Author:
Annette Howard
Subject:
Political Science
Material Type:
Reading
Level:
Community College / Lower Division
Tags:
  • Emancipation
  • Juneteenth
  • Texas
  • License:
    Creative Commons Attribution
    Language:
    English
    Media Formats:
    Graphics/Photos, Text/HTML

    Chapter 1.4: Reconstruction

    Chapter 1.4:  Reconstruction

    Overview

    Reconstruction

          Learning Objectives

          By the end of this section, you will be able to:

          • Understand the history of Reconstruction in Texas
          • Understand the importance of Reconstruction to Texas

            The Civil War Ends and Slaves are Emancipated

            The Civil War Ends and Slaves are Emancipated

            The Confederacy had been defeated, and U.S. Army soldiers arrived in Texas on June 19, 1865 to take possession of the state, restore order, and enforce the emancipation of slaves. When the news arrived in Galveston that they had been set free, the freed slaves rejoiced, creating the celebration of Juneteenth.

            Juneteenth Celebration Image
            Figure 1. Juneteenth celebration in Austin, Texas, on June 19, 1900

             

              Unrest in the Immediate Aftermath

              Unrest in the Immediate Aftermath

              U.S. President Andrew Johnson appointed Union General Andrew J. Hamilton, a prominent politician before the war, as the provisional governor on June 17. The State had suffered little during the War but trade and finance were disrupted. Angry returning veterans seized state property and Texas went through a period of extensive violence and disorder. Most outrages took place in northern Texas and were committed by outlaws who had their headquarters in the Indian Territory and plundered and murdered without distinction of party.

               

                The Question of Suffrage and Representation

                The Question of Suffrage and Representation

                Congress had to consider how to restore to full status and representation within the Union those southern states that had declared their independence from the United States and had withdrawn their representation. Suffrage for former Confederates was one of two main concerns. A decision needed to be made whether to allow just some or all former Confederates to vote (and to hold office). The moderates in Congress wanted virtually all of them to vote, but the Radicals resisted. They repeatedly imposed the ironclad oath, which would effectively have allowed no former Confederates to vote. Historian Harold Hyman says that in 1866 Congressmen "described the oath as the last bulwark against the return of ex-rebels to power, the barrier behind which Southern Unionists and Negroes protected themselves." Radical Republican leader Thaddeus Stevens proposed, unsuccessfully, that all former Confederates lose the right to vote for five years. The compromise that was reached disenfranchised many Confederate civil and military leaders. No one knows how many temporarily lost the vote, but one estimate was that it was as high as 10,000 to 15,000 out of a total white population of roughly eight million.

                Second, and closely related, was the issue of whether the roughly four million freedmen should be allowed to vote. The issue was how to receive the four million Freedmen as citizens. If they were to be fully counted as citizens, some sort of representation for apportionment of seats in Congress had to be determined. Before the war, the population of slaves had been counted as three-fifths of a corresponding number of free whites. By having four million freedmen counted as full citizens, the South would gain additional seats in Congress. If blacks were denied the vote and the right to hold office, then only whites would represent them. Many conservatives, including most white southerners, northern Democrats, and some northern Republicans, opposed black voting. Some northern states that had referenda on the subject limited the ability of their own small populations of blacks to vote.

                  Redemption: The End of Reconstruction

                  Redemption: The End of Reconstruction

                  Provisional Governor Hamilton granted amnesty to ex-Confederates if they promised to support the Union in the future, appointing some to office. 

                  Many free blacks were able to become businessmen and leaders. Through the young Republican Party blacks rapidly gained political power. Indeed blacks comprised 90% of the Texas Republican Party during the 1880s. Norris Wright Cuney, an African American from Galveston, rose to the chairmanship of the Texas Republican Party and even the national committeeman.

                  On March 30, 1870, the United States Congress readmitted Texas into the Union, although Texas did not meet all the formal requirements for readmission. Like other Southern states, by the late 1870s white Democrats regained control, often with a mix of intimidation and terrorism by paramilitary groups operating for the Democratic Party. They passed a new constitution in 1876 that segregated schools and established a poll tax to support them, but it was not originally required for voting.[2] In 1901 the Democratic-dominated legislature imposed a poll tax as a requirement for voting, and succeeded in disfranchising most blacks. The number of voters decreased from 100,000 in the 1890s to 5,000 by 1906.[3]

                  Reading Review Questions

                   

                  1. Why is June 19 celebrated as Juneteenth in Texas?
                  2. What was the ironclad oath and what compromise was reached regarding its implementation?
                  3. Why were even Northerners concerned about giving freedmen the right to vote?
                  4. Describe the role free blacks played in Texas during reconstruction.
                  5. How were white Democrats able to regain control of Texas by the late 1870’s?
                  6. What were two important provisions white Democrats included in the 1876 constitution that disenfranchised most blacks?

                  Notes

                  Notes

                  1. Clampit, Brad R. (April 2005). The Breakup: The Collapse of the Confederate Trans-Mississippi Army in Texas, 1865. Southwest Historical Quarterly. CVIII. 
                  2. Constitution of 1876 from the Handbook of Texas Online, accessed April 12, 2008 
                  3. W. Marvin Dulaney, "AFRICAN AMERICANS," Handbook of Texas Online [1], accessed February 22, 2014. Uploaded on June 9, 2010. Modified on June 20, 2013. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. accessed 22 February 2014