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Full text of "Reconstruction in Mississippi"













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RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



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RECONSTRUCTION 

IN 
MISSISSIPPI 



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JAMES WILFORD GARNER, Ph.M. 

FELLOW JN COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, NEW YORK, AND MEMBER OF THE 
MISSISSIPPI HISTORICAL SOCIETY 



THE MACMILLAN COMPANY 

LONDON : MACMILLAN & CO., Ltd. 
I9OI 

jill rights renr-ved 



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THC IJ93ARY OF 
CONGRESS. 

JIN. 21 1^0' 

CLASS Ul* XXa No. 
COPY A. 



COPTRISHT, 1901, 

bt the macmillan company. 



J. 8. CuihlDK k Co. - Berwick ft Smltti 
Norwood Mail. U S.a. 



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PREFACE 

The primary purpose of this work is to give a detailed 
study of reconstruction in Mississippi with reference to its 
political, military, economic, educational, and legal phases. 
A secondary purpose is to present a brief review of the 
Civil War so far as it affected directly the state of Missis- 
sippi or the people thereof, and, accordingly, special empha- 
sis has been laid upon those results of the war that sustained 
more or less relation to the problems of reconstruction. 
Realizing the incompleteness of any history of reconstruc- 
tion which concludes with the readmission of the state to 
iMic Union and the reestablishment of civil government, the 
ai.'thor has followed up the results of the congressional policy 
as t.he}" appeared in the period of " carpet bag " and negro 
dominu-tion, and has carried his narrative down to the final 
overthro%v of the party that had been the especial benefi- 
ciaries of the congressional policy, — an event locally known 
as the "revolution of 1875." 

The author is disposed to believe that a thorough study 
of the actual working out of reconstruction in its different 
relations a\id activities in any one of the Southern States will 
be of sovne value to the general student of American history, 
for, aiter all, the process and results in one state were essen- 
tially the same in all. So far as he knows no attempt has 
yet been made in this direction, and in undertaking to write 
such a history of Mississippi he has been possessed of a good 
many misgivings. More than one person to whom he ap- 
plied for advice ventured the opinion that the smoke of 
battle had not sufficiently cleared away and with it the 
passions and animosities of the war to make it possible for 
any American to discover and set forth the facts of recon- 
struction without bias or prejudice. Although fully sen- 

vii 



viii PREFACE 

sible of the difficulties that beset the historian of this period, 
the author does not sympathize with the view that tlie events 
of that time cannot be narrated with reasonable fairness 
and justice to all concerned. The time has come when the 
history of reconstruction can be written, and it ought to be 
written by a Southerner, for it is the Southerners who best 
understand the problems which the reconstructionists under- 
took to solve and the conditions under which the solution 
was worked out. This, of course, does not mean that the 
history should be written from the Southern "point of view" 
or from any other "point of view," unless it be that from 
which the truth may be best discovered and presented. 

The author of this book feels keenly his own prejudices, 
but he has made an earnest effort to divest himself of every 
influence arising from early environment or from later edu- 
cation that would tend to swerve him from a plain and 
unprejudiced statement of the truth, and has endeavored to 
set forth his findings without fear or favor, but with charity 
for both reconstructionists and reconstructed. Most of tJne 
events recorded in this book occurred before the writer was 
born ; not one of them is recent enough to come withm reach 
of his memory. He is not, therefore, handicapped by any 
prejudices founded on personal observation or experience. 

On the whole, the author concurs in the view of Lamar- 
tine, that it is the province of the historian to relate and not 
to judge. He has, therefore, except in a few ins^tances where 
opinions were clearly warranted by the facts, confined him- 
self to a simple statement of the truth and left the reader to 
form his own conclusions. 

In concluding these preliminary remarks the author de- 
sires to acknowledge his indebtedness to ex-Governor Adel- 
bert Ames, ex-Governor R. C. Powers, Mrs. ex-Governor 
J. L. Alcorn, ex-Senator H. R. Pease, Hon. C. E. Furlong, 
Major Alvan C. Gillem, and Mrs. Betty Dent Smith for 
placing at his disposal private papers of historical value ; to 
Hon. H. M. Street, Judge H. F. Simrall, and Hon. John R. 
Lynch for information conveyed through private letters ; to 



PEEFACE ix 

Mr. R. H. Henr}-, editor of the Jackson (Miss.) Clarion- 
Ledger^ for permission to examine his files ; to General F. C. 
Ainswortb of the War Department for special courtesies ; 
and to his wife for faithful and conscientious service in the 
preparation of the manuscript for the printer and in reading 
and correcting the proof. 

The author desires to make special acknowledgments to 
his teacher, Professor W. A. Dunning of Columbia Univer- 
sity, who in the midst of his academic duties found time to 
read the manuscript of this book and make many valuable 
suggestions. 

JAMES WILFORD GARNER. 

MoRNiNGSiDE Heights, 
New York, 
May 25, 1901. 



CONTENTS 

CHAPTER FIRST 
Secession and Civil War 

PAGE 

I. The Rupture with the United States 1 

II. Waging War 8 

III. Problems of Military Occupation 29 

IV. Political and Economic Activity during the War ... 38 

CHAPTER SECOND 

The Transition from Civil War to Reconstruction 

I. The Peace Sentiment 51 

II. The Collapse of the Confederacy ^^, 

III. The Private Law Status during the War 63 

CHAPTER THIRD 

Presidential Reconstruction 

I. The Inauguration of the Presidential Policy in Mississippi . 76 

II. The Reconstruction Convention of 1865 82 

III. Conflicts between the Civil and Military Authorities ... 96 

IV. The Status of the Preedmen 109 

CHAPTER FOURTH 

The Economic Aspects oe Reconstruction 

I. Economic Problems 122 

II. Reconstruction of the Postal and Railway Service . . . 139 

CHAPTER FIFTH 

Congressional Reconstruction 

I. The Kational Inquest 147 

II. The Reconstruction Acts 156 

III. Military Government under Gniernl Ord ..... 161 

xi 



xu 



CONTENTS 



IV. The Registration of the New Electorate 

V. Party Politics in 18f)7 

VI. Military CiDvunmieiit under General GiUeni 

VII. The Reconstruction Convention of IbOb 

VIII. Party l\.iltics in I8C8 . . ... 

IX. The Removal of Governor Humphreys and the 

General Ames ..... 

X. The Rejection of the Constitution 

XI. The Mi.'^sissippi Question in Congress 

XII. Military Government under General Ames 

XIII. I'arty Politics in 1809. The Constitution ratified 



Appointment of 



171 
176 

182 
186 
205 

213 
216 
222 
228 
237 



CHAPTER SIXTH 



The Freedmen's Bureau 



249 



CHAPTER SEVENTH 

The REi-;sTAULisnMENT of Civil Government 

I. The Final Act of Reconstructiou .... 

II. Readmission to the Union 

III. The Inauguration of a Civil Governor 

IV. Reorganization under the Reconstruction Constitution 



269 
272 
277 
281 



CHAPTER EIGHTH 

The "Carpet-Bag" Regimi 

I. The Election of General Ames as Civil Governor 

II. The Inauguration of the Ames Administration 

III. Local Government under Republican Rule 

IV. State Expenditures 

V. Unpopular Legislation .... 

VI. The Vicksburg Troubles .... 



290 
294 
306 
314 
324 
328 



CHAPTER NINTH 
The Kuklux Distcrba.nces in Mississippi 



338 



CHAPTER TENTH 
Educational Reconstruction 



354 



CONTENTS 



Xlll 



CHAPTER ELEVENTH 
Thl Rlvolt-tiox 



I. The Election Campaign of 1875 . 

II. Riots and Disturbances during 1875 

III. Preparations for War . 

IV. The Triumph of the Democracy . 
V. The Impeachment of State Officials 

VI. The Completion of the Revolution 



PAGE 

372 
375 
382 
389 
401 
410 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

CHAPTER FIRST 
Secession and Civil War 

i. the rupture with the united states 

It is necessary to a correct understanding of the history 
of the period wliich it is proposed to cover in tliis chapter 
to review briefly the steps leading up to the beginning of 
hostilities with the United States. 

The perpetuation and extension of the S3"stem of negro 
slavery, the real cause of the Civil War, was declared by 
the Supreme Court of Mississippi in 1837 to be a part of 
the public policy of the state. ^ Three years before this deci- 
sion was made, the people of the state repudiated unequivo- 
cally the doctrine of nullification and secession. On the 
9th of June, 1834, the Democratic state convention, pre- 
sided over by General Thomas Hinds, unanimously resolved 
that " a constitutional right of secession from the Union, 
on the part of a single state as asserted by the nullifying 
leaders of South Carolina, is utterly unsanctioned by the 
Constitution, which was framed to establish, not to destroy, 
the Union." 2 Secession in Mississippi was nothing more 
than an abstract question until the adoption by Congress of 
the policy of excluding slavery from the territories. What 
is believed to have been the first organized opposition to this 
policy was made bj^ a state convention at Jackson in Octo- 
ber, 1849. A number of resolutions was passed b}' this 
body, one of which declared that in certain contingencies 
their separate welfare might be consulted by the " formation 

1 Mitchell vs. Wells, 37 Miss. 254. 

2 Speech of J. A. Wilcox, Union ilember of Congress from Mississippi, 
1852, Globe, 32d Cong. 1st Ses. App. 284. 

B 1 



2 RECONSTRUCTLON IN MISSISSIPPI 

of a compact of union that would afford protection to tht-.- 
rights and liberties."^ Hero was a fijrnial declaration ^ 
favor of secession as a "last resort." The convention i - 
all its deliberations followed the advice of Mv. Calhou 
who in the previous July had sketched, in a letter to Colone' 
Tarpley of the Supreme Court,^ a plan of operations. Mis- 
sissippi took a prominent part in the Nashville conventiou 
being represented by eight members, one of whom, Chi . 
Justice Sharkey, presided over the deliberations. 

The enactment of the Compromise measures of 18." ' 
gave additional impetus to the secession movement. Ther 
measures were opposed by all the Mississippi delegation . 
Congress, with the solitary exception of Senator Foot. . 
Jefferson Davis, his colh ague, declared that every prominei.' 
man in the state was opposed to the measures.^ Souther.. 
Rights Associations sprang up in nearly every communit;, 
and the Compromise measures were universally denounce ' 
from the stump. Foote says the press was well-nigh unani - 
raous in favor of secession.* Upon the adjournment of Con- 
gress the delegation from Mississippi returned to the state 
to give an account of their cause, and, with the exceptic • 
of Foote, to urge resistance to the action of Congress,. 
Al])ert Gallatin Brown said, in a speech at Jackson, " So 
help me God I am for resistance ; and my advice to you i-; 
that of Cromwell to his colleagues, "pray to God and kee 
your powder dry.'"^ Davis, McWillie, Featherston, an. 
Thompson spoke in a similar strain, while Foote bestirre 
himself to vindicate his course before the people. Th 
legislature had already passed resolutions of censure again:^.. 
him, declaring that the interests of the state were not saf 
in his hands. "^ He then stumped the state, making in al' 
forty or fifty speeches, and urged the people to send dele- 
gates to a convention which he had presumed to call. Gov- 
ernor Quitman, the leader of the secession party, called th- 
legislature together in extraordinary session, and recoro • 
mended measures, looking to the secession of the state i. 
case certain demands were not complied with.' The da\ 
on which this message was read to the legislature, Foote''- 
convention assembled at Jackson. It adopted resolutiom 

1 For the resolutions of the Convention, see speech of Senator R. B. Ehett. 
Globe. .'32(1 Cong. Ist Sos. A pp. 03. 

'^ For the letter, see Globe, Ihii(. p. 52. ■• Casket of Reminiscences, p. 355. 
' Memoirs of J. Davis, I. p. 4H.3. 5 Globe, ibi<l. p. -jSQ. 

8 The resolutions are printed in the Globe, ibid. pp. 55, 56. 
^ Claiborne's Life of Quitman, 11. p. 125. 



THE RUPTURE WITH THE UNITED STATES 3 

indorsing his course, advocated acquiescence in the Com- 
promise measures, warmly denounced the secession move- 
ment, and organized the Union party in INlississippi. The 
legislature, undisturbed by this "growl of whiggery" so 
near its doors, took up the governor's recommendation, and 
passed an act for a convention a year hence to " consider the 
state of Federal relations and the remedies to be applied." 

The people of the state were now shar})ly divided into 
two political parties. One was the party of secession, organ- 
ized in November, 1850, under the name of tlie Southern 
Rights Party, and which assumed the name of the Demo- 
cratic State-rights Party in June, 1851. By some they were 
called "Resisters." It was composed of the bulk of the old 
Democratic party and a small element of State-rights Whigs. 
The Union party was organized on the day on which Foote's 
convention met; namely, the 18th of November, 1850. It 
was composed of old line Whigs and Union Democrats. 
The secession party had in its ranks a preponderance of the 
wealth and talent of the state, but lacked the concert of 
action and the audacity of the Union party. In the cam- 
paign that followed, the precise question involved, says 
Foote, was, " Will Mississippi join South Carolina in the 
act of secession from the Union ? " The question was to 
be settled by the election of a governor and delegates to 
the state convention. Quitman, the most rabid of the 
" Resisters," was nominated by the Democrats for governor 
over Jetferson Davis, while Foote w^as chosen to be the 
standard bearer of the Union party. The election of dele- 
gates occurred a month earlier than the gubernatorial elec- 
tion. In the first election the Union party won by a majority 
of seven thousand votes. Quitman, mortified at this une- 
quivocal condemnation of his policy, and almost certain that 
the convention wdiich Ik; had fathered would declare against 
him, retired from the race after issuing an address to the 
people. 1 This left the secession party without a leader, and 
the state election was but a month off. Jefferson Davis, who 
many felt should have received the nomination in the first 
instance, was persuaded to resign his seat in the Senate to 
lead their forlorn hope. Foote was elected governor, but 
the Union majority of seven thousand in September was 
reduced to less than one thousand in October. ^ The Union 
party elected a majority of the legislature, and three mem- 

1 Claiborne's Quitiuiin, II. p. 146. 

2 Lalor, Cyclop. Pol. ScL, II. 860. 



4 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

bers of Congress, and a Union Democrat was chosen to 
succeed Foote in the United States Senate. The convention 
met at Jackson Nov^ember 10, 1851. It was composed of 
ninety-three delegates and was, without question, the most 
distinguished of the ante-bellum assemblages.^ The purpose 
of the convention, as stated by those who called it, was to 
" demand a redress for past grievances, and a guarantee 
against future assaults upon the rights of the people." No 
such action as this, however, was taken ; but instead the 
convention resolved that the people would acquiesce in the 
Compromise measures as a permanent adjustment of the sec- 
tional controversy. The convention furthermore resolved 
that it held the Union second in importance only to the 
rights and principles which it was designed to perpetuate, 
and that the asserted right of secession was utterly unsanc- 
tioned by the Constitution.^ Foote was sanguine enough to 
believe that this put at rest forever the question of secession 
in Mississippi, and he publicly declared in the Senate that no 
man with secession sentiments could be elected to the most 
insignificant office.^ The secession movement really seemed 
to be dead, but during the next ten years many events 
occurred to reduce the numerical strength of the strong 
Union party which Foote had built up in 1851. The infrac- 
tions of the fugitive slave law, the Kansas struggle, the pub- 
lication of " Uncle Tom's Cabin," the John Brown raid, and 
the election of Lincoln intensified the feeling of hostility 
toward the North. It was well illustrated in the John 
Brown affair, on account of which the legislature, without 
referring the bill to a committee, and almost without a dissent- 
ing vote, appropriated "$150,000 to purchase arms. Reuben 
Davis, a member of Congress from Mississippi, declared that 
wlien the news of Lincoln's election reached Washington, 
members from the South purchased long-range ritles to take 
home with them, and some rejoiced that the end was near.'* 
Shortly after the election, the legislature was called together 
in extraordinary session, and a state convention ordered to 
meet on the 7th of January following to "consider the exist- 
ing relations between the government of the United States 
and the government of the people of Mississippi, and to adopt 

1 Some of the prominent members were William L. Sharkey, J. W. C. 
Watson, Jason Niles, J. L. Alcorn, Wiley P. Harris, William Barlcidale, 
Charles Clark, and Amos K. Johnston. 

^ The resolutions are printed in Claiborne's Quitman, II. ch. xii. 

' Globe, op. cit. p. 6!). 

* Recollections, p. 389, 



THE RUPTURE WITH THE UNITED STATES 5 

such measures for vindicating the government of the state 
and the protection of its institutions as shall appear to be 
derrianded." The governor was authorized to appoint com- 
missioners to visit the other slave states, and inform them of 
the action of Mississippi, and to invite their cooperation in 
the adoption of efficient measures for their defence and 
safety. The commissioners at once bestirred themselves at 
the various Southern capitals, at all of which they were 
received in truly diplomatic style as ambassadors from foreign 
republics. Governors were formally notified of their arrival, 
audiences were granted, and their credentials submitted in 
the most formal manner. Committees of the legislature were 
appointed to wait upon them and extend the courtesies of 
the chambers, and their addresses were delivered before the 
joint session of the two houses. Complimentary resolutions 
were sometimes passed, and the proceedings in the reception 
of the commissioner enrolled on parchment, the great seal 
affixed, and the signatures of the officers of both houses 
attached. The instrument was then presented as the " response 
of a sister state to the friendly greeting of Mississippi." 
Their missions in most cases were successful.^ 

In the meantime the canvass for the election of delegates 
to the convention was proceeding. In a good many counties 
mass meetings were held, and resolutions adopted declaratory 
of the sense of the community on the all-absorbing question. 
Most of these, but by no means all, were in favor of seces- 
sion, A very respectable minority were strongly opposed to 
secession. They bestirred themselves to secure the return 
of Union delegates, and were successful to the extent that 
about one-fourth of those chosen were Whigs, most of whom 
were opposed to secession, and some of whom had positive 
instructions to vote against an ordinance of secession. The 
secession contingent were divided among themselves as to 
the expediency of secession without the joint cooperation of 
a certain number of other slave states. They were designated 
as " cooperationists " and " immediate secessionists," the 
latter party constituting about two-thirds of the convention. 
The ultimate object of both was the same. As against the 
North, they were all united ; they were all for resistance, the 
difference of opinion being only as to time and manner of 
procedure. The recognized leader of the " immediate seces- 
sionists " was Mr. L. Q. C. Lamar, who, on January 9, 

1 The addresses and reports of the Mississippi commissioners are printed 
in the Appendix to the Jomnial of the secession convention. 



6 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

brought forward the ordinance of secession. Within an 
hour's time it was adopted by a vote of 84 to 15.^ An effort 
to make the ordinance operative only upon the secession of 
four other states was defeated by a vote of 75 to 25. An 
effort to have it submitted to the people for ratification or 
rejection was defeated by a vote of 70 to 29. ^ An amend- 
ment to secure further constitutional guarantees in the Union 
was voted down by a majority of 78 to 21. 

On the 12th of January Jefferson Davis delivered to 
crowded sfalleries his farewell address, and then took formal 
leave of the United States Senate. He was followed on the 
14th by his colleague, Senator A. G. Brown, who announced 
his withdrawal in a few words without any attempt to be 
dramatic or sensational.-^ On the day of Davis's final leave- 
taking, the Mississippi delegation in the lower house informed 
the speaker, by a written communication, of their unqualified 
approval of the action of the Mississippi convention, and 
announced their withdrawal from the United States Congress.* 
Mr. Gholson, the United States district judge, at once for- 
warded his resignation to the President. The Mississippi 
cadets at West Point withdrew, and the native Mississippians 
in the regular army threw up their commissions and returned 
home to enter the service of the Confederacy.^ The United 
States marshals were requested by the convention to con- 
tinue in the performance of their duties, so far as they 
related to the completion of the census, and no further. 
Postmasters and other officers and agents connected with the 
mail service were " authorized " to continue in the discharge 
of their duties until otherwise ordered by the convention.^ 

1 Convention Journal, p. 16. 

2 One of the delegates, Mr. Flourney of Pontotoc County, remembered 
chiefly for his radicalism after the war, says he voted for the ordinance upon 
the promise of a number of the prominent secessionists that provision should 
be made for submission to the people. Testimony before Kuldux Committee, 
1871, p. 95. 

3 Globe, 36th Cong. 2d Ses. pt. i. p. 352. 
< Ibid. p. 485. 

^ It appears from the report of the adjutant general that there were only 
two cadets from Mississippi at West Point at the time of the passage of the 
ordinance of secession. One resigned February 14 and the other December 23. 
The convention instructed the senators and representatives in the Confenlerate 
Congress to use their influence to iiave established in the South a military 
school similar to that at West Point for the cadets of the seceding states. 
Two hundred and forty-live oilicers of all grades resigned from the I'nited 
States army in 1801 to join the Confederacy. Of those credited to Mississippi 
two became brigadier generals in tlie Confederate army. See G. W. CuUum's 
13iog. IlegisUa- of tlio (Jraduates of West Point. 

•^ Journal, p. I'J. 



THE RUPTURE WITH THE UNITED STATES 7 

The United States land officers were authorized to continue 
in their offices and perform their duties according to the 
laws of the United States. ^ All citizens of the United 
States domiciled in Mississippi were declared to be citizens 
of the state, and the federal naturalization laws were re- 
enacted and applied to the state. At a second session of the 
convention, held in May, the Confederate Constitution was 
ratified by a vote of 78 to 7, after the rejection of several 
resolutions which had in view the taking of the sense of the 
people on the question. A number of ordinances was passed, 
the chief purpose of which was to place the state on a war 
footing. 

Although the electorate was not directly consulted in the 
proceedings by which relations with the United States were 
l3roken off and a great war inaugurated, the work of the con- 
vention seems to have been thoroughly acceptable, if a judg- 
ment may be formed from the hearty response to the call of 
the governor for troops and from other popular manifestations 
of approval. On the night after the passage of the ordinance, 
the state Capital was brilliantly illuminated, and the " Bonnie 
Blue Flag " was sung for the first time in a local theatre by 
its author, who had witnessed the drama of secession. Reuben 
Davis relates that upon his return from Washington he found 
the rejoicing so great that he was rarely out of the sound of 
cannon from the time he entered the state until he reached 
his home at Aberdeen. The women of the state were almost 
unanimous for resistance, and the encouragement which they 
gave to the soldiers in the field and their sacrifices for the cause 
of the Confederacy were the subject of frequent acknowledg- 
ment by the legislature during the dark days of the war. 

The responses to the governor's call were so ready, that, as 
early as the middle of May, he was compelled to announce 
that a sufficient number of troops to fill any probable requisi- 
tion by the Confederate government had been tendered, and 
he was, therefore, under the " painful necessity " of inform- 
ing those who were anxious to enlist, that no more companies 
would be received for the present.^ " The call to arms," he 
said, " has been responded to in a manner unknown to modern 
times, and the call for means to support the volunteers is 
being answered in a way to gratify the heart of every 
patriot." The several railroads within the state tendered 
the free use of their cars for transporting troops and supplies, 
and prominent citizens in various portions of the state drew 

1 Journal, p. 134, ^ Appleton's Ann. Cyclop. 1801, p. 475, 



8 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

their personal checks for sums to be used in the purchase 
of arms. Senator Brown sent a draft for -$500, while Jeffer- 
son Davis and Jacob Thompson guaranteed the payment in 
May of $24,000. A number of prominent citizens subscribed 
one hundred bales of cotton ; one subscribed fifty hogsheads 
of sugar; another, one hundred kegs of powder. A gentle- 
man of Vicksburg offered $1000 to aid in the equipment of 
every volunteer company raised in that city.^ To what ex- 
tent these demonstrations were made for the purpose of unit- 
ing the people, and possibly of frightening the North into an 
acceptance of the demands of the South, it is impossible to 
say. It is certain tliat as late as July the belief was wide- 
spread that there would be no war.^ 



II. WAGING WAR 

Secession having been accomplished, the state proceeded 
to assert its sovereignty. On the 12th of January the Quit- 
man batteiy hastened to Vicksburg, planted a number of 
cannon on the bluff, and a few days later, as the steamer 
A. 0. Tyler from Cincinnati passed down the river, fired a 
shot athwart her bows and brought her to. This was done at 
the instance of the governor, who feared tliat a hostile expe- 
dition from the North was planning to seize the arsenal at 
Baton Rouge and certain forts in Louisiana. Upon receiv- 
ing assurances that they were well garrisoned, the governor 
allowed the steamer to proceed, and steps were taken to 
make known to the people of the northwestern states that 
peaceful commerce on the Mississippi would not be inter- 
rupted. " This policy," said the governor, " will materially 
aid in preserving the peace between the southern and north- 
western states." The convention ado})ted an ordinance rec- 
ognizing the riglit of the riparian states to navigate the 
river for commercial purposes in time of peace, and declared 
its willingness to enter into "negotiations" with them for 
the enjoyment of that right. The hope was entertained 
that, by holding out commercial inducements to certidn of 

^ See Vicksbxirg Whig of March 12, 1801, for names of these subscribers. 

2 Reuben Davis says Governor Peltuis refu.s.d to purcliaso p.t a bargain cer- 
tain improved ordnance machinery, for the alio;j;cd reason tliat there would 
be no war and that the military committees of the legislature were strongly in 
favor of disbanding certain of the troops after the battle of Bull Run, assign- 
ing as a reason that the last battle of the war had been fought. Recollections, 
pp. 404, 411. 



WAGING WAR 9 

the northwestern states, they might be detached from the 
Union. The hope, however, proved to be delusive. 

So far as the possession of Federal property was concerned, 
Mississippi was less fortunate than some of her sister states. 
There was not a Federal arsenal in the state, and no fort 
except a small one at Ship Island, which had been neglected, 
and was, at the time of secession, unprepared for defence. 
There were some lighthouses, one or two marine hospitals, 
and possibly a small custom house on the coast. After the 
organization of the Confederate government, the title to this 
property, as well as that of waste and unappropriated land be- 
longing to the United States, was vested by the state in that 
government. As soon as the governor was informed of the 
seizure of the arsenal at Baton Rouge, he sent a messenger to 
request the governor of Louisiana to divide the spoils. The 
latter responded by sending eight thousand muskets, one thou- 
sand rifles, six 24-pound guns, and a considerable amount 
of ammunition.^ The post offices, with their funds and other 
property, were transferred to the service of the Confederacy. 
In some instances the funds were retained by the postmas- 
ters, but upon the establishment of the power of the United 
States in Mississippi, in 1865, they were compelled to account 
for all moneys appropriated to their own personal uses, or 
turned over to the Confederate government. ^ 

The secession convention created the office of postmaster 
general, and provided for a postal system by reenacting all 
laws, contracts, and regulations of the United States for carry- 
ing the mail.^ It does not appear, however, that a postmaster 
general for the state was ever appointed. The United States 
postal service was withdrawn on the 4th of February, it being 
impossible to continue it longer. 

During the first year of the war Mississippi was free from 
the presence of the Union army, but with the beginning of 
1862 the scene of the conflict shifted to the northern part of 
the state. From first to last forty-seven engagements were 
fought on Mississippi soil. The most noteworthy military 
operation was of course the siege of A^icksburg, which lasted 
for a period of forty -seven days. During these memorable 
days both citizens and soldiers were reduced to the most 
desperate straits for food. Mule meat was a delicacy, and 
was in great demand at a dollar per pound.* 

1 Message to the legislature, January 15, 1861. 

2 Report of Postuiaster General, 1865-1866, p. 107. 
8 Convention Journal, p. 140. 

* The Vicksburg Citizen of July 2, 1863, a tiny sheet printed on wall 



10 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

There was scarcely a building that was not struck by- 
shells, and many were completely demolished. To avoid 
death under such circumstances the inhabitants burrowed 
into the hillsides and lived in caves. Subjected to the burn- 
ing sun, and to fogs and rains, thousands fell sick, so that 
one-third of Pemberton's array were in the hospitals at the 
time of the surrender. By the first of July the army was 
on the verge of mutiny for want of food,^ and on the fourth 
Peml^erton surrendered the city, and with it one of the largest 
armies of the war. There were at least thirty thousand men, 
over a hundred siege guns, and about four thousand small- 
arms lost to the Confederacy. The loss of higher officers 
was especially heavy, among the surrendered being one 
lieutenant general, three major generals, nine brigadier gen- 
erals, and over a hundred colonels. Grant's first demand, 
that of unconditional and immediate surrender, was modified 
so that the men were allowed to march out with their side- 
arms and to retain their horses and other personal property. 
They were then released on parole and allowed to return to 
their homes. The importance of the surrender was not so 
much in the number of men or military supplies captured, 
but in the strategic value of the place. A few hours after 
the surrender, the river was lined with steamers along the 
levees. Less than a week later Port Hudson fell, and the 
Confederacy was cut in twain. On the 16th of July a St. 
Louis steamer reached New Orleans, and in the suggestive 
language of President Lincoln " the father of waters rolled 
un vexed to the sea." 

The western boundary of the state having thus been 
secured, operations were pushed in every direction by the 
Union forces, so that by the end of the war there were few 
places that had not at one time or another been subject to 
military government and occupation. A year before Vicks- 
burg fell, the towns in the northern part of the state, Corinth, 

paper, said : " We are indebted to Major Gillespie for a steak of Confederate 
beef, alias meat. We have tried it and can assure our friends that they need 
have no scru{)les at eating the meat. It is sweet, savory, and tender, and so 
long as we have a mule left we are satisfied our soldiers will be content to 
subsist on it," I'emberton, in a report dated June 22, said in regard to the 
use of nnile meat: " I am gratified to say it was found by both officers and 
men not only nutritious but very palatable and in every way preferable to 
poor beef." S. K. Keed, Vicksburg Campaign, p. 1:30. 

1 S(m; Official Kecords, Series 38, Vol. 24, pt. i. p. 088, for an anonymous 
letter from one of the- soldiers to I'emberton, warning him that the ariny was 
so near starvation that they were likely "to do anything." "I tell you 
plainly," he said, "you had better surrender us if you can't feed us. Men 
are not going to lie here and perish, if they do love their country." 



WAGING WAR 11 

Lika, Holly Springs, and Oxford, were occupied by the enemy 
in the first advance southward. At all these towns there 
was more or less destruction of property. At Holly Springs 
three blocks of buildings and the railroad depot were alleged 
to have been burned. The University buildings located at 
Oxford were for a while the headquarters of General Grant. 
From Oxford the army proceeded along the Mississippi Cen- 
tral railroad to Grenada, an important railroad center. The 
enemy reached here about the middle of December, 1862. 
Before evacuating the town the Confederate authorities 
burned fifteeu or twenty locomotives and one hundred cars. 
Thousands of farmers abandoned their plantations and fled 
before the approaching army. 

During the Vicksburg campaign most of the important 
towns in the southwestern portion of the state fell into the 
hands of tlie Federal authorities. The chief of these were 
Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and Natchez. Natchez was a place 
of considerable wealth and culture, but, unlike Vicksburg, 
did not occupy a position of strategic value. It was never 
fortified by the Confederate authorities, inasmuch as it could 
be easily flanked above and l)elow. There were never but 
two cannon in the place, and one of these was an old gun 
captured from Burgoyne at the battle of Saratoga, and kept 
in the town more as an article of curiosity than as a weapon 
of defence. It was finally melted and made into small-arms 
and bucklers for the Confederate service. When Farragut's 
fleet steamed up the river, the town surrendered without a 
struggle on July 13, 1863, and with it were captured ten 
thousand bales of cotton. 

In May, 1863, Jackson, the capital of the state, fell into the 
hands of the Federal army. Early on the morning of the 14th 
of that month Grant telegraphed Halleck : " I will attack 
the stale capital to-day." ^ On the following day he tele- 
graphed : " This place fell into our hands yesterday, after a 
fight of about three hours. General Joe Johnston retreated 
north, evidently with the design of joining the Vicksburg 
force. I am concentrating my force at Bolton to cut them off 
if possible." On the 18th the Union generals had a banquet 
at the governor's mansion .^ Shortly after the capture of Jack- 
son, General Grant assembled the corps commanders at the 
state house and gave them orders. General Sherman was 
instructed to destroy the railroad tracks in and about Jack- 

1 Badeau's Grant, I. p. 243. 

2 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 24, Serial No. 38, p. 531. 



12 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

son, and all property belonging to the enemy. How thor- 
oughly he performed the task can be gathered from his 
report, made after the second raid upon Jackson. He says : 
" Indeed the city, with the destruction committed by ourselves 
in May last, and by the enemy during the siege, is one mass 
of charred ruins. ... I then ordered all ordnance to be col- 
lected and destroyed, and put working parties to destroy the 
railroads. Besides the breaks at the north and south before 
recounted, twelve miles north and south of the town were 
absolutely destroyed ; every tie burned, and every rail warped 
so as to be utterly useless. About twenty platform cai*s, fifty 
box and passenger cars, were burned in the city and all 
the wheels broken. About four thousand bales of cotton 
used as parapets were burned. Two heavy rifled 6-inch 
guns with an immense pile of shot, shell, and fixed ammuni- 
tion were destroyed and cast into Pearl River." General 
Steele with three brigades was sent to Brandon, where he 
destroyed three miles of track. 

Among tlie buildings destroyed at Jackson were the Con- 
federate Hotel, the railroad depots, the penitentiary, Greene's 
cotton factory,^ the foundr}^ a hat factory, two bridges across 
Pearl River, the Catholic church, the office of the 3Iississippiany 
and the block of private buildings. The presses of the Missis- 
sippian were broken and the type scattered in the street. A 
number of books were stolen from the state library, some of 
which were returned in 18G7 by General Ewing of Ohio.^ 
The soldiers appear to have been turned loose on the town 
to work whatever destruction seemed to them desirable. A 
corres[)ondent of the Gliicaijo Times thus describes the work 
of plunder : " The first few hours were devoted by our soldiers 
to ransacking the town and appropriating whatever of value 
or otherwise pleased their fancy, or to the destruction of 
such articles as they were unable to appropriate or remove. 
Pianos and articles of furniture were demolished, libraries 
were torn to pieces and trampled in the dust, pictures thrust 
through with bayonets, windows broken and torn from their 
hinges. Finally after every other excess had been committed 
in the destruction of property, the torch was applied. The 
entire business portion of the city is in ruins except a few old 

1 Badeau says the owners of the cotton factory protested against its de- 
struction on the ground that niaiiy women and poor families were employed 
in it, hut Sherman decided that it must be burnt. Military Hist, of U. S. 
Grant, I. p. 250. 

