Conflicting Cultures: Conflicting Communities

What intensified Southern apprehensions and aversions to the Republican view of Reconstruction as presented by men like Tourgee was the idea that in order to “save” the South, it would essentially have to be “desouthernized,” a term found in a draft of one of Tourgee’s speeches around the time of the Loyalist Convention in Philadelphia.

The concept of replacing a “southern” culture with a “national” culture and the immediate enfranchisement of the African American citizens were ideas creating major fissures within the Republican Party and, deepening hostilities between the two major parties at all levels of governance. From August through September, 1866 there were three separate Republican conventions held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – symbolic as the cradle of independence: First the National Union convention of the pro-Johnson Republican Party, held in mid-August; Second the Southern Loyalists (attended by Tourgee), held at the National Hall in Philadelphia in early September. And the third, the Northern Unionists, held at the same time as the convention of Southern loyalists, but at the Union League House in Philadelphia.

During the Southern Loyalist Convention, Tourgee served on the Committee on Reconstruction, whose main objective was to secure passage of the 14th and 15th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution by insisting Congress secure the commitment of the “re-entering” Southern states to uphold individual rights and liberties of all their citizens.

Notes of a speech in Pennsylvania, fall 1866. Courtesy of Chautauqua County Historical Society