Political Correspondence Related to African-American Political Activity in Charlottesville, Virginia

Letter from J.H. Rives (Republican Candidate for Mayor of Charlottesville) to J. Snowden Wood (Republican County Chairman)

Rives is warning Wood to avoid African American participation in Republican Party activities.

University of Virginia, July 13th, 1896

J. Snowden Wood, Esq., Ivy Depot,

Dear Sir: When I went down the street this morning I was told that certain colored men had been canvassing the city and urging the election of a colored man to the position of City Chairman and a committee composed entirely of colored men.

On Saturday you declined to recognize Mr. Cox as chairman without giving any reason for your action.

The colored men who are urging the election of a colored chairman are for your re-election as Chairman of the county. It is therefore fair to presume that the canvass now being made by these colored men, under the circumstances mentioned, is at your instigation or with your consent. If this inference does you any injustice, I beg that you will unite and co-operate with us openly and publicly to put down this dangerous movement which has always injured the Republican party and inured to the benefit of the Democratic party. Every one who has the good of our party at heart must see the necessity of prompt action and you will be judged by the people from the action you now take.

I also beg to point out to you that it is charged and believed that you do not advise or consult with Republicans. I know that you have never consulted with me or any member of your commitee appointed in February, 1896, and that your actions, if not influenced by the counsel of your nephew, Mr. John Fishburne, and other Democratic leaders, is certainly in the interest of the Democratic party. I beg to remind you that at the last Republican convention you consulted Mr. Duke many times. I saw that.

To push the colored man forward just at this time when the Democratic party is disrupted and so many leaders and so many of the rank and file are coming over to us is just what the Democrats of this county wish you to do, that they may call us the 'Nigger Party,' and thus arouse prejudice.

There is but one course for you to pursue if you desire to regain the confidence of the Republicans of this County.

1st.--You must disavow the action of these colored Canvassers.

2ndly.--You must unite heartily with all persons who are desirous of having our Committees represented by the intelligence of the party.

Any other course will only increase the distrust.

Very Respectfully


Letter from William Wilkey to L.W. Cox (Republican City Chairman)

Wilkey is reporting on the
enrollment of African-American members of the Hobart-McKinely Campaign Club.

October 20, 1896

Mr. Cox,

I send you a roll of the colored members of the McKinley and Hobart Club. It has been hard work for me to get them together. By next Saturday I suppose there will be fifteen or twenty more. They all seem very anxious for their badges. I wish you could send them to me as soon as possible. I was talking to that young man that was in the office (I do not know his name) about some lady speakers and also another good gentleman speaker to come down here. They all appear to be very anxious to hear good speakering and by the way every thing appears we could I think have a right good meeting. As the time is growing short we will have to hurry if we are to have any speaking here. I think we will carry this precinct, by a good margin. Please let me hear from you as soon as possible.

Wm. Wilkey

Lindsays Va.

Letter from J. Augustus Michie[?] to L.W. Cox

Michie is reporting on the organization of Republican Party delegates from Albemarle County (several African Americans mentioned)

March 20, 1900

My dear sir,

I wish you to see that Wood and Rives do not have their way in organizing the county convention. . . . You must not allow Rives and Wood to take snap judgement upon you. . . .

Begins recommending specific people to serve as delegates from different parts of the county, including: Cobham. Hinkey one man and (a) colored man. Scottsville, Murch Omohundro and old post-man[?] Curtis Bridge and (2) colored men. Porters Precinct (3) colored men , Beard and two others. Covesville, 1 colored man. Howardsville, 1 colored man. North Garden, (2) white men. Ivy (2) white men. Owensville (2) colored men. Court House Jesse Sammons for Senator. Monticello House John Dickinson and ------[?]

If you can't get Charley Cox get Gilbert Ricks who is a very reliable colored man. I know him well. . . . I think a colored man named Kenney can be relied upon to represent Ivy.

Letter from Raleigh C. Minor to the members of the Constitutional Convention

Minor presents his plan of Plural Voting as a solution to achieving constitutional disfranchisement.

Charlottesville, Va., 1901.

To the Members of the Constitutional Convention:

There are many great questions before you for settlement, but in far-reaching importance to our sister States of the South, and indeed to the whole Union, as well as to the State of Virginia, none approaches that of the suffrage. Here is an opportunity for broad statesmanship, which, if taken advantage of, may once more place Virginia in the proud position of a pioneer in political thought.

The purpose of this paper is to call the earnest attention of the members of the Convention to the plan of PLURAL VOTING, and to urge briefly some reasons for its adoption. The paper is respectfully submitted, with the assurance that each member, feeling profoundly the responsibilities resting upon him in regard to this matter, will weigh carefully, deliberately, and conscientiously any reasonable suggestions that may be offered.

