Campaigning for the African American vote in Georgia, 1894

A primary source by the State Democratic Party of Georgia

Color Voters Read, broadside, 1894. (GLC09000)In the gubernatorial and local elections of 1894, the Democrats and the newly formed People’s Party or Populist Party vied for black votes in Georgia. Neither the Democrats nor the Populists called for racial equality in their platforms. Georgia’s Populist Party, led by Tom Watson, however, invited two black delegates from the Colored Farmers’ Alliance to their convention in 1892, and in 1894 appointed an African American to the state campaign committee in an attempt to garner support. The “third party” even called for an end to the state’s convict lease system, which kept African American convicts in bondage. The incumbent Democrats fought back by showcasing their record of “supporting” education for African Americans, as shown in this broadside.

The broadside is an account of the school and poll taxes levied on citizens as well as the amounts given to schools. Although poll taxes, or voting fees, existed sporadically throughout American history, in 1877 Georgia had been the first state to enact a “poll tax” to effectively disenfranchise many poor black voters. A grandfather clause allowed anyone who could vote prior to the Civil War (white men) to retain their right to vote regardless of literacy tests, poll taxes, or other mechanisms.

The Democrats attempted to demonstrate, using the statistics in the broadside, that the system of taxation benefited the education of African American children. In this view, taxes collected from African American Georgians paid for approximately 25 percent of the salaries for black teachers while money collected from white Georgians paid for the other 75 percent. The document ends with the assertion that “the negro received more than three times as much money, as he pays in to the Public Treasurer from all sources.” Democrats wanted to convince African Americans with voting eligibility that their schools had been and would continue to be funded if they only voted for the Democratic candidates.

Questions for Discussion

Full content is available to our community and Affiliate School members only. To view it, please apply for your school to be an Affiliate School, sign up to be a community member, or log in.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Already have an account?

Please click here to login and access this page.

How to subscribe

Click here to get a free subscription if you are a K-12 educator or student, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program, which provides even more benefits.

Otherwise, click here for information on a paid subscription for those who are not K-12 educators or students.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Become an Affiliate School to have free access to the Gilder Lehrman site and all its features.

Click here to start your Affiliate School application today! You will have free access while your application is being processed.

Individual K-12 educators and students can also get a free subscription to the site by making a site account with a school-affiliated email address. Click here to do so now!

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Why Gilder Lehrman?

Your subscription grants you access to archives of rare historical documents, lectures by top historians, and a wealth of original historical material, while also helping to support history education in schools nationwide. Click here to see the kinds of historical resources to which you'll have access and here to read more about the Institute's educational programs.

Individual subscription: $25

Click here to sign up for an individual subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Make Gilder Lehrman your Home for History


Upgrade your Account

We're sorry, but it looks as though you do not have access to the full Gilder Lehrman site.

All K-12 educators receive free subscriptions to the Gilder Lehrman site, and our Affiliate School members gain even more benefits!

How to Subscribe

K-12 educator or student? Click here to edit your profile and indicate this, giving you free access, and here for more information on the Affiliate School Program.

Not a educator or student? Click here for more information on purchasing a subscription to the Gilder Lehrman site.

Add comment

Login or register to post comments