- See his letter in the Hinds County Gazette of April 13, 1866. See also 
Official Records, Scries I. Vol. 24, pt. ii. p. 537. 



WAGING WAR 13 

frame buildings. One residence after another has been 
burned until none of the really line ones remain, save those 
occupied by some of our general officers. Such complete 
ruin and devastation never followed the footsteps of an army 
before." ^ The correspondent of the Chicago Tribune gave 
another picture. He said : " Jackson, the formerly flourishing 
capital of the state, is in ashes, and all the region roundabout 
is laid waste, bridges destroyed, and everything which might 
be made useful to the rebels in making Jackson or Canton 
a base of supplies. There is not even substance for a band 
of guerrillas." ^ General Badeau says : " The importance of 
Jackson as a railroad centre and a depot of stores and military 
factories is annihilated and the principal object of its capture 
attained." ^ 

But Jackson and the " country round about " was not the 
only community in Mississippi in which General Sherman's 
peculiar theory of war was applied. After the first occupa- 
tion of Jackson he moved eastwardly along the line of the 
Alabama and Vicksburg railroad to Meridian, an important 
railroad centre in the eastern part of the state. He reached 
Meridian on February 15, 1864, and at once issued an order 
in which he said : " The destruction of the railroads inter- 
secting INIeridian is of great importance and should be done 
thoroughly. Every tie and rail for many miles in each direc- 
tion should be absolutely destroyed or injured, and every 
bridge and culvert should be completely destroyed."* To 
accomplish this purpose the work of destruction north and 
east of the town was assigned to General McPherson, while 
that south and west was assigned to General Hurlbert. Three 
miles of track and three bridges were destroyed on the 
Vicksburg road, ten miles on the Selma road running east of 
Meridian, and thirty-five miles on the Mobile and Ohio road 
running north and south. Of course the town otherwise 
fared badly. Nearly every unoccupied building was destroyed, 
and a good many private residences as well, if we may believe 
the testimony of the inhabitants.'^ An Ohio volunteer says 
they had orders to burn all unoccupied houses, but the sol- 

1 Quoted by the New York World of Aug. 14, 1863. 

2 Chicago Tribune of Avig. 2, 180:5. Relative to the charge that the 
town was pillaged Badeau says in his biography of Grant : " A hotel and a 
church were burned without orders, and there was some pillaging by the 
soldiers which their ofncers sought in every way to restrain." Mil. Hist, of 
U. S. Grant, I. p. 250. 

8 Mil. Hist, of U. S. Grant, I. 250. 

* New York Herald, March 15, 1864. 

^ Letter from Meridian, New York Times, March 27, 1864. 



14 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

diers were not very particular whether the houses were occu- 
pied or iiot.i " Houses were broken open and plundered, 
every horse, cow, and chicken in the place was seized, not a 
fence was left, the commissary stores were destroyed, and 
the slaves carried away with the army."^ The railroad depot, 
two hotels (the Ragsdale and Burton houses), the Confederate 
machine sliops, the hospital, twelve government sheds, the 
arsenal, a number of government warehouses, and the gun- 
shops were among the public buildings destroyed.^ 

The other towns and villages in the path of his march suf- 
fered quite as much as Jackson and Meridian. Brandon, the 
first town of importance on the road east of Jackson, and the 
county seat of Rankin County, was one of these. An eye- 
witness thus describes the scene : " The work of destruction 
was most thoroughly done. The houses of prominent rebels 
were burned. Every horse and mule that could be found 
was seized upon, and the number became so great that a 
special detail was made to care for them. In fact, everything 
of an edible nature was levied upon and made an item in our 
commissariat. Thousands of blacks came into our lines. 
The railroad track was torn up, and every wagon, bridge, 
and depot was burned." * The editor of the Hinds County 
G-azette says the army destroyed his office and its equip- 
ments — the accumulations of twenty-five years.^ 

Seventy-six miles east of Jackson is the village of Decatur, 
the county seat of NcAvton County. It is reputed to have 
had thirty buildings burned. Lake Station near by lost two 
livery stables, the machine shops, three locomotives, a railroad 
water tank, a turntable, thirty -five cars, two saw-mills, and 
a quantity of lumber. At Enterprise, the chief place in 
Clarke County, the railroad depot, two flour-mills, fifteen 
thousand bushels of corn, two thousand bales of cotton, two 
hospitals, and other liuildings were burned. At Marion, the 
county seat of Lauderdale, the railroad station and several 
other buildings were burned. Quitman, on the Mobile and 



1 Letter of Adjutant O. G. Phillips, 32(1 Ohio Volunteers, Neio Yorlc Daily 
News, Marcli 21, 18(i4. 

2 Ni-io York World, March 14, 18G4 ,' New York Herald, March 15, 18G4. 

8 A correspondent in tlio New York Tribune said : " Nearly every build- 
in;^ in Meridian was destroyed save those occupied, and the smoking ruins 
Willi their blackened chinuieys and walls standing- as giant sentinels over the 
sorrowful scene sent a thrill of pity to the Inuxrts of those whoin stern war 
and military necessity conii>elled to apply the torch." Quoted by the New 
York Express, March 15, IBfi!. 

■' Correspondence of tliu Ne.w York Tribune dated March 21, 1864. 
'' Uinds County Gazette, April IJJ, 1866. 



WAGING WAR 15 

Ohio road about fifty miles below Meridian, had two flour- 
mills, a saw-mill, depot, and other buildings burned, while 
almost the entire length of the railroad between it and Me- 
ridian was destroyed. Other towns that met a similar fate 
were Lauderdale, Hillsboro, Bolton, and Canton. At the 
last mentioned place three locomotives, a number of cars, and 
the repair shops were burned.^ 

From Meridian tlie Sherman expedition returned to Vicks- 
burg over substantially the same route which it had first 
ti-avelled. He had been gone less than a month, had freed 
ten thousand slaves, captured seven thousand horses and 
mules, destroyed nearly tln-ee hundred miles of railroad, and 
several thousand bales of cotton. ^ General Sherman thus 
describes the character of his work : " We are absolutely 
stripping the country of corn, cattle, hogs, sheep, poultry, 
everything, and the new growing corn is being thrown open 
as pasture fields or hauled for the use of our animals. The 
wholesale destruction to wliich tlie county is now being sub- 
jected is terrible to contemplate."^ 

In summarizing his work, after the return from Meridian, 
General Sherman said : " We have destroyed three great 
arteries of travel in the state, which alone could enable the 
enemy to assemble troops and molest our passage of the Mis- 
sissippi River ; we have so exhausted the land that no army 
can exist during the season without hauling all his supplies 
in wagons. This seems to me to be a fitting supplement to 
the reconquest of the Mississippi River, and makes })erfect that 
which would have been imperfect." His only complaint was 
the tendency of the troops to pillage and plunder.* 

Although a vast amount of property was destroyed by the 
Sherman expedition, some of it wantonly no doubt, there is 
good reason to believe that the reports of the army officers, 
and especially the letters of the newspaper correspondents 
who followed the arm^^ unduly exaggerated the importance 
of the expedition as a military operation. It Avas compared 
to a " frightful tornado sweeping everything in its course," 
while the country traversed was said to have been " a region 
which was as an Eden, but was now akin to a howling wilder- 
ness." ^ A local paper, on the other hand, described the 

1 New York Tribune, March 15, 1864. 

2 CoiTespoudence of New York Tribune, March 21, 1864. 

3 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 24, pt. ii. p. 525. 

* His official report is published in full in the Nexo York Times of Sept. 20, 
1863. lie said : "There was and is too great a tendency to plunder and pil- 
lage that reflects discredit on us all." 

'" New York Express, March 15, 1864. 



16 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

raid as an " abortion," and declared that the country ravaged 
was a poor piney woods belt sparsely settled, while the prop- 
erty destroyed consisted chiefly of the villages, small cabins 
along the road, and about fifty miles of railroad track.^ 

Sherman's theory of war was well described in a letter 
which he addressed to a committee of Warren County citizens 
in 18(34. " Our duty," he said, " is not to build up, but to 
destroy the rebel army, and whatever of wealth and property 
it possesses."^ But when, in the prosecution of war, as he 
understood it, the non-combatants were reduced to starvation, 
he was ready to extend them a helping hand. In the latter 
part of July, 18G3, he informed Grant that he had desolated 
the land for thirty miles around Jackson, and that there were 
about eight hundred women and children who were likely to 
perish of starvation unless they could receive some relief. 
He asked for permission to give the mayor and a committee 
of citizens two hundred barrels of flour and one hundred bar- 
rels of pork, if they would pledge themselves to devote it 
to charitable purposes.^ The permission was granted and 
the supplies issued. At Clinton he left thirty days' rations 
for five hundred people. In each case written obligations 
were taken that the provisions should be " held sacred for the 
use of the impoverished inhabitants." And thus he says, 
" we shared with those wliose homes had been burned by 
war, freely of our stock of provisions on hand." '^ 

The most notable Federal raid in Mississippi, aside from 
Sherman's expedition, was that of Brigadier General B. H. 
Grierson. With seventeen hundred cavalry he started from 
Lagrange, Tennessee, on the 17th of April, 1863, and moved 
in a southwesterly direction across the state of Mississippi, 
passing through or near the towns of Corinth, Ripley, New 
Albany, Pontotoc, and Houston, in the northern part of the 
state. At the latter place he is alleged to have seized $10,000 
from the county treasury, and to have destroyed the county 
records. He struck the Mobile and Ohio railroad near 
Egypt, where the usual amount of destruction was wrought. 
From liere he continued his expedition, passing through the 
towns of Starkville in Oktibbeha County, Louisville and 
Philadelphia in Winston County, Decatur and Newton in 
Newton County, at which latter place two railroad bridges, 
four and one-half miles of railroad track, twenty cars loaded 

^ Macon (Miss.) Confederate, Maroh 1, 1864. 

2 The letter is printed in full in the Neic York Times of Jan. 17, 1864. 

8 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 24, pt. ii. p. 630. 

• New York Times, Sept. 20, 1803. 



WAGING WAR 17 

with supplies, and several miles of telegraph wire were de- 
stroyed. Crossing the Leaf River and burning the bridges 
behind him, he proceeded to Raleigh in Smith Count}^, where 
it is alleged he seized .$oOOO from the county treasury. 
From thence he moved upon Westville in Simpson County, 
struck the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern railroad 
at Hazlehurst, where he destroyed forty cars and a quantity 
of ammunition and stores. He then moved down the railroad 
to Brookhaven in Lincoln County, where he captured two 
hundred Confederate prisoners, a quantity of muskets, and 
five hundred tents. From Brookhaven he marched south- 
ward to Bogue Chitto, tearing up the railroad track and burn- 
ing the bridges, trestles, and water tanks. At the latter 
place fifteen freight cars loaded with stores, together with 
the depot and other buildings, were burned. Ten miles below 
Bogue Chitto he swooped into the town of Summit, where he 
destroyed twenty-five freight cars and a quantity of govern- 
ment sugar. At this place he left the railroad, and taking a 
southwesterly course, proceeded to Liberty, in Amite County, 
in the meantime making feints on Osyka and Magnolia. 
From Liberty he marclied to Greensburg, Louisiana, and 
finally to Baton Rouge, the terminus of his expedition. Li 
seventeen days he had marched eight hundred miles, destroyed 
two hundred cars, a number of locomotives, bridges, depots, 
tanneries, between fifty and sixty miles of railroad, captured 
one thousand prisoners, twelve hundred horses, three thou- 
sand stand of arms, and a quantity of ammunition. Grierson 
estimates the value of property destroyed by him at 84,000,000.^ 
From Lagrange, his starting point, to .Holly Springs, a 
newspaper correspondent in September, 1863, found only five 
plantations out of fifty occupied. In the majority of instances 
the buildings had been burned.^ In August, 1863, General 
Winslow, with three cavalry regiments, made an expedi- 
tion up the Mississippi Central railroad and destroyed a con- 
siderable amount of railroad property at Durant and vicinity. 
Panola and Coldwater were also visited. ^ In September, 
1864, the university town of Oxford was "made free with " 
by a force under the command of General A. J. Smith.* In 
June, 1863, Colonel Mizner moved down the Mississippi and 

^ His official report of the expedition is printed in full in the New York 
Times ot August 30, 1863. The Neiv York Herald of May 18, 1863, contains 
an account from a newspaper correspondent. It agrees substantially with 
Grierson's report, except that in some cases the results are overstated. 

2 Neiv York Evening Express, Sept. 21, 1863. 

8 Neio York Herald, Sept. 3, 1803. 

* An eye-witness thus describes the work of destruction at Oxford : "In 
c 



18 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Tennessee railroad, passing through five counties and playing 
havoc with the country, which he says was cleared of every- 
thing that an enemy could subsist ui)on.i In the follow- 
ing month Colonel Bussey made a raid upon Canton and 
destroyed a good deal of railroad property and six hundred 
bales of cotton. ^ In December, 18G4, Colonel Osband moved 
up the Central road from Canton, destroying railroad property 
at Vaughan, Pickens, and Goodman. Twenty-six hundred 
bales of cotton, a quantity of government salt, and ^$160, 000 
worth of supplies were also destroj^ed.^ About the same 
time General Davidson made an expedition across the south- 
ern part of the state, beginning at Baton Rouge and ending 
at Pascagoula. The people were thrown into considerable 
excitement, and the governor called out the reserves, but it 
appears that the amount of property destroyed was incon- 
siderable.* 

These were the most noteworthy " Yankee raids " during 
the war. There were, of course, others of less importance. 
Generally, in the larger expeditions, detachments were sent 
out from the main line of operations to ravage the country. 
It should be observed also that in many cases these expedi- 
tions Avere either in pursuit of a Confederate force, or were 
pursued by one which likewise subsisted upon the country 
and destroyed property, especially when it was in danger of 
falling into the hands of the enem3^ It is a mistake, there- 
fore, to assume that the vast destruction of property was 
exclusively the work of the Union armies. Thousands, if 
not tens of thousands, of bales of cotton, many miles of rail- 
road, quantities of stores, and some public buildings were 
destroyed by the Confederate forces.^ 

The part played by the people of Mississippi in the Civil 

tlie moantime our advance had made free with Oxford, burning all the fine 
brick blocks fronliupj on the public square, and also the Court Ilouse, in one 
grand conflagration." " Tlie houaesof some prominent official rebels were also 
lired. 'i'he splendid mansion of Jacob 'rhomi)son, rebel Secretary of the Inte- 
rior, with its gorgeous furniture, went up in crackling flames, a costly burnt 
offering to the ' Moloch of treason.' " Correspondence of the Dubuque Times 
in New York Times of Sept. 10, 1864. 

1 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 24, pp. 487 and 480. 

2 Ibid. pp. r)5l-554. 

3 Neio York Times, Dec. 17, 1864. 

* Memphis Argus, Dec. 6, 1804. 

* See Official Kecords, Series I. Vol. 42, pt. ii. p. 509, for a letter from the 
president of the Mississippi Central railroad to a Confederate general ad- 
vising against the absolute destruction of the rolling stock and equipments, 
owing to the impossibility of replacing them. It was suggested that the 
same results might be accomplished by removing the rails and the parts of 
the engines most difficult of construction and placing them beyond the reach 



WAGING WAR 19 

War was an interesting one. Cnrionsly enough the state 
furnished more troops to the Union army than it did to the 
Confederate army, the number being 545 whites^ and 79,000 
bhicl<:s.^ By the census of 18(.)0 there were 70,295 white 
males in the state, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, 
while the total enlistments in the Confederate army during 
the war were 78,000. Down to November 1, 1863, fortj^-six 
regiments and a number of unattached battalions and cavalry 
companies had been organized and enlisted.^ At the out- 
break of hostilities the eagerness for military service, espe- 
cially among the young men, was extraordinary. They 
clamored for assignment to duty, and exhibited an impa- 
tience at the dilatory methods of the mustering officers. 
The names of some of the companies tendered are signifi- 
cant. The following are selected at random : Abe's Re- 
jecters, the Reuben Davis Rebels, the Tippah Tigers, the 
Blackland Gideonites, the Chunkey Heroes, the Benita 
Sharpshooters, the Rankin Rough and Readys, the Yankee 
Terrors, the Tullahoma Hardshells, the Oktibbeha Plough- 
boys, the Buena Vista Hornets, the Pontotoc jMinutemen, 
etc. There were few great battles of the war, in which 
some of them did not take a more or less conspicuous 
part. Some idea of how they were sacrificed for the cause 
of the Confederacy may be gathered from the records of 
their commands. The Vicksburg cadets went out 123 
strong, and but 6 returned ; the "• Sharpshooters " from the 
same place went to the front with an enlistment of 124, 
only 1 returned.^ Of 125 men in the Quitman Guard 
from Pike County only about 25 lived to return. At the 
battle of Shiloh the Sixth Mississippi Regiment lost 300 
men out of 425, the Sixteenth Mississippi at Sharpsburg lost 
over 63 per cent of those present, while the Twenty-ninth 
Mississippi lost at Chickamauga about 53 per cent of tliose 
present;^ of the total enlistments it was estimated that about 
one-fourth were either killed in battle or died of wounds or 
of disease contracted in the service. With what persistence 

of the enemy. Upon regaining possession of the road it would be possible 
to replace the missing material. Sherman charges that a block of buildings 
in Jackson was destroyed by Johnson upon his evacuation of that town in 
May, 18G3. 

1 Official Records, Series III. Vol. 4, Serial No. 125, p, 1270. 

2 Report of Secretary of War. 

^ For the strength and organizations of these regiments see Official Rec- 
ords, Series IV. Vol. 2, pp. 929-936. 
* Vicksburg Journal, Aug. 11, 1865. 
6 Gen. S. D. Lee, in Riley's History of Miss., p. 260. 



20 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

the invasion of the Union army was contested may be inferred 
from the fact that more than 25,000 of the enemy lie buried 
to-day on Mississippi soil.^ 

Of the higher military officers of the Confederacy, Missis- 
sippi furnished a smaller proportion than some of the other 
states. Of the 8 full Confederate generals and 16 lieutenant 
generals, she furnished none. Of the 63 major generals, 
she furnished 5.^ Of the 291 brigadier generals, she fur- 
nished 29.3 

The martial spirit, so general at the outbreak of hostilities, 
to a considerable extent wore away as the war progressed, 
and voluntary enlistments became the exception. It was 
necessary, therefore, to bring the power of the state and 
Confederate governments to bear upon the indifferent indi- 
vidual who was capable of bearing arms, but who was not 
disposed to do so. Not until the territory of the state became 
the actual theatre of hostilities, however, was this power 
prominently called into requisition. On December 20, 1862, 
the governor recommended that the entire white male popu- 
lation between the ages of sixteen and sixty be enrolled in 
the state militia ; that local officers be required to aid the 
military to enroll, and, if necessary, to arrest conscripts and 
send them to the proper camps. He recommended, further- 
more, that every citizen convicted of evading or refusing to 
perform military service be disfranchised, required to leave 
the state, or be hired out, as such persons were "not fit to 
associate with brave and loyal men who return with honor- 
able scars." * The legislature took up the recommendation, 
and enacted that all white males between the ages of eighteen 
and fifty were liable to militia service in the state, and that 

1 Report of Inspector of Nat. Cemeteries, Ex. Docs. No. 02, 41st Cong. 
2d Ses. p. 57. They are buried at the following places : — 

Natchez cemetery .... 2,994 
Vicksburg cemetery .... 17,052 
Corinth cemeteiy .... 5,671 

Total 25,717 

The names of 20,000 of these are unknown. 

2 They were S. G. French, W. T. Martin, Earl Van Dorn, E. C. Walthall, 
and W. II. C. Whiting. Martin is the only survivor. 

■^ They were Wirt Adams, J. L. Alcorn, W. E. Baldwin, W. L. Brandon, 
S. Benton, W. F. Brantly, William Barksdale, Charles Clarke, D. H. Cooper, 
J. R. Chalmers, J. R. Davis, J. W. Frazer, S. J. Gholson, J. Z. George, S. W. 
Ferguson,* W. S. Featherston, B. G. Humphreys, Richard Griffeth, N. H. 
Harris, Robert Lowry,* M. V. Lowrey, Carnot Posey, C. W. Hears, P. B. 
Stark, J. A. Smith,* J. H. Sharp,* Evander McNair,* W. R. Miles,* and 
W. F. Tucker. Those indicated by a star are survivors. Barksdale, Griffith, 
Posey, and Whiting were killed in battle. 

* Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 2, p. 250. 



WAGING WAR 21 

all such persons between tlie ages of eighteen and forty, or 
such other persons as might be called for by the Confederate 
government as conscripts then in the military service of Mis- 
sissippi, be placed in camps of instruction. It was made the 
duty of all military officers to arrest deserters and deliver 
them to the nearest provost marshal. ^ This legislation was 
supplemented by a proclamation of the governor calling upon 
the people of the state to form companies for resisting the 
invasion. They were requested to meet, organize into com- 
panies of not less than twenty, and apply for a mustering 
officer who would be sent to muster them in. They were 
admonished, moreover, that it was a "burning disgrace " that 
while their sons and kindred were bravely fighting on other 
fields, the state was being successfully invaded, and the 
women subjected to insult and injury. " Let every man," 
the governor continued, "make it his business to lay all else 
aside and assist in organizing as many companies as possible 
in each county. By this course you will enable our arms 
in a short time to repel the invaders, secure the safety of 
your homes, and shed imperishable honor on your cause. 
Let no man forego the proud distinction of being one of his 
country's defenders, or he must hereafter wear the disgrace- 
ful badge of the dastardly traitor who refused to defend his 
home and country." ^ This proclamation was published two 
weeks before the capture of Jackson. On the 3d of November 
following, the governor sent in a message to the legislature 
reciting that cavalry raids were destroying the property of 
the country as well as the confidence of the people in the 
ultimate success of their cause — an element very essential, 
he said, to the successful termination of the contest. Again 
he recommended that every free white male between the 
ages of sixteen and sixty be included in the militia organi- 
zation, and that such of these as were not called into actual 
service be organized for local defence against Federal raids 
or used for a police force. ^ Again the legislature came to 
his aid, and enacted that all persons between the ages of 
seventeen and fifty years, including those exempted or dis- 
charged from the Confederate service, as well as those who 
had substitutes, should be organized for the militia service 
as the governor might direct. The governor was empowered 
to offer a bounty of i50 for each enlisted person, and 



1 Act of Jan. 3, 1863 ; Laws, p. 67. 

2 The proclamation is printed in the New York Herald of May 22, 1863. 
8 Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 2, pp. 921-927. 



22 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

to establish courts martial to try deserters. ^ As another 
inducement, the state undertook to guarantee to every sol- 
dier the value of his horse or gun when lost, if not due to 
his own negligence.^ The legislature, furthermore, pledged 
the faith of the state that so long as it had any means their 
families should not be allowed to suffer during their absence 
in the service. 

In August of the following year the governor was author- 
ized to call upon every able-bodied man in the state to assist 
in repelling invasion at such place as he might direct. 
About the same time General Forrest issued a spirited call 
to all citizens between the ages of fifteen and sixty-five to 
"rally to his support," the old men and the boys to tnke care 
of the horses, while the soldiers did the lighting. He was by 
another act authorized to " order " into the militia service for 
a period not exceeding thirty days all free white males be- 
tween the ages of sixteen and fifty-five, including all persons 
exempted from the Confederate service, with certain excep- 
tions. They were to be held for police duty, but in case of 
invasion might be called into active service.^ In pursuance 
of these acts the governor issued the usual proclamations. 
In the first one he recited that the enemy in large numbers 
were invading the state, and those capable of bearing arms 
were requested to assemble at Grenada, Okalona, or Macon. 
He appealed to them to come by companies, squads, or indi- 
viduals. He informed the Secretary of War that he would 
probably be able to get four or five thousand men under this 
call.* Tlie other proclamation reminded the people that all 
previous exemptions and details were revoked, and that those 
who failed to respond would be arrested, tried by court martial, 
and forced into the military service for one year. Of the lat- 
ter act the Jackson Clarion said: "Those who have by artful 
dodges and artifices kept out of the army cannot la}'- the flat- 
tering unction to their souls that they will escape this time. 
They must respond now, or hide forever from the gaze of 
brave men and enduring women, and, indeed, from the light 
of day itself. Numerous individuals who have hitherto kept 
out of the service, as blacksmiths, etc., should be hunted up 
and ferreted out, together with those who are hiding in the 
woods." An anonymous writer for the Neiv Orleans Thnes, 
in a communication from Pike County, declared that Gov- 
ernor Clarke had at last completely "subjugated" the state. 

1 Laws, 18G3, p. 105. » Act of Au^-. 13, 1804. 

2 Ibid. p. 123. « Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 3, p. 590. 



WAGING WAR 23 

" It is," the writer said, " a melancholy spectacle to see the 
old gray-haired men dragged out to the field, leaving a house 
full of little ones unprovided for.''^ It was certainly not a 
much less melancholy spectacle to see boys of sixteen dragged 
from their homes or the schools, and compelled to undergo 
the hardships of a service which was more than the average 
veteran could endure with comfort. 

To enforce such laws it was necessary to maintain a small 
army of conscript officers. The law made it the duty of 
sheriffs to enroll conscripted persons, to arrest stragglers and 
deserters, to be " vigilant and active " in the detection, pur- 
suit, and capture of such persons, to examine the leaves of 
absence and furloughs of all men absent from the army, and 
to see that they returned at the expiration of their furloughs. 
It was made the duty of all county and local officers to give 
the sheriff notice of stragglers and deserters. For every such 
person arrested and delivered up the sheriff was entitled 
to receive the sum of $5.^ There were few complaints 
of desertions until the latter part of the year 1863. The 
occupation of a large part of the state by the Union armies 
induced many to lose faith in the ultimate success of the 
Confederate cause. Moreover, the great hardships and priva- 
tions of military service increased after 1863 to such an 
extent that many who would otherwise have held out, aban- 
doned the army and lay out in the woods or swamps.^ Gov- 
ernor Clarke, in his inaugural address of November 16, 1863, 
paid his respects to the "no inconsiderable numbers who 
were evading military duty." To compel them to enlist he 
invoked the voice of an outraged public opinion. It is of 
course impossible to tell with any reasonable degree of accu- 
racy how many were evading military service. It was said 
in January, 1864, that there were 92,016 white males in the 
state between the ages of sixteen and sixty, and only 66,982 
on the muster rolls, leaving 36,031: who for some reason or 
other were not in the military service.* One of the con- 
script officials informed a Confederate Senator on December 
29, 1864, that in his opinion there were not less than 7000 
deserters in Mississippi. "I believe," he said, "that there 
are at this da}^ in Mississippi alone a sufficient number of 

1 Quoted in Bichmond Examiner of Nov. 14, 1864. 

2 Act of Jan. 3, 18(33 ; Laws, p. 89. 

3 E. S. Dargan informed the Confederate Secretary of War, on IMarcli 4, 
]864, that "public sentiment was much depressed" in Mississippi, and that 
many avoided service and even threatened to resist the authorities of the 
government. Official Eecords, Series I. Vol. 52, pt. ii. p. 635. 

* Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 3, p. 103. 



24 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

skulkers, deserters, idle officers, improper details, and useless 
exempts to give victory to any army." In his opinion the 
conscript department was a farce, and the officers ought to be 
in the held. During the previous five months he said only 
235 men had been enlisted, and if the desertions from these 
enlistments were in proportion to those from the camps of 
instruction, not enough ever reached the army to form a com- 
pany. He cited an instance in which 537 men were con- 
scripted, and 302 of them deserted before leaving the state. ^ 
The reports of the Confederate Secretary of War show that 
from February, 1864, to February, 1865, 2031 deserters were 
returned to the army from Mississippi. ^ As a sort of last 
resort the governor, in November, 1864, issued a proclamation 
promising a general amnesty to all deserters and absentees 
who would forthwith report for duty. They were requested 
to report to the sheriff or other civil officer, and the people 
were advised to inform those interested.^ The Confederate 
conscript officers seem to have had more success in apprehend- 
inof deserters than did the state officers. Generals Forrest and 
Pillow made it exceedingly uncomfortable for such persons 
so long as they were in command in Mississippi. Of Gen- 
eral Pillow's accomplishments a newspaper said: "General 
Pillow has during the months of September and October, 1863, 
returned from Alabama and Mississippi 26,000 infantry and 
cavalry. If the whole of the Confederacy could be placed 
under an administration of conscription distinguished b}^ the 
vigilance, energy, and intelligence which seem to govern the 
district of Mississippi and Alabama, we should have no occa- 
sion to fear for the strength of our armies in the field or the 
success of our cause." ^ The legislature voted Forrest a sword 
and adopted a resolution of thanks, " hailing with delight " his 
avowed purpose, as expressed in a public address, of returning 
all stragglers and deserters to the army. 

With tlie approach of the spring of 1865, the number of 
deserters became so large that Forrest was able to refer to 

1 Letter of II. W. Walter to J. W. C. Watson, Official Records, Series IV. 
Vol. .3, p. 976. 

2 Olticial Records, ibid. p. 1100. 

8 liichmnnil H7t;V/, Nov. 14, 18G4. 

* lUchmond Sentinel, Dec. 22, 186.3. The desertions from the Confed- 
erate army do not seem to have been as great in proportion as those from 
the Union army. The United States Secretary of War in his report of Nov. 8, 
ISOf), p. SI, says tlie nuniliL-r of deserters sinco lii-^ last report was 18,120. It 
ai)iu'ars also from the appendix to the same report, p. 2!t, that the number of 
deserters in Illinois from March, 1863, to March, 1866, was 6805. 'J'he large 
number of desertions was due to a considerable extent to the leniency of the 
government in punishing them. 



WAGING WAR 25 

them as " roving bands of deserters, stragglers, horse-thieves, 
and robbers, who consume the substance, and appropriate 
the property of the citizens."^ In March, 1864, a conscript 
officer informed the Confederate Secretary of War, that there 
seemed to be more deserters in Choctaw County than anywhere 
else. He estimated the number at five hundred, one-half of 
whom were armed and in organized bands.^ February 1, 1865, 
a prominent citizen of Holly Springs wrote that large numbers 
of deserters infested the country, robbing friend and foe 
alike, making the condition of its citizens truly pitiable.^ 
About the same time, the governor proposed to General Tay- 
lor to call out the militia for thirty days to apprehend de- 
serters,* whereupon Taylor urged him to call out also the 
old men and the boj^s for police purposes at home.^ By an 
act of March 9 the governor was authorized to employ the 
militia for the purposes mentioned in his proposition to Gen- 
eral Taylor.^ Many of those who evaded military service 
took up their abode in the swamps of Pearl River, generally 
on Honey Island. This place became notorious as a nest of 
thieves and robbers.'' It is alleged that public sentiment in 
Jones County, in the southeastern part of the state, was so 
opposed to the war that the county formally seceded from 
the Confederacy, and organized a government in opposition 
thereto. For a while the power of the Confederacy was 
expelled from the community, and Confederate wagon-trains 
are alleged to have been plundered by the adherents of the 
new power. A military force was despatched to the scene of 
the troubles, and the power of the Confederacy reestablished.^ 

1 Official Records, Series T. Vol. 49, Serial No. 103, p. 931. 

2 Ibid. Vol. 52, pt. ii. p. 791. 
8 Ibid. p. 950. 

* Ibid. 939. 

6 Ibid. 941. 

6 Laws, 1865, p. 23. 

■^ Honey Island is the scene of the events portrayed in Mr. Maurice Thomp- 
son's late novel. The King of Honey Island. 

8 For the alleged secession of Jones County from the Confederacy, see 
Magazine of American Histoiy, Vol. 16, p. 38. A recent writer in the pub- 
lications of the 3Iississippi Historical Society asserts that there is no historical 
foundation for the story. There is unmistakable evidence of considerable 
opposition among the inhabitants to Confederate service, but on the other hand 
the story that an independent republic was established is a myth. In 1865 
115 inhabitants of the county joined in a memorial to the legislature, praying 
that inasmuch as Jones County had become " notorious, if not infamous," in 
the annals of the Confederacy, its name might be changed and so " completely 
sunk out of sight that the hand of time might never resurrect it." Its name 
was accordingly changed to Davis, but the reconstructionists would have none 
of it, and restored its old name, by which it is known at the present time. 
See House Journal, 1865, p. 351. 



26 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

In the enforcement of the conscript measures the state and 
Confederate governments sometimes came into conflict. On 
the 4th of March, 18G4, Governor Clarke wrote to Mr. Sed- 
don, the Confederate Secretary of War, complaining that jus- 
tices of the peace and other civil officers, exempt under his 
proclamation, were being forced into the Confederate service. 
He therefore " demanded " their discharge. ^ On the 5th of 
April the legislature adopted a resolution protesting against 
the action of the Confederate government in thus conscript- 
ing the civil officers of the state. Finally, the legislature 
adopted a resolution by which it was agreed that the state 
would waive her rights in the premises as to all officers, 
members, and agents not named in the constitution, and not 
necessary to the preservation of " our form of government." ^ 
A question involving the paramount authority of the Con- 
federate Q-overnment came before the courts in 1864. A man 
wlio had been conscripted under state authority and by a state 
official for militia service in the state, was seized by a Con- 
federate conscript officer and forced into the Confederate 
service. Which government was supreme would have been 
a question for the Confederate Supreme Court, had there 
been such a tribunal. He appealed to the Supreme Court of 
Mississippi. Although its functions had practically been sus- 
pended during the war, it took cognizance of the case, and 
decided that the claims of the Confederate government should 
have the preference.'^ 

It was a special complaint of Governor Clarke that the Con- 
federate government would not indemnify state troops for the 
loss of tlieir horses, bridles, and saddles.* At another time he 
complained that the Confederate government impressed every- 
thing within its reach, and monopolized all the manufactur- 
ing establishments so that he could not even procure a blanket 
for the state troops.^ 

There is little doubt that in the enforcement of the almost 
merciless policy of conscription many persons not liable to 
military service were forced into the army. On one occasion 
two hundred soldiers in Mississippi united in a petition to 
President Davis declaring that they were not liable as con- 
scripts, and that unless they were allowed to return home 
their families would be reduced to starvation.^ In April, 

1 Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 3, p. 416. 

