Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

plished on the basis of allowing Kellogg to retain the office of governor, while the Democratic members who were elected in Rapides, Iberia, and the other parishes which had been rejected by the returning board, were allowed to take their seats in the legislature. This gave a decided majority to the Democrats or conservatives the native whites who paid the taxes, and who had been the victims of Republican robbery. This class has ever since retained the ascendency in the control of the state affairs. The disgraceful scramble and compromise of two years later, over the Presidential question, in which the Republicans were "counted in" upon the national elections, and "counted out" upon the state election, must be relegated to the province of general history.

The public debt and "liabilities" of Louisiana, at different periods, have been as follows-the "liabilities" being on account of indorsement of railroad bonds, or legislative agreements to lend the state bonds to railroads: Jan. 1, 1861,

Jan. 1, 1868,

June 1, 1870,

Excess of expenditures over receipts up to 1871,
Jan. 1, 1873,

$10,099,074

14,347,051

41,194,473

9,345,733 45,183,907

The contingent liabilities in 1873 amounted to $21,090,500, but the bonds had not been issued, and a constitutional amendment of 1874 prohibited their issue. On the 1st of January, 1875, the bonds and floating debt amounted to $23,336,660.

The grand debates before the people from the close of the war until the election of Samuel J. Tilden, and especially about the time when Andrew Johnson was in collision with the Republican Senators and congressmen, raised high and far above all others the question of the restoration of all the states lately in insurrection to their complete Federal relations. Was it not Henry Ward Beecher who gave, in one pregnant sentence, the philosophy of that contest? "Our theory of government," said he, "has no place for a state except in the Union." In his opinion it is justly taken for granted that the duties and responsibilities of a state in Federal relations tend to its political health, and to that of the whole nation. Territories had been brought in with haste, even before the fulfillment of prescribed conditions, as though it were dangerous to leave them outside of the great body politic. Mr. Beecher believed that if the Senators and Representatives from Tennessee had been admitted at once on the assembling of Congress, and if, in succession, as qualified, Arkansas, Georgia, Alabama, North Carolina, and Virginia had been reinstated, the public mind of the South would have been far more healthy than it was in 1866, and that states lingering on probation to the last would have been under a more salutary influence than though a dozen

THE TRUE SPHERE OF THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

571

Did not

armies had watched over them. Was not this true philosophy? this minister of grace advise a healthful regimen in the progress of restoration? Was not the opposite of his thought improgressive? Did it not operate to exclude great masses of the people, unsettled before and growing more irritable? Did it not substitute military for local government? Was not the government at Washington called upon to interfere in one and another difficulty? Was not the method of interposition which was pursued in 1866, and for many years afterwards—was it not, as shown by events, pursued inaptly and sometimes with great injustice? Did not this eminent sage speak more wisely, and from a higher than a mere political plane, when he said that our government was adapted to its own proper functions, that it was in its nature utterly devoid of those habits of iniquity which belong to a centralized government, and that it was in accord with the essential quality of freedom to remit authority in local affairs to the states?

He spoke with discernment when he said that the Federal Government was unfit to exercise minor police and local government, and would inevitably blunder in the attempt. Indignantly he asked whether the Nation was to remain dismembered to serve the ends of parties? He was not afraid, at the beginning of our last decade, to admit that the power, even if it should pass into the hands of a party made up of Southern men, and of the hitherto dishonored and misled Democracy of the North, could not be used just as they pleased; for the war had changed not alone institutions but ideas. The whole country had advanced. Public sentiment had been exalted far beyond what it had been at any former period. A new party would, like a river, of necessity find a course determined by the existing slopes and forms of the continent.

Therefore, with wonder, and shame, and scorn he heard the fear expressed by a few that the South, if once more in adjustment with the Federal Government, would rule the Nation. Was not the North rich? Never so rich. The South poor? Never so poor. Was not the population of the North double that of the South? Was not the industry of the North in diversity, in forwardness and productiveness, and in all the machinery and education required for manufactures, half a century in advance of the South? Were there not churches in the North crowning every hill, and schools swarming in every neighborhood? The South had but scattering lights at long distances, like light-houses twinkling along the edge of a continent of darkness.

In the presence of such a contrast, he exclaimed, "How mean and craven is the fear that the South will rule the policy of the land!" Conceding that the South would have a most important restraining influence, he saw with clearness that if it should rise at once to the control of the government it would be because of refusal by the North, demoralized by prosperity and besotted by groveling interests, to discharge its share of political duty.

In such case, he said, the South would not only control the government, but ought to control it. This was prophecy. Since it was made, a new evangel has appeared upon the very mountain-tops and in the valleys of our land. We are united. The great chasm which the rebellion made has been nearly filled up. It grows narrower. There no longer arise out of it the dread spectres and threatening shapes which these pictures of reconstruction in the preceding chapters have portrayed.

At length, and after the long night of reconstruction affliction, there rose a day-star in the hearts of the prostrate states. Then came serene day itself, and as its luminary turned toward its setting, its gleams of comfort upon the Southern land fell cool and sweet, the shadows lengthened, pointing to the dawn which 1884 gave.

The condition of affairs in Texas at the beginning of the year 1867 was as bad as possible, if the reports of the army officers may be relied on. General Sheridan, as commander of the Department of the Gulf, in his report to General Grant, dated New Orleans, Jan. 25, 1867, stated that the condition of the freedmen and Union men in remote parts of Texas was truly horrible; and that the freedmen were shot and Union men were persecuted if they had the temerity to express their opinions. General Grant transmitted this report to the Secretary of War. He recommended that martial law be declared. He deplored its necessity.

