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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: March 2020

9 - South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi

from Part II - Southern Republican Party Politics at the State Level


Of the eleven ex-Confederate states, the large majority saw Lily-Whites take control of the state party sometime in the late-Nineteenth or early-Twentieth Century. There were, however, three exceptions to this rule: South Carolina, Georgia, and Mississippi. While each of these states eventually saw some form of Lily-Whiteism gain control, the Black-and-Tan organizations managed to hang onto power longer than elsewhere in the South. South Carolina’s Black-and-Tans machine finally fell apart at the 1940 national convention. Georgia began to see a clear decline in black delegates in 1952. And, finally, the Mississippi GOP remained under Black-and-Tan control up to the 1960 national convention. Why did these three state organizations buck the trend? The histories presented in this chapter show that the party organization’s survival in each state relied upon on the ability of individual party leaders to withstand a series of major challenges to their control in the 1920s. Each of the leaders in these state parties – “Tieless Joe” Tolbert in South Carolina, Walter H. Johnson and Ben Davis in Georgia, and Perry Howard in Mississippi – faced considerable opposition, both locally and from national leaders like Harding and Hoover. Yet each leader managed to survive these challenges – at least for a while – through strategic choices, some element of luck, and (in the cases of Johnson, Davis, and Howard) support from black Republicans outside of the South.

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