2 Resolution of Aug. 13, 18G4. 
'^ Simmons vs. Miller. 

4 Ol^ficial Records, Series IV. Vol. 2, Serial No. 128, p. 300. 
6 Ibid. Series I. Vol. 52, pt. ii. p. 035. 
6 Ibid. p. 453. 



WAGING WAR 27 

1865, the legislature passed resolutions of censure against the 
Confederate Congress in conferring upon President Davis 
the power " to appoint military tribunals responsible only to 
him." The act was denounced as dangerous to the liberties 
of the citizen, and unconstitutional.^ Its purpose was to 
increase the efficiency of the conscript service. 

It remains to notice briefly the policy of the state toward 
the alien class domiciled wdthin its limits, and toward the 
slave class. In a message to the legislature June 25, 18(31, 
Governor Pettus suggested that as a " means of retaliation 
on a people who are raising armies to subjugate us," whether 
it would not be expedient and just to confiscate all the prop- 
erty of alien enemies within the state. It does not appear 
from the statutes, however, that the legislature ever took any 
action on the subject. But as the need for recruits increased, 
a sentiment developed in favor of pressing aliens into the ser- 
vice. Accordingly, in December, 1863, the legislature passed 
a law requiring all aliens between the ages of eighteen and 
forty-five to leave the state or volunteer in the Confederate 
service by the first of March following. The pretext for 
the act was that they were engaged in illegal trade with the 
enemy, and were guilty of extortion in dealing with the 
citizens.^ 

The policy of the Federal authorities in enlisting negroes 
of military age as they came into the lines, led President 
Davis to issue an order to his commanders in Mississippi to 
remove the slaves upon the approach of the enemy, to locali- 
ties where they would not be in danger of being conscripted. 
Accordingly, the owners of slaves spirited them away to 
Texas or Alabama, where the Union armies had not yet 
penetrated. The result of the order was very different from 
what was expected. As soon as the Confederate command- 
ers began to seize the negro men and transport them, they 
went over in great numbers to the lines of the Union army. 
In a message to the legislature November 21, 1863, the gov- 
ernor protested against Davis's order as " disastrous to the 
country " and calculated to "drive " the slaves into the hands 
of the enemy. -5 Upon his recommendation the legislature 
adopted a joint resolution requesting the governor to protect 
the people against the illegal impressment of slaves and 
other property by Confederate officers or pseudo officers, the 
effect of which was causing the slaves to go over to the 
enemy.* 

1 Resolution of April 5, 1864. » Nexo York Times, Dec. 4, 1864. 

2 Laws of 1863, p. 152. * Resolutions of Nov. 20, 1863. 



28 EECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The successful employment of negro soldiers by the enemy 
aroused a sentiment in favor of the experiment in the Con- 
federate army. Early in 1863 the governor was authorized 
by an act of the legislature to impress all male slaves be- 
tween the ages of eighteen and fifty, together with tools, 
implements, wagons, teams, horses, timber, lumber, arms, 
ammunition, ordnance stores, etc., " for the purpose of repel- 
ling invasion and suppressing insurrection." The owners were 
to be allowed the same pay for each slave as the pay of an 
ordinary private soldier. The governor was authorized to 
furnish the Confederate commanders in the state with such 
number of slaves as might be necessary to give greater effi- 
ciency to the operations. The owner of thirty slaves im- 
pressed was allowed to send along an overseer to look after 
their health and general welfare. Provision was also made 
for indemnifying the owner of slaves killed while in the ser- 
vice.^ With the approach of the year 1865 a sentiment 
developed in favor of actually enlisting the slaves as regular 
soldiers, and a few weeks before the collapse of the Confeder- 
acy, Congress authorized the President in his discretion, if he 
deemed it necessary to prosecute the war successfully, and 
maintain the sovereignty and independence of the Southern 
states, to call upon each state for its quota of three hundred 
thousand troops in addition to " those subject to military ser- 
vice under existing laws," to be raised from the whole popu- 
lation, irrespective of color. None were recruited under the 
act in Mississippi. 

Occasional acts appear in the statutes of the time author- 
izing owners to emancipate certain slaves for faithful attend- 
ance upon their masters while in the army. The presence of 
free negroes seems to have been tolerated so long as their 
conduct was satisfactory to the Confederate authorities.'^ 

1 Laws of 1863, p. 84. 

■^ The only record accessible to the author, relative to the policy of the 
Ktate authorities toward free negroes in Mississippi, is an act of the legisla- 
ture passed in 1861 authorizing the board of police in Pike County to issue 
licenses to such persons in their discretion to remain in the county. The act 
made it the duty of the sheriff to sell into slavery any free negro found, after 
the lirst of March following, without a license. Laws of 1861, p. 144. 



PROBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 29 



HI. PROBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 

Growing out of the occupation of the territory of the 
state by the military forces of the United States was the ques- 
tion of defining and establishing the relations that should 
exist between the conquerors and the conquered during the 
period of the occupation. Although the greater portion of 
the state was at one time or another occupied by the military 
forces of the enemy, a comparatively small portion of it was 
permanently held and governed. Thus the towns of Corinth 
and Holly Springs in the northern part, and Vicksburg and 
Natchez in the southwestern part, seem to have been almost 
the only places of importance where the administration of 
the local government was under the control of the military 
authorities for any length of time. It may be stated in gen- 
eral terms that wherever the army occupied and governed 
a district of territory the private law as it was found was not 
disturbed. Only the public law relations of the inhabitants 
were changed. The administration was sometimes modified 
by the removal of the civil officers, and the detail of military 
officials to perform their duties. 

One of the knotty problems which the military commanders 
had to solve in the administration of the occupied territory, 
was the establishment of a code for the regulation of matters 
of trade and intercourse between the parts of territory under 
the control of the United States and those parts under the 
jurisdiction of the Confederacy. The difficulty arose from 
the necessity of procuring supplies for the use of the army 
and the destitute class, and at the same time of preventing 
supplies from falling into the hands of the enemy to be used 
for military purposes. There was a popular sentiment at the 
time that " trade follows the flag," and that the occupation 
of a given section of country ought to be accompanied by an 
immediate removal of all restrictions on trade and commerce. 
Grant saw the practical objection to the theory and protested 
against its application in the case of the territory under his 
control, but Secretary Chase and others fell in with the 
popular movement, and for a time the commander in Missis- 
sippi was considerably hampered in dealing with this difficult 
question.^ It was the general's opinion that "any trade 

1 Badeau's Grant, I. p. 411 ; Shucker's Chase, p. 322. 



30 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

whatever " with the Confederacy would reduce the military 
strength of the United States at least 33 per cent. "No 
matter what restrictions," he said, "may be thrown around 
tiade, it will be made a means of supplying the enemy 
with what they want.^ In 1862, while still in north Missis- 
sippi, he issued regulations for the government of persons 
engaging in trade. The purchase of cotton or other produce 
at any militar}^ post was confined to those who had special 
permission, and it was made an act of disloyalty to go beyond 
the lines to make purchases. The railroads were of course 
controlled by the military authorities, and freight agents were 
required to make daily reports of their shipments. Licenses 
were granted to loyal persons at all military posts to sell 
articles of necessity, in small quantities, to those only who 
were willing to take the oath of allegiance to the United 
States.2 The purpose of this latter requirement was to aid 
in building up the nucleus of a Union party in the state. 
Grant's whole policy, in fact, was to encourage the inhabit- 
ants to return to their allegiance. It is shown in his orders 
and instructions to the division commanders and in his private 
correspondence. The policy was not entirely without results, 
as will be seen later. 

From time to time the regulations established for north 
Mississippi were modified as experience or circumstances 
dictated. Thus, supply stores were authorized, the names 
and addresses of purchasers were registered, together with 
the date and amount of sale, and buyers were compelled 
to make oath that the articles purchased were for their own 
use. The occupation of Vicksburg, togetlier with the banks 
of the Mississippi River above and below the city, made 
more elaborate regulations necessary. Thus, rules were 
established for the government of express companies, requir- 
ing tliem to transmit packages in a certain manner, and 
strictly according to military orders.^ Similarly, rules for 
the regulation of the postal service, which was declared to 
be established exclusively for the benefit of the military 
authorities, were prescribed and enforced. Mails were 
required to be made up at military headquarters and sent 
to the post office by army officers, and no letters were trans- 
mitted except those coming from designated military authori- 
ties.^ The great influx of speculators after the fall of 

1 Badeau's Grant, I. p. 411. 

2 Offirial Records, Series I. Vol. 52, pt. i. p. 303 ; see also Nero York 
World, .iMii. !), 1801}. 

8 New York Times, An-. 30, 1803. " Ibid. 



PROBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 31 

Vicksburg complicated matters, and for a while seriously 
embarrassed the military authorities in their efforts to per- 
mit only legitimate trade. Tlie source of the trouble was 
the phenomenal rise in the price of cotton. This article 
could be stolen or bought for a nominal price and sold for 
fifty or seventy-five cents per pound. The effect was demor- 
alizing, and officers of high rank in the army were known 
to neglect their duties to engage in the traffic. Quarter- 
master's teams were employed in hauling cotton to tlie 
river ; soldiers were deprived of their rations, and hospitals 
of their supplies, because the wagons were being used for 
another purpose. Great scandals to the military service 
resulted from this practice, and finally the treasury depart- 
ment consented to leave tlie whole matter in the hands 
of Grant. He declared tliat many fortunes were made l)y 
men, all of whom were dishonest.^ The surreptitious traffic 
thus carried on, from first to last was estimated to have 
aggregated at least 1200,000,000.^ A considerable number of 
these sj)eculators seem to have been Jews from Cincinnati. 
Grant finally lost his patience and issued an order expelling 
all Jews in the department, and commanding them to depart 
within twenty-four hours. On account of its discriminating 
character the President rescinded the order. On the 22d of 
September, 18G3, Grant laid down the law to the cotton 
speculators in " General Orders, No. 57." In plain terms 
they were informed that no person speculating in cotton 
would be permitted to remain in the department south 
of Helena. Actual residents, '* well disposed to the govern- 
ment of the United States," were permitted to bring into 
any military post on the Mississippi River, cotton or other 
Southern produce of which they were the bona fide owners ; 
and with special permission of the military authorities might 
ship the same to Memphis or New Orleans for sale. All 
cotton belonging to persons in arms against the United 
States was to be seized for the benefit of the government.^ 
By another order, which does not seem to have been taken 
seriously, " permission " was granted to all persons to bring 
their cotton to the nearest military post, and voluntarily 



1 Quoted in Reed's Vicksburg Campaign, p. 148. Jan. 27, 1864, Sherman 
writes to a brigadier general at Vicksburg: "Encourage good laboring men, 
but give the cold shoulder to greedy speculators and drones. The moment 
they accumulate so as to trouble you, conscript them." Official Records, 
Series I. Vol. 32, Serial No. 58, p. 239. 

2 Shucker's Life of Chase, p. 323. 
8 New York Times, Oct. 4, 1863. 



32 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

"abandon" it to the United States treasury agent, and in 
case they were able to prove to the satisfaction of the military 
authorities that they were, and ever had been, loyal to the 
government of the tjnited States, they would be paid for it 
at the end of the war. A Memphis correspondent of the 
Neiv York World wished to know if a single citizen of Missis- 
sippi had ever voluntarily surrendered a bale of cotton, or 
received a cent for it.^ The probability is that no one 
ever did. The speculators that swarmed into Mississippi 
with the army by no means confined their transactions to 
dealings in cotton, but seem to have controlled to some 
extent the supply of the necessities of life. The evil became 
so flagrant that in August, 1864, an order was issued by 
General Dana fixing the maximum price of flour in the 
territory under his jurisdiction at $1Q per barrel, pork at -157 
per barrel, ham at forty-three cents per pound, bacon at 
thirty-three cents, soap at fifteen cents, and salt at 1*4 per 
bushel. The rule applied to all merchants and traders, as 
well as to the class known as speculators, and heavy penal- 
ties were imposed for its violation.^ 

Another problem which the exigencies of the war forced 
upon the military commanders related to the disposition of 
property which, as the result of successful invasion, had 
passed into their possession. While Grant was in north 
Mississippi he was directed by President Lincoln to seize 
and use any property which, in his opinion, would contribute 
to the success of the army, and to destroy such as appeared 
to be a military necessity, with the restriction that none 
should be destroyed in "wantonness or malice."^ It was 
also made the duty of the military commanders to seize and 
apply to the support of the United States army, the property 
(rt) of any officer in the army or navy of the Confederacy ; (^>) of 
any president, vice-president, member of congress, judicial or 
cabinet officer under the Confederate government; (c) of any 
insurrectionary state governor, member of the legislature or 
convention, or any judge of a state in secession ; ((?) of any 
officer in the Confederate service who had formerly held 
an office under the United States ; («) and of any person in a 
loyal state who had given aid, assistance, or comfort to those 
in arms against the United States.* The property com])re- 
hended under these five heads belonged to the class which 

1 New York World, Sept. 14, 1863. 

2 New York Herald, Sept. 2, 1864. 

8 Official Records, Series III. Vol. 3, Serial No. 124, p. 397. 
* Act of July 17, 1862. 



PROBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 33 

the government confiscated for its own use. Beside this class, 
was that included under the term captured property, such, 
for example, as Confederate cotton, stores, and military ord- 
nance ; and abandoned property, or that "deserted" by the 
owners who fled before the approach of the army, or who 
were voluntarily absent therefrom, and engaged either in 
arms or otherwise in aiding or encouraging the Confederate 
cause. ^ Most of the property included under the latter class 
was returned to the owners shortly after the termination of 
hostilities. Grant defined his policy with regard to the pri- 
vate property of non-combatants in an order issued from 
Vicksburg, August 1, 1863, in which he announced that such 
property would be " respected " unless it was found to be 
necessary for the use of the government, in which case it 
would be taken under direction of a corps commander, and 
be paid for at the end of the war upon satisfactory proof of 
loyalty. Sherman used less circumlocution in defining his 
policy toward the non-combatants. Wiien a committee of the 
citizens of Warren County drew up a petition and presented it 
to him, reciting that their property had been unnecessarily 
destroyed or carried away by the soldiers, that their slaves 
had been enticed away from the plantations, and that the 
people were in a destitute condition and needed relief, he 
replied, cheerfully acknowledging the right of the citizens 
to meet and petition for redress, and the corresponding right 
of the military commander to protect them, but he said he 
knew of no nation that had attempted to feed and provide 
for the inhabitants of an insurgent district. " On account 
of firing on the steamboats," he said, " and the long and 
desperate resistance to the army, we are justified in treating 
all the inhabitants as combatants, and would be perfectly 
justified in transporting you all beyond the seas if the United 
States deemed it expedient." He told them that the people 
of Warren County had not assisted the government much, 
and were not, therefore, entitled to much protection, and his 
future policy would depend upon their conduct. In regard 
to the negro question his reply, was anything but consoling. 
The United States, he said, had succeeded by right of war 
to the title hitherto held by the master, and in due season 
the slaves would be hired out, employed by the government, 
or removed to the camps where they could be conveniently 
fed, but in the meantime no one must molest them, or inter- 

1 Regulations Concerning Abandoned, Captured, and Confiscable Property, 
No. 3. 



34 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

fere with the agents of the United States. In reply to the 
request that he detail slaves from the freedmen's camps to act 
as servants for those who had lost their servants, he said, " You 
must do as we do — liire your own servants and pay them." 
Relative to the future he said that everything was unsettled, 
and that he would not advise any person to plant on an 
extensive scale, for no one could see far enouQ-h into the 
future to tell Avho might reap what they sowed. However, 
he advised them to remain at home, put their houses and 
grounds in order, and resume their former employments as far 
as they were permitted to do so. Proceeding on the theory 
that the government under which they lived was illegal, he 
said : " You must establish a government before you can 
have property. Of course we think our government (whicli 
is still yours) is the best and easiest to put into operation 
here." After advising them to take steps to establish a 
loyal government and secure representation in Congress, he 
added, " But General Grant, nor I, nor anybody else, can 
give you any assurance or guarantees. The commander in 
war is the judge, and lie may take your house and your fields, 
and turn you out helpless to starve. It may be wrong, but 
that does not alter the matter. It is our duty to destroy, 
not to build up ; therefore do not look to us to help you. 
Come out boldly and assert that the government of the 
United States is the only power on earth that can insure to 
the inhabitants protection to life, liberty, and property. 
You will then have some reason to ask of us protection and 
assistance, and not until then."^ 

Other inducements were held out to the inhabitants of 
conquered districts to resume their allegiance. Thus after 
the fall of Vicksburg it was ordered that inasmuch as all 
Confederate soldiers had been driven out of that part of the 
state west of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern 
railroad which runs through the central part of the state 
from north to south, and as it was " to the interest of the 
citizens not to have armed bodies of men among them," tlie 
most rigorous penalties would be inflicted upon all irregular 
bodies of cavalry not mustered and paid by the Confederate 
authorities. Moreover, all persons engaged in conscripting, 
enforcing the conscription acts, or apprehending deserters, 
whether regular or irregular, all citizens giving them en- 
couragement, and all persons firing upon United States 
transports, would be subjected to the same penalties. ^ The 

1 This letter is printed in tlie Xeio York Times of Jan. 17, 1864. 
a Gen. Orders, No. 50, Xexo York Timps^, Aug. 30, 1863. 



PKOBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 35 

purpose of the order was to rid the country of the bands of 
deserters, stragglers, and guerilhis who plundered the in- 
habitants, and at the same time leave the people free from 
Confederate influence, to develop a Union sentiment and 
return to their old allegiance, in case there was a desire to 
do so. 

During the period of occupation it devolved upon the 
military authorities in some instances to assume the adminis- 
tration of the municipal governments within the territory 
occupied. To meet the necessary expenses it was customary 
to impose taxes on projDerty and traffic. In Natchez the 
mayor was removed and the administration placed under 
the supervision of a provost marshal, who governed accord- 
ing to martial law. The city fund was turned over to tlie 
military authorities, wharf regulations were established by 
the general commanding, a commission for the trial of civil 
cases was instituted, permits were issued to citizens for a 
variety of purposes, and police duty was performed by the 
provost guard. 1 Loyal persons in Adams, Claiborne, and 
Jefferson counties were allowed to bring to the town for sale 
live stock, provisions, fuel, etc., for the use of the inhabit- 
ants, and to carry away small quantities of supplies, not ex- 
ceeding the amount brought in. Persons engaging in the 
traffic were required to exhibit their oaths of allegiance at 
the lines. 2 The boundaries of the city, as a military admin- 
istrative district, were extended so as to include the freed- 
men's camps and the plantations leased by the government. 
Beyond these lines no supplies could be sent except in accord 
with military regulations.^ 

One incident in the administration of the government by 
the military authorities may be cited as an illustration of its 
absolute character. This was a case of interference with the 
freedom of worship. After tlie occupation of Vicksburg by 
the military forces of the United States, the congregation of 
the Episcopal church practically ceased to attend service, on 
account of the action of the minister in offering prayer for 
the President of the United States. Upon the announcement 
that an old and highly respected minister would conduct the 
services on Christmas Day with the omission of the prayer 
for the President, a large congregation, among whom were 
a number of Union soldiers and officers, filled the church. 
Under fear of arrest by the military authorities, the timid 

1 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 48, Serial No. 101, p. 563. 

2 Ibid. Serial No. 102, p. 283. 
8 Ibid. Serial No. 101, p. 632. 



36 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

pastor broke his promise and read the prayer according to 
the prescribed form of the Episcopal ritual, whereupon a 
young lady quietly arose and left the church. She was soon 
followed by three or four others. In the afternoon they 
were waited upon by the provost marshal and informed that 
they had incurred the displeasure of the commanding gen- 
eral, and must leave the city at once. Shortly thereafter 
copies of the following order were sent to the young ladies, 
and placarded at different places throughout the city : — 

Headquarters 17th Army Corps, Provost Marshal's Office, 
VicKSBURG, Miss., Dec. 27, 1863. 

The following named persons . . . having acted disrespect- 
fully towards the President and government of the United States, 
and having insulted the officers, soldiers, and loyal citizens of the 
United States who had assembled in the Episcopal church on 
Christmas Day, by abruptly leaving the church at that point in 
the services where the minister prays for the welfare of the 
President and all others in authority, are hereby banished, and 
will leave the Federal lines within forty-eight hours, under pen- 
alty of imprisonment. 

By order of 

Major General McPherson.^ 

This was followed shortly thereafter by the following 
special order : — 

The parties ordered to proceed outside the Federal lines will 
report at the railroad depot to-morrow at 10 o'clock. They will 
be permitted to take their private baggage, and conveyance will be 
in readiness at Big Black Bridge with a flag of truce to take them 
to the Confederate lines, or so far as the flag may be permitted to 
proceed. 

By order of 

Major General McPherson, 
James Wilson, Lieut. Col., Provost Marshal. 

The commanding general refused to extend the time to 
enable them to complete their preparations, but consented to 
allow the mother of one of the young ladies to accompany 
them. At the appointed time and place they " embarked in 
the presence of liundreds of Federal soldiers," and passed 
into the jurisdiction of the Confederacy.^ The interference 

1 The order of banishment is printed in the New York Evening Express 
of Jan. 23, 1864. 

2 This order is printed in the New York Daily Neics of Feb. 2, 1864. 



PROBLEMS OF MILITARY OCCUPATION 37 

with the freedom of worship did not end with the banish- 
ment of the young ladies, for shortly tliereafter the com- 
manding general issued an order reciting that he had received 
notice that tlie pastors of " many " churches neglected to 
make any public recognition of allegiance to the government 
under which they lived, and to which they were indebted for 
protection, and omitted to offer prayer for the President. 
It was accordingly ordered that thereafter the ministers of 
such churches as had prescribed forms of prayer should read 
the same at each and every service, and other denominations, 
which had no such form of prayer, should on like occasions 
" pronounce a prayer appropriate to the times, and expressive 
of a proper spirit toward the chief magistrate of the United 
States." It was ordered that any minister who failed to do 
this should be immediately proliibited from exercising the 
functions of his office, and would render himself liable to be 
sent beyond the lines of the United States at the discretion 
of the general commanding. The provost marslial was 
charged with the execution of the order. ^ This order would 
have been regarded as rather a sacrilegious jest had not the 
commanding general proceeded to enforce it in the true 
Jacksonian spirit. The Right Reverend William Henry 
Elder, the bishop of Natchez, refused to read the prayer for 
the President, and on the 18th of June, 1864, was banished 
from the city and sent to the Confederate lines. After the 
expiration of about two months he was allowed to return 
and "pray for whom he pleased." At the same time the 
order making prayer for the President compulsoiy was 
"suspended until further orders." Henceforth all persons 
conducting divine worship were left "at liberty to manifest 
such measures of hostility as they may feel against the 
government and union of these states and their sympathy 
with the rebellion by omitting such supplications if they are 
so minded." 2 And henceforth, it may be added, the attempt 
to compel the adherents of one belligerent to pray for the 
success of the other was abandoned as an unprofitable if not 
an impossible task. Thereafter prayers for the President 
were given or withheld as the bishop directed. In July, 
1865, he ordered that further prayers for the President be 
omitted until all troops should be removed from the state. ^ 
There was no general interference with the press, although 

1 The order is printed in the New York World of July 12, 18G4. 

2 The orders of banishment and recall are printed in the New York Her- 
ald of Sept. 6, 1864. 

3 See his letter to the clergy in the Neio York Herald, Aug. 3, 1865. 



38 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

occasionally an editor was arrested for uttering " disloyal " 
sentiments.^ 

The degree of subjection under which the local civil gov- 
ernments were placed by the military power varied in differ- 
ent localities, and depended upon circumstances. It was 
very nearly absolute in Vicksburg and Natchez, while in 
northeast Mississippi, where there was more or less Union 
sentiment, the interference of the military authorities was 
nominal. Thus in Tishomingo County the local govern- 
ment remained intact throughout the period of Federal occu- 
pation, the inhabitants pledging themselves to do nothing 
in aid of the Confederate cause. '-^ Tlie running of regular 
trains through the county was permitted for the benefit of 
the citizens.^ 

Gradually the rigors of military rule were removed, and 
the municipalities left for the most part to govern themselves. 
Thus by Februar}^, 18(34, the judicial district of Natchez had 
been reorganized and reestablished. In April, 1865, the 
commander had placed the whole matter of civil government 
before the leading citizens of loyal persuasion, with the inten- 
tion of permitting such a government, so far as it was not 
inconsistent with martial law.* 

In August, 1865, General Slocum, commander of the 
Department of Mississippi issued an order reciting that no 
furtlier reason existed for the practice of levying taxes upon 
property and trade of municipalities, and that hencefortli the 
entire charge of municipal affairs should be left to the })eople, 
no taxes of any kind were to be imposed by the military 
authorities.^ 



IV. POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 

Although state activity during the war was chiefly of a 
military nature, political functions were not entirely sus- 
pended. Both the state and local governments were main- 
tained, the ofiicial organization being elaborated in some 
instances from military necessity, and restricted in others on 

1 The editor of the Fayptte Chronicle, puhlished in Jefferson County, was 
arrested in 186;j for indulging in severe criticism of the military rule to which 
he was subjected. 

2 Testimony of Robert A. Hill before reconstruction committee, p. 68. 
8 Official Records, Seri(\s I. Vol. 40. pt. i. p. 012. 

♦ Ihid. Vol. 48, Serial No. 102, p. 175. 

* New York Herald, Aug. ;jl, 1865. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 39 

account of the suspension to some extent of the business of 
civil government. Thus, in the prosecution of the war, it 
became necessary to create some new and unusual offices. 
For instance, there were, at one time or another, state salt 
commissioners, liquor dispensary agents, price commissioners, 
a superintendent of army records, etc. In the local govern- 
ments there were indigent commissioners, salt commissioners, 
etc. 

On the other hand, the suspension, to a considerable 
extent, of judicial business, made the judiciary, as it existed 
prior to the war, unnecessary, while the duties of certain 
other civil officers were so nearly nominal that the state was 
able to decrease its budget by a reduction of their compensa- 
tion. ^ This was particularly true of the county probate 
judges. The regular appropriations for such institutions as 
the state library and the geological survey were discontinued. 
Although the state government continued intact from first to 
last, it was for a time, like the Continental Congress, a peri- 
patetic institution with no permanent place of rest. Upon 
the approach of the Union army to Jackson in May, 1863, 
the state officials with the public archives fled to Meridian, 
in the eastern part of the state, but on account of poor accom- 
modations there, the government soon moved to Enterprise, 
on the Mobile and Ohio railroad, some forty or fifty miles 
below Meridian. Upon the departure from Jackson, tlie 
governor being satislied that the penitentiar}^ would be 
burned, granted pardons to such of the convicts as were 
willing to enlist in the Confederate army, while those who 
were " unfriendly " to the Confederate cause, and likely to 
join the Union army, were sent to the penitentiary in 
Alabama. 2 In the autumn of 1863, the state government 
moved to Columbus, in the northeastern part of the state, 
where it remained until early in 1864. Upon the occupation 
of this part of the state, the seat of government was trans- 
ferred to Macon in Noxubee County. The Supreme Court 
was authorized to meet anywhere in the state to prepare the 
cases pending for decision at the regular term, while the state 
printer was allowed to keep his office in any part of the state, 
and all publications required to be made at the seat of gov- 
ernment were to be held valid, no matter where published. 
Upon the surrender of General Taylor, the officials with the 

1 The members of the leo;islature received only their actual expenses dur- 
ing the February session of 1865. 

2 Governor's message to the legislature, Nov. 3, 186.3. Official Records, 
Series IV. Vol. 2, pp. 921-927. 



40 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

archives returned to Jackson, where shortly thereafter the 
archives were seized by the military authorities of the United 
States. The legislature met regularly during the war, the 
session of 1863 being held at Columbus, and those of 1864 
and 1865 at Macon. Its measures related almost solely to 
the prosecution of the war and the relief of the destitute 
women and children. 

The functions of the Supreme Court were virtually sus- 
pended during the war, although its organization was main- 
tained, and a few cases of special importance were heard and 
determined. At the April term of 1861 only three cases 
were decided ; at the October term, twelve. In 1862 there 
were no meetings of the court. At the April term of 1863 
two cases were heard. At the October term of 1864 two 
cases were heard, and in 1865 none. The functions of the 
Confederate District Court appear to have been of even less 
importance. The United States district judges, who re- 
signed their positions in 1861 to go with their states, were 
reappointed by President Davis as Confederate district 
judges in their respective districts, with the exception, it 
seems, of Mr. Gholson, the United States district judge in 
Mississippi. In his place Judge Clayton was appointed, and 
although he continued in office throughout the war, it does 
not appear that he ever held a court.^ In August, 1864, 
President Davis wrote to him complaining that the military 
authorities were not receiving the proper assistance from the 
civil power in Mississippi, and he ventured the suggestion 
that if frequent sessions of the court were held near the lines 
where trading with the enemy and other illegal practices 
were common, great benefit would result therefrom. Bran- 
don, Jackson, and Canton were suggested as suitable places 
for this purpose.^ 

The functions of the lower courts were to a considerable 
extent suspended by an act of the legislature in 1861, which 
practically closed them, so far as civil business was concerned. 
All actions for debt or for the enforcement of contracts were 
suspended until twelve months after the close of the war. 
All sales under trust deeds, mortgages, and judgments were 
likewise prohibited.^ Whatever may have been the opinion 
of the bar as to the constitutionality of such legislation, none 
of tliem ever had the temerity to briug the question to a test. 

1 J. A. Orr in Pubs. Southern Hist. Assoc, March, 1900, p. 98. Ex-chief 
Justice Campbell informs nie that this statement is probably correct. 

2 Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 3, p. 598. 
8 Laws of 1861, p. 74. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 41 

Moreover, it was made unlawful to prosecute suit against 
any soldier in actual service.^ These acts practically left 
the courts with criminal jurisdiction only, and as a no incon- 
siderable number of the criminal cases were settled by the 
military authorities, it is reasonable to suppose that the 
business of the courts was nominal. 

The pressure upon the male population capable of bearing 
arms to go into the military service left the civil offices to 
be filled to a considerable extent by old men or soldiers dis- 
abled by wounds or disease. This was illustrated in the 
election of General Clarke to the governorship in 1863. 
Occasionally the qualifications for office or the practice of 
certain learned professions were made less rigorous, so as 
to enable those incapacitated for military service to fill 
them. Thus persons over sixty years of age were made 
liable to jury service,^ and county clerks who were attorneys 
were permitted to practice before the courts.^ Moreover, 
the number of civil officers and others exempted from mili- 
tary service was time and again reduced, so that in the end 
barely enough men were left to hold the offices. Thus all 
municipal officers under forty-five years of age were made 
liable to conscription. And so were all indigent commis- 
sioners, except one in each local district, all liquor dispen- 
sary agents under forty-five, all trustees of state institutions, 
all road overseers, all deputy sherii^s, except one in each 
county, all deputy circuit clerks, all school trustees, and all 
other officers appointed by any of the courts.* Only ordained 
pastors with regular charges, and teachers with two years' 
experience and with schools attended by at least twenty 
scholars, were exempt. An act of the Confederate Congress 
authorized the governor to exempt such persons from mili- 
tary service as were absolutely necessary to administer the 
civil government. This he did by public proclamation ; l)ut 
the pressure upon the Confederate conscript officers for troops 
led them to seize in many instances those exempt under the 
governor's proclamation. The governor protested strongly 
against such proceedings, and recommended action by the 
legislature. The legislature also protested, but finally agreed 
to waive its rights as to all civil officers not named in the 
constitution and not necessary to the preservation of the 
American form of government. 

The administration of local government was, more or less, 

1 Laws of 1864, p. 37. 8 Laws of 1864, p. 21. 

2 Laws of 1863, p. 120. * Resolution of Aug. 13, 1864. 



42 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

interfered with by the movements of the Union army and 
the destruction of the county records. It became necessary, 
therefore, for the legislature to grant authority to the local 
officials to take unusual action when circumstances demanded 
it. Thus they were empowered to remove the public records 
to places of safety upon the approach of the enemy. ^ Even 
then the records were frequently destroyed, and hence probate 
courts were empowered to reinstate judgments, orders, and 
proceedings from memory, and clerks were allowed to re- 
register claims, the evidence of which had been destroyed. 
They were also empowered to record anew deeds and wills 
which had been burned, while the Supreme Court was 
authorized to furnish the local authorities with transcripts 
of records of cases removed to it.^ Where appeals to the 
Supreme Court were dismissed for want of prosecutors, or 
because of the impossibility of filing a record, it Avas made 
lawful for appellees at au}^ time within two years to move 
for a reinstatement of the case on the docket.^ The absence 
of attorneys and the difficulty of producing witnesses often 
made it impossible to proceed with a trial. 

In many counties it was impossible for tax assessors to 
make their assessments on account of the presence of the 
enemy. In some instances boards of police were empowered 
to extend the time for making the assessment, in other cases 
assessments were directed to be made on the basis of the 
old assessment, tlie rolls to be furnished by the auditor. 
No assessment was attempted in 1865, and it was enacted 
that the old assessment should continue in force until 1869,^ 

The same difficulty existed in the matter of collecting the 
taxes. In many cases the time had to be extended by act 
of the legislature. The property of absent soldiers was 
exempt from distress and sale under execution. Property 
destroyed by the enemy or " run off," as in the case of live 
stock and slaves, but still on the assessment rolls, was re- 
lieved of taxation, while the levee tax in the river counties 
was suspended. 

The effect of the presence of the Federal army on the 
slave population made legislation necessary for the protec- 
tion of owners. In communities adjacent to the camps and 
lines of the Federal army, owners were j)ermitted to remove 
their slaves from the state. The same authority was granted 
to executors, administrators, and guardians. Powers of 

1 Laws of 180.3. p. 00. s Laws of 1863, p. 220. 

2 Laws of 18G4, p. 38. * Laws of 1804, p. 31. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 43 

commitment were given to justices of the peace, probate 
judges, and clerks, in the case of runaway slaves. 

