Parties and Interest Groups

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Minstrels [Political Faction]

By 1872, the hopes of reconstructing the South along Republican political lines were waning. The Arkansas Republican Party, like the national party, suffered a schism that threatened to end the party’s political dominance in the state. Two groups within the state party—the Minstrels (aligned with the national Republican leadership) and the Brindletails (aligned with the Liberal Republican movement)—fought for control of the governor’s office. The Minstrel faction, allegedly named due to the past profession of one of its members, relied on newcomers (often pejoratively labeled “carpetbaggers”). This group, including men such as Stephen Dorsey, John McClure, and Thomas Bowen to name a few, coalesced around Governor Powell Clayton and the political machine he controlled. By the gubernatorial election of 1872, …