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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The reemergence of the Democratic Party in North Carolina

Shute describes the reemergence of the Democratic Party in North Carolina around the beginning of the twentieth century. Confederate veterans, already leaders in their community, threw their power behind the party and successfully diminished the influence of the Populist and Republican parties.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Raymond Shute, June 25, 1982. Interview B-0054-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WAYNE DURRILL:
Let's move on to about 1900. I guess 1900 was the reestablishment of the Democratic Party, really the establishment of progressive government programs and reorganization of government in this state. JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, Jr.: The Democrats took over from the Populists. In 1898, our congressman from this district was a Populist. He was a Baptist preacher from Polkton.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What was his name? JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, Jr.: I don't recall. I ought to, but I don't. Incidentally, when the Populists tried to come back and they saw the wave of the future, they tried to come in the Democratic Party, and the Democrats wouldn't permit them to come back in. That's what created the significant Republican Party in North Carolina.
WAYNE DURRILL:
What did the general political change mean for Union County? JOHN RAYMOND SHUTE, Jr.: We adjusted to it, of course. We had no choice, really. But we turned toward the Democratic Party in preference to the Republican Party, I presume because of the fact that there were still at that time thousands of Confederate veterans in this county. They influenced politics much more so than we realize and did up until World War I. The Confederate veteran's opinion was always sought, and he was a leader in his community. Most of them were rural people. If you were running for office, you always went to these leaders in the rural areas, and invariably back then they would be the Confederate veterans. I think it was perfectly natural in this particular community that we would become Democratic rather than Republican, because the Republican to us was a new thing, and it had the taint of Populism, which almost overnight had become very unpopular.