In attempting to meet the exigencies of the war the legis- 
lature did not always observe strictly the limits set to its 
action by the constitution, and in fact seems to have amended 
it b}' simple resolution, as occasion demanded. Thus the 
following enacting clause appears in a statute of April 5, 
1864 : " Be it enacted that the constitution of Mississippi 
be and the same is hereby altered and amended," etc.^ 
Again an act " amending " an ordinance of the secession 
convention occasionally appears. ^ 

The chief task of the state and local governments during 
the war was to maintain the army and supply the wants of 
the destitute. Unfortunately the very year in which the 
war began there was a crop failure in parts of the state, 
which resulted in a widespread famine. One of the duties 
of the secession convention was to provide means for the 
relief of the famine-stricken inhabitants by sending an agent 
to the northwest to buy bread-stuffs.^ For the i^urpose of 
meeting the increased demands upon the treasury the state 
tax was increased 50 per cent, a special tax of 3 per cent 
was levied upon all money loaned or employed in the pur- 
chase of securities, and provision was made for the issue 
of !irl,000,000 of treasury notes.* This was soon fol- 
lowed by the famous " Cotton ]\Ioney " scheme, under which 
treasury notes to the amount of $55,000,000 were issued 
and put into circulation. Any person who desired to 
accept these notes in payment for cotton, for which there 
was little demand on account of the blockade, could make 
application to the auditor, who issued notes equal to the value 
of the cotton at five cents per pound. The owner in turn 
promised to deliver the cotton at such time and place as the 
governor might direct by public proclamation.^ By Novem- 
ber, 1863, 8587 applications had been made for advances, and 
these notes eventually came to be the chief circulating medium 
of the state. 

Before the end of the first year of the war an additional 
tax of 30 per cent on the state tax was imposed for the relief 
of the indigent. Shortly thereafter the state tax was again 
increased 25 per cent for the payment of interest on certain 
bonds issued to pay the Confederate taxes levied upon the 
citizens of the state. ^ In addition to flooding the country 

1 Laws of 1864, p. 36. * Journal of Secession Convention, p. 128. 

2 Laws of 1801, p. 45, for example. ^ Laws of 1861, p. 60. 
8 Vicksburg Whig, March 30, 1861. e /^j^;. p. 197. 



44 EECONSTKUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

with its own notes the state authorized the several railroads 
to issue scrip. The Mobile and Ohio was empowered to 
issue 1300,000, the Mississippi Central -^300,000, the Missis- 
sippi and Tennessee $125,000, the Southern 1150,000, the 
West Filiciana $50,000, the Grand Gulf and Port Gibson 
$13,000, and the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern 
$300,000.1 

Early in 1862 another issue of treasury notes to the amount 
of $2,500,000 was made.2 In 1864 another issue of $2,000,000 
followed.^ This was accompanied by an issue of $2,000,000 
in bonds.'* No official statement of the total expenditures 
during the four jeaYS of the war is available to the writer. 
According to one authority they were as follows : ^ — 

1861 .... $1,824,161 

1862 .... 16,819,894 

1863 .... $2,210,794 

1864 .... $5,446,732 

Total . . $16,301,581 

Most of this indebtedness was incurred in " aid of the rebel- 
lion," and was repudiated. The actual debt on October 25, 
1865, was stated to be $4,979,324.6 Of this $3,796,564 were 
unredeemed cotton notes, which were declared to be uncon- 
stitutional in 1869. The real indebtedness, therefore, was 
but little more than $1,000,000. A variety of expedients to 
raise revenue were resorted to by the state government. In 
the later years of the war, when specie was not to be had, a 
tax in kind was levied. In 1865, it was 2 per cent on the 
gross product of all corn, wheat, and bacon above a certain 
amount. In addition, the counties were empowered to levy 
a tax in kind of one-half of 1 per cent on the same prod- 
ucts, for the benefit of the indigents.'^ The railroads were 
allowed to pay their debts to the state, aggregating nearly 
$1,000,000, in Confederate notes. ^ After the war, this act 
was held to be unconstitutional, and the roads were required 
to })ay in sound nioncy.^ In 18(54, provision was made for 
the sale of 2,000,000 acres of public land (at a sacritice, of 
course), as a means of replenishing the treasury.!^ 

The task of relieving the wants of the destitute class taxed 

1 Laws of 1861, p. 177. » Laws of 1864, p. 22. 

2 Ibid. p. 286. * Ibid. p. 2:]. 

^ Statement of Attorney General Harris Boutwell. Miss. Rept. 1876, p. 10. 
6 House Journal, pp. 82-83. « Laws of 1803, p. 160. 

' Laws of 1866, ch. i. « Thomas v. Taylor, 42 Miss. 657. 

10 Act of Aug. 13, 1864. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 45 

the energies of the state government quite as much as that of 
equipping and supporting the army. This did not become a 
serious problem until 1863, during which year the state was 
overrun by the enemy, and the country, to a considerable ex- 
tent, desolated. Early in the year, provision was made by the 
legislature for the distribution of $500,000 in treasury notes 
among destitute families, and for the payment of whicli a tax 
equal to 50 per cent of the regular state levy was ordered. ^ 
In December following, a class of officers styled " Indigent 
Commissioners " was ci-eated to look after the needs of the 
destitute, and to distribute among them the funds appro- 
priated by the state. There were five of these for each 
county. Another !S'500,000 of treasury notes was placed at 
their disposal. For the payment of these notes a tax equal 
to 150 per cent of the state levy was imposed. Payment of 
the tax was permitted to be made in kind at prices fixed by 
the state price commissioners. County boards were empow- 
ered to levy an additional tax equal to from 100 per cent to 
300 per cent of the state levy. They were furthermore em- 
powered to issue scrip to an amount not exceeding 1^20,000 
per year, and to impress such supplies as were necessary. ^ 
Usually, where a county was fortunate enough to have a 
school fund, poor fund, or swamp land fund, the legislature 
cheerfully authorized its use for this purpose.^ In 1864, 
|!l,000,000 was appropriated for the relief of the indigent, 
and the commissioners were authorized to impress the surplus 
produce of all persons who had taken advantage of the Con- 
federate exemption law as agriculturists. The commissioners 
were also empowered to impress the wagons and teams neces- 
sary to distribute the supplies. In any county where these 
provisions were inadequate to afford the necessary relief, the 
board of police was empowered to levy an additional tax, not 
exceeding 300 per cent of the state tax.* Similar provision 
was made in 1865, although the chief reliance was placed 
on the tax in kind, the amount of which was required to be 
delivered ])y the persons assessed to such destitute persons 
as the commissioners miglit direct.^ As the end of the war 
drew near, the amount of destitution increased. The condi- 
tions were such in February, 1865, that the governor was 
prevailed upon to call an extraordinary session of the legis- 
lature, to afford relief to the sufferers. It was able to do 



1 Laws of 1803, p. 71. * Laws of 1864, p. 27. 

2 lUd. pp. 111-122. 6 Laws of 1865, ch. i. 
» Ibid. p. 196. 



46 EECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

very little toward relieving their wants. What they needed 
above all else was peace. Fortunately, it was in sight. 

One of the most perplexing problems of the civil govern- 
ment was how to procure salt and medicines, particularly 
quinine, morphine, and calomel, for the destitute of the 
state. The efforts put forth in this direction abundantly 
illustrate the commercial dependence of the South on the 
outside world. There were no salt works or mines in the 
state, the nearest mine being at New Iberia, Louisiana. By 
December, 1862, the want of salt had become the " most 
pressing necessity " of any in the state. The governor sent 
agents to Alabama, Virginia, and Louisiana to purchase a 
supply, but with the exception of the agent sent to Louisiana 
the missions were failures. The agent sent to Louisiana 
succeeded in reaching Vicksburg with forty thousand pounds, 
which was distributed among the poorer classes, and soon 
used up. The governor wrote to President Davis, October 17, 
1862, that a relaxation of the commercial regulations was 
necessary to enable him to exchange cotton for salt. Many 
of the people, he declared, had none, and were compelled to 
eat their food without it.^ Moreover, the pork and beef, 
more or less of which every family raised, could not be pre- 
served or used without this all-important article. The gov- 
ernor asked the legislature to authorize him to impress a 
sufficient number of slaves to work the mine at New Iberia, and 
wagons and teams with which to haul the salt.^ The permis- 
sion was granted.^ In the meantime, speculators were doing 
a thriving business, but the legislature came to the rescue of 
the people, and carefully regulated the price of the article, 
and imposed heavy penalties on those who exceeded the 
schedule prices in their charges.^ 

The next experiment of the governor was to send an agent 
with $20,000 and a steamboat to New Iberia. He secured a 
supply and started back, but was stopped by Lincoln's block- 
ade in the Bayou Teche. The governor then entered into 
contracts with several foreigners who proposed to run the 
blockade. Fifty bales of cotton were placed at the disposal 
of a Frenchman, who deposited $!lO,000 in Confederate scrip 
as a security for the delivery of the salt. The salt was 
never delivered.^ What became of the -120,000 paid the 

1 Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 2, p. 120. 

2 Message to the legislature, Dec. 20, 1862. 
8 Laws of 1863, p. 80. 

* Laws of 1801, p. 144. 

6 Message of Governor Pettus, Nov. 3, 1863. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 47 

New Iberia agent and the fifty bales of cotton turned over 
to tlie Frenchman were subsequently the subjects of legisla- 
tive investigation. 1 The governor also sent an agent to 
Virginia "to make contracts for salt water, intending to 
establish furnaces for the manufacture of salt on state ac- 
count." This plan, like the others, was a failure. He then 
authorized a local firm domiciled in east Mississippi to manu- 
facture salt on private account for the people of north and 
northeast Mississippi. Another agent was sent to Alabama 
to purchase salt, make contracts for its manufacture, or to 
establish furnaces and manufacture on state account. The 
agent entered into contracts for the delivery of a large 
amount, but like other contracts of this character they were 
never fulfilled. ^ The legislature now took action by appro- 
priating !|500,000 for procuring a suppl}^ and authorized the 
governor to appoint a state salt agent charged with the 
general supervision of the salt administration. General 
West was appointed in April, 1863, to receive and distribute 
the supply, and to approve all contracts for the purchase or 
manufacture of salt on state account. 

In December, 1863, a complete system for the manufacture 
of salt on state account was provided. Provision was made 
for a general agent to manage and direct its manufacture, 
and to distribute the same. He was empowered to appoint 
" one or two skilful manufacturers," each of whom, like him- 
self, was required to give a bond of $60,000. They were 
authorized to erect the necessary buildings for the manufac- 
ture of salt, and establish a state depot as a centre for dis- 
tribution among the counties. There was also to be a salt 
agent in each county.^ 

While the government was putting forth these efforts to 
manufacture salt, the inhabitants were digging up the dirt 
from the " smoke houses" and distilling it. In this way small 
quantities of a coarse article were obtained. Where salt 
water was obtainable, resort was had to the method of evap- 
oration, by which process similar results were obtained. 

Much of the legislatioii of the time was devoted to the 
encouragement of home manufactures and the growth of 
commodities necessary for the sustenance of life. To en- 
, courage the manufacture of leather, the taking and use of 
oak bark was permitted to any person,* and the governor 
was authorized to enter into arrangements with tlie govern- 

1 Resolution of Aug. 13, 1864. 3 Laws of 1863, p. 163. 

2 Message, supra. * Laws of 1861, p. 114. 



48 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ment for the purchase of the hides of all " Confederate " 
beeves slaughtered in the state. P^or the encouragement of 
cotton and wool manufactures a liberal bonus was offered 
for the manufacture of cards. The employees of tanneries, 
gun shops, cotton and woollen factories were exempt from 
military service. ^ To encourage the inhabitants to supply 
themselves with arms, all taxes were prohibited on bowie 
knives, sword canes, dirk knives, etc.^ To encourage the 
growth of agricultural products necessary to feed the inhab- 
itants, acts were passed to procure agricultural statistics,^ 
and in order to turn the attention of the people from the 
growth of cotton, for which there was no demand, it was 
enacted that no person should be allowed to plant over three 
acres for each laborer employed, under a penalty of $500 
per acre. Under an agricultural exemption law certain 
planters were relieved from military service. Another 
measure was passed to encourage the manufacture of wine 
from the native grape.* 

The use of corn and other products in the distillation of 
spirituous liquors early became a matter of great complaint 
by the civil authorities. Besides withdrawing a large 
amount of agricultural products from the use of the army 
and the destitute, it supplied a temptation to the soldier to 
spend his earnings for drink. Early in 18G3, the legislature 
made it unlawful to distil spirituous liquors from corn, rye, 
or other grain, sugar and molasses.^ The law, however, does 
not appear to have been enforced, and in April the governor 
informed General Pemberton that the distillation ought to 
be stopped at once, that the civil remedies were too slow, 
and that if the general would make a requisition for corn, he 
would seize every bushel in the distilleries, and upon a 
requisition for copper he would even seize the stills them- 
selves. The authority was given. ^ Even these measures 
did not prevent the evil, and finally the legislature in 1864 
took heroic measures. It was made the duty of every per- 
son to destroy any distillery then existing as a public and 
common nuisance, and the failure of the sheriff to do lus 
duty in the premises was to be punished by his removal 
from office. Moreover, all laws authorizing licenses for the 
sale of spirituous liquors were suspended for the remainder 
of the war, and the sale of the article was absolutely pro- 

1 Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 1, p. 1110. * Laws of 1863, p. 146. 

2 Laws of 1861, p. 134. 6 /j^jQf. p. 90. 
8 Ibid. p. 227. y 

« Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 2, pp. 611, 513. 



POLITICAL AND ECONOMIC ACTIVITY DURING THE WAR 49 

lii])ited except for medicinal purposes. Provision was then 
made for two state distilleries for the manufacture of liquor. 
Dispensary agents were appointed in each county to supply 
those who had certificates from practising ph^^sicians. They 
were authorized also to sell to state and Confederate troops, 
and furnish destitute persons such quantities as were neces- 
sary, free of cost.^ The difficulty of procuring the necessities 
of life was due not only to the scarcity but quite as much to 
the character of the currency and the exorbitant charges. 
Before the end of the first year of the war state and Confed- 
erate scrip had depreciated so that a soldier's pay for a month 
would barely buy him a coat. In December, 1862, flour was 
selling in North Mississippi for from $50 to i75 per barrel, 
salt meat was worth from 50 to 75 cents per pound ; the 
coarsest shoes sold for $5 a pair, while a pair that could have 
been easily bought in Chicago for !^1.50 sold for -115 in 
Corinth and Holly Springs. Men's boots sold for $30 to 
-150 per pair, and calico brought $2 per yard.^ At one time, 
while Johnson's army occupied Jackson, there were only 
three barrels of flour in the place. The regular price of the 
article was ^^200 per barrel.^ In September, 1863, an ordi- 
nary horse in the country adjacent to Vicksburg was worth 
$1000, and a good mule brought $700. The price of shoes 
ranged from $75 to $100 a pair, and even watermelons 
brought from $10 to $25 apiece. At Enterprise, in the east- 
ern part of the state, about the same time salt was selling 
at $45 per bushel, with an " upward tendency," flour at $50 
a sack and $12 per pound. Cotton yarns were worth $30 
per yard.* 

An English traveller relates that while at Jackson, in the 
summer of 1863, he paid 35 cents good money for a square 
of " Confederate " soap about the size of a small billiard ball ; 
50 cents for two small boxes of matches, of which the seller 
candidly told him not one in five would light ; and 5 cents for 
an envelope made out of a sort of slate-colored grocer's paper 
of Confederate production, with the words printed on it : — 

" Stand firmly by your cannon, 
Let ball and grape shot fly, 
Trust in God and Davis, 
And keep your powder dry ! " ^ 

1 Laws of 1864, Act of April 5. 2 j^r^^o York Times, Dec. 5, 1862. 

8 Memphis Correspondence in New Yo7-k Evening Express, Sept. 21, 1863. 
* Statement of the secretary of the Confederate Society, New York 
Neios, Oct. 27, 1863. 

5 Bentley, Two Months in the Confederacy, p. 101. 



50 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

In October, 1863, flour was quoted at from $60 to 
per barrel ; in November, the price ranged from 890 to $100, 
while corn meal sold at $15 per bushel.^ General Grierson 
says salt was in demand at $30 per bushel in that part of the 
state through which he passed in 1863.^ President Goodman 
of the New Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern railroad 
says there were locomotives in use on his line in July, 1868, 
that were worth $900,000 apiece (Confederate notes). ^ 

In February, 1864, men's boots were selling for $200 per 
pair at Natchez, and coats were quoted at $350 each.^ The 
adoption of the practice of the state government in impress- 
ing private property made it necessary to fix a schedule of 
prices to be paid for property thus taken. For this pur- 
pose two commissioners were appointed, and they divided the 
state into four "price" districts which corresponded roughly 
with east Mississippi, north Mississippi, central Mississippi, 
and south Mississippi ; the western part of the state being 
largely in the possession of the enemy. The following was 
the schedule adopted in April, 1864, for the more imjDortant 
articles: bacon, $1.40 to $1.50 per pound; coffee, $5 per 
pound; corn, $1.75 to $3.10 per bushel ; corn meal, $2.25 to 
$3 per bushel ; flour, extra, $50 per barrel ; horses, first class, 
$700 ; good jeans, $8 per yard ; molasses, $7 per gallon ; 
salt, $15 per bushel ; army shoes, $10 per pair ; soap, 75 
cents per pound ; woollen socks, $2 per pair ; sugar, $2 per 
pound ; green tea, $10 per pound ; vinegar, $3 per gallon, 
and wool $5 per pound. ^ The prices were the same in all 
the districts, except in the case of bacon, corn, and corn meal, 
the price of which was considerably higher in the southern 
district. The price of cotton steadily increased during the 
war. At the time the blockade was proclaimed it was worth 
about 10 cents per pound. In December, 1862, it was worth 
68 cents per pound ; in December, 1863, the price had risen 
to 84 cents, and by December 1, 1865, it had reached $1.20.^ 
The price of service and labor increased quite as much as the 
price of commodities. In 1864, a Jackson paper complained 
that tlie postage on a letter from Brandon to the trans- 
Mississippi department was 40 cents." 

1 Charleston Mercury, Nov. 19, 1863. 

2 See his report, supra. 

2 Official IJccords. Series I. Vol. 52, pt. ii. p. 509. 
* Cairo Correspondence, New York Herald, Feb. 15, 1864. 
'" Official Records, Series IV. Vol. 3, pp. 262-2(36. The price commis- 
sioners were Ex-Governor McKae and G. D. Moore, Esq. 
Shucker's Life of Chase, p. 322. 
^ The Mississijfpian, Aug. 13. 



CHAPTER SECOND 

The Transition from War to Reconstruction 

I. the peace sentiment 

During the first two years of the war there was no other 
feeling in the state than that of a determination to push the 
contest to a successful issue,^ but with the fall of Vicksburg 
in July, 1863, and the virtual expulsion of the Confederates 
from the western part of the state, a peace sentiment began 
to develop in some localities. Many who had hitherto been 
hopeful of success, and who had given their earnest support 
to the cause of the Confederacy, now saw clearly that its 
failure was only a question of time. To continue in the 
support of a cause that was bringing misery and ruin to the 
people, and which was foredoomed to certain defeat, seemed 
the height of foil}', especially to those who had in the begin- 
ning opposed the war. Prominent citizens of this class, for 
the most part old-line Whigs, like Judges Sharkey, Poindex- 
ter, and Yerger, took the lead in the movement for the con- 
clusion of peace on the basis of a return to the Union. They 
petitioned General Grant to protect them against the raids 
of the Confederate cavalry which surged back and forth, 
stripping the country of horses, cattle, food, and forage. ^ 
The request was complied with, and it was ordered that the 
most rigorous penalties be inflicted on all irregular cavalry 
not in the regular Confederate service, and upon all conscrip- 
tion officers found west of the present Illinois Central rail- 
road. ^ 

1 The Jackson Misdssippian, in February, 1863, declared that the inde- 
pendence of the Confederacy would soon be acknowledged, and peace con- 
cluded. "Our opinion is," said the editor, "that the northern rump of a 
government has well-nigh spent its strength, and if it persists in urging the 
war upon the emancipation policy, it will find an enemy at home which will 
give it enough to do. We look upon our disenthrallinent as one of the cer- 
tainties of the future." Quoted by the Neio York Times of Feb. 3, 1863. 

2 Neio York Times, Sept. 26, 1863. 3 Jli^l Aug. 30, 1863. 

61 



52 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

As early as the 27th of July, 1863, General Sherman 
reported that the leading citizens of Jackson and the sur- 
rounding country had "implored" him to take some action 
by which peace might be restored and the state readmitted 
to the Union. Both the army and the people, he declared, 
were dispirited and ready for peace. ^ A meeting had already 
been held at Jackson on the 21st of July to consider a plan 
of reorganization. Delegates from a number of towns were 
present, and the question of restoration was fully discussed. 
They asked for permission to reorganize the government in 
conformity with the Constitution and laws of the United 
States. Sherman at once informed his chief that he thought 
the movement should be received with favor, as it would 
constitute an " admirable wedge " which miglit be used to 
great advantage.^ Subsequently he informed a committee 
that his government was still theirs, and it would be easy to 
put into operation in their county. " You are etill citizens 
of the United States and of Mississippi," he said. " You have 
only to begin and form one precinct and then another. Soon 
your county will have such an organization as the military 
authorities will respect. One county will affect another, 
and the moment you can, by fair elections, send representa- 
tives to Congress, I doubt not that they will be received, and 
then Mississippi will be again as much a part of the United 
States as Kentucky or Indiana, and will soon have courts and 
law and all the other macliinery of government." * 

In the official report of his expedition to Jackson in Sep- 
tember, 1863, he said : " I know that many of the best in- 
habitants of the state are now clamorous for peace on any 
terms perfectly acceptable to all who do not aim at the 
absolute destruction of this part of the United States."^ 
There can be no doubt that Sherman's statement contained 
a large element of truth. Although, as he says, the peace 
party was made up of some of the most distinguished and 
best citizens of the state, it is impossible to form any intelli- 
gent idea of the numerical strength of the party. There 
were, doubtless, many who secretly favored peace, but who 
did not have the courage to announce their professions 
openly. To do this was in some communities not pleasant, 
in some, perhaps, not safe. It was a general belief in the 

1 New York Express, July 28, 1863. 

2 New York World, Aug. 7, 1863. 

3 Letter to General Grant, Official Records, Series I. Vol. 24, pt. ii. p. 530. 
* Neio York Times, Jan. 17, 1864. 

6 Ibid. Sept. 30, 1863. 



THE PEACE SENTIMENT 68 

North that as the Federal armies penetrated the South those 
who had been " secretly " in favor of the Union would de- 
clare their allegiance to the United States. This did not 
happen, however, except in those parts of the territory that 
were permanently occupied by the military forces. In 
August, 1863, ex-Governor Brown, Judge Sharkey, and 
others took the oath of allegiance to the United States, the 
venerable ex-chief justice basing his justification on Presi- 
dent Davis's prophecy that the fall of Vicksburg and Port 
Hudson would mean the inevitable destruction of the Con- 
federacy. "Now," he said, "I take him at his word."^ 
Similar action was taken by many citizens in the western 
part of the state, particularly in the vicinity of Vicksburg 
and Natchez. A newspaper correspondent in August, 1863, 
estimated that one-half of the inhabitants of Natchez, for 
the most part wealthy planters and slaveliolders, were Union 
in sympathy. 2 The Richmond Enquirer said these men had 
had their "patriotism corrupted by love of cotton." An- 
other correspondent thought nine-tenths of the inhabitants 
were anxious for peace and restoration to the Union. ^ The 
Richmond Examiner of August 1, 1863, announced that 
troops in " large numbers " were deserting Johnston's army 
at Jackson and going into the Union lines, whereupon the 
Mobile Advertiser declared that they were " whining for 
peace and reconstruction." 

Notwithstanding this sentiment, the politicians flattered 
the people that they would yet win, and that a reconstructed 
Union must not be thought of. The outgoing governor in 
his message to the legislature in November, 1863, declared 
that independence or that which was worse than death were 
the only alternatives presented to the people, and the sooner 
the truth was fully realized and acted upon the better it 
would be for themselves and their children.* The incoming 
governor said in his inaugural that if there were any who 
deluded themselves with " visions of a reconstructed Union " 
and a " restored Constitution " let them awake from their 
dreaming. " Between the North and the South," he said, 
" there is a great gulf fixed. It can be passed only with 
dishonor, and in reconstruction we shall reach the climax of 
infamy."^ To some extent the press concurred in these 
views. The Meridian Clarion favored prosecuting the war 

1 J. A. W. in New York Times, Sept. 26, 1863. 

2 Ibid. Aug. 16, 1868. 8 Ibid. Aug. 2, 1863. 
♦ Official Records, Series I. Vol, 2, pp. 921-927. 

^New York World, Nov. 10, 1863. 



54 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

as long as there was a man left to fight, and asserted that no 
step backward could be taken. " Our only course," it said, 
"is onward with vigor and energy. Let the people bear 
their burdens cheerfully. We have not yet learned to battle 
with adversity, like the Greeks and Dutch. When our terri- 
tory is all overrun, our armies dispersed, and the people 
suffering from famine, we will learn what other nations have 
paid for their independence. If our people will remain firm, 
we shall never be reduced to that condition, but with strong 
arms and well-filled larders we shall achieve that grand tri- 
umph which will bring forth peans of praise from freemen 
in every part of the world." ^ 

In the meantime the military authorities were bestirring 
themselves to encourage the development of a healthy senti- 
ment in favor of reconstruction and the reestablishment of 
civil government in conformity with the Constitution and 
laws of the United States. In April, 186-1, Major General 
Dana, with this end in view, advised and gave countenance 
to the holding of a convention at Vicksburg in June. At 
the same time he said he had in contemplation the ordering 
of a civil government for both Natchez and Vicksburg, so 
far as it was consistent with the existence of martial law.^ 
How these movements were disturbing the politicians may 
be gathered from a letter of Mr. Phelan, one of the Missis- 
sippi senators in the Confederate Congress. On October 2, 
1864, he wrote President Davis : " The infernal hydra of 
reconstruction is again rearing its envenomed head in our 
state. If disasters intervene between this time and next 
autumn, you may anticipate a contest in Mississippi that 
will tax the powers and pain the souls of 'good men and 
true.' Only a Spartan band is left in the state, but the 
timid, the traitor, and tlie time-server are legion."^ 

The Jackson Missis sippian, which, as we have seen, looked 
forward in February, 1863, to an early independence, went 
over to the peace party in November, 1864. In an edi- 
torial tlie editor pleaded for peace, and called upon both 
sides "to meet each other upon the halfway ground of 
mutual compromise, concession, and conciliation." " Beyond 
all doubt," he said, " the great bod}^ of the people desire 
peace, and the failure to conclude an honorable peace is due 

to moral cowardice."* 
\. 

» Quoted in Neio York Times of Feb. 20, 1865. 
2 New York Times, May 9, 18fi5. 
8 Official Records. Series IV. Vol. .3, p. 709. 
* Quoted in Ntw York Herald, Nov. 28, 18G4, 



THE PEACE SENTIMENT 65 

With the approach of the spring of 1865 the peace move- 
ment assumed greater proportions on account of the deplor- 
able condition of the country. In some parts of the state 
bands of deserters and stragglers infested the land, robbing 
friend and foe alike ; dismounted cavalry took the horses of 
the planters, while a victorious enemy seized their food and 
clothing. The people were thoroughly tired of a conflict 
which every day was further plunging them into ruin, and in 
which there was no longer the slightest hope of success. 
The efforts of the conscript officers and the flattering appeals 
of the state and Confederate authorities could no longer be 
depended upon to recruit the depleted ranks of the army. It 
was patent to the most hopeful that the collapse of the Con- 
federacy was very near, and that peace ought to be made 
early enough in the year to enable the disbanded soldiers to 
plant a crop, and thus drive away the starvation which 
threatened their families. The Union sentiment was so 
strong in Tishomingo County that as early as January, 1865, 
the United States military authorities granted permission to 
the inhabitants to hold regular sessions of the circuit, pro- 
bate, and police courts upon certain conditions. At the 
same time authority was granted to run trains on both rail- 
roads in the county for the private convenience of the 
citizens. 1 Early in March a meeting was held in Newton 
County, at which 229 persons were present ; resolutions were 
adopted expressing their readiness to submit to the authority 
of the United States, and invoking the protection of the Fed- 
eral authorities against deserters, jayhawkers, and robbers. 
About the same time similar action was taken by a meeting 
" composed of respectable farmers " in Kemper County. ^ 
An early movement looking to reconstruction also took 
definite form in Jefferson County.^ The Neiv York Tribune 
of March 25, 1865, published a long list of prominent persons 
in Mississippi who " favored reconstruction on the basis of 
the Union and the Constitution." The list includes the 
names of the senators and representatives in the Confeder- 
ate Congress. 

It is not to be inferred, however, that these movements in 
favor of peace represented the unanimous sentiment of the 
l)eople, even as late as March, 1865. There were counter 
demonstrations here and there, which were usually harangued 

1 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 49, pt. i. p. 612. 

2 Ihid. p. 252. 

3 Natchez Courier, May 13, 1866. 



56 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

by some politician who still professed to believe that their 
efforts would ultimately be crowned with success, and that 
peace concluded on any terms except recognition of indepen- 
dence was dishonorable, and not to be thought of for a mo- 
ment. Such a meeting was held at Canton in Madison 
County on the first of March, 1865. One of the leading 
speakers was the chief justice, an " original secessionist," 
who declared that there could be no submission, no recon- 
struction, but only independence or death. ^ His speech was 
replied to by William Yerger, who represented the peace 
party. Yerger was a prominent Whig, and with possibly 
one exception was the leader of the Mississippi bar. 

It is impossible to tell how formidable the peace party 
might have become, had the war continued a year longer. 
As Phelan suggests, it might have been sufficiently strong in 
numl)ers to produce a " contest" that would have pained the 
"good and true." However this may be, the time had now 
arrived when peace was in sight, and the politicians were 
powerless to prevent its further advent. 



II. THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONFEDERACY 

On the 9th of April General Lee surrendered, and on the 
14tli the news of the surrender was published for the first 
time in the Mississippi papers. ^ As most of tlie Mississij^pi 
troops were in General Richard Taylor's army, not yet sur- 
rendered, they were obliged to remain at the front until the 
planting season was well-nigh past. With the surrender of 
Johnston's army on the 26th of April, all the Confederate 
forces east of the Mississippi, except Taylor's, had laid down 
their arms. A week after the surrender of Johnston, I'aylor 
sent General Dabney H. Maury to inform the troops that in 
all likelihood it would soon become his duty to surrender. 
General Maury was asked to explain to them that a surrender 
in such an event would not be the consequence of any defeat, 
but was simply yielding upon the best terms to the logic of 
events, and with a preservation of their military honor. ^ 
On tlie 6th of May, General Taylor surrendered to General 
Canby. From his headquarters at Meridian he issued a 

1 New York Herald, ]\Tarch 25, IBOf). 

2 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 49, pt. i. p. 012. 

8 Ibid. p. 1272. General Maury was instructed by General Taylor to say 
to the soldiers that in beiniz; transported to their homes no Federal guard 
would bo put over them, and that their private rights and property, and their 



THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONFEDERACY 57 

general order reciting the surrender of generals Lee and 
Johnston, events which, he said, practically ended tlie 
war. 

In surrendering, the troops were accorded what are tech- 
nically known as military honors. They were paroled by 
commissioners selected for that purpose, and were subjected 
to no humiliation or def^-radation. Both officers and men 

O 

were allowed to retain their private horses. The bearing of 
General Canby was such as to evoke the highest praise from 
the Confederate general.^ With the surrender of General 
Forrest two days afterward, all the Confederate soldiers 
east of the Mississippi River submitted to the authority of 
the United States. General Forrest, in his farewell address, 
appealed to the soldiers of his command to accept the situa- 
tion in good faith, cheerfully submit to the authority of the 
United States, obey its laws, and aid in restoring peace. ^ 
Having given their paroles not to take up arms again against 
the United States, these ragged, hungry veterans of a lost 
cause returned to their homes to begin the work of res- 
toration. The desolation which met their eyes was 
appalling. It was enough to fill the stoutest heart with 
despair. 

Governor Chirke issued a proclamation from Meridian on 
the day of General Taylor's surrender, in which he informed 
the people of the state of the surrender of all the Confeder- 
ate forces east of the Mississippi River, and announced that 
he had summoned the legislature to meet on the 18th of May 
to provide for calling a convention, and that the officers of 
the state government had been directed to return with the 
archives to Jackson. He enjoined all county officers to be 
vigilant in the preservation of order and the protection of 

honor and feeling as soldiers and men woiild be zealously protected. He 
wished to assure them that he could say in perfect sincerity and with an un- 
abated confidence in the justice of their cause, that there was but one course 
to take, and that was to manfully and honorably meet their responsibilities 
as citizens and soldiers. By pursuing such a course, they would secure the 
best conditions ever granted to an unfortunate side in an appeal to arms to 
settle national differences, and even their enemies would respect their manli- 
ness and consistency, and do justice to their motives. 

1 "This liberality and fairness," said General Taylor, "make it the duty 
of each and all of us to faithfully execute our part of the contract. The 
honor of all of us is involved in an honest adherence to its terms. The offi- 
cer or man who fails to observe them is an enemy to the defenceless women 
and children of the South, and will deserve the severest penalties that can dis- 
grace a soldier." The day before the surrender. General Maury issued an 
address to the soldiers of his command, largely Mississippians, at a place six 
miles east of Meridian. 

2 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 49, pt. i. p. 1289. 



