After the Civil War, the Republican Party of Lincoln and the Emancipation provided for Negroes in New Haven, as elsewhere, a limited entry into political activity. For the Republicans, Negroes represented potential votes. It was in exchange for the Negro vote that blacks in the city first received public patronage jobs as well as nomination and election to political office. Charles McLinn, a carpenter at Yale who lived in the Dixwell area, was elected as a Republican city councilman in 1874. William Layne and William Jackson were appointed letter carrier and messenger in the Court of Common Pleas in that year. The year 1890 saw the hiring of the first Negro policeman, and in the years that followed blacks received a small but steady trickle of lower status patronage jobs in addition to three councilman’s positions, to which they were elected on the Republican ticket. The most prestigious patronage appointment was that of George H. Jackson to a consulate in France.
At least two attempts were made before 1900 by Negro politicians to organize statewide groups to promote civil rights through solidarity and political pressure. The most notable of these was the Sumner League, begun by Joe Peaker, but neither organization continued actively after 1900.
By 1930, with the coming of the Depression, which hit Negroes harder and more rapidly than any other group in the community, New Haven blacks were becoming dissatisfied with both the national policies and the local lack of substantial rewards for their loyalty to the Republicans. Between 1920 and 1930 the 19th ward, which was 51% black, voted 65-70% Republican. However, after this time there was a steady decline, and the first years of the 1930’s marked the end of an era of Negro Republicanism in New Haven.