Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Recon- part 3
As per the terms of their surrender, be it individual State or Confederate Congress, the civilian government within the State was suspended and placed under military occupation. Each of the generals commanding the occupation sectors appointed a general to be military-governor of the reconstructed State. In order to assure a smooth transition back into the Union and a loyal government, each of the generals and their staff were given authority over who could and could not be in the new civilian governments.
The first to be reformed were the individual towns and counties. They seldom had much interference from military rule, save to bare certain individuals from public office. At the top of the list was everyone in the Confederate bureaucracy, both national and State level. Given the lack of skilled people able to take up running the States during the era, these restrictions were soon limited to the higher echelons of either tier of government.
Those in the lower tiers were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to the United States before they could even obtain permission to run for office of apply for employment with the elected official’s department. During the first few years of Reconstruction the number of Southerners attempting to obtain permission was small and primarily at the local level. At State level, seeking permission and swear allegiance to the United States was seen simply as collaborating with the Yankee. Few took the risk.
One who did was Colonel Christopher Fuller of the 77th Cuba Infantry. He fought against United States Marines in his home State for years and swore to his dying day that had the order been given, he would have fought them until his dying day. For too many of his comrades, such a proclamation turned out to be true, though their deaths were not at ripe old ages. Cuba, despite its large slave population in the 1860s, was always a rather reluctant member of the Confederate States.
Its succession convention was held by a handful of mostly self-appointed delegates who represented only the Anglo plantation owning elite. The Spanish plantation owners were divided on the issue and the Mestizo and Freedmen ranchers and small farmers, along with small White land holders were against succession. Many of the Whites took the Union up on the peace terms and resettled in the United States, primarily in Kentucky and Costa Rica.
Fuller was born in Jacksonville into the Anglo elite, though he took a Spanish wife and lived in strongly Catholic Santiago. His home was the first major Confederate city to fall to the Union when it, along with Guantanamo, were targets of the late 1914 invasion. He nor his wife owned any slaves and thus their home was spared the torch, though Marines did help themselves to its wine cellar.
Cuba had always been the oddball of the Confederate States. Its demographic made it the most liberal State, more so than Louisiana. It also was one of great contrasts. It retained slavery in the agricultural and tourist industries yet had the most liberal laws concerning freedmen. Free Blacks were allowed to own property, theoretically including slaves though few were known to have taken advantage of it. Though the land-owning Whites, Anglo and Spanish, dominated politics and government, there was a great deal of legal equality among the races. Enough so that Roosevelt once referred to it as the most egalitarian of the Confederate States.
This attitude would aid it greatly in returning to the Union as an equal among States. Fuller knew there was little point in resisting reunion and believed his fellow Cubans should put the past behind them and move forward. In order to run for office, he was forced to take the oath of allegiance, a process that he said afterwards left a worst taste in his mouth than the cheapest of gin. He was also limited to what political affiliation he could chose from the select granted to him by the USMC Governor-General, that being the four political parties of the Union.
Even after more than fifty years, no self-respecting Southerner would join the Republicans, the party of Lincoln. He also viewed the Labor Party as a thinly veiled platform for socialism. He respected the Progressive Party, for it was the party of Roosevelt and the party that defeated the C.S.A.. Because of the latter, he stayed away. This left him with the Democratic Party, which he found ironic. The US and CS both had their own native Democratic Parties and both followed similar ideologies.
His choice was more than for personal preference. Another similarity between the two government was that one candidate from each party was allowed to run for any given office. As a registered Democrat, Fuller was guaranteed election for the governorship as well as Congressional Representative and possibly Senator, depending on the make up of the State Assembly and that in turn would depend on how many of the recently freed slaves were allowed to vote. Black men had the franchise in the United States, mainly because they comprised less than three percent of eligible voters. Close to thirty percent of Cuba’s population was Black, making the political dynamics far different.
When he ran for office in 1924, when Cuba was declared reconstructed, handily winning a seat in the State Assembly for his district. From there, he continued to preach reconciliation as a veteran of the Confederate Army and as a citizen of the United States. He also fought against the corruption growing in Cuba both from organized crime and from vulture capitalists, with one of his greatest political enemies becoming the former Union privateer Joseph Kennedy, who used his political connections to muscle his way into the privatization of formerly Cuban owned industries.