Modern Democrats

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Modern Democrats
HeadquartersTampa, Florida

The Modern Democrats were a political organization in Tampa, Florida. In 1935, members were arrested at a meeting and interrogated by police. Members of the group were then kidnapped outside the police station, beaten, tarred and feathered. Joseph Shoemaker died as a result of his wounds.[1]

The attack and death made national news.[2] Six Tampa policemen were indicted and accused of being klansmen and taking part in the murder. The police chief was charged as an accessory for blocking the investigation. Five policemen were convicted in a trial held in Polk County. Patrick Crisp Whitacker, a former Senator and the brother-in-law of Tampa's mayor R.E.L. Chancey, served as the leading defense attorney.[2]

At the trial, the group denied it was Communist.[3]

Shoemaker was from Vermont and organized the party after wodespread corruption problems during Tampa's 1935 municipal election.[4]

See also

  • Red Squad


  1. Ingalls, Robert P. (1977). "The Tampa Flogging Case, Urban Vigilantism". The Florida Historical Quarterly. 56 (1): 13–27 – via JSTOR.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Lynching and Establishment Violence in Tampa, 1858-1935 pages 636-638 Journal of Southern History
  3. "COMMUNISM DENIED AT FLOGGING TRIAL; Modern Democrats Began Each Meeting With 'America' and Reading From Constitution". April 23, 1936 – via
  4. Newton, Michael (February 24, 2002). "The Encyclopedia of Kidnappings". Infobase Publishing – via Google Books.

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