58 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

property, and asserted that sheriffs still had power to call 
out the posse comitatus, and that the militia would be kept 
under arms to maintain the peace. " The state laws," said 
he, "must be enforced as they now are until repealed. If 
the public property is protected, and peace preserved, the 
necessity of Federal troops in your counties will be avoided." 
Sheriffs were urged to continue to arrest all marauders and 
plunderers, and masters were informed that they would be 
held responsible, as heretofore, for the protection and conduct 
of their slaves. " Let all citizens," said he, " fearlessly adhere 
to the fortunes of the state, assist the returning soldiers to 
obtain civil employment, contemn all twelfth-hour vaporers, 
and meet facts with fortitude and common sense. "^ The gov- 
ernor evidently proceeded upon the belief that the business of 
reconstruction would be left to the existing state authorities. 
But the North, flushed with victor}^, was in no mood to 
leave the work of restoration to the late Confederates, and a 
week after the publication of Governor Clarke's proclama- 
tion, a Federal brigadier general issued a proclamation from 
Natchez warning all good citizens of his district against any 
action, individually or collectively, armed or unarmed, under 
the authority of the " so-called Governor Clarke." " Mar- 
tial law," he said, " still exists over the state of INIississippi, 
and steps are being rapidly taken by the proper authorities 
to protect life and property, and preserve order wherever 
needed." ^ He said the only body of persons that would be 
recognized was a convention authorized by the district com- 
mander to meet at Yicksburg, June 11. This meeting was 
the outcome of an appeal by Judge Burwell to the people of 
the state, in May, urging them to return to their allegiance, 
and inviting them to send delegates to a convention to take 
steps to pave the way for a restoration of Mississii)pi to her 
former place in the Union. This first movement in the 

1 Governor Clarke's proclamation is printed in the Chicago Tribune of 
May 24, 1865. Upon receiving an intimation from General Taylor of his 
intention to surrender, Governor Clarke made a hurried visit to Jackson and 
had a conference with a number of prominent gentlemen at the home of Will- 
iam Yerger, the purpose being to consult them as to the course they thought 
advisable for him to pursue after the armies hatl surrendered, lie gave his 
own opinion that the proper course was to call tlie legislature together, send 
in a mes.sage exhorting the people to accept in good faith the results of the 
war, and recommend the sending of a commission to Washington to assure 
the I'resident of their desire to be restored to the Union. His view of the 
case was unanimously approved by the conference. He returned to Meridian 
next lUdruing, and was present at flic surrender of Taylor's army. T. J. 
Wliart(ni in Memphis Cammcrcidl Aj'pcal, Dec. 29, 1895. 

2 Chicago Tribune, May 21, IWiij. 



THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONFEDERACY 69 

direction of reconstruction was sanctioned and authorized by 
the department connnander.^ 

The legishiture which Governor Charke had assumed au- 
thority to call, met at Jackson on the 18th of May. It was 
not prohibited by the military authorities from assembling, 
upon assurance that it met more as a committee of safety 
than as a legislative body, and that the meeting was informal, 
and would be of short duration. The governor sent in a 
message in which he adverted to his responsibility in calling 
the legislature together, spoke of the pecidiar circumstances 
under which they met, and frankly admitted that the war 
had ended, and with it the power of the Confederacy. He 
expressed apprehension that the presence of the military 
power would render the reorganization of the states a deli- 
cate and difficult task, and to aid in its accomplishment, he 
advised the adoption of the speediest measures possible, con- 
sistent with the rights of the state and the liberties of the 
people. He spoke of the unanimity with which the conven- 
tion had passed the ordinance of secession, insisted that there 
were causes which justified revolution and made secession a 
necessity, and declared that the people of Mississippi had 
taken np arms with no purpose of aggression, but for pur- 
poses of defence onl3^ The people of the North, who had 
astonished the world by an exhibition of their power, could 
not now desire the abasement of a people whom they had 
found equal to themselves in all except numbers and 
resources. " The terrible contest," said he, " through which 
the country has just passed, has aroused in every section tlie 
fiercest passions of the human heart. Lawlessness seems to 
have culminated in the assassination of Mr. Lincoln. For 
that act of atrocity, so repugnant to the instincts of our 
hearts, you feel, I am sure, in common with the whole 
people, the profoundest sentiments of detestation." He 
recommended the calling of a convention to repeal the ordi- 
nance of secession and to enlarge the power of the legislature. ^ 

The legislature remained in session about one hour. It 
was scarcely organized, and a brief message read, when the 
report came that General Osband had received orders to 

1 Chicago Tribune, May 12, 1865. A meeting of loyal persons from 
Mississippi, Tennessee, and Arlcansas was Ixeld in Mempliis on May 1, and 
resolutions were adopted declaring it to be their duty, as well as their desire, to 
return in good faitli to their former allegiance. They pledged an " active 
cooperation" in any measures that had in view the restoration of civil law 
and the readmission of the state to the Union. The resolutions are printed in 
the Chicago Tribune of May 10, 1865. 

2 The message is printed in the New York Times of June 11, 1865. 



60 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

arrest the members if they attempted to exercise general 
powers of legislation, whereupon they suspended the rules, 
passed their measures, and adjourned in great haste and con- 
fusion. The members, carrying their own baggage, hurried 
to the depot and took the first train that left Jackson. ^ 
During its brief session, the legislature made provision for a 
convention to meet July 3, for the appointment of three 
commissioners to proceed to Washington to confer W'ith the 
President as to the course to be pursued by him, and adopted 
a resolution deploring the murder of President Lincoln. 
The military authorities, under instructions from the Presi- 
dent, refused to recognize the organization of the existing 
state government, or the validity of any of its official acts, 
or the rightful authority of any party pretending to hold or 
exercise any office under such pretended government. 

Two days after the meeting of the legislature the legal 
status was defined in a telegraphic despatch of General Canby 
to the commander of the Department of Mississippi. The 
commander was informed that by direction of the President 
he sliould recognize no officer of the Confederate or state 
government ; and that he should prevent, by force, if neces- 
sary, the meeting of the legislature for purposes of legis- 
lation, and arrest and imprison any member who should 
attempt to exercise those functions. Civil officers of the 
state and Confederate governments were informed that they 
were not included in the " capitulation " of the military 
forces, and were advised to return to their posts, taking with 
them the archives and property in their custody, and await 
the action of the United States government. If this should 
be done in good faith, they might be allowed to remain at 
tlieir homes Avitliout molestation, so long as they conducted 
themselves with propriety, and no attempt was made to 
evade the legal responsibilities which they had incurred. 
They Avere reminded of the importance of preserving the 
land, judicial, and other records in tlieir possession. ^ 

In pursuance of orders. Governor Clarke, while suffering 
from wounds, was arrested and imprisoned in Fort Pulaski, 
Savannah ; ^ the other state officers were placed under guard, 

1 T. J. Wharton, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Dec. 19, 1895. 

2 Official Records, Series I. Vol. 48, Serial No. 102, p. 520. 

3 The arrest of Governor Clarke was -witnesseil by only a few persons. 
One of these has left a description of the incident, lie .says : "The old .sol- 
dier, when informed of the purjio.se of the officer, straightened his mangled 
limbs as best he could, and with great difficulty mounted his crutches, and with 
a look of defiance said: 'General Osband, I denounce before high heaven 
and the civilized world this unparalleled act of tyrauny and usurpation. J 



THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONFEDERACY 61 

and General Osband, on May 22, took forcible possession of 
all the public property and archives of the state. The fol- 
lowing day, General Canby telegraphed his approval of these 
measures. The following is General Osband's report of his 
action : — 

Colonel : — I have to report that the so-called legislature of 
this state met here on the 20th inst. After receiving your de- 
spatch date 20th inst. I found them on the eve of adjournment. 
To avoid any excitement, I did not interfere, as they expressly 
stated to me that they did not meet as a legislature, but as a com- 
mittee of public safety. They passed three acts, viz. : 1. To call 
a convention. 2. To send three commissioners to Washington to 
confer with the President and find what was necessary to bring 
the state back to the Union. 3. To deplore the death of our late 
President. The commissioners appointed are the oldest and most 
ultra-Union men in the state. Upon the adjournment of the legis- 
lature, I immediately notified Governor Clarke that I could not 
recognize the civil government of Mississippi, and having placed 
the offices of the heads of the state departments under guard, 
demanded the custody of public books, papers, and property, and 
the executive mansion, appointing Monday 22d inst. for their de- 
livery. At 9 A.M. Governor Clarke delivered to me all public 
property of the state under protest, but without asking to have 
force employed. I have designated an ofiicer as commissioner to 
receive from the heads of state departments with inventory, and 
with certificates of completeness, the archives of the state, and to 
seal the same to-day at noon. 

E. D. Osband, Brevet Brig. Gen. 
To Lieut. Col. C. T. Christian. 
Jackson, Miss., May 22, 1865. 

Mississippi was now without a state government of any 
kind. The governor was in prison charged with treason ; 
the legislature was forbidden to meet ; the archives and 
public property were in the hands of the military ; the writ 
of habeas corpus was still suspended, the President had not 
yet officially announced the end of the war ; martial law was 
supreme throughout the state. What would come next, no 
one could foresee. This was a period of anxious uncertainty. 
Many expected wholesale confiscation, proscription, and the 
reign of the scaffold. People were thrown into more or less 
terror. Some held their breath, indulging in the wildest 

am the duly and constitutionally elected governor of the state of Mississippi, 
and would resist, if in my power, to the last extremity the enforcement of 
your order. I only yield obedience, as I have no power to resist.' " T. J. 
Wharton, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Dec. 29, 1895. 



62 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

apprehension as to the character of the treatment they would 
receive from the United States. For days and weeks, fright- 
ened women lived in a state of fearful suspense, in hourly 
expectation of the beginning of all that their fruitful imagi- 
nations had pictured of Northern vandalism and rapacity. 
Old men, as well as some younger ones, shared largely in 
this belief. They desired some assurance from the Federal 
government as to what its policy would be. Hence the idea 
of a commission to Washington. During this period there 
would not have been much controversy about terms, but as 
the anticipated retribution was continually delayed, the worst 
apprehensions subsided, the equanimity of the people was 
restored, and the feeling of terror passed away with the 
issuance of the North Carolina proclamation of May 29. ^ 

The commissioners selected by Governor Clarke to go to 
Washinsrton and ascertain the wishes of the President were 

o 

Ex-Chief Justice Sharkey and Hon. William Yerger. They 
were both old-line Whigs with strong Union proclivities, and, 
like the President, were natives of Tennessee. There were, 
to be sure, no safer men in the state to follow during this 
critical time than Sharkey and Yerger. ^ They proceeded at 
once to Washington, notified the President of their arrival 
and of the purpose of their mission, and solicited an inter- 
view. They were informed that they could not be received 
as commissioners of Mississippi, but only as private indi- 
viduals. As such they were received with great cordiality 
and kindness, and were asked to suggest their proposed 
scheme of reconstruction. They represented to him the 
terrible condition of the country, the great destitution of 
the people, and the anarchy resulting from the subversion 
of civil law and the establishment of martial law. They 
asked that steps be taken to restore them to their original 
relations with the Federal union, and thereby insure peace 
and repose to the people. They proposed that the conven- 
tion called by the legislature be allowed to meet and reorgan- 

1 As late as June 22, a Federal soldier stationed at Okolona (Lieutenant 
Colonel n. C. Forbes, Seventh 111. Cavalry), In a letter to General Whipple, 
speaking of the great uncertainty upon the part of the people as to the prob- 
able policy of the government, said, " Jam daily visited by hundreds of men 
asking information of vital interest without th(! ability to give more than a 
semi-intelligent guess toward the solution." Official Records, Series I. Vol. 
49, Serial No. 104, p. 1024. 

'■^ Governor Sharkey .says Jones Hamilton, E-sq., went along as a sort of 
secretary to himself and Judge Yerger. ''The fact is." said Sharkey, "we 
had no money to bear our expenses, and Colonel Hamilton, being a moneyed 
man, agreed to accompany us and pay the bills." Testimony bel'cre Recon- 
struction Committee. Report Committees, 1st Ses. u'Jlh Cong. pt. iii. p. 137. 



THE COLLAPSE OF THE CONFEDERACY 63 

ize the state. This the President rejected at once, as he said 
he could not recognize for a moment any of the appointees 
of rebel officers. He then asked if they had read his North 
Carolina proclamation, in which he had proposed a plan of 
restoring civil government in that state, and if its terms 
would be acceptable to them. They replied that they had 
read it, and next to the course proposed by their own legis- 
lature, they believed it would more nearly meet the approval 
of the people. They assured tlie President that the people 
were anxious to be restored to their rights under the govern- 
ment, and that they intended to abide by and support the 
Constitution and laws of the United States in good faith, 
and in future conduct themselves as loyal citizens. The 
President told them that they must distinctly understand 
one thing, and that was that the people of Mississippi must 
recognize and abide by the order of things as brought about 
by the war, including, of course, the abolition of slavery. 
This, he said, was a sine qua non to the establishment of civil 
government. It was not his purpose to order or dictate any- 
tliing ; but they must plainly understand that unless they 
amended their constitution so as to conform to the facts of 
the situation, so far as he was concerned he would never 
consent to the reestablishment of civil government in Mis- 
sissippi. With this understanding the commissioners with- 
drew and returned to the state, leaving the matter in the 
hands of the President.^ 



III. THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL 

WAR 

The collapse of the Confederacy and the consequent dis- 
solution of the state government, organized in conformity 
thereto, left the private law in a somewhat unsettled condi- 
tion. The chief judicial problem of reconstruction, there- 
fore, was the adjudication of controversies growing out of 
the Civil War. In the determination of these questions it was 
often necessary to define the public and private law status 
of the state during the war. As already pointed out in 
another connection, the state and local governments were 
maintained during the war, so far as the necessities for civil 

^ I have followed the account given by Judge Yerger in his speech before 
the convention in June. This speech is printed in the Convention Journal, 
pp. 146-147, and also in the Chicago Tribune of Sept. 4, 1865, 



64 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

government required. Officers were regularly chosen, and 
were required to take an oath of allegiance to the Confeder- 
ate government. It was subsequently held by the High 
Court of Errors and Appeals that the provision in the Con- 
stitution of the United States requiring members of the 
state legislature to take an oath to support the national 
Constitution was merely directory, and the failure to take 
such an oath did not invalidate their legislation.^ The state 
legislature met regularly during the war, and enacted laws 
which every inhabitant was bound to obey. Transactions 
involving millions of dollars were made in accordance with 
formalities prescribed by the state government ; contracts 
were entered into ; marriage relations were formed and 
children born ; estates of decedents were administered ; 
conveyances of property were made ; courts were held, 
judgments rendered, and decrees executed in accordance 
therewith ; vested rights were acquired, and business relations 
formed. If the government under which these transactions 
occurred was insurrectionary in its character, what, there- 
fore, was their legal status upon the suppression of the 
insurrection ? Clearly no sound principle of state policy, to 
say nothing of reason, could be subserved by holding that 
no government existed in the state from 1861 to 1865 ; that 
the inhabitants were reduced to a state of anarchy ; that all 
executory contracts were voidable at the pleasure of either 
party, and that all executed contracts were void ; that all 
rights acquired were unlawful ; and that all relations formed 
must, as far as possible, be undone. To hold that all the 
acts of the government during this period were illegal would 
have led to consequences productive of incalculable mischief.^ 
These acts fall naturally into two classes : First, those the 
primary purpose of which was to maintain peace and order, 
and regulate the private relations of the inhabitants. This 
class of acts sustained no direct relation to the prosecution 
of the war, but were measures which, in all probability, would 
have been enacted had there been no war. The second class 
includes those done in "aid of the rebellion." The Supreme 
Court, after the war, uniformly held the acts of the first 

1 Hill vs. Boyland, 40 Miss. 618. 

2 The United States Supreme Court in the case of Thorrington vs. Smith 
said obedience to the authorities of the Confederate government in civil 
and local matters was a necessity and a duty ujjon the part of those domiciled 
within its jurisdiction. Without such obedience civil order was impossible. 
The court, however, refused to recognize the Confederate government as de 
facto, in the sense that its adherents in war against the de jure government 
did not incur the penalties of treason. 



THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL WAR 65 

class to be valid and binding as those done by a de jure gov- 
ernment. On the other hand, it generally held the acts of 
the second class to be invalid. 

Relative to the private law status during the war, the 
High Court said, in the case already cited, " The proposition 
that the citizens who owed at least temporary allegiance 
to the government which possessed their property and con- 
trolled by its power their persons during the period of 
such dominion were remanded to a state of nature as bar- 
barians and outlaws in all their relations with one another, 
civil as well as criminal — as a judicial question, seems to us 
neither sanctioned by tlie principles of international law 
recognized by our highest judicial tribunals, nor by any code 
of morality known to civilized nations. Admitting," said 
the court, " that the ordinance of secession was a nullity, the 
state of Mississippi, neither in fact nor in legal contemplation, 
could be annihilated." This was the position taken by the 
United States Supreme Court in Texas vs. White the follow- 
ing year.i The attempt to secede only changed the relations 
toward the government of the United States, i.e. the public 
law relations, and not the relations between individuals com- 
posing the state, i.e. the private law relations. So far, there- 
fore, as the private relations of the inhabitants were concerned, 
the government which existed in the state during the war 
was not only de facto but dejure. 

The state convention of 1865, realizing the absolute neces- 
sity of recognizing the validity of certain of the governmental 
acts made during the previous four years, adopted an ordi- 
nance declaring all laws enacted since January 9, 1861, with 
two excei3tions, so far as they were not in conflict with the 
laws and Constitution of the United States, nor in " aid of the 
rebellion," to be revived, ratified, and held valid and binding 
until altered or repealed b}^ the proper authority.^ All official 
acts of public officers ; all judgments, decrees, and orders of 
the courts, and all marriage relations properly contracted, 
were declared to be legalized, ratified, and confirmed. This 
ordinance was passed in August, 1865. But what was the 
status of the acts of the "insurrectionary" government dur-. 
ing the period intervening between the surrender of the 
government, on May 22, and the adoption of the ordinance 
mentioned? A freedman in Noxubee County was indicted 

1 7 Wall. 720. 

2 The two exceptions were the law in relation to crimes and misdemean- 
ors, and an act of 1863 to enable railroads to pay moneys borrowed by them 
from the state before the war. 



6G RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

for stealing a gun on the 30th of May. After conviction he 
moved, in arrest of judgment, that at the time the offence 
was committed, tlie constitution and laws of Mississippi were 
suspended, or overthrown and destroyed, by the military 
power of the United States, and that no such sovereignty as 
the state of Mississippi existed. 

The main question for decision was, therefore, whether 
Mississippi had any legal or valid existence as a state on 
the 30th of May, 1865, and if so, whether the laws of the 
state for the punishment of crime, in force prior to Janu- 
ary 9, 1861, continued in force after the overthrow of the 
Confederacy. The High Court of Errors and Appeals,.held 
that the state of Mississippi on May 30, 1865, was the same 
state as that which occupied her territorial limits before 
January 9, 1861 ; that the constitution and laws were the 
same, except in so far as they had been altered from time 
to time by its own act ; that rights of property were to be 
governed, contracts were to be construed, and crimes tried 
and punished by the same laws that existed before the 
adoption of the ordinance of secession. It was declared 
that the existence of the state as a sovereign state, de jure 
and de facto^ had never been interrupted or disturbed by 
the ordinance of secession or by the progress or events of 
the war, but, on the contrary, all the functions of govern- 
ment, executive, legislative, and judicial, continued in full 
force and rightful operation. Laws passed during the war 
continued in force after the cessation of hostilities, and were 
held to be ,valid and binding during the temporary suspen- 
sion off' f cuctions consequent upon the occu^jation of the 
territory by the military forces of the United States, and 
after the restoration of those functions in October, 1865. 
Consequently, offences against the criminal laws committed 
during the war, or during the occupation of the state by 
the armed forces of the United States, were indictable and 
punislmble as if those events had never occurred. ^ 

In determining what acts were in " aid of the rebellion," 
tlie High Court usually took a liberal and just view. One 
of the most notable decisions involving tliis question was the 
well-known " Cotton Money " case, decided at the October 
term of 1869. In May, 1866, a tender of one of these notes 
was made to the sheriff of Hinds County, in payment of 
taxes due the state. Tlie sheriff refused to receive it, alleg- 
ing that the act under wliich tliis currency was issued was 

1 Harlan vs. The State, 41 Miss. 566. 



THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL WAR (57 

illegal, having been passed by a revolutionary body calling 
itself the legislature of Mississippi. The High Court sus- 
tained the position of the sheriff, and held that the notes in 
question, having been issued at a time of great pecuniary 
want to supply a circulating medium, and to furnish the 
means by which an empty treasury might be replenished, 
were, in operation and in effect, in "aid of the rebellion," 
and therefore illegal and void.i 

On the other hand, it was held that an act of the legisla- 
ture in 1862, suspending the statute of limitations until two 
years after the close of the war, was valid,^ and so was an 
act regulating the terms of the High Court. ^ Again, it was 
held that all deeds or other instruments of writing executed 
during the war, although not stamped as required by the 
laws of the United States, were valid if properly stamped at 
the close of the war.* A liquor law passed by the " insur- 
rectionary " state government was upheld,^ and so was an 
act authorizing trustees to invest funds in their keeping in 
Confederate securities,^ and an act prohibiting suit against 
soldiers in active service. '^ Where application was made for 
a mandamus, to compel a county treasurer to pay a warrant 
of the board of police, issued in 1864 to a sheriff for taxes 
overpaid, it was held that the amount overpaid was undoubt- 
edly in Confederate money, being taxes for the support of 
the rebellion, and should therefore be disallowed.^ 

In general, all acts necessary to the peace and good order 
of society, acts sanctioning and protecting marriage and do- 
mestic relations, acts governing descents, and regu -^^ing the 
conveyance and transmission of property, acts providing 
remedies for injuries to persons and property, and many 
other similar acts, which would be valid if emanating from a 
lawful government, were held to be valid, although proceed- 
ing from an unlawful government. 

It Avas several times held that the state government rees- 
tablished after the war was not bound by the acts and en- 
gagements of the " insurrectionary " government. Thus, it 
was said in the "Cotton JNIoney " case that the government 
of the state of Mississippi as one of the United States, and 
the government of the state as a member of the Confederacy, 
were not identical, and the acts and obligations of the latter 

1 Thomas vs. Taylor, 42 Miss. 651. 

2 Buchanan vs. Smith & Barksdale, 43 Miss. 90. 

8 M. & O. R.R. vs. ]\Iath, 41 Miss. 692. ^ Trotter vs. Trotter, 40 Miss. 704. 
* Frazer vs. Daniels, 42 Miss. 121. "i Walker vs. Jeffreys, 45 Miss. 102. 
6 Licks vs. State, 42 Miss. 316. « Files vs. Mc Williams, 49 Miss. 578. 



68 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



& 



government were not ipso facto binding upon any government 
subsequently erected in the state ; that the laws enacted and 
obligations incurred during the war ceased upon the destruc- 
tion of the government which enacted them, and were of no 
binding effect upon the government which succeeded. Thus 
it was held that the restored government was not bound to 
receive treasury notes issued by the " insurrectionary " gov- 
ernment,^ nor was it responsible for any claims for salaries 
of civil officers in the service of the latter government, its 
debts and obligations having perished with it.^ Arrearages 
of taxes accruing during the war were not presumed to have 
been levied in " aid of the rebellion " ; but where the con- 
trary was proven to be the case, they were held to be illegal, 
and could not be collected by the restored government. ^ 

In regard to the status of state and Confederate money the 
court also took a liberal view. It took judicial notice of the 
fact that this currency was the chief circulating medium of 
the state during the war, and its use an absolute necessity. 
In a case involving this question the court said : " The use of 
such money became an absolute necessity of the condition of 
the people during the war, for without it they could neither 
have lived in the Confederacy nor have made their escape 
from it. There was no other means of securing food and 
clothing, and to hold that in giving, or receiving it, the peo- 
ple in their situation were guilty of an offence against the 
paramount law, would be a relinement of cruelty unworthy 
of a civilized nation or an enlightened age." * In accordance 
with this view it was held that where Confederate treasury 
notes, jMississippi cotton notes, and iMississippi treasury notes 
(military) were placed on deposit with a banker, an action of 
indebitatus assumpsit could be brought to recover their value 
from the banker who refused to deliver them to the depositor. 
Receiving this currency and giving his written promise to 
return it upon demand was not lending " aid to the rebel- 
lion." Again it was held that where a creditor in 1862 re- 
ceived under protest Confederate money in payment of a 
debt, he could not subsequently treat the payment as invalid 
and recover on his original demand by showing that at the 
time of the receipt of the money, military orders required its 
acceptance in payment of debts. ^ Where an administrator 
sold property for cash (Confederate money), and instead of 



1 Thomas vs. Taylor, 42 Miss. 651. < Murrell v.s. Jones, 40 Miss. 565. 

2 Buclc vs. Yasser, 47 ]\Iiss. 5:51. ^ Davis vs. M. & 0. R.R., 46 Miss. 653. 



3 Dogan vs. Martin, 48 Miss. 11. 



THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL WAR 69 

paying the decedent's creditors, as he might have done, kept the 
money until it was worthless, it was held that he was charge- 
able with the value of the money at the time of the sale.^ But 
it was held to be competent for an administrator in present- 
ing his final account to show that the balance in his hands 
was Confederate money, and that he could not pay the debts 
of the estate with it or loan it to any person on any terms. ^ 
Similarly, where an administrator sold the personal estate 
of a decedent, receiving depreciated money therefor, and 
could show to the satisfaction of the court that he had been 
unable to use any or all of the same, he was chargeable only 
with the actual value of the amount on hand, and not used. 
Where an administrator sold property of an estate and took 
Confederate money in good faith and did not use it for his 
own purposes or mix it with his own funds, but kept it as a 
separate fund, and could not pay it out either to creditors or 
distributors, the administrator was not held responsible for 
the loss. If, however, he used the money when he might 
have applied it to pay creditors, and did not do so, he was 
held to be charged with the value compared witli the currency 
of the day. 2 Where a note was given for Confederate money 
borrowed in 1862 payable in 1864 in such currency as would 
be generally received for debts at time of maturity, it was 
held to be an error to instruct the jury directing the value 
of the Confederate money to be ascertained at the maturity 
of the note. The High Court declared the correct measure of 
recovery to be the value of Confederate money at the time of 
the loan.* 

Where an action of mandamus was brouglit in 1873 to 
compel a county treasurer to pay a warrant issued by order 
of the board of police in 1864, for the sum of $75, it was 
held that payment in lawful money could be required only 
for the equivalent of the Confederate money at the date of 
the issue of the warrant. '^ 

The status of contracts made during the war was the 
subject of a great deal of litigation during the reconstruction 
period. The contracts about whose validity there was doubt 
were of three classes : first, those in which the considera- 
tion was a slave warranted for life, which slave was subse- 
quently emancipated ; second, contracts for services or money 

1 Williams vs. Campbell, 46 Miss. 57. 

2 Still vs. Davidson, 51 Miss. 15.3. 

8 Moffatt vs. Loushbridge, 51 Miss. 211. 

* Darcy & Wheeler vs. Shotwell, 49 Miss. 631. 

' Clayton vs. McWilliams. 49 Miss. 313. 



70 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

in " aid of the rebellion " ; and third, contracts based on 
Confederate money. 

It was uniformly held by the Mississippi courts that a 
contract in which a slave Avas described as warranted for life, 
related only to the legal status of the property at the time 
of the warranty, and the contract was not affected by the 
subsequent emancipation of the slave by action of the gov- 
ernment, and that such emancipation could not be set up in 
avoidance of payment of the purchase money of a slave so 
emancipated. It was held that the covenant was fulfilled if, 
at the time of the sale, the slave was by the then existing laws 
of the state in a condition which rendered him liable to 
servitude for the period of his life.^ It was also held that a 
person sued on a note of this character could not allege as a 
defence that he was a citizen of a state in rebellion, was ex- 
cluded from the benefit of the President's amnesty proclama- 
tion, and therefore not entitled to sue in the courts. ^ 

In regard to the second class of contracts, the court 
invariably held that any agreement of whatsoever character 
that contemplated the giving of direct aid to the Confed- 
eracy was illegal and void. Thus it was held that a 
promissory note given in consideration that the payee serve 
as a substitute for the maker in the military forces of the 
state of Mississippi in the late war was a contract contrary 
to the public policy of the United States, directly in " aid of 
the rebellion," and therefore illegal and void.^ An agree- 
ment to deliver cotton for the purpose of clothing and equip- 
ping military camps for the Confederate service was held to 
be illegal.^ 

Again, where the legislature during the war passed an 
act permitting the railroads of the state to pay in Confed- 
erate notes money which they had borrowed from the state 
before the war, it was held to be in "aid of the rebellion," 
and therefore void. The court said the purpose of the act 
was plainly to replenish an exhausted treasury, with a view 
of subverting the Constitution of the United States ; and 
that the money had been loaned by the legal government of 
tlie state, a member of the Federal union, and to that state 
alone was the obligation of the roads to repay it, and from 
that obligation they were not released by payment to any 
other government or authority. The court even refused to 

1 Williams vs. Williams, 43 Miss. 430. 

2 Wilkinson vs. Eliza Conk. 1 1 Miss. 367. 
8 Pickens r.s-. Kskredgo, 4'i Miss. 114. 

* Cassell vs. Backrack, 42 Miss. 67. 



THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL WAR 71 

admit the claim of credit for the value of the Confederate 
money at the time of payment. ^ The same view was held by 
the court in 1876, when it had become democratic. ^ Where, 
however, a man loaned money which he knew was wanted 
for the equipment of a company of Confederate cavalry, but 
without any stipulation to that effect in the contract, it was 
held to be a valid contract, and the money thus loaned might 
be recovered. 3 

In regard to the third class of contracts, the Mississippi 
courts uniformly held that where the parties were private 
individuals the contracts were valid and binding.^ Thus, 
where an agreement was made in 1864 to deliver on demand 
a certain amount of cotton, and the value of the cotton was 
paid to the owner in Confederate money, the latter could 
not recover the value of the cotton in lawful money of the 
United States.^ All contracts made between May 1, 1862, 
and May 1, 1865, for the payment of money were held to 
have presumed Confederate money, unless the contrary ap- 
peared on the face of the contract ; ^ and where a contract 
was made to pay " dollars and cents," it was held to be com- 
petent to produce parol evidence to show that Confederate 
money was intended, and an administrator in settling his 
accounts was not precluded from showing that money de- 
scribed as "dollars and cents," and received by him, was in 
fact depreciated Confederate money. This was not admissi- 
ble, however, where he received other funds than the cur- 
rency prescribed by the prevailing law.'^ But where, during 
the war, a principal placed in the hands of his agent a num- 
ber of notes and drafts by their terms payable in United 

1 M. & O. R.E. vs. State, 42 Miss. 115. 

2 N. O. St. L. & Chicago R.R. Co. vs. State, 52 Miss. 878. 
8 Walker vs. .Jeffreys, 45 Miss. 162. 

* Frazer vs. Robinson & Daniel, 42 Miss. 121 ; Murrell vs. Jones, 40 Miss. 
566 ; Green vs. Sizer, 40 Miss. 530. The Supreme Court of Louisiana as uni- 
formly held that contracts founded on Confederate money as a consideration 
were illegal. See Schmidt vs. Barker, 16 La. 261; the United States Supreme 
Court, in December, 1868, held that contracts for the payment of Confederate 
money, made during the war between private parties residing in the Confed- 
eracy, could be enforced in the courts of the United States after the return of 
peace. Such currency, it said, must be considered as if it had been issued by 
a foreign government, temporarily occupying a part of the territory of the 
United States. Such contracts have no necessary relation to the hostile gov- 
ernment. They are transactions in the ordinary course of civil society, and 
though they may indirectly and remotely promote the ends of unlawful govern- 
ment, are without blame, except where proved to have been entered into witli 
actual intent to further insurrection. Thorrington vs. Smith, 8 Wall. 1. 

^ Beauchamp vs. Comfort, 42 Miss. 94. 

6 Cowan vs. McCutchcon, 4,3 Miss. 207. 

'' Rogers vs. Tullos, 51 Miss. 153. 



72 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

States currency, the agent having no instructions as to the 
kind of currency in which its collections were to be made, 
the action of the agent in accepting Confederate money was 
held to be wrongful, and he was liable to his principal for 
the full amount.^ 

The legality of business intercourse between citizens of Mis- 
sissippi and citizens of that part of the country under the juris- 
diction of the United States was another subject of litigation 
after the war. It was held that when at the beginning of the 
war a life assurance company of New York had an agent in 
Mississippi who remained during the war, the war did not 
per se revoke the agency, nor make it unlawful for the agent 
to receive premiums which were tendered, and a tender of 
the premiums saved the assured from being in default as 
to payment of premiums. The court furthermore held that 
unless it be necessary for their completion that some act be 
done calculated to aid and comfort the enemy, partly exe- 
cuted contracts, such as life assurance policies on which the 
premiums had, up to the war, been regularly paid, were not 
annulled by the war, but were suspended until its conclu- 
sion. ^ And where a citizen of Columbia, Tennessee, and the 
owner of a cotton plantation in Tunica County, INIississippi, 
entered into a contract with another citizen of Columbia 
during the occupation of that place by the Federal forces, 
the latter party agreeing to harvest the crop of cotton and 
transport it into the United States, with permission of the 
military authorities, it was held not to be a violation of the 
law, but an intention to comply with it.^ But where a citi- 
zen of Jackson, Mississippi, entered into a contract with a 
citizen of St. Louis in 1863, it was held that in contempla- 
tion of law, they were enemies to each other, and were, 
therefore, prohibited from contracting or even holding inter- 
course.* Again, where a citizen of New Orleans in August, 
1862, while that city was in possession of Federal troops, 
through his agent loaned Confederate money at Jackson, 
Mississippi, and took a mortgage on real estate to secure 
payment, it was held tliat the contract was illegal and void 
because intercourse between persons was forbidden by the 
law of nations, by the act of the Fruited States Congress of 
July 18, 1861, and by the proclamation of the President.^ 

1 McMath vs. Johnson, 41 Miss. 439 ; Bradford vs. Jenkins. 41 Miss. 328. 

2 Stratham ct al. vs. New York Life Assurance Company et al. 45 Miss. 681. 
8 Shacklett vs. Polk, 55 Miss. 376, 

* Shotwt'll vs. Ellis. 42 Miss. 4.",9. 

^ Livingston Minns vs. John Armstrong, 42 Miss. 429. 



