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Union League of America

south, party, negroes, vote and republican

UNION LEAGUE OF AMERICA, The began in 1862 in order to check the spread of disaffection to the United States government and to "make loyalty effective." The movement was spontaneous; the members of the United States Sanitary Commission began the organiza tion in 1862, in Ohio, Philadelphia and New York. Leagues were formed all over the North before the end of 1863. The members were pledged to repudiate any political belief that conflicted with unconditional loyalty to the Union. Several similar orders were absorbed by the Union League. The organization dis tributed more than 5,000,000 political pamphlets; recruited negro regiments; sent teachers to in struct the negroes and demanded negro suf frage in 1865. The league was gradually ex tended into the South among the "Unionists? and during 1865-66 had a strong membership of whites in the mountain districts of that sec tion. In 1867 negroes were admitted to the order in the South and at once nearly all of the whites deserted. From 1867 to 1876 the league and its offshoots formed the "machine' of the Radical party in the South. It controlled the negro vote absolutely and organized it well; it made all nominations for office, and severely disciplined those who disobeyed orders. A con stitution and ritual were adopted for .us in the South. There was a weird initiation ere- mony to impress the negroes. The m bers swore to vote for no one except members of their own order. An ex-Confederate could not join unless he would acknowledge that his course during the war had been treason, and under no circumstances was he eligible to office in the order or to become a candidate for po litical office. The administration of the league

was in the hands of the so-called carpet-baggers or political adventurers from the North. The local assemblies were called councils; these together formed the Union League of America, with headquarters in each Southern State and general headquarters in New York. In the councils the negroes were drilled in the faith of the Republican party, a catechism being pre pared for that purpose. There was complaint that the league was a cause of disorder and violence among the blacks on account of its in cendiary teachings. At one time it was said that the membership reached 500,000 in the South. In the North after 1865 the order gradually died out, the surviving leagues be coming social clubs, the chief of which is the Union League Club of New York City, in corporated 16 Feb. 1865. It has had a great influence on Republican politics and of late years has opposed the progressive members of that party. By many it is considered one of the greatest strongholds of conservatism and reaction in America. As an institution of Re construction the Union League was most im portant. The rigid organization and the strict control imposed by it upon the blacks made it possible for them to vote as a race and vote the Republican ticket. Without the admirable discipline of the order, the few leaders of the Radical party in the South would have been unable to prevent the Conservative or Demo cratic party from controlling the votes of the negroes, thus preventing the objects of the Reconstruction.