In brief, the plan of PLURAL VOTING now presented contemplates no abridgment or denial of the present rights of citizens in the respect of suffrage, but only that hereafter on additional vote be given to such persons as, by the acquisition of property (say to the amount of $300), have shown intelligence, thrift, enterprise, and an interest in the welfare and stablity of the community--thus giving the balance of power to the great, intelligent middle class, while not denying to the poor and ignorant a voice in the community commensurate with their intelligence and average ability to pass upon the complex public questions that constantly arise.

It is to be observed that this plan differs from the straight property qualification, in that the latter gives to those so young, so unfortunate, or so incompetent, as not to have acquired the property necessary, no voice in public affairs, while the plural vote gives such persons half as much voice as others more fortunate or more intelligent and enterprising. In other words, when reduced to its lowest terms, the plural vote gives to those owning the required property one vote, and to those not owning it one-half vote. The property qualification gives the latter class no vote at all.

On the other hand, while the plan proposed is identical with the present system, in so far as it calls for universal suffrage, it differs from it in that it discards the principle of equality of suffrage--the bane of universal suffrage as it now exists. At the same time, the principal of inequality is definite and certain, and easily overcome by one possessing intelligence and resolution.

Without elaboration, the following are briefly some of the advantages of this plan:

  1. The danger of negro domination is eliminated, without making a discrimination against him, which would tend to destroy the budding self-respect of the race, or else, while compelling him to earn the right to vote by bettering his condition, would tend to leave his poor white neighborhood in a fool's paradise, without ambition to improve his; and which, at the very least, would tend to widen the breach between the two races and to lessen the good influence which the whites should exercise over the inferior race.
  2. It is a plain, simple, self-executing provision, not dependent for its operation upon the prejudiced or partisan interpretation of any registrar or judge of elections.
  3. Since there is no discrimination by reason of race, etc., it is in no degree violative of the fifteenth amendment.
  4. Since it does not deny or abridge the right of any man to vote, it is not violative of the fourteenth amendment, and does not endanger the cutting down of the State's representation in Congress or in the Electoral College. There is a great difference between adding to rights already existent and taking away or abridging such rights.
  5. The plan proposed enlargens the electorate, instead of restricting it. The new constitution could be submitted to this enlargened electorate without danger of defeat, and without violating any precedent afforded by former constitiutional conventions in Virginia, all of which have thus been submitted.
  6. Since no white man is disfranchised under the proposed plan, the pledge of the Norfolk Convention (if that be deemed important) is kept.
  7. Without taking away a single right that now belongs to any white man, negro domination is prevented, and at the same time the balance of power is bestowed where it properly belongs--not upon the very rich, nor upon the very ignorant; but upon the great middle class, whose intelligence and interest in the welfare and stability of the government is evidenced by the acquisition and ownership of property--thereby materially weakening the influence of mere money in politics, and substituting the influence of reason and argument.
  8. The adoption of this plan--as of any property qualification--would sound the death-knell of the political ring (if any such there is, present or prospective) in this State, for such combinations thrive only upon an ignorant and unintelligent electorate.
  9. In so far as it retains universal suffrage, the proposed plan gives every man the protection of the ballot to preserve his rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In so far as it adopts a property qualification, it accords an additional voice for the preservation of property rights, sometimes threatened by communistic ideas. In thus according to property rights the recognition their importance in the body-politic demands, the plan will encourage capital and help to build up our waste places.
  10. The elevation of the standard of intelligence in the electorate would irresistibly tend to raise also the average standard of our public men.
  11. The proposed plan, in short, combines all the advantages of a property qualification with those of universal suffrage, at the same time eliminating the disadvantages of both, and accomplishing every end which the Convention desires to attain.

Can any one maintain reasonably that it is unfair or unjust in the smallest particular; that it is apt to engender a monied aristocracy; that it operates harshly upon the intelligent and industrious; or that it is contrary to democratic or republican institutions? Did not the great political giants of Virginia rise to fame and give us the liberty we now enjoy under a system of suffrage, which, though less fair and just, relied upon the same leavening principle--a property qualification? Universal and equal suffrage was an experiment first tried in Virginia in 1850. It was then an innovation upon our institutions, which experience has not shown to be altogether successful. Why not retain its good features, while discarding those that are vicious and dangerous?

Can it be said to be "contrary to our institutions"--an objection sometimes made to the plan proposed--to return to the good features of a plan only thrown aside as late as 1850, while modifying it so as to meet the demands of the best modern thought with respect to universal suffrage?

