During the decades following the Civil War, taxation was a source of significant political agitation among much of Virginia's white community. Especially influential was federal tobacco taxation. A centerpiece of Republican fiscal policy, the tobacco tax seemed to many Virginians an affliction upon their once prosperous industry. Critics of both the Republicans and Virginia's Readjuster Party associated tobacco taxation with emancipation and black civil rights—policies popularly understood to have corroded Virginia's erstwhile cultural stability. By the 1880s, this association helped fuel a reactionary backlash and elevate the white supremacist Democrats into power.

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