THE PRIVATE LAW STATUS DURING THE CIVIL WAR 73 

Where the owner of land in Mississippi removed to Texas 
during the war, and left an agent to supervise and carry on 
his farm, such agency was not terminated by the Federal 
occupation of the territory in which the farm was situated, 
and a contract entered into between such agent and the 
Federal authorities to carry on the farm and Avork freeclmen 
thereon did not terminate the agency or give the agent any 
power to defeat the interest of his principal, claiming the 
proceeds of the farm, but what he did on the farm, he did as 
agent, and the products belonged to the principal. ^ The 
farm in question was the Choctaw Bend plantation in Boli- 
var County. It was held that where a bill of exchange was 
drawn and endorsed by parties resident at Lexington, Mis- 
sissippi, and accepted by parties residing in New Orleans 
after its occupation by the Federal forces in May, 1862, and 
transferred to parties in New York, the holders in New York 
were prohibited from transmitting to the agent at Lexington. 
After the capture of New Orleans, all intercourse between 
that city and Lexington, Mississippi, was forbidden by the 
force of public law and by the proclamation of the President. ^ 

The effect of the President's Emancipation Proclamation 
and the exact date of the destruction of slavery in Missis- 
sippi was before the courts in a number of cases. Where on 
January 3, 1865, a man gave a note for iii^250 for the hire of a 
slave for one year, and in the course of the year the slave 
became free, and the maker of the note asked the court for 
an annulment on the ground of failure of consideration, the 
court refused to give the desired relief or to pass upon the 
question as to when the slave became free.^ At the April 
term of 1869 the court was called upon to determine this 
question. 

The case was an action of assumpsit upon a contract for 
hire of some negroes for the year 1863. It was alleged by 
the plaintiff that all slaves in Mississippi became free on the 
first of January, 1863, by virtue of the President's Emanci- 
pation Proclamation, and consequently, the plaintiffs were 
not liable for the fulfilment of a contract founded on a false 
consideration. The High Court lield that the President's 
proclamation abolishing slavery was only operative and effec- 
tive in that portion of the seceded states which the United 
States armies had occupied or might occupy after the proc- 
lamation should go into effect. The doctrine that one 

1 Shelby vs. Offutt, 51 Miss. 129. 

2 Darden vs. Smith, 4} Miss. 548. 
8 Herod vs. Thigpen, 43 Miss. 102. 



74 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

belligerent may, by a mere proclamation or order, change 
the status of a person residing in the interior of an enemy's 
country, or their rights of property over which the belligerent 
has no present power to enforce any order, the court pro- 
nounced to be unknown to the law of nations. The rights 
of property owners over slaves in Mississippi was not af- 
fected by the Emancipation Proclamation. It was therefore 
held that the abolition of slavery in Mississippi dated from 
the adoption of the ordinance of the convention on that 
subject in August, 1865, and not from the proclamation of 
the President on January 1, 1863. ^ 

1 V. & M, R.R. Co. vs. Green, 42 Miss. 436. 



CHAPTER THIRD 

Presidential Reconstruction 

i. the inauguration of the presidential policy in 

mississippi 

The commissioners having assured the President that his 
North Carolina plan of reconstruction would be acceptable if 
no better could be had, he at once took steps to put it into 
operation in Mississippi by appointing Judge Sharkey pro- 
visional governor. It is doubtful if a better selection could 
have been made. Judge Sharkey was born of Irish parents 
on the river Holston in Tennessee, near the close of the 
eighteenth century. He was in General Jackson's army 
at the age of fifteen, and was present at the battle of New 
Orleans. He attended the common schools of Greenville, 
Tennessee, read law at Lebanon, emigrated to Mississippi, 
served in the legislature, and in 1833 went upon the bench 
as chief justice of the High Court of Errors and Appeals, 
where he presided with distinction for more than twenty 
years. Before the war, he was a Whig in politics and a 
Union man in his sympathies.^ Being a non-combatant 
during the war, he escaped the legal penalties which attached 
to the action of most of his fellow-citizens, and was therefore 
eligible to office under the United States. His appointment 
was generally acceptable to the people of the North, although 
he was criticised by some for a decision which he had made 
years before concerning the status of a mulatto woman who 
had married a white man.^ 

Having no authority to appoint a state governor except 
as an exercise of the war power, the President appointed 

1 Judge Sharkey had been offered a place in President Taylor's Cabinet in 
1848, but declined to accept political office, preferring to remain on the bench. 
No judge in the history of the state settled more legal questions or made morp 
authoritative decisions than Sharkey, and his opinions in the Mississippi re- 
ports constitute a monument to his legal fame. 

2 New York Herald, July 9, 1865. 

75 



76 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Judge Sharkey by public proclamation issued in his capacity 
as commander-in-chief of the army, and directed that he 
should be paid from the executive contingent fund. 

The governor, however, said he did not regard himself as 
an official of the United States, nor even a constitutional 
governor,^ and declined to accept compensation from the 
general government, saying that he was able to raise means 
at home for the support of his government. He did this 
by levying a special tax on stores, saloons, taverns, gaming 
tables, restaurants, pedlers, brokers, banking establishments, 
and ten dollars on every bale of cotton sent to market. ^ 

The President's proclamation appointing Judge Sharkey 
governor declared it to be the duty of the United States to 
guarantee to each state a republican form of government, 
and in appointing a provisional executive to reorganize the 
government of the state, he was but carrying out the con- 
stitutional mandate. The proclamation made it the duty of 
the provisional governor to prescribe at the earliest possible 
moment such rules and regulations as might be necessary 
for calling a convention to be chosen by the " loyal " people 
for the purpose of altering or amending the constitution. 
No person was qualified to vote for a delegate or was eligible 
to membership in the convention unless he had taken and 
subscribed to the oath of amnesty prescribed in the Presi- 
dent's proclamation of May 29, and he must in addition have 
been entitled to vote by the law of the state as it existed 
prior to January 9, 1861.^ 

The military commander of the department and all persons 
in the military or naval service of the United States were 
directed to aid and assist the governor in carrying out the 
purposes of the proclamation, and they were enjoined from 
hindering or discouraging the loyal people from organizing 
the government. The Secretary of State was authorized to 
put in force all the national laws, the administration of which 



1 Address before the legislature, Oct. 10, 1865. 

2 This tax schedule is printed in the Chicago Tribune of July 28, 1865. 
There was considerable objection among the merchants to the tax of $10 per 
bale on cotton, and many declined to pay it, whereupon the governor ordered 
that it sliould be doubled in every such instance, and the sheriff was directed 
to seize and sell at public auction a suflicieut quantity to satisfy the tax. The 
receipts during Sharkey's adniinistration were $152,218. The expenditures 
were $68,942. New York Times, Aug. 4, 1865. 

8 The substance of the oath was to faithfully support, protect, and defend 
the Constitution of the United States, and abide by and support all the laws 
and proclamations made during the war with reference to the emancipation 
of the slaves. 



THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL POLICY 77 

properly belonged to his department, and which were appli- 
cable to the state ; the Secretary of the Treasury was directed 
to nominate the necessary officers to put into execution the 
revenue laws, in each case the preference to be given to loyal 
persons residing within the district ; the Postmaster General 
was directed to reestablish the postal service ; the district 
judge was instructed to proceed to hold courts according to 
law; and the district attorney was directed to libel and bring 
to judgment, confiscation, and sale such property as had become 
subject to confiscation ; the Secretaries of the Navy and of 
the Interior were likewise directed to enforce such laws as 
related to their respective departments. On June 13, Secre- 
tary Seward notified Governor Sharkey of his appointment, 
transmitted therewith a copy of the President's proclama- 
tion, together with a copy of the official oath, and informed 
him that his salary would be -fSOOO per year. Sharkey 
accepted the appointment reluctantly and with the under- 
standing, he says, that he should not be interfered with by 
the military authorities in the administration of the civil 
government.^ On July 1, he issued a proclamation inform- 
ing the peojile of the state of his appointment, and expressed 
a desire to carry out the President's wishes to restore civil 
government as speedily as possible. To avoid the delay 
which would necessarily result from the separate organiza- 
tion of each county by special appointments, he reappointed 
by proclamation all officers who were holding at the time 
the government property and archives were surrendered to 
the military forces, that is, on May 22. Inasmuch as it 
was necessary that the offices should be filled by incum- 
bents who were loyal to the government of the United 
States, the governor expressly reserved the right to remove 
any one who might be an exception in that respect, and he 
earnestly invoked the loyal citizens of each county to give 
him timely and authentic information in regard to any officer 
who was obnoxious to this requirement. 

The proclamation directed sheriffs to hold an election in 
each county on the 7th of August for delegates to a state 
convention to be held at Jackson, August 14. The trustees 
of the state university were required to meet at Oxford, July 
31, for the purpose of reopening the university. The " un- 
precedented amount of lawlessness " in the state claimed the 
governor's especial attention. " Crime," said he, " must be 
suppressed, and guilty persons must be punished." He said 

1 H. Mis. Docs. December, 1868, No. 53, p. 37. 



78 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

the commanding general had kindly offered to aid him in 
protecting the people and in aj)prehending offenders against 
the law, and he hoped that the people would give liim timely 
information and render such other assistance as would enable 
him to carry out such a laudable object. He advised the 
people, when it should become necessary in consequence 
of their remoteness from a military post, to organize them- 
selves into county patrols for the apprehension of offenders 
who, when caught, should be taken to Jackson for safe-keep- 
ing. He suggested that perhaps there were some who might 
have conscientious scruples about taking the amnesty oath, 
because of a belief that the Emancipation Proclamation was 
unconstitutional. This objection, he said, certainly could 
not be raised with propriety by those who denied that they 
were subject to the Constitution as the supreme law when 
the proclamation was issued. " Whether it be constitutional 
or not is a question which the people have no right to deter- 
mine — that rests with the supreme judicial power of the 
United States, and until the Supreme Court has acted, the 
proclamation must be regarded as valid," he said. " The 
people of the South were in rebellion ; the President has 
the right to prescribe terms of amnesty — he has done so, 
and it is hoped the people will all cheerfully take the oath 
with a fixed purpose to observe it in good faith. Why should 
they now hesitate or doubt, since slavery has ceased to be a 
practical question ? It is the part of wisdom and of honor 
to submit without a murmur. The negroes are free — free 
by the fortunes of the war, free by the proclamation, free 
by common consent, free practically as well as theoretically, 
and it is too late to raise the technical question as to tlie 
means by which they became so." He assured his fellow- 
citizens that in accepting appointment from the United States 
he was actuated by no other motive than a desire to aid the 
people in reorganizing a civil government, and he ventured 
to suggest that their success in the late war would have 
proved to be the greatest calamity that could have befallen 
the country, and the greatest to the cause of civil liberty 
tliroughout the world. The proclamation was well received 
at the North, and met the approval of all the conservative 
men of the state. ^ 

The governor's policy of reappointing all persons who 
were in office at the close of the war was the subject of 

1 The Nnc York Herald of July 14 said it was excellent, and should be 
publislicd tlir()ui,'hnut all the Southern states. The proclamation is printed 
in full in the Ihrald of the 13th, and in the Times of the 1 !lh. 



THE INAUGURATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL POLICY 79 

considerable complaint at the Nortli. The President tele- 
graphed him August 22, complaining that reports calcu- 
lated to do harm were circulating in " influential quarters," 
and urged upon him the importance of encouraging and 
strengthening to the fullest extent the men of Mississippi 
who had never faltered in tlieir allegiance to the govern- 
ment.^ The governor replied at once to this despatch declar- 
ing that he had endeavored both from inclination and duty 
to avoid the appointment or recommendation of secessionists. 
He assured the President that it had been an indispensable 
requisite that applicants should be free from this objection. 

He said he had required all officers before entering upon 
their duties to take and subscribe to the oath of amnesty, a 
copy of which in each case was transmitted to the governor's 
office. No one was eligible to office who was not included in 
the President's amnesty proclamation, unless specially par- 
doned by him. In counties where there were no persons who 
could take the oath, special appointments were made. 

There was no provision in Governor Sharkey's proclama- 
tion for the reorganization of the courts, and it was probably 
his intention that those already in existence should not 
asfain exercise their functions. At this time the chief sub- 
jects of litigation were cotton, horses, and mules. Owners 
who had sold cotton during the war to be delivered at a 
certain time, refused to deliver it upon the return of peace, 
while cotton belonging to innocent persons was seized and 
carried away by military authorities or treasury agents. In 
all such cases the military tribunals were the only resort. 
Often without notice to the adverse party and on ex parte 
showing, summary orders were made and enforced. That 
grievous wrongs sometimes resulted there can be little doubt. 
When the provisional governor entered upon the discharge 
of his duties he was besieged by aggrieved parties for relief. 
To afford them a measure of relief, he revived by proclama- 
tion the replevin acts, and put them into operation. They 
provided a summary remedy before two justices of the peace 
for recovery of property wrongfully taken or detained. At 

^ Relative to his policy of reappointing those already in office, the gov- 
ernor testified in 1869 : " I told the President precisely what I should do. I 
said : ' Mr. President, I cannot take this position and go there and fill every 
office in the state. I will have to do it by proclamation. I will put those 
men in office who held office before the war or during the war, reserving to 
myself the power to remove them, and if I find them disloyal, I will remove 
them.' I appointed nobody to office knowingly who claimed to be a seces- 
sionist. I was very careful in this respect." IT, Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th 
Cong. No. 53, p. 43. 



80 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

first these were the only judicial tribunals provided for in 
the governor's scheme of jurisprudence. At a time whe;i the 
rights of property were the cliief subjects of litigation, such 
a system of judicature was notoriously insufficient. 

Accordingly on the 12 th of July the governor, by public 
proclamation, created a special court of equity to sit at 
Jackson with jurisdiction in all contracts for cotton or other 
personal property, and with power to proceed in a summary 
manner, on petition, to enforce specific performance, or 
annul contracts upon due notice to parties concerned. The 
court was further empowered to issue processes, punish for 
contempt, and appoint a clerk. The governor from time to 
time issued orders defining in detail the jurisdiction of the 
court, and modifying its procedure. The court seems to 
have been very unpopular, and its legality was attacked on 
the ground that the provisional governor had no power to 
establish such an extraordinary tribunal, and that it was 
unknown to the laws and constitution of the state, and its 
proceedings coram non judice and void.^ 

Another of Governor Sharkey's duties was to see that 
every individual who had served the Confederacy should be 
given an opportunity to take the amnesty oath prescribed by 
the President's proclamation of May 29, unless he was 
excluded from its benefits. During June and July, the 
military authorities were busy administering the oath, and 
those who were entitled to its benefits came up almost with- 
out exception, and took it, although to most of them it was 
gall and wormwood. ^ The oath was required to be sub- 
scribed to, and a copy transmitted to the government as a 
matter of record. The willingness of the applicant to take 
the oath was not regarded as conclusive evidence of his 
loyalty, and if the ofiicer had good reason to believe that it 
was not being taken in good faith, he might withhold the 
privilege.^ 

1 The Supreme Court at the April term of 1860 affirmed the validity of the 
Equity Court and held that the President of the United States, as com- 
mander-in-chief of the victorious army, had authority to appoint a provisional 
governor and invest him with power to establish such tribunals as in his judg- 
ment might be necessary. Scott vs. Bilgerry, 40 Miss. 110. 

2 The Jacksoti ^lissisftippinn said that by the time the convention met there 
were comparatively few who had not taken the oath. It said : " We regard 
it as the solemn duty of every citizen in this trying hour to take the oath, 
and not by sullen indifference stand idly by while breakers surround the 
ship of state." 

'^ The following incident is reported to liave occurred at Hillsboro in Scott 
County while a provost marshal was administering the oath : Prnv. Marshal. 
You wish to take the oatli, do you ? — Applicant. Yes, sir. P. M. Have you 
beeu in the rebel army ?—Yi. Yes, .sir. P. 31. What was your rank? — ^. 



THE INAUGUKATION OF THE PRESIDENTIAL POLICY 81 

It will be remembered that the President's proclamation 
excluded fourteen classes of persons from the benefit of the 
amnesty, but permitted them to make special application, and 
such clemency would be extended as might be consistent 
with the facts of the case, and the peace and dignity of the 
United States. In general, the excepted persons were those 
who left high official stations under the government of the 
United States to serve the Confederacy, those who acted as 
diplomatic agents of the Confederacy, or held military office 
above the rank of colonel ; those who left the army or navy 
of the United States to aid the Confederacy ; those who were 
educated at the military or naval academy, and afterward 
took up arms against the United States ; " rebel " governors ; 
and those who enlisted in the Confederate army, and whose 
taxable property exceeded 1^20,000 in value. ^ The majority 
of those in Mississippi, who were thus excluded from the 
amnesty, belonged to the latter class. The records of the 
Attorney General's office show that down to July 1, 1867, 
special pardons had been granted by the President to 949 
residents of the state. Of these about 800 were persons 
worth over $20,000 ; about 90 had been postmasters ; 55, 
Federal tax collectors and assessors. The remainder had 
been United States commissioners, agents of various kinds, 
attorneys, receivers, mail carriers, contractors, etc. Pardons 
in every case were granted only upon the recommendation 
of some " loyal " person. Many of the recommendations from 
Mississippi were made by Governor Sharkey.^ 

Major. P. 31. How much are you worth ? — A. I was rich once, but ain't 
worth a cent now. P. M. What has become of your property ? — A. It was 
destroyed first by one army and then the other, until it all went except the 
land, and there is not a fence or hedge on it. P. 3L When did you enter the 
rebel army? — ^. In 1861. P. 31. Voluntarily or involuntarily? — ^. I 
volunteered. P. 3f. What was your object ? — ^. I was fighting for South- 
ern rights. P. 31. Have you changed your views since then ? — A. No, sir. 
P. 31. Then how can you take the oath ? — A. Why, the fact is, I am subju- 
gated. P. 3f. What good will taking this oath do you ? — A. I want to vote 
so as to keep down the niggerism suffrage party, and to save my neck. P. 3£. 
Do you feel any real loyalty to the government now? — A (hesitatingly). 
I can't say that I do. P. 3L If this country were to become engaged in a 
war with some European power, and that power should offer the South inde- 
pendence, what would you do? — A. Well, I should act according to circum- 
stances. P. 31. But that is not loyalty. I insist on a direct answer. — A. 
Well, if I must speak out, I will. I should stand by my state, whichever way 
it went. Chicago Tribune of August 25. 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, VI. p. 312. 

2 See Sen. Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 40th Cong. No. 32 for complete list of persons 
in Mississippi to whom special pardons were granted by the President, the 
date on which the pardon was issued, and the name of the person in each 
case who recommended the pardon, and the class to which the applicant 
belonged. 



82 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



II. THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 

Meanwhile, the attention of the people was directed to 
the convention which Governor Sharkey had ordered, and 
the canvass for which was now in progress. The chief issue 
of the campaign was whether the convention should recog- 
nize fully the results of the war and declare the total and 
final abolition of all property in slaves, including those owned 
by widows, orphans, minors, and loyal persons ; or whether 
some form of abolition should be adopted which would make 
a distinction between the slave-holders on the one hand who 
served the Confederate cause, and those on the other who had 
opposed secession, had taken no part in the war, and had 
given neither aid nor comfort to the enemies of the United 
States. To adopt the first course, would be to cut off all 
right of judicial remedy by innocent slave-holders, should 
such right of action ever be allowed by the United States in 
its courts. The candidates Avho favored the first course 
insisted that it was for the interests of the state to yield to 
military necessity and accept, unreservedly, the conditions 
imposed by the Federal government. The idea of compensa- 
tion for slaves they believed to be delusive. " If," said a 
prominent candidate, " we obstinately hold on to the dead 
body of slavery in any manner, we shall close and bar the 
only door left open for readmission, and by so doing, enable 
the radical party at the North — while we are chained down 
as a conquered province under military rule — to consummate 
the work in which they are now so earnestly engaged, of fas- 
tening upon the South the odious principle of negro suffrage. 
Everything with us depends upon decided enlightened action 
by the great convention soon to assemble at Jackson." ^ Many 
candidates, on tlie contrary, favored taking no action upon 
the question of abolition more than to recognize slavery as 
abolished by the United States. They did not purpose to 



^ This is the language of Judge Amos Johnston, one of tlie ablest of 
the members of the convention. Chirngn Tribune^ Aug. 2, 1805. Judge 
William Yerger, another candidate, strongly favored unconditional aboli- 
tion. He was sanguine enough to believe that it would insure the reestab- 
li.shment of civil government in the state, tlu^ speedy removal of the 
troops, and the admission of their senators and representatives to Con- 
gress. The New York Daily Xi-ics of Aug. 7, IBOrj, contains tlie views of 
Anderson, Johnston, I'oLter, Robb, and Yerger, on the leading issue of the 
campaign. 



THE KECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 83 

have it appear as a matter of history that the abolition of 
slavery was an act of the state government. As a promi- 
nent candidate of this persuasion put it : " My own opinion 
is that if this great act of oppression is to be consummated, 
by which the Southern people are to be deprived of $4,000,- 
000,000 worth of property without compensation, it should 
be left to be recorded in history as the act of that govern- 
ment whose first and highest duty is, as far as its power 
extends, to protect and guard with equal care the interests 
and rights of the people of each and all of tlie states, and I 
should desire that the people of Mississippi should not by their 
action give sanction to this enormous public wrong." ^ The 
press of the state was divided as between these two views. 
Of the two leading journals, the Jackson News and the Clar- 
ion, the latter favored an unequivocal recognition of the 
results of the war, while the News did not. The Clarion, in 
an editorial, published the day before the meeting of the 
convention, declared that however reluctant they might be 
to yield their right to slaves as property, however much 
they might prefer gradual emancipation, no one could deny 
the fact that the freedom of the negro was already beyond 
cavil, and that no act of theirs could change his destiny. 
" We hear of candidates for the convention," said the edi- 
tor, " who talk either of ignoring this question or pro- 
testing against emancipation and demanding compensation. 
Such a course, however proper it might be under other cir- 
cumstances, at the present would inevitably result in the 
prolongation of military rule in the South, and would very 
probably lead to the reorganization of the states on the basis 
of negro suffrage. It appears to us to be the duty of the 
convention to recognize the situation and at once change the 
Constitution to harmonize with this new order of things ; 
declare that slavery shall no longer exist in Mississippi, 
and let it be done in good faith, without protest or remon- 
strance." The Mississippian, another Jackson paper said, 
" We think a decided majority of the convention will ignore 
quibbling and meet the issue of the hour like men of sense 
and candor." ^ 

The Mississippi convention was the first of the Southern 
state conventions to assemble in pursuance of the President's 

1 Speech of Fulton Anderson, Chirngn Tribune, Aug. 2. Mr. Anderson 
said he did not think the taking of tlie amnesty oath created an obligation 
upon members of the convention to vote for tlie abolition of slavery, and as 
for himself, he intended to oppose it with all his power. 

2 Quoted in New York World, Aug. 22, 1865. 



84 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

plan of reconstruction. Its action was therefore watched 
with keen interest by the people of all parts of the country. ^ 
" If," said an influential New York paper, " Mississippi 
moves into her place in the Union with a constitution that 
will meet the approval of the government, we shall be able 
to dismiss all further apprehension concerning the action of 
any otlier Southern state." The convention consisted of one 
hundred delegates, all of whom, except two, were able to 
qualify. A majority of the members were old-line Whigs, 
most of whom had opposed secession in I86I.2 It was 
alleged that only one member, however, had actually op- 
posed the power of the Confederacy.^ Seven members had 
been delegates to the secession convention, all of whom 
except one had voted against the ordinance. Seven were 
members of the reconstruction convention of 18G8. Gov- 
ernor Sharkey called the convention to order and adminis- 
tered the amnesty oath to each member. He then laid 
before them the following despatch from the President. "I 
am gratified to see that you have organized your convention 
without difficulty. I hope that without delay your conven- 
tion will amend your state constitution abolishing slavery 
and denying to all future legislatures the power to legislate 
that there is property in man ; also that they will adopt the 
amendment to the Constitution of the United States abolish- 
ing slavery. If you could extend the elective franchise to 
all persons of color who can read the Constitution of the 
United States in English, and write their names, and to 
all persons of color who own real estate valued at not less 
than f250, and pay taxes thereon, you would completely 
disarm the adversary and set an example the other states 
will follow. This you can do with perfect safety, and you 
thus place the Southern states, in reference to free persons 
of color, upon the same basis with the free states. I hope 
and trust your convention will do this, and, as a conse- 



1 The New York Times of Aug. 18 said the proceedings of the Missis- 
sippi convention commanded peculiar interest because Mississippi was the 
state of Jeff Davis, because it was the second to secede, and because it pro- 
duced more cotton than any other state and had nearly as many slaves as 
any other. 

2 The secretary of the convention says the total number of Whigs was 
seventy ; the Vickshnrg Herald of Aug. 1!) says the number was sixty. 

8 The Chicago Tribune of Aug. 29, 1865, said only one member of the 
Mississippi convention had up to that time uttered anything that would pass 
for union at the North. That member was " Mr. Crawford from the state of 
Jones, a county that had seceded from the Confederacy and maintained its 
independence throughout the war." 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 85 

quence, the radicals, who are wild upon negro franchise, 
will be completely foiled in their attempt to keep the 
Southern states from renewing their relations to the Union 
by not accepting their senators and representatives." A 
committee of fifteen was then appointed to inquire into and 
report to the convention such alterations and amendments 
of the constitution as were deemed to be necessary to secure 
the rehabilitation of the state government.^ Another com- 
mittee of fifteen was appointed to report to the convention 
such action as was deemed proper and expedient to be taken 
relative to the ordinance of secession, and what action should 
be taken with regard to such of the legislative and judicial 
acts of the state government passed since January 9, 1861, 
as were not in conflict with the Constitution of the United 
States. Foreseeing that the utterances of the members 
would be closely scrutinized by the people of the North, and 
knowing that the opinions expressed would be accepted as 
indicative of the spirit of the whole South, the convention 
determined that its debates should be reported in full and 
printed, so as to " vindicate the state from the aspersions 
constantly being cast upo2i her."^ 

A proposition to memorialize the President for the release 
and immediate pardon of Governor Clarke and Jefferson 
Davis was the subject of considerable debate. The more 
conservative members doubted the expediency of taking 
official action on a matter so delicate at that particular time. 
The convention had been called for a specific purpose, and 
to ask for the immediate pardon of the highest leaders of 
the Confederacy was not modesty, to say the least, and might 
defeat or embarrass their efforts at reorganization. The 
convention was composed largely of men whose political 
views were different from those of Davis, yet they had per- 

1 Convention Journal, p. 17. 

2 Ibid. p. 22. One of the members, an ex-major general in the Confeder- 
ate army said : " It is important for us not only that the constitution which 
we shall adopt shall show the spirit of our people, but it is also important to 
show by the debates the spirit in which those propositions were discussed. It 
is necessary that we should show that it is a mistake to suppose that in sur- 
rendering we merely did it to gain time, and that there was still a disposition 
among the people to carry on the war against the Northern states. It is im- 
portant in the present crisis that whatever can, should be done to assure the 
conservative people of the North that having first tried the logic of the schools, 
and failed in that, and having then resorted to the sterner logic of arms, and 
having failed in that also, we are now honestly disposed to return to our alle- 
giance, and to make out of the disasters that have befallen us the best that we 
can." He thought there was no better way of showing the people of the 
North that they were earnest and sincere than by publishing the debates. 
Ibid. p. 27. 



86 EECONSTKUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

sonal sympathy for him, and were willing to take action in 
his behalf as private individuals. ^ The resolution was finally 
withdrawn. 

/- The great question before the convention of 18G5 was 
that relating to the abolition of slavery. After all, it was 
not a question of whether slavery should be abolished, but 
how its extinction should be acknowledged. The convention 
was unanimous in the opinion that slavery was a thing of the 
past. The only question in their minds was whether they 
should formally, by constitutional amendment, abolish the 
institution as though there had been no war, or whether they 
should adopt a resolution recognizing the extinction of 
slavery as a result of the war, and saddle the responsibility 
upon the government of tlie United States. In either case, 
it would mean the loss of slavery. The latter course would 
in a Avay satisfy tlieir pride, but its expediency in the then 
state of feeling at the North was very much questioned. 
The committee of lifteen, to whom the matter had been 
referred, brought in a report recommending the former 
course. It submitted a constitutional amendment declaring 
that slavery should no longer exist in the state of Mississippi. 
No attempt was made to fix the responsibility upon the gov- 
ernment of the United States. On the following day, a sub- 
stitute was offered which was the same in substance as that 
reported by the committee, but contained a preamble reciting 
that slaver}^ had been abolished by the action of the govern- 
ment of the United States. ^ Three or four members spoke 
in favor of the substitute. They contended that slavery had 
been destroyed by somebody, certaiidy not by the will of 
the people of Mississippi. To declare slavery abolished by a 
convention of the people would be an involuntary act, and 
unnecessary. We acknowledge, they said, that it is abolished, 
and we are willing to recognize the fact, but we think it due 
to the state and ourselves that we should declare how slavery 
has been abolished. We all took an oatli to support the 
Emancipation Proclamation — tliat proclamation dictates to 
us that slavery was abolished by authority of the United 
States. The world knows that the crovernment of the 
United States assumes responsibility and whatever honor 
there may be for wiping away the stain of slavery. It was 
due to posterity, they said, that in framing a constitutional 
amendment on this point, the circumstances of abolition 

1 See speech of J. W. C. "Watson, Convention Journal, p. 43. 

2 This substitute was olTcind by Hu>j;h A. Barr, delegate from Lafayette 
County. Convention Journal, p. 44. 



THE RECONSTEUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 87 

should be distinctly set forth. For the sake of historical 
accuracy, they ought not to allow the naked fact of tlie 
abolition of slavery to go forth as the voluntary action of the 
people of Mississippi represented in convention, when every- 
body knew it was forced upon them by a conqueror. ^ The 
substitute was laid on the table. ^ 

Several other substitutes were then offered, all of which 
sought to fix the responsibility for emancipation upon the 
United States. After the rejection of these, a series of 
resolutions offered by George L. Potter became the basis for 
all subsequent discussion on the subject. They arraigned the 
government of the United States for emancipating the slaves 
of innocent persons without compensation ; and declared 
that the method by which slavery had been abolished was 
of doubtful validity, although the people of the state would 
recognize it as valid until annulled by the proper judicial 
tribunals or otherwise lawfully revoked.^ Potter was one of 
the ablest members of the convention, and the leader of the 
non-conservatives. He defended his resolutions with some 
ability, and insisted that Mississippi was still in the Union 
precisely as before the war. He refused to recognize any 
power in the general government to dictate to the state 
changes in its constitution, and declared that the President 
had not exacted in plain terms the abolition of slavery.* 
He argued, moreover, that the ratification of the thirteenth 
amendment would not satisfy the radicals. Still greater 
concessions would be demanded until the whites and blacks 
were made equal. In view of this he Avas unwilling to cut 
off all hope of indemnity for the loss of their slaves. Small 
as the hope was, he was not willing to destroy it by an 
unconditional abolition of slavery, and by that act assume 
that the United States would never be just. True, the gov- 
ernment could not pay them now, but it might exempt them 
from taxation.^ The three ablest men in the convention, 
besides Potter, were Judges Watson, Johnston, and William 
Yerger, all of whom opposed the resolutions. Judge Watson 
declared that the circumstances under which they met to 

1 Convention Journal, p. 44. 

2 By a vote of 54 to 41. ^ Convention Journal, p. 70. 

* He had told the commissioners to Washington that the abolition of sla- 
very was a sine qua nnn to tlie reestablislmient of civil government in Missi.s- 
sippi ; he had told a South Carolina delegation tliat tliey had better see thiit 
" the friction of the Rebellion rub out slavery" if theydesired readmission to 
tlie Union. See also liis letter to Governor Sharkey, sitpra.. 

5 Potter's speech was published in the Chicago Tribune and other North- 
ern papers. 



88 BECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

a great extent impaired their independence and freedom of 
action, that they were a conquered people, and the army of 
the enemy at that moment occupied their territory, and con- 
sequently they had no right to dictate to Congress terms of 
readmission to the Union. Judge Johnston pleaded with the 
convention to let the institution of slavery go, the question 
of compensation — everything, until they could relieve them- 
selves and their posterity, and get some little guarantee, at 
least, that the children whom they were rearing would have 
a land to live in, and the privileges of free men. " What- 
ever," said he, "may have been our former glory, we are 
now vanquished and helpless, and in the poAver of the United 
States government. Gentlemen talk as if we had a choice, 
but we liave no choice, and it is no humiliation to admit it. 
The only course we can pursue is that dictated to us by the 
powers at Washington." He assured gentlemen that none of 
them or any of their children would ever again see an Afri- 
can slave in this country. The sentiment of the entire civil- 
ized world taught them that they were alone in the support 
of slavery. He begged his fellow-members to act wisely, and 
they might hope for peace. ^ 

By far the ablest speech in the convention was that of 
William Yerger, a man of conservative views, and one of the 
ablest lawyers that ever practised before the bar in Missis- 
sippi. ^ He told of his mission to Washington as one of the 
commissioners to see the President, of the numerous evi- 
dences he saw in the North of the determination of the 
peoj)le not to be " trifled " with, of the resolution of the Presi- 
dent upon the slavery question, and of the peculiar circum- 
stances under which they met and were there assemble;!. In 
regard to the views of the President, Mr. Yerger quoted 
him as saying : "In the proposed convention to alter and 
change the constitution, so as to restore your state to its 

1 This speech is printed in the Chicar/o Tribune ; see also Convention 
Journal, p. ',)h et seq. 

2 Like Governor Sliarkey, Judge Yerger was a native of Tennessee, and a 
Whig in politics — a fact whicli practically excluded him from political life 
before the war. For a while, however, he occupied a seat on the Supreme 
bench with Judge Sharkey. In tlie celebrated case of Mississippi vs. John- 
son, in which the court jDassed upon the validity of the Union bank bonds, 
Yerger, in the face of a popular feeling, violent and proscriptive, stood ujj 
fearlessly and nobly against repudiation, and dc^clared that the state was 
legally as well as morally bound to pay the bonds. Although he knew it 
would cost liiin his ermine, he could not be deterred from following his con- 
victions. His briefs in the Mississippi reports show that he was well versed in 
all branches of the law, and for a number of years he had the most lucrative 
practice of any attorney in the state. 



