Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Redeemers, a loose political coalition in the post-Civil War U.S. South, consisted of prewar Democrats, Union Whigs, Confederate army veterans, and individuals interested in industrial development. They sought to "redeem" the South by undoing the changes brought about by the Civil War. Although the various groups had widely different visions of the South, they shared a commitment to reduce the scope of state government and institute stricter economic and political control of blacks. The process of their coming to power was commonly referred to as Redemption.
In the late 1870s Redeemers won many state and local offices by vowing to dismantle the "corrupt" Reconstruction system. In power they cut government spending, shortened legislative sessions, lowered politicians' salaries, scaled back public aid to railroads and corporations, and reduced support for public education. They also passed laws requiring blacks to sign labor contracts and imposing poll taxes and taxes on tools and farm animals--measures that placed an added burden on tenant farmers and sharecroppers, black and white alike. The Redeemers' policies inhibited regional economic development and exacerbated the class strife and racial violence that followed the war.
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