On the nation's centennial, the town of Hamburg, South Carolina, held a terrific parade, which included members of the South Carolina National Guard. Freedmen -- former slaves -- had flocked to the town following the Civil War to begin their new lives. Two white farmers, Thomas Butler and Henry Getzen, disrupted the celebration. Four days later, 100 white supremacists clashed with 30 black National Guardsmen, killing five.
This was purely political terrorism. White Democrats wanted to suppress the black vote, which was overwhelmingly Republican. South Carolina would swing Republican for the last time until 1972 as the Democratic Party succeeded in ending Reconstruction and blocking Civil Rights legislation until 1957 under President Eisenhower. Far from being conservative, Southern Democrats supported liberals such as Adlai Stevenson. Indeed, the klansman Robert C. Byrd became a liberal Senate leader in the 1970s and 1980s. He is the only man to vote against the appointment of the only two black nominees to the Supreme Court.
Thomas Butler and Henry Getzen filed charges of obstructing a public thoroughfare. During the hearing on July 8, 1876, white vigilantes descended upon the community, chased the National Gard into its armory. The white terrorists killed six in the ensuing confrontation, while a white vigilante died.
No charges ever were filed. Democratic Confederate General Wade Hampton exploited the incident to get elected governor. Democrats would hold the governor's mansion for 98 years until the election of Republican James Burrows Edwards. Despite losing the governorship, Democrats would continue to control the Legislature in their Southern Strategy in the post-Civil Rights era of a coalition of white supremacists such as George Wallace and black voters.
As for Hamburg, today it is a ghost town.
Republicans finally prevailed when the old klansmen died out (Byrd died in 2010; Republicans regained control of the West Virginia Legislature four years later).