The financial affairs of the state were not, however, badly managed. The revenue collected during eleven and one-half months, beginning Aug. 14, 1866, and ending July 31, 1867, was $626,518. The expenditures during the same period were $625,151.

It has been stated that Texas was a part of the Fifth military district. Of this district General Sheridan was the commander. His headquarters were at New Orleans. Gen. Charles Griffin was placed in command of the subdistrict of Texas. His headquarters were at Galveston. On the 15th of April, 1867, General Griffin issued an order announcing that, under the acts of Congress of March 2d and March 23d, he was required to protect all persons in their rights of person and property; to suppress insurrection, disorder and violence; and to punish, or cause to be punished, all disturbers of the public peace and other criminals. Jurisdiction of offenses, he said, might be taken by the local civil authorities, but where it was evident that the tribunals would not impartially try cases brought before them, the immediate military commander was to arrest, or cause to be arrested, the offenders and criminals, hold them in confinement, and present their cases in writing to headquarters, with a view to have the parties brought before, and tried by, a military commission.

General Griffin also announced that he was empowered to fill vacancies in

SHERIDAN AND HANCOCK IN TEXAS.

573 executive offices, and that no elections would be allowed under the existing government of the state. In June, the policemen of Galveston were removed. The general sent a list of twenty-five names to the mayor, with authority to select his policemen from it. Five of the persons named were colored. As an officer of the Freedmen's Bureau, the commander of the district issued an order in July declaring that accounts against freedmen would not be allowed to constitute a lien upon their portion of the crop. This must be regarded as a legislative order. General Griffin thus assumed the office of law-giver as well as the executive and judicial offices. The wisdom of this military enactment, however, may well be doubted. The effect of it must have been to make the planters hesitate about giving credit to their employés, even for necessaries. The position of a state judge under this military supervision was not an enviable one. He had taken an oath to hear and determine causes in conformity with the laws of the state, while he was required by the military commander to conform his rulings to the recent acts of Congress, or the military understanding of those acts.

On the 30th of July, General Sheridan issued an order removing J. W. Throckmorton as governor of Texas. Governor Throckmorton had been a severely tried Union man. He was and is among the manliest of men ; but he was an impediment to the foolish reconstruction of the state. Elisha M. Pease was appointed in his place. Soon afterwards Edward Dougherty, judge of the twelfth judicial district, was removed, and Edward Basse appointed in his place. The charge against Dougherty was that he denied the supremacy of the laws of Congress. He said that he would not obey them when they conflicted with the laws of Texas. This was the old nullification idea. His refusal ought to have been based on the unconstitutionality of the laws. These removals were followed by others, including the comptroller, the treasurer, the attorney-general, and the commissioner of the state general land office.

General Sheridan was himself removed from the command of the Fifth district on the 29th of August. Then General Hancock was appointed to succeed him. This was a grand and patriotic relief. It is beyond praise. In his report of operations while in command of the district, General Sheridan had said that the difficult situation in which he had been placed had been rendered still more difficult by the apparently open sympathy of the President with the functionaries who had been removed. He added: "I have been charged by the highest authority of the Nation with being tyrannical and a partisan; and I am not afraid to say, when such charges are made against me, that I feel in my heart they are untruthful." These were bold words for an army officer to utter about the President of the United States. The gallant army officer had Congress at his back; and he had as much effrontery in civil affairs as of well-won fame in military conduct. General Hancock had also military fame, but he had had a different civil education.

The registration of voters under the Reconstruction act resulted in giving 59,633 white voters and 49,497 colored voters, The conservatives had in their state convention advised by resolution, that all white men who were qualified should register and vote against a convention. Their great object was to defeat negro suffrage. In this hope they were disappointed. Of the 54,388 votes that were polled on the question of calling a convention, 43,141 were for it, and only 11,246 against it. The convention consisted of ninety members, of whom nine were colored. About the same number of whites were Democrats, all the others being Republicans. But the Republicans were soon divided into conservatives and radicals. Andrew J. Hamilton, President Johnson's provisional governor, was at the head of the conservatives. His brother, Morgan Hamilton, was at the head of the radicals. E. J. Davis was elected president of the convention. Provisional Governor Pease volunteered a message to the convention, suggesting certain features of the proposed constitution. Among these was a declaration that the act of secession was void ab initio. One would naturally suppose that this suggestion would have been adopted almost without debate in a body composed of eighty Republicans and only ten secession Democrats; but yet, after a protracted discussion, it was rejected. In the North Carolina convention of 1865, which was held under old Whig auspices, and without there being a Republican in the body, this identical declaration that the act of secession was void ab initio · was adopted as an ordinance, and it was ratified by a popular majority of over twenty thousand. But the old Whigs of North Carolina had been schooled for generations in the principles of the Constitution. The neophyte Republicans of Texas were only whitewashed, or blackwashed, secessionists, who were willing to take on any color for the sake of office.

[ocr errors]

Governor Pease also called the attention of the convention to the prevalence of crime in the state. He declared that it was never before so formidable. He stated that organized bands of lawless men were committing murders and violations of law, and were disturbing the peace of the country. The convention appointed a special committee to investigate the subject. That committee made a unanimous report. It stated its information, which had been obtained from the records of the state department and of the Freedmen's Bureau, as well as from the sworn statements of individuals. Excluding from its statistics cases of assault with intent to kill, rapes, robberies, whippings of freedmen, and other outrages, and confining its inquiries to homicides committed between the close of the war and the 1st of June, 1868, the frightful summary was: Total number of whites killed, 470; total number of freedmen killed, 429; number of persons killed whose race was unknown, forty; — making a grand total of 939 homicides. There were 460 whites and 373 freedmen, total 833, killed by whites, and ten whites and

« PreviousContinue »