Rads Must Go, 1883

Collections in the Classroom

Grade Level

High, Middle

Time Period

1871-1899: Post Reconstruction


Civil rights, Jim Crow, The Lost Cause Myth

Resource Type

Primary Source

Download Collections in the Classroom: Rads Must Go handbill (pdf)


  • Why was this handbill created? Who is the audience?
  • What images or language does this handbill use to persuade its audience?
  • What tools do we use today to persuade people to vote for someone running for political office?
  • What was unique about the Readjuster Party?


After the Civil War, Virginia found itself nearly 50 million dollars in debt. In 1879, a new political party emerged with a focus on readjusting and reducing the debt. Led by former Confederate General William Mahone, the Readjuster Party was made up of both Black and white Republicans and Democrats and won a majority in both state houses in the fall of 1879. The Readjusters were able to pass the Riddleberger Act of 1882 to reduce Virginia’s debt, but by 1885 the party lost most of its elected offices and fell apart. This handbill was from a gathering in 1883 celebrating election victories of the newly reenergized Democratic party that criticized the biracial Readjuster party. A handwritten note at the bottom reads, “worn by Walter Winfree of Petersburg at the torch light procession in Richmond, Nov 13, 1883.” This event was just weeks after the Readjuster party lost heavily in state elections.