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The "Election Outrage" of 1886

Germans and African Americans constituted a majority of the population in Washington County during the second half of the 19th century. Radical Republicans regularly won local and state-wide elections due to a political coalition between African Americans and about half of the German population. However, with Democrats regaining power in 1873 and the end of Reconstruction in sight, Germans adopted a new role in the state, and increasingly made efforts to be perceived as "Anglo." Also, African Americans recognized that continuous German migration was an economic threat to them.

In 1886, a populist ticket supported by Democrats and conservative Republicans ran in Washington County and challenged the Republican Party ticket. German support was split, Blacks supported the Republican Party. During the election several masked white men seized ballot boxes in African American communities, and one of the white men was shot. Eight Black men were subsequently arrested and three were lynched. Their names were Alfred Jones, Ephraim Jones, and Shad Felder.

Even though the Election Outrage was federally investigated, it marked the end of Republican success, and altered relations between Blacks and Germans in Washington County for the wors. Other incidents in the county show this as well. Currently, several names of lynching victims from this period are missing from the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama (right).

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