Jeter C. Pritchard

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Jeter Connelly “J. C.” Pritchard
Jeter C. Pritchard portrait.jpg
Former U.S. Senator from North Carolina
From: January 23, 1895 – March 3, 1903
Predecessor Thomas J. Jarvis
Successor Lee S. Overman
State Representative from North Carolina
From: 1891–1893
Predecessor D. F. Lawson
Successor Charles B. Marshburn
State Representative from North Carolina
From: 1885–1889
Predecessor D. S. Ball
Successor D. F. Lawson
Information
Party Republican
Spouse(s) Malissa Bowman (died 1902)
Lillian Esther Saum (div.)
Augusta Louise Ray

Jeter Connelly Pritchard (July 12, 1857 – April 10, 1921), also known as J. C. Pritchard,[1] was a judge from North Carolina who served as the state's U.S. senator from 1895 to 1903. A Republican, he was part of the "Fusion" alliance between the GOP and statewide Populist Party which opposed the Jim Crow Democrats.

His son George M. Pritchard was also politically active and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for one term. However, the younger Pritchard was racially intolerant and refused to have his congressional office next to that of Illinois black Republican Oscar De Priest.[2]

Political career[edit]

Prior to his Senate tenure, Pritchard ran for lieutenant governor in the 1888 elections. He won the Republican nomination at the party convention[3] though lost the general election to Democrat Thomas M. Holt by five percentage points, with Prohibition nominee Moses Hammond siphoning away 1% of the vote.[4]

U.S. Senate[edit]

In 1895, the Fusionist-led North Carolina legislature elected Pritchard to the state's Class III Senate seat to finish the incomplete term left upon the death of Zebulon B. Vance.[5][6] Due to Jim Crow disenfranchisement of black voters following the end of Reconstruction, he was one of the few congressional Southern Republicans remaining. President William McKinley often consulted with Pritchard on matters pertaining to the South.[5]

Pritchard was re-elected in 1897 with 54% of the state legislature's vote,[note 1] defeating Populist Party nominee Cyrus Thompson and Democrat Rufus A. Doughton.[7]

Although Pritchard held a conservative voting record and Populist leader Marion P. Butler was considered a progressive, the two managed to form a strong political coalition which controlled state politics for some time before it was overthrown by white supremacist Democrats.[2]

Crucial to Pritchard's election victories were black voters who during the time comprised over half of the state's GOP base.[8] As white supremacist Democratic Party terrorism (particularly the "Red Shirts") was prevalent in the South, Pritchard in 1898 requested President Kinley send federal troops to safeguard black voting rights amidst Jim Crow threats and intimidation.[2] McKinley ultimately did not do so, and the following widespread voter suppression resulted in sweeping general election victories for the Democratic Party. The Wilmington insurrection subsequently broke out, which resulted in the murders of many blacks in the city.

Due to the Democratic Party fully taking over statewide party politics, Pritchard did not run for re-election, knowing he would not be re-elected to another Senate term by the new Jim Crow-dominated state legislature.

Lily-white movement[edit]

Despite his push for protecting black constitutional rights in 1898, Pritchard by 1900 joined the "lily-white" movement, a group of Southern white Republicans who were intraparty rivals of black Republican politicians and more racially tolerant whites,[2] known as the "black and tan" faction.[8] He even advocated in 1900 against black public officeholders, and the statewide GOP performed poorly that year.[8]

Pritchard was particularly at odds with GOP congressman George H. White, the last black Republican to serve in the House until Oscar De Priest was elected from a Chicago-based district in the late 1920s.[2] No black Democrats were elected to Congress until in the 1934 midterms, when the conservative De Priest was defeated for re-election by liberal New Dealer Arthur W. Mitchell.

Judicial service[edit]

Pritchard, being a leader of the lily-white movement, became an adviser to President Theodore Roosevelt.[8] In 1903, President Roosevelt appointed him to become an associate justice for the Supreme Court of Washington, D.C., and a Fourth Circuit Court judge the following year.

During this time, Pritchard reversed his lily white politics actively pushed against Jim Crow laws, advocating an end to the discriminatory "grandfather clause."[2]

References[edit]

  1. Pritchard, Jeter Connelly, 1857-1921.. Documenting the American South. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Fascinating Politics (September 29, 2021). The Republican Families of Old North Carolina. Mad Politics: The Bizarre, Fascinating, and Unknown of American Political History. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  3. NC Lt. Governor - R Convention Race - May 23, 1888. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  4. NC Lt. Governor Race - Nov 06, 1888. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Morgan, Joe L. (1994). Pritchard, Jeter Conley. NCPedia. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  6. NC US Senate - Special Election Race - Jan 23, 1895. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  7. NC US Senate Race - Jan 20, 1897. Our Campaigns. Retrieved September 29, 2021.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 Justesen, Benjamin R. (2006). Lily-White Politics. NCPedia. Retrieved September 29, 2021.

Notes[edit]

  1. Prior to the passage of the 17th Amendment to the Constitution, United States senators were picked by state legislatures rather than elected by popular vote.

External links[edit]

  • Profile at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  • Profile at Federal Judicial Center
  • Profile at Find a Grave