1880, white Democrats had effectively assumed control over state and local
governments throughout the South. But this did not mean that blacks simply
acquiesced in the Democratic campaigns to disenfranchise them. Even in 1880,
despite massive violence and fraud at the ballot box, significant black
turnout can be observed in the high Republican returns from a few majority
black counties. The number of Southern black legislators plummeted into
the 60s between 1874-1878. But blacks held on in a few places. Vitually
complete disenfranchisement had to await the passage of disenfranchising
laws in the 1880s (poll taxes, literacy tests, property qualifications,
arbitrary registration practices), and new state constitutions in the South
in the 1890s and early 1900s.
high Republican turnouts in East Tennessee and western North Carolina reflect
not black voting power, but the support of poor mountain whites for the
Republican party. The same measures explicitly designed to disenfranchise
blacks were to have a devastating impact on the turnout of poor whites,
many of whom also could not pass literacy tests or afford to pay poll taxes.
"Grandfather clauses" enabled otherwise disqualified whites to
register to vote (if they had an ancestor qualified to vote in 1867, the
last year before blacks got the franchise), but these clauses shortly expired.