Who were the post–Civil War Democratic leaders who supposedly saved the South from Yankee domination and preserved the primarily rural economy?

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During Reconstruction, the South remained largely rural. A major shift occurred as white former smallholders lost their land and became indebted to the large landowners, usually through sharecropping. Black farmers entered into similar arrangements. Many plantations were purchased by Northern owners.

Presidential Reconstruction, as designed by Andrew Johnson, included pardons...

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During Reconstruction, the South remained largely rural. A major shift occurred as white former smallholders lost their land and became indebted to the large landowners, usually through sharecropping. Black farmers entered into similar arrangements. Many plantations were purchased by Northern owners.

Presidential Reconstruction, as designed by Andrew Johnson, included pardons for most of the Southern elite. African Americans allied with the Republicans, while the Democrats had high representation of former Confederates. The campaign against Reconstruction, which was underway by 1867, included attacks on black suffrage. Both through legitimate channels and organizations such as the Ku Klux Klan, reactionary elements pushed to restore power to former Confederate supporters. In Georgia, a Klan leader, John B. Gordon, ran for governor in 1868; a rice planter, Gordon had been a general in the Confederate army. One high-ranking leader, the Grand Wizard, was Nathan B. Forrest, who had been a Confederate lieutenant general.

As support for Reconstruction waned, many Northerners supported enhanced self-governance for the Southern states. An 1872 Democratic presidential candidate, Horace Greeley, a New York journalist, advocated for the Northern forces' withdrawal from the South.

The turning point for increased Democratic power came after Johnson left office. In 1876, although Republican Rutherford B. Hayes was elected president, Democratic candidates won elections in the Southern states. They termed themselves the Redeemers. A prominent redeemer in South Carolina was Wade Hampton, from a wealthy slaveholding family whose largest plantations were in Mississippi. He was the Democratic candidate for governor of South Carolina in 1876, and his election was part of the agreement struck with Hayes. Through the Bargain of 1877, not only did the new president recognize Democratic control of the Southern states, he also committed to ending federal intervention, including withdrawing troops from numerous stations.

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