THE KECONSTKUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 89 

relations with the Federal government, there ought to be 
incorporated an amendment, abolishing the institution of 
slavery." This was no order or dictation, only a distinct 
admonition, that unless it was done, so far as the executive 
was concerned, he would not give the support of the admin- 
istration to the restoration of the state government, and they 
knew very well that without such support, they could not 
resist the overwhelming tide of fanaticism in the North, 
clamoring not only for abolition, but for universal suffrage 
and the social equality of the negro. Mr. Yerger said that 
everywhere on his journey to and from Washington, he made 
it his business to ascertain the public sentiment on that ques- 
tion, and he had found a fixed and universal sentiment that 
the abolition of slavery had been settled by the result of the 
war ; in the language of the President, " rubbed out by the 
friction of the war." There was no difference of opinion on 
that point. He did not hear a single utterance adverse to 
that view. He expressed surprise that there were members 
who seemed to overlook the fact of the war. Slavery was 
dead, and the state was under the absolute military control 
of the United States. It was folly to attempt to disguise 
the fact. It stared them in the face, wherever they went. 
It was palpable to the vision of every man. When they 
entered the gates of the capitol for the purpose of deliberat- 
ing upon this question, they were compelled to pass armed 
and uniformed soldiers, pacing their daily march, and unless 
the President had been gracious enough to accord them the 
privilege of entering, they could not have done so. There 
were no civil courts in operation throughout the length and 
breadth of the state. The reign of civil law had given way 
to the reign of martial law. Trial by military commissions 
had taken the place of the ancient right of trial by jury. 
The writ of habeas corpus was no longer a privilege which 
they could claim. Almost daily, citizens were being taken 
out of the hands of the civil authorities, and tried before 
petty military tribunals, because the negro was excluded 
from giving testimony in cases in which he was interested. 
The question whether the Emancipation Proclamation made 
the negro free was an academic question and not a practical 
one. No master could institute action of replevin for recov- 
ery of his slave, or maintain a writ of habeas corpus for his 
recovery. Slaves went where they pleased, untrammelled 
and unfettered, and if molested by their former masters, they 
might appeal to the military tribunals of the United States 
for protection. He closed with an arraignment of the 



90 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

system of slave labor, and admonislied his countrymen not 
to despair, but to look to the future. Although the destruc- 
tion of the institution at this time, so suddenly and rudely, 
had worked great hardship upon many individuals, and had 
resulted in great pecuniary destitution, now that the loss 
had been sustained and could not be helped, they ought not 
to sit down and repine over the inevitable past, which they 
could not control, but look in hope to the future and to those 
things which might in some degree give compensation for 
what they had lost. "As men of sense, let us endeavor," he 
said, " to remedy what we cannot alter, and gather together 
whatever may tend to palliate our misfortunes. Of all the 
industrial s^^stems, that of slavery was probably the most 
costly." 1 

Yerger's speech was listened to with the utmost attention, 
and after he had finished. Potter's resolutions were laid on 
the table by a large majority. This done, an ordinance was 
adopted by a vote of 87 to 11, declaring that the institution 
of slavery, having been destroyed in the state of Mississippi, 
neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in punish- 
ment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly con- 
victed, shall hereafter exist in the state. ^ 

Thus perished slavery in Mississippi, killed in the house 
of its friends, and by those who loved the institution most. 
This was the great work of the convention. After all, it 
was but an involuntary acknowledgment of a fact already 
existing. This recognition might have been made on the 
first day of the convention ; but instead, a week was spent 
in trying to adopt a resolution whicli meant nothing. This 
act of abolition by the state of course destroyed all liope of 
a judicial remedy for the destruction of slave property. It 
a[)plied to the widow, the orphan, and the loyal slave-holder, 
as well as to the most "guilty rebel." Yet there was a failit 
hope that in some good time, when the animosities and pas- 
sions engendered by the war had passed away, the govern- 
ment of the United States would, in the spirit of justice, 
devise some scheme of compensation for the innocent at least. 
Few, hoAvever, allowed themselves to be seduced by such a 
ho[)e, and even the most hopeful soon abandoned it. 

The next important task of the convention related to the 
action to be taken with reference to the ordinances passed by 
the convention of 1861 — whether they should be declared 

1 Convention Journal, pp. 145-157. Yerger's speech is printed in the 
Chicago Tribune of Sept. 4, 1865. 

2 Convtntion Journal, p. 164. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 91 

" null and void " ah initio^ or whether they should simply be 
"repealed" or "abrogated." To declare them " null and 
void," it was said, would be to impute to the convention that 
framed them incompetency, if not treason. It would dis- 
credit the secession convention, and cast a reflection upon 
the intelligence and patriotism of not only every member of 
that body, but upon every individual who obeyed them. 
Those who supported this view held that whether the ordi- 
nance of secession was lawful or unlawful, it was, neverthe- 
less, an exercise of power by a sovereign state. It created a 
de facto if not a de jure government. The ordinance could 
no longer be maintained, and therefore the people of the 
state desired to see it "repealed," but not declared "null and 
void." They were ready to acquiesce in the result, they said, 
but they ought not to cast odium upon their predecessors. 
It was a common practice for legislative bodies to "repeal" 
acts whose constitutionality had been seriously questioned.^ 
It was strenuously maintained by one of the members that 
if secession was not a reserved right, it was at least a right 
of revolution, and the ordinance was not, therefore, null and 
void, unless the right of revolution was null and void. The 
committee to whom the question had been referred, brought 
in a report declaring the ordinance of secession "null and 
void." The committee said that many of the delegates in the 
present convention did not recognize the right of secession, 
and had never recognized it, and to repeal the ordinance 
would be an admission upon their part that it had some orig- 
inal validity, and that the right existed and was recognized 
by the constitution. And besides, they said, to acknowledge 
the original validity of the ordinance by simply repealing it, 
would seriously prejudice tlieir efforts to gain admission for 
their representatives in Congress. 

Immediately after the reading bt the report, an amend- 
ment was offered declaring the ordinance to be " of no force 
and effect." This was rejected. Another proposed that the 
ordinance be declared " null and of no binding force, since, 
in a war with the United States, the latter refused to recog- 
nize its legality or validity, and the state failed to main- 
tain her asserted sovereignty." ^ Potter proposed to declare 
the ordinance " vacated and annulled." The report of the 
majority was finally adopted by a vote of 81 to ll.^ After 

1 Convention Journal, p. 174. 2 /j^-^^, p_ 179 

2 Ibid. p. 180. The Neio York Times of August 22 said tliat the form 
in which this declaration was made involved an absolute abandonment of the 
doctrine of secession, and committed the state to the true principle that there 



92 BECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

declaring the ordinance of secession " null and void," the 
convention, oddly enough, " repealed " the other ordinances 
passed by the convention of 1861. 

The ordinance of the convention of 1861 to raise funds for 
the defence of the state, the " Cotton Money " scheme, was 
left for the legislature to take such action upon as it might 
deem fit. In pursuance of this act, a large amount of money 
had been put in circulation, and for the convention to repeal 
it would have been equivalent to an act of repudiation. The 
sudden emancipation of the slaves had produced vast condi- 
tions which, it was thought, clearly called for some action by 
the convention. Offences such as larceny, assault, arson, 
and vagrancy were of almost daily occurrence. There was 
no state penitentiary in which offenders could be confined 
if convicted. The county jails were full to overflowing, and 
in nine cases out of ten thc}^ would not hold a desperate 
criminal twenty-four hours. The committee of fifteen 
brought in a report recommending the adoption of a resolu- 
tion to punish grand larceny, robbery, rape, arson, and 
burglary with death by hanging. ^ The report was opposed, 
not on the ground of its severity, but because it was said to 
be clearl}^ a matter which should be left to the legislature. 
The final action of the convention on this subject was the 
adoption of an amendment to the constitution, making it the 
duty of the legislature at its next session to provide by law 
for the protection and security of the person and property 
of the freedmen, and to guard them and the state against 
any evils that should arise from their sudden emancipation. 
The legislature was also empowered to provide by-laws for 
dispensing with a grand jury, and authorizing prosecution 
before justices of the peace in cases of petit larceny, assault 
and battery, affray, riot, unlawful assembly, drunkenness, 
vagrancy, and other misdemeanors of like character. 

A memorial to the President of the United States in 
behalf of Governor Clarke and Jefferson Davis was adopted 
by the members in their individual capacity.^ An ineffectual 

is no such thing as a withdrawal from tlie Union, and that it was a full and 
final acknowledginent that the Federal Constitution is and of right supreme. 

1 Convention Journal, p. 258. 

2 The memorial was signed by 4G.33 women and by all tli(^ members of the 
convention except about ten, who were absent. The memorial declared that 
Governor Clarke was old, maimed in constitution, and wrecked in fortune ; 
that Davis was said to bo deprived of the privilege of corresponding with his 
family and friends, and that he was suffering ill health and threatened with 
loss of eyesight. Ills family was reduced to poverty, resistance to the 
authority of the United States was at an end, there was an honest determi- 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1865 93 

effort was made to have the constitution submitted to the 
people for ratification or rejection. The committee reported 
that it was inexpedient under existing circumstances. An 
attempt was then made to have tlie abolition amendment sub- 
mitted. It was said that if the ordinance of secession had 
been submitted to the people, it would have been rejected. 
They did not want it to be said in the future that the aboli- 
tion of slavery was forced upon the people of the state by 
the politicians. The report of the committee, however, was 
adopted. 

Before adjourning, the convention, in a sort of unofficial 
way, nominated Judge Fisher of the Supreme Court for 
governor. He was an old-line Whig, and as a member of the 
court years before, had decided in favor of the validity of 
the Union bank bonds which were afterward repudiated. He 
took no part in the war, and upon the reestablishment of Fed- 
eral authority in the state, Governor Sharkey recommended 
him to the President for appointment as United States dis- 
trict judge, but for some reason or other he was not appointed. 
While on the eve of adjournment, the convention received 
a despatch from the President congratulating them on the 
progress they had made toward " paving the way for the 
readmission of the state to the Union." He told them that 
he would withdraw the troops and restore the writ of habeas 
corpus as soon as the state had resumed its "proper position 
in the Union." He expressed the confident hope that the 
example of INIississippi would be followed by the other 
Southern states.^ 

After a session of ten days, the convention adjourned with 
the understanding that it should be called together by the 
President if the " exigencies of the country " should require 
it. If no such necessity should arise within six months, it 
should be adjourned sine die. On the 28th of August, Gov- 
ernor Sharkey transmitted a copy of the constitution to the 
secretary of State, who at once replied that it would engage 
the early attention of the President. 

On the whole, the work of the convention was satisfac-v 
tory to the conservative people of the North. It abolished 



nation of the people to return to their peaceful occupations and restore the 
prosperity that had once blessed the state. They declared that few of them 
"coincided" with Messrs. Davis and Clarke in their political opinions ; that 
most of them voted ai^ainst secession, yet they did not doubt that JNIr. Davis 
acted upon an honest and sincere conviction that his theory of the govern- 
ment was right. 

1 New York Post, Aug. 25, 1865. 



94 KECONSTKUGTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

slavery, and accorded to the negro certain civil rights, such 
as the privilege of bringing suit in the courts and of acquir- 
ing and liolding real estate. It was a disappointment to some, 
that no step was taken to grant the negro political rights, even 
in the most restricted form. This afforded the radicals a 
pretext for attacking the presidential policy of reconstruc- 
tion. ^ 

!^ One of the measures of the convention was the ordering of 
an election for the first Monday in October for state and 
county officers and representatives in Congress. The ques- 
tion of admitting negro testimony to the courts was the lead- 
ing issue in the campaign, and candidates were required to 
state their positions on this all-important subject. The 
Jackson Neivs carried at its mast-head, " This is a white man's 
country — President Johnson." "The freedman and the 
free negro," said the editor, " must stand on the same foot- 
ing." " Negroes as a class must be excluded from the witness 
stand. If the privilege is ever granted, it will lead to greater 
demands, and at last end in the admission of the negro to the 
jury box and ballot box."^ The Clarion^ on the other hand, 
was unequivocally in favor of negro testimony, declared that 
the question whenever fairly presented had met popular ap- 
proval, and that a revolution was taking place in the public 
mind which would " astonish " those who were making such 
violent opposition to it.^ The majority of the press con- 
curred in the view taken by the Clarion^ as did the leading 
members of the bar. 

The election took place October 2. B. G. Humphreys, 
a late brigadier general in the Confederate army, was elected 
governor over Judge Fisher ; and the party opposed to negro 
evidence secured a majority of the members of the legislature, 
which, it was said, insured the defeat of Governor Sharkey, 
who was now a candidate for the United States Senate on the 
negro testimony platform. The party in favor of negro 
testimony, however, secured the ablest leaders of the legis- 
lature. At the same time, justices of the High Court of 
Errors and Appeals and representatives in Congress were 
chosen. The new members of the court belonged to the 
" original secessionist " party, while the congressmen elect 
were all old-line Whigs except one, who was a Union Demo- 

' Runnier, for example, declared that the Mississippi convention was little 
more than a "rebel conspiracy to obtain political power." New York 
World, Sept. 16, 1865. 

•■^ Quoted in the New York Fust, of Oct. 'JS, 1865. 

« Issue of Nov. I'J, 1865. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 18G5 95 

crai.^ At the time of Humphreys' election he had not been 
pardoned by the President, and in fact had received no assur- 
ance that the pardon would be forthcoming in the event of 
his success at the polls. ^ He had never been regularly nomi- 
nated as a candidate, but was brought forward in an informal 
way, and elected by his army comrades over the regular nom- 
inee, whose chief weakness had been his indifference to the 
success of the Confederacy. The result of the election was 
unfavoi-ably regarded at the North, and was cited as an illus- 
tration of the popular preference for ex-Confederates as against 
Union men.^ Humphreys had been a Whig before the war, and 
seems to have done what he could to prevent the adoption of 
an ordinance of secession, but when secession became a fact, 
he went with his state, according to the prevailing view of 
allegiance in the South. Although the President was dis- 
appointed at the defeat of Fisher, upon the recommenda- 
tion of Governor Sharkey, he sent Humphreys a pardon 
in the first week of October. About the same time ex- 
Governor Clarke was released from confinement. The 
proclamation releasing him announced that the authority 
of the Federal government was sufficiently restored in 
Mississippi to admit of his " enlargement from custody," 
and directed that he be discharged on parole to appear at 
such time and place as the President might designate, to 
answer any charge preferred against him. Permission was 
given him to reside in Mississippi until further orders. He 
was informed that should the President see fit later on to 
grant him a full pardon, his parole would be discharged.* 
About the same time the President restored the privilege 
of the writ of habeas corpus, which had been suspended 
since December, 1863. 

Governor Humphreys, having received his pardon, had 
himself inaugurated governor on the 16th of October, al- 
though for some time he was not recognized by the govern- 
ment of the United States as the real executive. Pardons 



^ Testimony of Governor Sharkey before reconstruction committee. The 
defeat of General Freemen in tlie Holly Springs district and Sylvanvis Evans 
in the Vicksburg district was alleged to have been due to the fact that they 
favored the admission of negro testimony to the courts. 

2 When ui'ged to become a candidate, Humphreys said : " T am yet an un- 
pardoned rebel. I have taken the anniesty oath and ft)rwarded an applica- 
tion for a special pardon, and am desirous of renewing my allegiance to the 
United States, although the President may not be equally as desirous of restor- 
ing me to the rights of citizenship." Nmi York World, Sept. 9, 1865. 

3 Neio York ^Tribune of Oct. 9, 186.5. 

* The proclamation is printed in Savage's Life of Johnson, p. 95. 



96 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

continued to be sent to Governor Sharkey for distribution, 
and he remained, as before, the medium through which the 
official correspondence between the United States and the 
state of Mississippi was carried on. The day after the inau- 
guration, Sharkey telegraphed Seward that his successor had 
been duly elected and installed as governor, that the other 
state officers had qualified, that the legislature was in session, 
and the civil government of the state was in fact complete.^ 
The Secretary of State promptly replied that it was the 
expectation of the President that he should continue his 
functions as provisional governor until further notice from 
the department. 

On November 17, the President telegraphed confirming 
Seward's despatch, and informed Governor Sharkey that his 
services as provisional governor were not yet dispensed with, 
and that he should continue to perform any and all the 
functions of that office, and report from time to time what 
progress was being made by the legislature. The governor 
was furthermore requested to make such suggestions from 
time to time as he might deem proper. The President 
admonished him before retiring to have the Thirteenth 
Amendment ratified by the legislature, and such laws enacted 
for the protection of freedmen in person and property as 
justice demanded. He was urged to use his influence with 
the legislature to secure the admission of negro testimony in 
the courts. " I do hope," the President wrote, " that the 
Southern people will see the position they now occupy, and 
will avail themselves of the faA^orable opportunity of once 
more restoring civil government." Governor Sharkey was 
requested to show the despatch to Governor-elect Humphreys, 
whom the President now seems to have recognized as a sort 
of quasi governor. 



III. CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE CIVIL AND MILITARY 

AUTHORITIES 

(xovernor Sharkey's powers were somewliat vaguely de- 
fined. His functions were partly civil and partly military. 
In some respects he was a United States officer, in others a 
state officer.2 The state was still held and occupied as con- 

1 Correspondence of Provisional Governor Sharkey, op. cit. p. 78. 

2 The Supreme Court of the state subsequently lield that Governor Sharkey 
was a United States officer. Scott r.s. Rilgorry, 40 Miss. 119. He was regu- 
larly commissioned by the President, and official communications were trans- 



THE CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES 97 

quered territory. The military commander of the Department 
of Mississippi had been instructed to cooperate with and aid 
Governor Sharkey in tlie performance of his duties, but in 
no instance to interfere with him. The existence of martial 
law, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and what was 
practically a dual executive — one civil, the other military, — 
necessarily led to confusion and conflicts. From the time of 
the surrender of the civil government on May 22 until June 
13, when Governor Sharkey took charge, the administration 
of civil affairs was entirely under the supervision of the 
military authorities. At the time of the surrender of the 
archives, Major General Peter J. Osterhaus was commander 
of the Department of Mississippi. On the day Governor 
Sharkey assumed control. General Osterhaus divided the 
military district of Mississippi into five sub-districts, each 
being put in charge of a sub-commander.^ On June 23, 
General Osterhaus was superseded in command of the De- 
partment of Mississippi by Major General W. H. Slocum, 
United States volunteers, with headquarters at Vicksburg.^ 
General Slocum continued in command during the remainder 
of Governor Sharkey's administration, and was superseded by 
General Thomas J. Wood on November 14, 1865.^ 

During the first weeks of Governor Sharkey's administra- 
tion, the military and civil authorities came into conflict. 
The conflict arose from the action of General Osterhaus in 
forcibly taking a man from the custody of a civil magistrate, 
while the former was undergoing trial for shooting a negro 
taken in the act of robbery. 

General Slocum proceeded to try the offender by a mili- 
tary commission, and when a circuit judge attempted to 
release him on a writ of habeas corpus, Slocum not only 
disregarded the writ, but had the judge arrested in true 
Jacksonian style.* Governor Sharkey complained to Secre- 
tary Seward that the judge in question was an appointee of 
the provisional governor, and was competent to try the slayer 

mitted to him through the Department of State. The majority report of the 
reconstruction committee says tlie duties of the provisional governor were 
ancillary to the withdrawal of the military forces. 

1 Official Records, op. cit. p. 990. The sub-districts were as follows : 
I. Southwest Mississippi, headquarters Vicksburg ; II. Northwest Mississippi, 
headquarters Grenada; III. Northeast Mississippi, headquarters Okolona ; 
IV. East Mississippi, headquarters Meridian ; V. Southeast Mississippi, . 

2 Ibid. p. 1039. 

3 Report of Secretary of War, 1 800-1867, p. 50. 

* The judge who was arrested for issuing the writ denounced the act as 
not only a violent and strong-handed injustice to him as an officer acting 
above personal and political considerations, but a blow by the mailed hand 

H 



98 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of tlie negro ; that the law under which he acted made no 
distinction between the killing of a negro and a white man ; 
and that if the military authorities had jurisdiction in such 
cases, they might try all offences, and consequently there 
would be no necessity for civil government. He furthermore 
denied that martial law existed in the state, and declared 
that if it had ever existed, the President's proclamation ap- 
pointing him provisional governor, and his declaration that 
the military should aid, and not interfere with, the civil 
authorities, in effect abolished it. Slocum justified his course 
upon the practice of the civil authorities in prohibiting negro 
testimony in the courts, and declared that so long as he re- 
mained in command of Mississippi, and until the laws of the 
state admitted their testimony to the courts, negroes should 
be placed under the protection of the United States, and 
such cases as the one in question should be referred for 
settlement to the military tribunals.^ Slocum's position 
was approved by the President, Avho informed Governor 
Sharkey that he saw no reason for interfering, and that the 
government of the state would be provisional only, until the 
civil authorities should be restored with the approval of Con- 
gress. Four days later Seward wrote, saying, " Upon due 
consideration the President is of the opinion that it is inex- 
pedient to rescind the suspension of the writ of habeas cor- 
pus. Anarchy must in any case be prevented, as the process 
of reorganization, though seemingly begun very well, never- 
theless is yet only begun." ^ 

There were other cases of conflict between the military and 
civil authorities like the one described. In every instance, 
the offence alleged was committed by a white man against 
a negro. The whites claimed the right to be tried accord- 
ing to the laws of the state, and not by military commis- 
sions.^ On July 25 an order came from the War Department 

of military power against civil authority in the exercise of its most valued 
and hitherto most respected function. The following was Stanton's order : 

" Washington, Aug. 13, 1865. 

"Major General Slocum: Colonel Samuel Thomas, assistant commis- 
sioner of the Freedman's Bureau, has heen directed to turn over tt) you a man 
wlio had been arrested by his order for shooting a negro. You will receive 
the man into your custody, cause him to be tried before a commission, and 
carry its sentence into effect. If any efforts be made to release him by habeas 
corpus, yon are directed to disobey the writ and arrest the person issuing it 
or attempting to execute it, and report for further orders. By order of the 
President. (Signed) E. M. Stanton, Secrctanj of ICar." 

— From Chicago Tribune, Sept. 28, 18(55. 

1 Ex-Docs. No. 2(\, 1st. Ses. :3()th Cong. p. 55. ^ //,,-,;. p. c,0. 

8 The Jackson Daily Nexos, in a fiery editorial, demanded to know who 



THE CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES 99 

directed to General Slocnm, who had in the meantime suc- 
ceeded to the command of the Department of Mississippi, 
instructing him to proceed at once with the trials, by 
military commissions, of all persons charged with " capital 
and other gross assaults " upon colored soldiei's of the army, 
and to prosecute, promptly and vigorously, all similar cases 
of crime in the department. The Secretary of War declared 
that because the President had accorded a provisional gov- 
ernment to Mississippi, the fact should not be allowed to 
abridge or injuriously affect the jurisdiction heretofore prop- 
erly assumed by military courts in that region during tlie 
war. Especially was the continued exercise of that jurisdic- 
tion called for in cases of wrong or injury done by citizens to 
soldiers, and in cases of assault upon, or abuse of, colored citi- 
zens generally. " Where, indeed," ran the order, " the local 
tribunals are either incapable or unwilling to do full justice or 
properly punish offenders, Mississippi is still, to a very con- 
siderable extent, under the control of the military authorities. 
The rebellion, though physically crushed, has not been offi- 
cially announced or treated either directly or indirectly as a 
thing of the past, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus 
has not been terminated, nor has military law ceased to be en- 
forced in proper cases, through the agency of military courts 
and military commanders in all parts of the country." Here 
was a distinct definition of the status in Mississippi. 

A more notable instance of disasrreement between the civil 
and military authorities arose from the attempt of Governor 
Sharkey to organize the state militia. On August 17, he 
issued a proclamation calling upon the people of the state 
to organize under the militia laws a force for the apprehen- 
sion of criminals and the suppression of crime. He declared 
that parties of bad men had banded themselves together 
in different parts of the 'state for the purpose of robbing 
and plundering, that outrages of various kinds were being 
perpetrated, and that the military force of the United States 
within the state was insufficient to protect life and propert3^ 
He especially urged those who were liable to military service, 
and who were familiar with military discipline, to organize in 
each county, if practicable, at least one company of cavalry, 
and one of infantry, as speedily as possible. He most ear- 
was the governor of Mississippi — Sharkey, Slocum. or Osterhaus. It pro- 
tested against tlie " rejieated and outrageous assumption of Osterliaus," and 
called upon Governor Sharkey to resign if he were not sustained. The peo- 
ple were indignant, said the editor, that he should be made the puppet of 
United States military authorities. Quoted by the Chicago Tribune of Sept. 
4, 1865. 

L.o'C. 



100 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

nestly appealed to the young men of the state who had so 
distinguished themselves for gallantry in the late war, to 
respond promptly to a call in behalf of a suffering people.^ 

On the next day, there appeared in the Jackson papers 
a call to the young men of Hinds and Madison counties 
to meet at certain designated places on the 22d and 24tli 
of August, to organize companies and elect officers. General 
Osterhaus, commander of the sub-district in which these 
counties were situated, informed Governor Sharkey that he 
was in duty bound to prohibit all military organizations not 
recognized as a portion of the United States army unless 
formed under special autliority of the War Department or 
of Major General Slocum. He declared that the number of 
troops in Hinds and Madison counties was amply sufficient 
to give the civil authorities all the assistance they might 
need to suppress crime, if the civil authorities would only 
cooperate sincerely with the military authorities by furnish- 
ing them information promptly and voluntarily. ^ Governor 
Sharkey, replying to the letter of General Osterhaus on the 
22d, expressed great regret that he should have felt com- 
pelled to take that view of the case, and begged to remind 
him that for twelve or thirteen consecutive nights, passengers 
travelling between Jackson and Vicksburg in the stagecoach 
had been robbed at places within a few miles of his head- 
quarters. In addition to these robberies, the governor 
declared that information reached him daily of outrages 
committed in various parts of the state where there was 
no military force. He declared that the people were con- 
stantly calling upon him for protection which he could not 
give, and it was the purpose of his proclamation to afford 
them a means of relief. " If further justification," said he, 
" were needed, I may say that in the last interview I had 
with the President, in speaking of anticipated troubles, he 
stated distinctly to me, that I could organize the militia if 
it should become necessary." He thought the necessity 
was now manifest, claimed the authority of the President 
for his action, and until his instructions were changed, he 
said he should feel it his duty to carry out the line of policy 
adopted.^ 

1 His proclamation is printed in Appleton's Ann. Cyclop, for 1865, p. 582. 

2 Report of Carl Schurz, Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 2, p. 104. 

' The Chicago Tribune said that Sharkey's plan virtually proposed to 
reorganize the rebellion army after the loyal array had been disarmed and 
disbanded, and would enable them to drive every Northern man out of the 
state, make the condition of the freedmen intolerable, and revive a reign of 
terror. Issue of Sept. 13, 1805. 



THE CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES 101 

Carl Scliurz, who was visiting the state at the time as a 
special commissioner of the President, telegraphed to Wash- 
ington, protesting against the organization of the militia as 
proposed by Governor Sharkey. A military force, he insisted, 
made up of the young men who had fought in the ranks of the 
Confederacy, organized independently of the United States 
forces, would be superior in strength to the latter, and would 
be certain to bring about collisions between the white militia 
and the colored troops, and thereby increase in a tenfold 
degree the difficulties that beset the people. The President, 
too, seems to have doubted the expediency of this policy, al- 
though he had given Governor Sharkey to understand that 
he might organize the militia in certain contingencies. On 
the 21st of August, the President telegraphed Governor 
Sharkey to call upon General Slocum whenever he needed 
military authority to preserve order and suppress crime. 
He was advised not to organize the militia until further 
advances were made in the restoration of state authority. 
The President promised the governor that the military 
should be withdrawn, and the right of habeas corpus should 
be restored at the earliest possible moment it was deemed 
safe to do so.^ To this, the governor replied on tlie 25th, 
that the failure to organize the military would leave them 
in a helpless condition, that General Slocum had no cavalry, 
and not force enough to protect the people, and that his 
negro troops did more harm than good when scattered 
through the country. ^ On the 24th, General Slocum cut the 
Gordian knot by issuing the somewhat notorious General 
Order "No. 22" in which he described tlie "herculean 
efforts " of Mississippi for four years to overthrow the gov- 
ernment of the United States ; declared that she had been 
compelled through sheer exhaustion to submit to the national 
authority ; that the duty of preserving order and executing 
the laws and orders of the War Department devolved upon 
the military authorities ; that Governor Sharkey had not 
thought proper to consult with the War Department relative 
to his course ; and that the proposed organization of the 
young men would be certain to increase rather than lessen 
the difficulties that beset the people. It was therefore 
ordered that district commanders give notice at once to all 
persons within their respective districts that no military 
organizations except those under control of the United 

^ Correspondence of Governor Sharkey, Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. 
No. 26, p. 229. 2 75,-(i. p. 230. 



102 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

States would be permitted within their respective commands, 
and all attempts to organize tlie militia would be arrested. 
The order declared that most of the crimes had been com- 
mitted against Northern men, government couriers, and 
negroes, and that henceforth, when an outrage of this kind 
was reported, a military force would be sent to the locality, 
and every citizen witliin ten miles of the place where the 
crime occurred would be disarmed by the officer in com- 
mand. Any citizen who possessed information that would 
lead to the capture of the criminal, and who refused to 
divulge it, should be arrested and held for trial. ^ 

In the meantime, the President had telegraphed General 
Schurz, saying that he presumed General Slocum would 
cause no order to be issued interfering with Governor 
Sharkey's efforts to restore the functions of the state govern- 
ment without first consulting the United States government, 
and giving his reasons for tlie proposed interference. He 
expressed the belief that there could be organized in each 
county a force of citizens to suppress treason, preserve order, 
enforce the civil authority of the United States, and enable 
Congress to reduce the army, and thereby diminish the enor- 
mous expenses of the government. " If there is any danger," 
said he, " from such organization for the purpose indicated, 
the military are there to detect and suppress on first appear- 
ance any movement insurrectionary in its character." He 
declared tliat one of the great objects to be sought in the 
work of restoration was to induce the people to come for- 
ward in the defence of the state and the Federal government. 
Tlie people must be trusted with their government, and if 
trusted, he believed they would act in good faith and restore 
their former constitutional relations with the Union. The 
proclamation authorizing the restoration of the state govern- 
ment of Mississippi required the military to aid the provi- 
sional governor in the performance of his duties. It in no 
way authorized the military to interfere or throw impedi- 
ments in the way of consummating the object of his appoint- 

1 This order is printed in Appleton's Ann. Cyclop, for 1805, p. 582. Tlie 
substance of it appears in Schurz's report and Sharkey's corresjxindence 
cited above. This emphatic stand of tlic general made him popular at the 
North, and he was immediately brou,u;ht forward by the N'cw York Democrats 
as a candidate for Secretary of State. The Chiccujo Tribune commenting 
upon the proposal to nominate him, said: "His overriding of Governor 
Slmrkey would make lum a strong candidate. General Orders, No. 22, en- 
titles liim to membership in full standiu'j; in fbe Union party simply on the 
score of its eminent fitness and umjuestinmiide propriety." Issue Sept. 11, 
18GG. 



THE CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES 103 

ment without advising the government of the intended 
interference.^ 

Governor Sharkey now telegraphed the President official 
notice of General Slocum's action, and called his attention to 
their last interview. General Slocum, he said, had thought 
fit to issue an order to prevent such organization, and to 
arrest those who attempted it. " There is a condition," said 
the governor, " that must be settled, and it rests with you to 
do it. I wish to be able to vindicate myself when trouble 
comes, as we apprehend it will." ^ By way of reply the Presi- 
dent, on August 30, telegraphed Governor Sharkey a copy of 
the despatch previously sent to Carl Schurz. The governor 
asked for permission to publish the despatch, whicli was 
readily granted, although the President said it was not 
originally intended for publication.^ On the same day an 
order was sent from the War Department directing General 
Slocum to revoke his proclamation interfering with the organ- 
ization of the militia.* On September 4, General Orders 
No. 23, published from the headquarters of the Depart- 
ment of Mississippi, countermanded the order previously 
issued to prohibit the organization of the militia. This ended 
the controversy so far as Sharkey and Slocum were con- 
cerned. The citizens of the state Avere naturally jubilant 
over Sharkey's triumph and Slocum's discomfiture.^ Slocum 
was equally humiliated and threatened to resign — a course 
which he was strongly urged to pursue by many in the 
North, who thought his further continuance would be dis- 
honorable to his profession. The organization of the militia 
accordingly proceeded, and was not interfered with until 1867, 
when it was disbanded in pursuance of the reconstruction 
acts which abolished all militia organizations in the Southern 
states. 

1 The telegram to Schurz is printed in the Chicago Tribune of Aug. 13, 1865. 

2 Sharkey's con-espondence, p. 231. 

3 Chicago Trihime, Septemi)er 12. 

* The order is printed in the Chicago Tribune of Sept. 12, 1865. It is as 
follows : — 

" War Department, Washington, Sept. 2. 

"Major General Slocdm: Upon the 19th of August Governor Sharkey 
issued a proclamation calling for the formation of militia companies in each 
county to detect criininals, punish them, and preserve good order in places 
where the military forces of tlie United States were insufficient. If you have 
issued any order countermanding this proclamation or interfering with its 
execution, you will at once revoke the same. Acknowledge the receipt of 
this order, and telegraph your action. 

" By order of the President of the United States. 

"T. T. Eckert, Secretary of War:' 

5 Chicago Tribune, Sept. 12, 1865. 



104 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The charge that the militia in its efforts to suppress crime 
did not always proceed according to due process of law seems 
not to have been entirely without foundation. By a procla- 
mation of November 3, 1865, Governor Humphreys warned 
militia commanders that it was their duty to aid the civil 
authorities in the suppression of crime, and not to take the 
law into their own hands and act as judge and jury. Op- 
pression, he said, toward any class of the people was con- 
trary to law and to good policy.^ 

A constant source of friction between the civil and military 
power was the presence of negro troops in the state. ^ Many 
and earnest were the appeals to the President to order their 
removal and the substitution of white troops. There was a 
natural feeling of humiliation on the part of the whites in 
being ordered about by negro troops, and it was alleged, 
moreover, that poor discipline was maintained among them, 
and that they sometimes even plundered and robbed the citi- 
zens. ^ A noisy, boisterous squad of colored troops on the 
public square of a village never failed to arouse the angry 
passions of the whites, and often led to altercations. 

