Once the Southern Governors had been rebuked by the Truman Administration, it was clear that they needed to push forward with an actual plan. The Governors were all against Truman’s civil rights program, yet they had varying ideas on the steps needed to stop him. Truman and his administration were not going to make any concessions with the South. They were dead set in their dastardly scheme to sell the South down the river for black northern and yankee liberals votes.
The first step in striking down Truman’s Civil Rights plans would be to unify the Souths efforts and goals. This while at first might seem easy, it wasn’t. All the Southern states opposed the Civil Rights plans but they differed in exactly what could be done to stop it.
“Southern governors remained united only in their opposition to Truman’s proposals; beyond that, cohesion broke down over the appropriate response. Governors Wright, Thurmond, Wiliam Tuck of Virginia, and Laney of Arkansas leaned toward some as yet undefined independent political action. Governors Lane, Cherry, Thompson, and Caldwell were swayed by party loyalty. (The Dixiecrat Revolt…page 82)
The states of Mississippi, Alabama and South Carolina would become the hot beds of revolt and defiance. These three states had a history of manly defiance to outside agitation. All three of the states were part of the first wave of secession in 1861 with South Carolina being the first in 1860. Each of these states had suffered and been decimated during the War of Northern Aggression. Now these three states would proudly carry on the legacy of their ancestors in fighting Truman’s scheme to gain votes. Throughout February and then into the Spring the states were active with political activity. Surprisingly it would be Virginia who first took action when their Governor, William Tuck, asked the state legislators to pass a bill allowing their electors to pick their own candidate if a negrophile was elected at the National Democratic Convention in the summer. Governor Wright by this time was already working on molding a campaign to stop Truman even without the other Governors approval and during the “cooling off” period. Governor Wright once again showed his determination to save his people from destruction.
“Governor Wright kicked off the state’s rights movement with a mass meeting in Jackson on February 12th, Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. The Clarion-Ledger reported that some 4,000 “white Mississippians, blood of the Confederacy and of true Jeffersonian democracy” from the state’s eighty-two counties overflowed onto two streets from Jacksons city audience auditorium. Rebel yells rang throughout the packed arena as Mississippians politicos excoriated President Truman, condemned the national Democratic Party, damned the civil rights legislation, and authorized a regional meeting of “True White Jeffersonian Democrats on May 10.” (the Dixiecrat Revolt… page 83)
Wright had successfully turned his state on the negrophile President and the National Party. Mississippi would be the heart of the Dixiecrat fight. They soon opened their first head quarters in the city and the city itself became the city of the States Rights movement. The state’s Democrats began meeting their and drew up plans to bolt when the time came at the National Democratic Convention. They were also able to get 61,500$ put up for the campaign. Wright and his fellow Mississippians went to work creating an effective States Rights machine to combat the treasonous National Party. They took over many of the civic clubs and woman’s clubs thus securing the state to revolt. Governor Wright made the goal clear when saying his States’ Rights Movement was on “whether or not the majority of the people were going to let negroes run the country”. Wright had secured the founds and the machine for a mass movement and then he rallied his people to his cause.
South Carolinians, like their brothers in Mississippi, were also determined to rebel against the corrupt national party. The electors declared they would not except the nomination of Truman or anyone else who would push for civil rights. Governor Thurmond would rally behind his people once again and would publicly disavow President Truman. His committee which had earlier met with DNC official McGrath, made a report which stated that they were finished with Truman. They further urged the Southern states to take their own action and to elect their own choice for president.
In Alabama the state was in confusion on how to stop Truman. For starters the state was ranked with New Deal Liberals who had gained victory thought out the Roosevelt’s presidency. These Liberals were moderates on the race issue and most straddled the fence. They usually played down the threat of race mixing so they could move on to their “progressive reforms”. Governor Folsom was one of these foolish men.
Folsom was a progressive styled populist who rose from a lower-class backroom. Folsom was a colorful man. “Big Jim” as they called him was indeed a big man, standing at 6ft 8. He came from a mix of Republican, populist and Democrats roots. He was a sort of Huey Long of Alabama but less smart. He rose to the Governorship in 1946, on a populist platform lacking a racial awareness. Jim Folsom’s campaign style was a lot like Governor Gene Talmadge’s or Senator Bilbo’s but unlike the two men he was short sided on the negro problem. It was under his governorship that the battle between liberals and State Righters would erupt. Alabama would need to go State Rights if Dixiecrats were to stop Truman. The State Righters camp were made up of the upper-class planters and rural Whites in the Black belt. This struggle between Northern Alabamian liberals and Black Belt Alabamians was something that played out during the Civil War when North Alabama unionist ran rough shot in the hill country. Governor Folsom had made multiple efforts to franchise blacks and lower-class Whites, luckily the conservatives in the state legislature were able to stop his foolish acts to franchise the rabble. Folsom had already shown himself weak on the bolt and was making hearted attempts to oppose Truman. He, unlike Wright, did not mobilize his state delegates to prepare to bolt the Convention in the summer if Truman was nominated. It was a former Governor, Frank Dixon, who would take up the job of leading the Dixiecrats in his state. Dixon while starting off a reformer like Folsom he was not blind though to the Negro Problem. He was raised by the upper class and was a war hero in World War 1 (which costed him his right leg). Dixon was elected governor in 1938. He saw the writing on the wall during the Roosevelt administration and became more rightwing.
