On the eve of the latest government shutdown ending, NPR takes a look back to the first shutdown, which also had its roots in racism. Plus ça change, America? I’m filing this blog post under “reenactments”.
GONZALEZ: At the time, African-American men were allowed to vote, but they tended to vote Republican. So Democrats didn’t want them voting. Sometimes, it resulted in violence at the polls. And the government would send troops. Nineteenth-century Democrats hated this. So when they gained control of Congress 14 years after the Civil War, they come up with this idea.
RICHARDSON: Simply starve the government until they did what we wanted by holding a gun to the head of the Treasury.
GONZALEZ: Fund the courts and the Army but only if the government stops protecting black voters.
RICHARDSON: There are a number of cartoons in the newspapers about how the Confederates have taken back over Washington and how they are deliberately starving the United States Treasury the same way that they starved Union prisoners.