.
b The statement is true in the most strictly literal sense. Gov. Aycock died while he was giving a speech on education, to the Alabama Education Association; in mid-sentence, his last word being "education." Connor and Poe, The Life and Speeches of Charles Brantley Aycock, p206.
Images with borders lead to more information.
The thicker the border, the more information. (Details here.)
Hamilton et al.
History of NC
A page or image on this site is in the public domain ONLY
if its URL has a total of one *asterisk.
If the URL has two **asterisks,
the item is copyright someone else, and used by permission or fair use.
If the URL has none the item is © Bill Thayer.
See my copyright page for details and contact information.
Page updated: 7 Feb 12