“The tremendous upheavals of the war years, Dixon believed, had cast the South into a political crucible. The region had become a “cross roads democracy,” threatened by the FEPC, whose activities “are helping to cause discontent and danger”. After leaving office in early 1943, Dixon returned to his law practice but did not retire from public life entirely, frequently speaking on the dangers of an expanding federal government intent on upsetting southern race relations. As the war years wore on, and as he witnessed the challenges to the color line across the region, Dixon became increasingly alarmed that the main wartime move of Democratic Party leaders was “the fostering of a social revolution.” He expressed disbelief to an industrialist friend in Charlotte that North Carolinians would tolerate so liberal a man as University of North Carolina president Frank Porter Graham. At whose university, Dixon has been told, “white girls are forced … to sit beside negro men” at school assemblies.” (The Dixiecrat Revolt… page 89)
Dixon was right to be worried. Dixon was no longer governor though so his influence was limited. Being the States Rights Alabama Chieftain, it was his job to outmaneuver the big fool Folsom and get Alabama ready to bolt for the summer Convention. While Gov.Folsom would not be part the Alabama delegation sent to the upcoming Convention, he would nonetheless have power in manipulating who went and how the state voted. Dixon however had a secret weapon. Eugene “Bull” Connor.
Theophilus Eugene Connor, better known as Bull Connor, would play a huge part in the fight against the outside agitators. Connor was the Birmingham Public Safety Commissioner, Birmingham was his city. He was quite the character with his booming voice and slick backed hair. Recently Connor had won admiration throughout Dixie when he arrested arch liberal Henry Wallace’s running mate, yankee Senator Glen Taylor, for planning to break the segregations laws during his speech. Horace Wilkinson was another Birmingham man who would play a part of the Dixiecrat movement in Alabama. Wilkson was a political maverick who knew how to operate in the political arena. The Alabama Dixiecrat movement like Mississippi’s had powerful backers and supporters behind it. In Alabama there was still a powerful weak-kneed party loyalist fraction.
“The campaign for delegates shaped upas a fight between those pledged to bolt the convention and those who declined to commit themselves to defect. Prominent among the anti-bolting loyalist were Senators Hill and Sparkman, Governor Folsom, and former governor Chauncey Sparks. The Loyalist, Folsom remarked, we preferred “doin’ our fussin’ within the [Democratic] party.” (The Dixiecrat Revolt…page 94)
Both the Senators were against Truman civil rights program but were too scared to bolt the party. Governor Folsom on the other hand was just a scalawag buffoon. Folsom was power hungry and desperately looking to unseat the two senators. Folsom had even offered himself as the states favorite son presidential candidate earlier. Senator Hill trying to stop Folsom from taking his Senate seat, cowardly declared himself a delegate and a Truman loyalist. Senator Sparkman on the other hand soon realized that Folsom was a mad dog and disavowed Truman. This political drama and maneuvering really strikes me as pathetic but at the end of the day it aided the Dixiecrats. The liberal wing of the Alabama Democrats was split after between Folsom and the two Senators.
“Alabama’s delegation to the national convention was split almost equally between those pledged to walk out and those pled to remain in the convention.” (The Dixiecrat Revolt…96)
The Dixiecrats had the party Tories where they wanted them. If they bolted, even half the delegation, it would force the rest of the delegation to take definite sides. If the they didn’t agree on a candidate then Truman’s name, simply wouldn’t appear on the ballot in Alabama at all. This was all due to Alabama’s laws which were made in the event a scumbag was to gain the Democratic Nomination, the state party would still have independence.
So far, I have gone into the actual history of the Dixiecrat Movement as it played out in the world, yet there is also a bigger picture to the revolt that should be looked at. The fight between the Tories and the patriots. The Tories in 1948 were those men who believed that national party should be followed no matter what. In the patriot camp you had Southerners who were sick of being treated as a doormat by the National Government and party. The White South were fed up with these conceited windbags telling them how to deal with blacks while they lived in 90%+ White areas. It wasn’t the North’s business. It wasn’t the Federal Governments business. For years the South had tried to become “good Americans”, they fought in all the imperialist wars America got its self in. The South and North were supposed to be untied according to the narrative yet once again the troublesome Yankee was trying to interfere in the Southern way of life.
“Having described their betrayal in violent terms, state’s rights conservatives spoke of their redress in terms of personal vengeance. Resistance to civil rights and the encroachment of the federal government became nothing less than a test of their manhood. Although northerners expected the South to “crawl on its belly”, submit and beg,” White Southerners declared they would not take this insult “lying down.” “We must be men,” one Southerner claimed, “and not a weakling.” Supporting the civil rights polices of the national party was unthinkable for “any red-blooded man”, and a failure to act on this betrayal would brand them as “less than a man”. “Southerners respect a fighter, be his cause right or wrong,” wrote William Workman. “By the same token, they loath the faint hearted.” (The Dixiecrat Revolt page 100)
In 1948, the South was still in touch with their Southern roots. Every White Southerner was expected by society to be a real man. Southern society held people to expectations that were healthy and necessary for the society to continue. Today this way of thinking is foreign to many people in the South. Then again, many in the South aren’t even true Southerners. Our society has been infested with feminine “live left live” way of thinking. We are now told that being a man is shameful, and we ought to dress and act like ninnies. This change of course can be contributed to same people who pushed for the civil rights in 1948. The Dixiecrat movement was dedicated to crushing this vile disease of false egalitarianism before it ever was able to grow and spread.