The 44th Congress witnessed a massive shift from Republican to Democrat membership, overwhelmingly accounted for by the states of the former Confederate South. The instigators of this were the ‘Redeemer’ Democrats. During the Reconstruction that followed the Civil War, federal forces occupied the South and Republicans, backed by freed slaves, ‘carpet-baggers’ (incoming northerners seeking to profit from Reconstruction) and poor whites, dominated the government of the southern states. The Redeemers (mainly rich landowners and businessman) sought to regain the South by mobilizing their core vote and discouraging (often violently) voting by their rivals. Paramilitary groups, like the White League, Red Shirts, and Ku Klux Klan abetted this agenda. The Compromise of 1877 whereby contested election of the Republican, Rutherford Hayes, was waved through in return for demilitarization of the South, effectively sealed the Redeemers’ domination of this region. By the 48th Congress, there were no southern House Republicans.
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