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George H. White, 1852-1918

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George H. White, 1852-1918

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George H. White (1852-1918) was a Republican Congressman from the Second District of North Carolina and the only African-American Representative in Congress between 1897 and 1901. He was also an important figure in the state's Fusionist (or allied Republican and Populist) government. He was elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1896 the same year that the Fusionist Parties extended their majorities in both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. Although his party was handily defeated by the Democrats (who ran on a white supremacist platform) in 1898, White won re-election despite the intensely negative coverage he received from the Democratic press who attacked him as a symbol of  the “negro domination” the Democratic Party lobbied against.

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Erin Glant

Text

George H. White (1852-1918) was a Republican Congressman from the Second District of North Carolina and the only African-American Representative in Congress between 1898 and 1901. Before assuming this national office, White served as a State Representative, finally moving to the United States House of Representatives in 1896 - the same year that the allied Republican and Populist (or Fusionist) Parties extended their majorities in both Houses of the North Carolina General Assembly. This was the second election in which the Fusionists claimed victory against the Democrats who, prior to 1894 had been in control of the state for around twenty five years. (UNC-CH Libraries; Perman 2001, 150-152) In 1898 his party was handily defeated by the Democrats (who ran on a white supremacist platform), but White won re-election despite the intensely negative coverage he received from the Democratic press including the Raleigh News and Observer. White and Josephus Daniels, the editor of the News and Observer, had an intensely antagonistic relationship, so it is perhaps no surprise that he was singled out for attention, particularly as he provided a perfect example for the supposed “negro domination” the Democratic Party lobbied against. (UNC-CH Libraries; Justesen 2000, 1-32) For example, during the campaign of 1900, Daniels repeatedly attacked White for reportedly stating that white men were just as likely to attack black women as black men were to attack white women during a debate over a proposed anti-lynching law. (Anderson 1981, 286-291; Justesen 2000, 10-16) That same year, White, sensing the political mood in his state, opted not to run for re-election. After leaving Congress he moved away from North Carolina claiming that he could no longer live in the state after the passage of the amendment. (Anderson 1981, 294, 297, 308, 312; Justesen 2000, 27-28; UNC-CH Libraries)

Bibliography

Anderson, Eric. Race and Politics in North Carolina, 1872-1901: the Black Second. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State Press, 1981.

Justesen, Benjamin R. "George Henry White, Josephus Daniels, and the Showdown over Disfranchisement, 1900." North Carolina Historical Review 77, no. 1 (Jan. 2000): 1-33.

Perman, Michael. Struggle for Mastery: Disfranchisement in the South, 1888-1908. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Libraries (UNC-CH Libraries). The North Carolina Election of 1898. "George H. White (1862-1948)." http://www.lib.unc.edu/ncc/1898/bios/white.html (Accessed April 11, 2012).

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Erin Glant, George H. White, 1852-1918, Civil War Era NC, accessed May 31, 2020, https://cwnc.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/331.