The Door of Hope
Republican Presidents and the First Southern Strategy, 1877-1933
Publication Year: 2011
How did the political party of Lincoln--of emancipation--become the party of the South and of white resentment? How did Jefferson Davis’s old party become the preferred choice for most southern blacks? Most scholars date these transformations to the administrations of Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan. Edward Frantz challenges this myopic view by closely examining the complex and often contradictory rhetoric and symbolism utilized by Republicans between 1877 and 1933.
Presidential journeys throughout the South were public rituals that provided a platform for the issues of race, religion, and Republicanism for both white and black southerners. Frantz skillfully notes the common themes and questions scrutinized during this time and finely crafts comparisons between the presidents’ speeches and strategies while they debated the power dynamics that underlay their society.
This fresh and fast-paced volume brings new voices to the forefront by utilizing the rich resources of the African American press during the administrations of Presidents Hayes, Harrison, McKinley, Roosevelt, Taft, and Hoover. Although these Republicans ultimately failed to build lasting coalitions in the states of the former Confederacy, their tours provided the background for future GOP victories.
Published by: University Press of Florida
Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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After years of work and countless hours poring through sources, drafts, manuscripts, and books, it hardly seems sufficient to merely acknowledge some of the people that helped along the way. There is no doubt that without the wit, wisdom, and warmth provided to me by many people, I would have never made it this far. No words that I can write, no matter how eloquent...
Introduction. Race, Republicans, and Region: The Context for Presidential Tours of the South
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As Abraham Lincoln stepped off a barge to behold the conquered Confederate capital on April 4, 1865, Richmond’s African American population flocked to surround him. The freed slaves received Lincoln, whom they called “Father Abraham,” with a mixture of awe and jubilation. For them, the day of freedom had finally arrived. When Lincoln reached the upper...
1. Hitchhiking on the Hayes Highway: The First Southern Tour, 1877
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In this diary entry from September 1877, president Rutherford B. Hayes was characteristically brief in his description of what was by then known as his “southern tour.” But it would be misleading to think that the importance of the southern sojourn was commensurate with the length of Hayes’s diary entry. In fact, the tour represented the culmination of...
2. Harrison’s Haggard Haul: The Second Southern Tour, 1891
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On April 17, 1891, Lucas Clapp of Memphis, Tennessee, stood at a dais to introduce president Benjamin Harrison. The president was in the midst of a nationwide whistle-stop tour. He had already spent three days in the South, stopping quickly in a succession of towns to deliver a speech before moving on. Most of the introductions that Harrison received during...
3. McKinley’s Methodical Measures: The Third Southern Tour, 1898
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W. Calvin Chase, editor of the African American Washington Bee, asked this question in a December 1898 editorial upon the return of president William McKinley from a tour of Georgia and Alabama. The answer to Chase’s pertinent question was a disappointing and qualified “yes.” The outbreak of patriotism during the Spanish-American War that year knew...
4. The Encore Expedition: McKinley Returns, 1901
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It would have been hard to imagine such an opinion back in 1877 when Rutherford B. Hayes began what would become an important Republican ritual. Yet by the spring of 1901, the New York Sun was arguing that the tours were in fact more important than the traditional business of presidential administrations. William McKinley’s grand national tour, which...
5. Roosevelt Rides Roughshod: TR’s Southern Tour, 1905
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So concluded the Springfield Republican in the midst of Theodore Roosevelt’s tour through southern states in October 1905. The piece, which was reprinted in T. Thomas Fortune’s New York Age, resonated with many. Although the editorial had Roosevelt in mind, the piece could just as well have been written about any of the southern tours made by Republican...
6. Taft Toils Throughout: The Frequent Southern Campaigns, 1908–1913
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Such was the opinion of Cleveland Gazette editor Harry Smith. At the time, William Howard Taft was in the midst of an aggressive campaign to lure whites from the Upper South into the folds of the Republican Party. Simultaneously, Taft—the man who as secretary of war had watched as Theodore Roosevelt mishandled the Brownsville situation in 1906...
Epilogue. Hoover’s Harrowing Handling: The Southern Speeches, 1928–1933
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Early in 1933, with the United States teetering on the edge of collapse, twenty-year-old Richard Nixon, a junior at Whittier College, was serving as student body vice president. Two years his senior, Ronald Reagan had just landed his first radio job in Davenport, Iowa. Years later, both would play vital roles in reshaping the Republican Party in the image of the white...
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About the Author, Further Reading
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Edward O. Frantz is associate professor of history at the University of Indianapolis. His publications include “Defining Eisenhower’s America: War, Power and Race Relations, 1941–1961,” in America, War, and Power: Defining the State, 1775–2005, edited by A. James Fuller and Lawrence Sondhaus (Routledge, 2007).
Page Count: 310
Illustrations: 4 tables, 28 b&w illustrations
Publication Year: 2011