Never politically ambitious, Elias Carr represents what some scholars have called the last in a “fading tradition of planter governors.” The Edgecombe County native and Democrat with Populist tendencies served as governor from 1893 to 1897. During the last two years of his administration, Carr’s vision was tempered by Fusion politics.
Subject: Fusion Politics
In 1864, a nineteen-year-old Daniel Russell started his political career as a Democratic state legislator. As he grew increasingly frustrated with Southern Democratic leadership, Russell joined the Republican Party. In 1896, he was elected governor in great part because the Populists and Republicans in the state had formed a political alliance called Fusion politics.
At times conservative, at times progressive (as defined in the early 1900s), Cameron Morrison rose to political prominence in North Carolina as an ally of Furnifold M. Simmons, Democratic stalwart who dominated the state’s politics in the early decades of the twentieth century. During the late 1800s, Morrison started gaining statewide fame for leading the “Red Shirts." But he is most known for being "The Good Roads Governor" (1921-1925) and opposing the teaching of evolution in public schools. After his gubernatorial career, Morrison served as a United States Senator and Congressman.
A reluctant secessionist and Confederate, Alfred Moore Waddell staunchly supported the Democratic Party during the late 1800s. Although he served as a Congressman throughout the 1870s and edited and owned influential newspapers, he is most known for his role in instigating the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898, a riot that he described as "perhaps the bloodiest race riot in North Carolina history."
A Democratic Congressman and U.S. Senator, Furnifold M. Simmons was born on January 20, 1854 to Furnifold Green, Jr., and Mary McLendel Jerman Simmons of Jones County, North Carolina. A leader in the "white supremacy" movement during the late 1890s, Simmons played an instrumental role in the disfranchisement of African Americans in North Carolina and served thirty years in the U.S. Senate, where his most notable achievements were obtaining funds for the Intercoastal Waterway and ensuring lower tariff rates and the passage of the Underwood-Simmons Tariff.
During the 1890s, a national phenomenon called Fusion politics united political parties. In some western states the Populist (or People’s Party) and the Democratic Party united, but in North Carolina the movement, spearheaded by agricultural leader Marion Butler (1863-1938), combined the Populist and Republican parties. In the presidential election of 1896, the Populist Party found itself ironically backing the Democratic presidential candidate William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925) at the national level, while joining forces with Republicans at the state level.
Most remembered as the architect of political Fusion in North Carolina during the 1890s and for gaining Populist support for the 1896 presidential candidacy of William Jennings Bryan (1860-1925), Marion Butler was born in Sampson County, North Carolina.