During Reconstruction, Republican Party operatives and military puppet government leaders plundered the Southern states, plunging them deeply into debt while Yankees lined their pockets with Southern taxpayer funds. Here are some of the clever schemes Yankees devised for robbing and cheating Southern taxpayers.
• Florida legislators sold more than a million acres of public land to themselves and their friends at 5 cents per acre.
• Florida legislators paid exorbitant prices for printing work done by their friends. The cost of printing in 1870 exceeded the entire 1860 state budget.
• The federal government was scheduled to take a national census in 1870, with a cost of $43,000 to the state of South Carolina. In 1869, state legislators hired their friends to conduct a state census (duplicating the work of the federal government a year later), paying them $75,000.
• The South Carolina state House Speaker (a good Republican, of course) lost $1000 on a horse race. The state legislature paid him an extra $1000 in compensation to help ease his pain.
• Prior to the war, Louisiana spent about $100K in expenses for a state legislative session. During Reconstruction the cost soared to over $1 million. The additional cost was to cover lavish spending for lunches, alcohol, female attire, and coffins. (It is not clear why Republican men were wearing women's clothing.)
• The Louisiana legislature bought a hotel for $250K. It is clear why the state legislature would buy a hotel, and why they would be willing to pay so much for a hotel that had just sold for $84K. Obviously, it was strictly to line the pockets of themselves and their friends at Southern taxpayer expense.
• The Louisiana legislature chartered a navigation company and bought $100K in stock in the new company. It never opened for business.
• The Louisiana legislature spent more than $2 million on a railroad. They then sold it to the chief justice of the state supreme court for $50K.
• Southern states increased their property tax rates to amounts few citizens could afford. This was done deliberately so that state government agents could seize the property for unpaid taxes. One South Carolina Republican Party operative bragged that Land in South Carolina is cheap! We like to put on the taxes so as to make it cheap! About one-fifth of the state of Mississippi was for sale at one point. In Arkansas, the book used for advertising the state's tax-delinquent sales was 228 pages. By 1872, the South's average property tax was 400% of its 1860 rate. In South Carolina, it was 39 times higher.
Needless to say, this Republican Party plunder policy devastated the Southern economy. During the war, the crime of rape was committed upon Southern women, especially black women, by uniformed Union anarchists. Now the crime of rape was being committed by Republican Party operatives, which is to say by the federal government, since the Republican Party had a monopoly on federal politics.
As an example of how efficient Republicans had become in the plunder industry, the Republican governor of Louisiana turned his $8K annual salary into over $1 million in four years.
By the mid 1870s, even Republican newspapers in the North were crying foul. For example, the New York Times called the South Carolina Republican puppet government a gang of thieves. That probably left Yankees feeling quite content, knowing that their fellow Republicans in the South were doing their job well.
Learn more about the American Civil War here.