May Virginia adopt this plan, and thus set an example and give an object lesson in the science of government, which must, in the course of time, be followed by the ring-ridden States of this country, if this would preserve their liberties.

Should the plan of PLURAL VOTING be adopted the only changes needed in the present Constitution would be as follows:

  1. In line 3, section 1, Article III., after the words "entitled to," add the words "cast one."
  2. At the end of section 1, add the following, or a similar provision: "Every person entitled to vote at any election, who shall during the year next preceding election have paid taxes in county, city, or town in which he offers to vote under the preceding clauses of this section, upon property, real or personal, or both, assessed at $300 or more, shall be entitled to cast one additional vote at such election."

Compare the self-executing simplicity of this provision with the labored ingenuity which attempts to secure negro disfranchisement without disfranchising the white man, who may be equally ignorant, unitelligent, thriftless, or corrupt. Racial hatred and jealousy, the legitimate offspring of the latter plans, will yield to racial emulation to become deserving of the full right of suffrage. Which is the nobler and more elevating sentiment?


Letter from T.G. Flagg, Jr. to L.W. Cox (Republican City Chairman)

Flagg discusses an Regarding African-American candidate from Greene County

November 5, 1920

Mr.L.W. Cox Chairman Republican Committee of Charlottesville, Va.

Dear Sir and Friend:-- I have just found out that up here in Greene County the Democratic organization had a large picture[?] of Pollard the negro candidate for senator put up at or near the Voting Precinct. Did they do this in Albemarle County. I did not see any in our town. Did you. Do you think we have grounds for a contest?

yours truly,

T.G. Flagg Jr.

Letter from L.W. Cox (Republican City Chairman) and T.G. Flagg to State Chairman John E. Beard

Cox requests a postponement of the Republican City Convention to elect delegates to the State Republican Convention in Luray

April 17, 1922

Charlottesville, Va

Hon. John E. Beard, Chairman,

Broadway, Va.

Dear Sir:

In response to your call for City Convention to elect delegates to Congressional Convention at Luray, Va., July 20th, 1922, will say it has been received and doubtless you have been expecting to hear from us before this but we have, after conference with our city committee, decided not to issue the call until after June 13th, 1922, because we are right in the hottest kind of a fight here in the city to elect a member of our party one of the three city commissioners and think it advisable to wait until after that election. We are on the ground here and are thoroughly familiar with conditions here and believe that the decision come to is a wise one at this time.

Furthermore we are doing all the necessary work of getting our voters to pay poll tax, getting their transfers and qualifying them for the fall election.

The official Election Returns show that we in the city cast 396 Republican Votes at the Presidential Election. We therefore wish to call your attention that Charlottesville is entitled to (8) eight delegates instead of (7) seven, so please kindly correct this on your record.

Yours truly,

L.W. Cox, Chairman

T.G. Flagg, Secy.

Letter from Flannagan (President of the Henry Anderson Independent Club) to the Republicans of Charlottesville

Flannagan proposes to hold Republican City Convention May 15th in protest of Cox's (City Chairman) delay

May 5, 1922


At the District Convention of the Republican Party of the Seventh District of Virginia, held at Harrisonburg of City and County Chairmen, were instructed to call Convention or Mass Meetings at once for the purpose of organizing the party electing committeemen, chairmen and other officers and selecting delegates to the District Congressional Convention of the Seventh District to be held at Luray, Virginia in July. The City Chairman of the Republican Party in Charlottesville has ignored the resolutions adopted at the District Meeting above mentioned and to date has refused to call a City Convention or Mass Meeting.

In view of these facts, I, as President of the "Henry W. Anderson Independent Club," at the request of a number of prominent republicans of the City of Charlottesville do hereby ask the Republicans of the City of Charlottesville to meet at a Mass Meeting in the Colonial Hotel to be held on the 15th day of May, 1922, 8 P.M. for the purpose of organizing the party electing a City Republican Committee, a Chairman and other officers and also to select delegates to the Seventh District Congressional Convention and to transact such further business as may come before said committee.

R.N. Flannagan, President,

"Henry Anderson Independent Club"

May 5, 1922.

Letter from Charlottesville Mayor C.W. Allen to Park Agnew, Chair of Va. State Rep. Committee

Allen is attempting to convince Agnew to keep State convention in Charlottesville rather than move it to Roanoke

Date unknown

We have investigated the situation carefully and we guarantee that the City will entertain comfortably 900 delegates, exclusive of the colored contingency, which has been amply provided for.

T.G. Flagg, Jr. Lawyer. Stanardsville, Va.

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