The Kentucky Library Research Collections in the Department of Library Special Collections recently acquired a rare broadside related to civil rights in Kentucky after the Civil War which includes a blistering attack on Democrats who were supportive of Reconstruction and universal male suffrage. The broadside was addressed to voters in Henderson County, but it discussed political wrangling within Kentucky’s Democratic Party.
The broadside begins with a diatribe against the “Radical party led by the dominant majority in Congress on the one side and the friends of Constitutional government on the other—This Radical party is led by those men in the North, who for many years have been notorious sectional agitators, enemies of the Union and the Constitution, and who ceased to proclaim their hostility to them both, only when the war offered them the means of gratifying their malignity, and effecting their sectional and selfish ends.”
After providing a list of 5 grievances that the state party had with national leaders, the broadside writer turns his attention to recent events within Kentucky’s Democratic Party. Chief among them was two conventions called to elect a state party leader. Both meetings were held in Louisville; one in May and the other in June. The more conservative faction of the party elected Alvin Duvall as party chairman, and the liberal leaning members elected General Edward H. Hobson. Interestingly, the writer never refers to Hobson by his full name, only as General Hobson. He had no kind words for the General, saying “Hobson is supported by every radical newspaper in the State, and every one, which has delighted to stigmatize Northern Democrats as copperheads and traitors. And his election is advocated and desired and will be hailed as a cheering omen by every radical man and newspaper in the North, who has spoken or who will speak of it.”
The writer surmised that if Duvall was elected as the true leader of the Kentucky’s Democratic Party, “the friends of the Constitution will accept it as a cheering omen of approaching triumph, as the breaking light of a glorious morn, and after a long and dreary, and almost hopeless night, and encouraged by the omen, will follow Kentucky’s lead as in 1798, to a universal national triumph, and the restoration of our ancient liberties.”