On the 25th of August the President telegraphed Governor 

^ The proclamation is printed in the New York Times of Nov. 19, 1865. 
The HohnesviJle (Miss.) Independent of Dec. 3, 1805, contains a proclamation 
by a militia commander complaining that certain persons not belonging to 
any regularly organized militia company were shooting negroes on " private 
account." The order was widely circulated by the opponents of the militia, 
who said it was a virtual admis.sion that shooting negroes was an exclusive 
prerogative of the militia. 

2 The mustering out of the Sixteenth Corps at Vicksburg on August 1 left 
only a few white troops in the state. The President, on Jan. 5, 1866, informed 
the House of Representatives that there were 39 white commissioned officers 
in the volunteer service in Mississippi and 338 negro officers, and that the total 
number of enlisted men was 1071 whites and 8784 blaclvs, making a total of 
10,193. There were no regular troops in the state. Ex. Does. 1865-1860, No. 
71, p. 3. 

^ This allegation seems to have been partly sustained by the testimony of 
District Commander General Wood. In his report he says : " The diffusion of 
troops at many posts under inexperienced and negligent commanders, more 
especially if the posts occupied are surrounded by a large population of citi- 
zens, is one of the greatest enemies to efficiency and discipline. Looseness of 
discipline leads to many and useless conflicts with the citizen.s, and many 
complaints from the latter of outrages and lawlessness on the part of the 
troops arc the necessary consequence." Report Sec. War, 1806-1867, p. 51. 

An example of their treatment of the whites was the action of a com- 
pany at Raymond in susi)ending a United States flag over the sidewalk and 
compelling the school children to pass under it on their way to and from 
school. Hinds County Gazette, Oct. 28, 1865. 

A negro officer while on a public mission in Summit, Pike County, had 
the brass buttons and shoulder straps cut from his coat in broad daylight by 
two white men who gave him an hour to leave the town. Iveport of J. H. 
Mathews, Sub. Com. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. p. 146. 



THE CIVIL AUD MILITARY AUTHORITIES 105 

Sharkey in regard to negro troops " which seem to be produc- 
ing so much dissatisfaction," that the government did not 
intend to irritate or humiliate the people of the South, but 
would be magnanimous and remove the cause of their 
complaint at the earliest period practicable.^ 

Sharkey's successor seems to liave regarded the removal 
of negro troops as the chief end of his administration. He 
represented to the President that the negro garrisons " did 
infinite mischief by misrepresenting the purposes and inten- 
tions of the state government, and by circulating reports 
among the freedmen that the lands would be divided among 
them, and by advising them not to work for their late 
masters." ^ He said, " I have yet to learn that United 
States troops are needed in Mississippi to restore order. 
On the other hand, I have found them a disturbing element, 
a nuisance, and a blighting curse to the quiet and happiness 
of both races." 

The governor finally sent a special commission to Wash- 
ington " to lay before the President the condition of affairs 
as regards negro troops and the danger of insurrection " 
among them, to secure if possible their removal, and to pro- 
cure arms for the state militia.^ In reply to a memorial of 
the legislature, the President wrote on November 14 to the 
governor-elect that the troops would be withdrawn from 
Mississippi when, in the opinion of the government, peace, 
order, and the civil authority could be maintained without 
them. " Every step," said he, "will be taken while they are 
there to enforce strict discipline and subordination to the 
civil authority, and there can be no greater assurance than 
has really been given."* 

The conduct of the white officers who generally com- 
manded the negro troops was not always above reproach, and 
they were, to some extent, responsible for the conduct of the 
private soldiers. General Wood reported that one of the 
chief sources of complaint from the white citizens was the con- 
duct of the white officers in neglecting their duties to " dab- 
ble " in cotton alleged to have belonged to the Confederacy. 



1 Correspondence of Provisional Governor Sharkey, p. 60. 

2 In reply to a remonstrance from the provisional governor of South Caro- 
lina, Seward wrote on the 26th of August informing him that the colored sol- 
diers were soldiers in the United States army, and that no discrimination 
founded on color was intended or could be made by the government in the 
assignment to service. Cor. Prov. Gov. Sharkey, li6. 

3 House Journal, 1865, p. 876. 

* Savage's Life of Johnson, Appendix, p. 107. 



106 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The abuse became so great that he was compelled to issue an 
order forbidding the officers from engaging in the traffic. ^ 
It was also a general complaint that white officers inflamed 
the minds of the negroes by making " incendiary " speeches 
to them. Tliey advised the negroes not to work for their 
old masters unless assured of good wages, and to resist by 
force every infringement of their rights and liberties. The 
commander of a colored regiment at Jackson is alleged to 
have told an audience of negroes that they must defend their 
rights even to the " click of the pistol, and at the point of the 
bayonet." ^ The President was deluged with representations 
of this nature from private citizens, from the governor, and 
from the legislature. On November 17 he wrote in reply to 
an appeal for the removal of negro troops : " The people of 
Mississippi may feel well assured that there is no disposition 
on the part of the government to dictate arbitrarily what 
action should be had ; but, on the contrary, to supply and 
kindly advise a policy that it is believed will result in restor- 
ing all the relations which should exist between the states 
comprising the Federal union." 

" It is hoped that they will appreciate and feel the sugges- 
tions herein made, for they are offered in that spirit which 
should pervade the bosom of all those who desire peace and 
harmony, and a thorough restoration of the Union. There 
must be confidence between the government and the states, 
and while the government confides in the people, the people 
must have faith in the government. This must be mutual 
and reciprocal, or all that has been done will be thrown 
away." ^ 

Early in January, General Wood was asked by the com- 
manding general if, in his opinion, the number of troops in 
Mississippi could be reduced consistent with a due regard to 
the enforcement of the laws, the preservation of order, and 
the protection of life, liberty, and property. General Wood, 
in reply, recommended the withdrawal of seven of the negro 
regiments.^ The authority to muster them out was imme- 

1 Report of Secretary of War, 1800-18(57, p. 51. 

2 New York Herald, Nov. 13, 18G5. The Jackson Neios, commenting on 
this address, declai-ed it to be of such a character as would have secured a 
coat of tar and feathers, if nothing more, in times past. " We are entitled," 
it said, "to peace, and we demand the removal of the negro troops from our 
mid^t. We hoi)e tliis matter will be fully investigated, and if the United 
States cannot and will not protect us from such outrages, we must protect 
ourselves." Quoted in Chicaqo Trihune of Nov. 17, 18(55. 

8 Nev) York Herald. Nov. 2(5, 1805. 

* Report of General Wood iu Report of Secretary of War, 1866-1807, p. 5'J. 



THE CIVIL AND MILITARY AUTHORITIES 107 

diately granted, but before tliey could be collected at the 
points at which the mustering out was to take place, an 
order was received from the War Department suspending 
the former order, and directing that they be retained in the 
service to work on the levees of the Mississippi. Under this 
arrangement, the colored regiments remained in the service 
until February, but were never called for by the othcer in 
charge of the work. About the middle of March they were 
mustered out, greatly to the satisfaction of the white inhabit- 
ants. In the month of April, an order came directing Gen- 
eral Wood to muster out the remaining negro regiments, and 
by the 20th of May, 1866, all negro troops in Mississippi had 
been removed. This left but one small battalion of regular 
infantry. 

The governor took great pleasure in congratulating the 
legislature in October on the removal of the negro troops, 
and the transfer of the Freedmen's Bureau to the control of 
officers of the regular army. The whites were now, he said, 
relieved from the " insults, irritations, and spoliations to 
which they were so often subjected," and the negroes from 
the " demoralization which was fast sinking them into habits 
of pauperism, idleness, and crime." 

In February, through the influence of General Wood, the 
district organization of the state was abolished, and post 
commanders were required to report direct to the depart- 
ment commander, the records of the district being at the 
same time transferred to Vicksburg. General Wood was 
anxious to simplify the somewhat complex military organi- 
zation then existing, for he believed that he could thereby 
maintain better discipline. He had the Department of Mis- 
sissippi abolished in August, 1866, and the state erected 
into a command called the district of Mississippi, with five 
companies of troops at Vicksburg, one at Natchez, one at 
Jackson, and one at Grenada. To enforce rigid discipline 
and to prevent outrages on the citizens and unnecessary 
conflicts with them, he ordered troops to remain in their 
camps and cantonments when not absent on duty, and to 
receive tactical instruction twice a day of not less than one 
hour at each lesson. These, and other regulations of Gen- 
eral Wood, brought about an improvement in discipline and 
a reduction in the number of complaints of outrages. His 
administration in Mississippi was tlie subject of favorable 
comment by the press of the state. ^ He advised the freed- 

^ The Clarion of Feb. 11, ]8()fi, said : " It is gratifying to record the pleas- 
ant fact that we have for a department commander one who is so universally 



108 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

men in counties not permanently under martial law to 
resort to the civil courts for a redress of their grievances. 
At the same time the civil authorities were informed, respect- 
fully but firmly, that state laws making discriminations 
between citizens on account of color and race could not be 
enforced, and that all prosecutions or suits growing out of 
events connected with the late war were strictly prohibited. 
The higher executive and judicial officers of the state, as a 
rule, admitted the justice of his order, and as a consequence, 
no serious conflicts between the civil and military occurred. ^ 
In December, 1866, Governor Humphreys applied to 
General Wood for permission to disarm the freedmen of 
the state in conformity with the state law prohibiting them 
from carrying arms without special licenses. It was cur- 
rently believed that there was to be a negro insurrection 
about Christmas time. The freedmen had conceived the 
notion that the government intended to divide the lands of 
their late masters among them as a sort of Christmas present. 
Governor Humphreys believed that when the negroes dis- 
covered their mistake, they would rise against the whites 
and inaugurate a general massacre. General Wood, believ- 
ing tliat there was no ground for this apprehension, and 
regarding the state law prohibiting freedmen from bearing 
arms as unjust and unconstitutional, declined to give his 

kind to our people and considerate of their rights. "We are convinced that 
tlie principles tliat animate him are of the purest character, and that he has at 
heart the lionor and welfare of the whole nation." The Vicksburg Herald 
paid that he had proved himself to be a high-toned and fair-minded gentleman 
in his dealings with the citizens, while he had never been remiss in the duties 
he owed to the government. 

1 Correspondence of Governor Sharkey, p. 54. General "Wood in his 
report said: "Most of the suits or prosecutions prohibited by military 
orders or laws of the United States and of cases arising under the laws of 
the state making discriminations on account of race or color, have been 
adjusted either by equitable decisions in the state courts, or by transfer, 
under the act of Congress approved May 11, 1806, to the courts of the United 
States, and I think it is not going too far to say tliat substantial justice is 
now administered throughout the state by the local judicial tribunals to 
all classes of persons, irrespective of race or color, or antecedent political 
opinions. It is unfortunately too true that many outrages and crimes have 
been committed by the vicious and criminal upon the weak, and that these 
crimes liave in many cases gone unpunished. But when it is remembered what 
a terrible social, political, aiid military convulsion tlie nation has i)asscd through 
in the war of the Rebellion, when it is borne in mind what a vast population 
of slaves was suddenly emancipated by the violence of war, and that the late 
slaves now occupy as freed people tlie very same soil, in the closest juxtapo- 
sition to the formerly dominant class, on wliicli the two races lived in the 
relation of master and slave, it should not, i)erhaps, be a matter of surprise 
that so many outrages and crimes occur and go unpunished, but rather a mat- 
ter of marvel that so few occur." 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 109 

assent to the proposed disarmament. He informed the gov- 
ernor, however, that his request should be submitted to the 
President for such action as he might choose to take. 
General Wood's position was sustained by the President. 
Governor Humphreys then issued an order directing the 
state militia not to attempt to enforce that statute.^ 



IV. THE STATUS OP THE FREEDMEN 

The suggestion of President Johnson that, if the Missis- 
sippi convention could extend the elective franchise to per- 
sons of color who were able to read the Constitution of the 
United States, and to those who owned real estate of a 
certain amount, it would " comi)letely disarm the adversary," 
does not appear from the published debates to have received 
any attention whatever from that body. It is highly prob- 
able that the unanimous sentiment of the convention was 
against the idea of political rights for the negro in any 
form. But his freedom being accomplished, it was necessary 
to confer upon him the civil rights incident to such freedom, 
one of which was the right to testify before the courts. It 
will be remembered that at this time negro testimony was 
not allowed in the civil courts, not even in cases in which 
the negro was a party litigant, although it was a common 
law right. 2 On account of this it was alleged to be difficult 
to convict white men of maltreating negroes, and conse- 
quently the military authorities of the United States had 
adopted the practice of removing all cases in which negroes 
were involved, from the civil courts to military tribuuals 
under the management of the Freedmen's Bureau. This 
was a source of great irritation to the whites. The bureau 
officials were charged with abusing this power, and in some 
cases they, no doubt, screened black criminals from just 
punishment.^ 

1 Correspondence of Governor Sharkey, p. 54. General Wood took occa- 
sion to say that durinir his administration of military affairs in Mississippi 
the civil governor heartily cooperated with him in every effort to secure 
the restoration of law, order, and prosperity among the people, and for the 
enforcement of strict and impartial justice to all classes. 

'■^ It appears that the first official to admit ne,i:fro testimony in his court was 
the mayor of Vicksburg. His action was the subject of a great outci-y upon 
the part of those opposed to negro evidence, and the Jackson News demanded 
that Governor Sharkey remove him from office. 

s General Slocum had to issue an order to correct alleged abuses of this 
kind. Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. O'Jth Cong. p. 19. 



110 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

On September 20, Colonel Samuel Thomas, assistant com- 
missioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, proposed to Governor 
Sharkey to transfer to the civil authorities the right to try 
all cases in which the rights of freedmen were involved, upon 
condition that the judicial officers and magistrates of the pro- 
visional government would take for their mode of procedure 
the laws then in force, except in so far as they made a dis- 
tinction on account of color, and allow negroes the same 
rights and privileges as were accorded to white men before 
the courts. This meant that they were to have the rights 
of bringing suit and of giving testimony. ^ Governor Sharkey 
informed Colonel Thomas that in his opinion the negro could 
already sue and be sued in any court of the state as a result 
of the action of the convention in abolishing slavery, one 
incident to their right of person and property guaranteed by 
the Constitution of the United States being their competency 
to testify before any court of justice,^ 

On September 25, Governor Sharkey issued a proclama- 
tion reciting Colonel Thomas's proposition, and expressed a 
belief that the abolition of slavery carried with it the aboli- 
tion of all laws which constituted a part of the system and 
established principles of slavery, a fact which entitled the 
negro to sue and be sued, and to testify in the courts. In 
order, therefore, to secure to the people of the state the right 
of trial before their own officers and under their own laws, 
rather than by military tribunals and by military law, he 
ordered that in all civil and criminal trials in which the 
rights of freedmen were involved, either for injuries done 
their person or property, or in matters of contract, their tes- 
timony should be received, subject to the rules of evidence 
as regarded competency and credibility in the case of white 
witnesses. He announced liis acceptance of Colonel Thomas's 
proposition, and requested that no freedman's court should 
thereafter be organized, and that those already in existence 
be closed, and instructed to transfer the cases pending before 
them to the civil authorities.^ 



1 Chicago Tribtine, Oct. 12, 1865. 

2 Sharkey's letter to Thomas is published in the Chicago Tribune of Oct. 
10, 1805. 

8 Chicago Trilmne, October 12. The Tribune of October 6 announced 
that the mayor of Vicksbur^r, a "secessionist," was allowintc ncp-o testi- 
mony in his courts, and had agreed to impose the same penalties on the 
whites as on the negroes, whereupon the bureau officinls were instructed to 
interfere in no case with the city otticials in the discharge of their duties, 
but to turn over to them all cases in which the rights of negroes were 
involved. 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 111 

Sharkey's arrangement with Colonel Thomas was not very 
popular with the whites, who, as much as they disliked to 
be tried before military courts in their controversies with 
freedmen, disliked still more the admission of negro testi- 
mony to the civil courts, which it was believed would 
practically destroy their usefulness. There was, however, a 
comforting thought among the opponents of negro testimony, 
namely, that the " bargain " between Sharkey and Thomas 
had only temporary force, and the legislature soon to be 
elected might set it aside. As already pointed out in another 
connection, this was the principal issue in the campaign for 
the election of state and local officers. It was also pointed 
out that those opposed to negro testimony secured a majority 
of the seats in the legislature. It remained now to see what 
policy the legislature would pursue. It met October 16, and 
on the same day Humphreys was inaugurated. V/ith regard 
to the status of tlie freedmen he said in his inaugural : 
" The highest degree of elevation in the scale of civiliza- 
tion to which they are capable morall}' and intellectually 
must be secured to them b}^ education and religious training ; 
but they cannot be admitted to political or social equality 
with the white race. It is due to ourselves and to the white 
immigrants invited to our shores, and it should never be for- 
gotten to maintain the fact, that ours is and it shall ever be, 
a government of white men." He ur^ed that the state deal 
justly with them, but that they should be required to choose 
some employment that would insure the maintenance of them- 
selves and families, and that they should be compelled to ful- 
fil their labor contracts. ^ On the 20lh, he sent in a message 
in which he declared that the peo})le of Mississippi, under 
the pressure of Federal bayonets, and urged on by the mis- 
directed sympathies of the world in behalf of the African, 
had abolished slavery, and had solemnly enjoined upon the 
state legislature through their state constitution the duty of 
providing for the protection and security of the person and 
property of the freedman, and of guarding him and the state 
against any evils that might arise from his sudden emancipa- 
tion. The negro, he said, was free, whether the people liked it 
or not, but freedom did not make him a citizen or entitle him to 
political or social equality with white men. The Constitution 
and justice, however, did entitle him to protection in his per- 
son and property, for which there could be no sure guarantee 

1 The inaugural address is printed in Applcton's Cyclop, for 1865, and in 
the Neio York Herald of October 29. 



112 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

without an independent and enlightened judiciary. " The 
courts, therefore," he continued, "-should be opened to the 
negro, and he bo permitted to testify and introduce such 
testimony as he or his attorney may deem essential to estab- 
lish the truth of his case. It is an injustice to our courts 
and juries to say that they will not protect innocent white 
or black men from false testimony and the perjury of black 
witnesses." ^ 

The President's views in regard to the status of the freed- 
men were well known to the governor and the legislature. 
It is clear from the President's correspondence with Sharkey 
that the grant of political as well as civil rights in a limited 
form to the negro was a part of his policy of reconstruction. 
As early as the 21st of August he had urged Sharkey to 
have the convention ratify the Tliirteenth Amendment, or 
recommend it to the legislature for ratification. He advised 
" promptness and circumspection " on this point, and de- 
clared that the proceedings in J\Iississi[)pi would exert a 
powerful influence on the other states which were to act 
afterward.'^ But notwithstanding the well-known wishes 
of the President, the governor failed to say anything con- 
cerningf the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment, which 
no doubt would have gone very far toward securing favorable 
action upon it, and consequently the success of the presiden- 
tial policy of reconstruction. 

After listening to the governor's message, the legislature 
received the report of the special committee appointed by 
the convention to prepare such laws and amendments as 
might seem expedient in view of the abolition of slavery. 
The committee reported that its labors had been made diffi- 
cult by the incorporation among them of a large class of 
freedmen afflicted with " poverty of mind, poverty of thought, 

1 Relative to Humphreys' message on negro testimony the New York 
Times of December 3 said : " The recommendations are sensible and practi- 
cable, but were made with a wry face and willi bad grace. He accepts the 
abolition of slavery fully and without reserve, but could not avoid saying it 
was done under pressure of Federal bayonets." The message is printed in 
full in tlie Chicago Tribune of Nov. 30, 1805, and in the New York Times of 
Dec. 3, 18(55. 

2 Again, on the first of November, the President telegraphed Governor 
Sharkey that " The action of the Mississippi legislature is iook(!d forward to 
with great interest at this time, and a failure to act will create the belief that 
the act of your convention abolishing slavery will hereafter be revoked. The 
argument is. If the convention abolished slavery in good faith, why then 
should the legislature hesitate to make it a jiart of the Constitution of the 
United States?" He told the governor that he trusted in God that the legis- 
lature would adopt it and make the way clear for the admission of senators 
and representatives to their seats. 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 113 

poverty of means, poverty of self-government, poverty of 
energy, and rich in idleness with all their miseries." 

The committee declared that it had "labored earnestly to 
secure justice, employment, labor, income, reward, home, com- 
fort, security, health, sobriet}^, good morals, and protection 
to person and property." The report recommended a series 
of measures by means of which it was hoped to meet " the 
alarming condition brought about by the emancipation of 
the colored race." "While some of the legislation," the 
report declared, " might seem rigid and stringent to the 
sickly modern humanitarians, it could never disturb or 
retard the good and true of either race." ^ 

The legislature at once took up the recommendations of 
the governor and the committee, and pursuant to the spirit 
of both, passed a number of acts concerning the freedmen 
which have come down to us under the name of the " Black 
Code" of 1865. It is for the enactment of these measures 
that the legislature of 18(35 is best known. One of these 
was an act to regulate the relation of master and apprentice 
as it related to freedmen, free negroes, and mulattoes. This 
act made it the duty of the civil officers to report to the pro- 
bate courts of their respective counties, semi-annually, all 
negroes under eighteen years of age who were orphans, or 
who were without means of support, and the court was 
required to apprentice them, their former owners being 
given the preference when in the opinion of the court they 
were suitable or competent persons. Males were to bo 
bound until they were twenty-one years of age, females, 
until eighteen. Masters were empowered to inflict moderate 
chastisement for misbehavior. They were entitled to judi- 
cial remedy for recovery of runaway apprentices, and it was 
made a penal offence to entice or persuade apprentices to 
run away. 2 

An act to prevent vagrancy provided that all freedmen, 
free negroes, and mulattoes in the state over the age of eigh- 
teen years, found on the second Monday of January, 1866, or 
tliereafter, with no lawful employment or business, or found 
unlawfully assembling- themselves together either in the day 
or night time, together with all white persons so assembling 
with them on terms of equality, or living in adultery or 
fornication with negro women, should be deemed vagrants, 



* The report was written by the chairman, Mr. Hudson of Yazoo. It is 
printed in full in the Chicago Tribune of Oct. 26, 1865. 
2 Pamphlet Acts of 1865, p. 86. 
I 



114 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

and upon conviction should be fined, in case of a negro, not 
exceeding tf'SO, and in case of a white man, not exceed- 
ing #200, and in addition, be imprisoned at the discre- 
tion of the court, not exceeding ten days for tlie negro, 
and six months for the white man. Jurisdiction was 
conferred on all justices of the peace, mayors, and aldermen 
to try offenders against this law witliout a jury. Upon the 
failure of the convicted party, if a negro, to pay within five 
days the fine imposed upon him, the sheriff was to hire him 
out for a sum equal to the amount of tlie fine. If the 
offender could not be hired out, he was to be treated as a 
pauper. It was also made the duty of the Board of Police 
in every county to levy a poll-tax not exceeding 81 on 
each negro between the age of eighteen and sixty, the 
sum to constitute a freedmen's pauper fund to be expended 
exclusively for the colored poor. Failure to pay the tax was 
to be deemed priina facie evidence of vagrancy, and it was 
made the duty of the sheriff to arrest the offender and hire 
him out for the amount of the tax plus the costs. ^ 

An act to confer civil rights on freedmen gave them the 
right to sue and be sued, to implead and be impleaded in all 
the courts of law and equity of tlie state, to acquire and hold 
personal property and dispose of it as white persons, but it 
was expressly provided that they could not rent or lease land 
except in incorporated towns or cities where the corporate 
authorities were empowered to control the privilege. They 
were given the right to marry in the same manner, and 
under the same regulations as white persons, provided that 
the clerk should keep a separate record of their marriages. 
All negroes who had cohabited together, as husband and 
wife, were to be held as legally married, and their issue as 
legitimate, fintermarriage between whites and negroes was 
punishable by life imprisonment in the penitentiar}^^ xhe 
right to testify in the courts was granted freedmen, out only 
in cases in which they were a party, either as plaintiff or 
defendant, and in all cases their testimony was to be made 
subject to the rules and tests of tlie common law, as to com- 
[)etency and credibility. By another provision, they wei'c 

> Pamphlet Acts of 18G5, p. 00. 

2 The first instance of inttTuiarriage between the races in Mississippi 
occurred at Jackson in June, 18(i(). It was the case of a negro man and a 
white woman. Tliey wei-e tried in the circuit court, found guilty, and sen- 
tenced to imprisonment in the county jail for six mouths, and to pay a line of 
■Sr.OO each. The military dfiicers looked on with intenst while the judge com- 
mented upon the depravity of the woman, but they did not interfere. Hinds 
County Gazette^ June 22, 186G. 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 115 

required to have a lawful home or employment, and written 
evidence thereof, by the second Monday in January, follow- 
ing, and annually thereafter. If living in an incorporated 
town, freedmen were required to obtain a license from the 
mayor, if in the country, from a member of the Board of 
Police, authorizing them to do irregular job work, which 
license might be revoked at any time for good cause. All 
contracts with freedmen, for labor for a longer period of time 
than one month, were required to be made in writing, and in 
duplicate to be read to the freedman before an officer, or two 
disinterested white persons of the county, and if he should 
quit the service of his employer before expiration of his con- 
tract, without good cause, his wages for the time he had 
served were to be forfeited. Civil officers were required to 
arrest freedmen who should run away from their contracts, 
and carry them back to the place of employment. For mak- 
ing the arrest, the officer was to be entitled to -15.10 per mile 
for each mile intervening between the place of arrest and the 
place from which the offender escaped, the sum to be paid 
by the employer and held as a set-off for so much against 
the wages of the deserter. Attempts to persuade freedmen 
to quit the service of their employers were punishable by a 
heavy fine. Other stringent provisions were adopted to com- 
pel colored laborers to fulfil their contracts.^ Another act 
prohibited them from carrying firearms, dirks, or knives. 
For disturbing the peace by engaging in riots, practising 
cruelty to animals, making seditious speeches, using insulting 
language or gestures, or for exercising the functions of a 
minister without a license from a regularly organized church, 
a fine of not less than ten or more than a hundred dollars 
was imposed, and the offender was liable to imprisonment not 
exceeding thirty days.^ 

The legislation in regard to freedmen was completed by 
the reenactment of all the penal and criminal laws applying 
to slaves, except so far as the mode and manner of trial and 
punishment had been altered by law. This legislation cre- 
ated a storm of opposition in the North. The various acts 
were printed entire in many newspapers, and severely com- 
mented upon by editors.^ It was said that their enforcement 

1 Pamphlet Acts of 1365, p. 82. 2 jf^i^i p_ i65. 

8 The Chicago Tribune of Dec. 1, 1865, said, relative to this legislation: 
" We tell the white men of Mississippi that the men of the North will convert 
the state of Mississippi into a frog pond before they will allow any such laws 
to disgrace one foot of soil in which the bones of our soldiers sleep and over 
•which the flag of freedom waves." 



116 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

would mean a reestablishment of slavery in another form. 
The reenactment of the old slave code, they said, was a return 
to slavery pure and simple. The vagrant act applied only 
to negroes. Only the negro was required to have a home 
within a certain time. It deprived him of the ancient right 
of trial by jury. Offences that had no relation to idleness, 
as the non-payment of taxes, for example, were denominated 
vagrancy, and punished as such. 

Such was the Northern view of the legislation of 1865. 
The unpopularity of this legislation was not confined to 
the North. The sentiment in favor of it was by no means 
unanimous in Mississippi. The Clarion^ the most influential 
journal perhaps in the state, regarded the action of the legis- 
lature as in many respects " unfortunate," and expressed the 
hope that the legislature possessed patriotism and wisdom 
enough to correct the mistake.^ The VicksJmrg Herald said 
the legislature had failed to do its duty, and the convention 
should be reassembled. ^ Petitions with this end in view 
came to the president of the convention from many parts of 
the state. The Columbus Sentinel characterized those re- 
sponsible for these measures as a "shallow-headed majority 
more anxious to make capital at home than to propitiate the 
powers at Washington." " They are," said the editor, "as 
complete a set of political Goths as were ever turned loose 
to work destruction upon a state. The fortunes of the whole 
South have been injured by their folly." ^ Judge Campbell 
expressed the opinion that some of their acts were " foolish," * 
and Judge Watson declared that they went "entirely too 
far " in the matter.^ 

Prohibiting the freedmen from renting land outside of 
towns and cities was clearly luiwise. Moreover, the move- 
ment of negroes to the towns and cities was one of the 
special complaints of the whites at this time, and yet, 
strangely enough, their legislation, instead of encouraging 
the freedmen to rent land in the countr}^ tended to drive 
them to the towns, where they must suffer from idleness, vice, 
and disease. It would clearly have been the part of expedi- 
ency to allow them not only to rent land, but to acquire 
homes and own real estate in the country. The constitution 
of 1865 invested the freedmen with the right to acquire and 
hold property without any qualification or limit as to kind 
or character, and in some instances the local courts refused 

1 Issue of Jean. 7, 180G. 2 iggue of Dec. 4, 1865. 

8 Quoted by the Hinds CounUi Gazette of Dec. 23, 18G5. 
4 Boutwell Report, 1870, p. 933. ^ Ibid. p. 1000. 



THE STATUS OP THE FREEDMEN 117 

to be bound by the acts of the legishature. Allowing them 
to testify only in cases in which they were parties seems to 
have been unwise. If they were competent witnesses either 
for the prosecution or defence in cases in which either 
plaintiff or defendant was a white man and the other party 
a negro, there was no good reason why they should not have 
been permitted to testify when both parties were white. 
This was not only illogical, but worked positive inconven- 
ience and injury to white litigants. In cases in which both 
parties were white, negro testimony was not allowable, 
although it might have been the only evidence available.^ 
Manifestly such legislation at this time was folly. Those 
who were responsible for it assuredly did not understand the 
temper of the North. ^ It was such legislation as this, begun 
in Mississippi and adopted in other Southern states, that led 
the radicals, when Conafress met iu December, to set aside 
President Johnson's reconstruction measures. It gave them 
a pretext to subvert the partially reconstructed state gov- 
ernments and remand the South to despotic military rule. 
They cited this action as proof sufficient that the South had 
not accepted the abolition of slavery in good faith, and it 
doubtless led some conservative Republicans to adopt the 
view that immediate negro suffrage was a political necessity. 

J Chief Justice Campbell, as good a lawyer as ever wrote a brief in Missis- 
sippi, while on the circuit bench, was one of the first judges to admit negro 
testimony in his court. In October, 18G5, a white man was convicted of mur- 
der in his court by a white jury upon negro testimony. The judge in pro- 
nouncing sentence delivered an opinion that completely demolished the 
arguments of those who criticised his action. He said : "The idea that it is 
dangerous to admit negro testimony against whites, and that combinations 
among freedmen to fabricate false testimony will result in unjust convictions, 
will be dissipated in the mind of every sensible man who calmly reflects on 
the fact that it is usually diflScult to convict of crime even on the testimony 
of whites, and that a jury of white men with all their knowledge of negro 
character, jealousy of caste, and prejudice against this innovation iu the law 
of evidence, and a white judge with a court tiouse crowded with white spec- 
tators, with white men as attorneys on both sides, will not be likely to be 
deceived and duped into improper convictions." His full opinion in this case 
is printed in the AVio York Times of Oct. 11, 18G5. Sharkey and Alcorn, 
the two senators-elect, upon invitation delivered addresses before the legisla- 
ture, and admonished the members that it was a matter of policy and justice 
that the negro should be allowed to testify, and warned the legislature that 
if they refused him the right, the United States government would extend it 
to him. Neio York Herald, Nov. 0, 1865. 

2 S. S. Cox, one of the conservative Democratic leaders in Congress during 
reconstruction times, said : " It is surprising that the intelligent men of Mis- 
sissippi could have persuaded themselves, after the terrible experience through 
which they had passed, that the triumphant North, now thoroughly imbued 
with the anti-slavery sentiment, would for a moment tolerate this new slave 
code." Three Decades, p. 395. 



118 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

However, something should be said in exphmation of these 
measures. The sudden emancipation of tlie shive population, 
and the too generous course of the government in furnishing 
them with the means of subsistence during their idleness, not 
only deranged the labor system of the South, but demoralized 
the colored laborers to such a degree that to the planters 
of the state in 1865 the outlook was dishearteninsf. The 
freedman was made to believe that liberty meant license, 
that as he had been freed from slavery by a powerful gov- 
ernment, he would also be clothed and fed by it whether he 
chose to labor or not. He was told by unscrupulous Freed- 
men's Bureau agents and negro soldiers that he ought not to 
work for his former master for any promise of compensalion, 
that his freedom was not secure so long as he remained on 
the old plantation, and that the government in due time ex- 
pected to confiscate the land of the late masters and divide 
it up among the slaves. As a result, the freedmen left the 
plantations and moved to the towns or military camps, re- 
fusing to make contracts or to fulfil them when made. The 
amount of robbery and larceny was alarming. The farmer's 
swine were stolen for pork, his cows were penned in the 
woods and milked, and his barns and cotton houses were 
broken open.^ 

If he was fortunate enough to procure laborers to plant 
his fields, he had no assurance that they would remain with 
him until the crop was harvested. In fact, it was almost cer- 
tain that they would not. The legislature was made up for 
the most part of small planters, none of the able members of 
the convention having been chosen to seats in it. There was, 
however, a respectable minority of able men who made unan- 
swerable arguments against such legislation. One of these 
was Judge Simrall, subsequently a justice of the Supreme 
Court. The time was unpropitious for calm and deliberate 
action. The condition of things seemed to demand the im- 
mediate adoption of measures to check the demoralization of 
the freedmen, and compel them to labor. Laws were passed, 
most of which, when impartially enforced, as they generally 
were, did not work injustice to the negro. Their purpose 
was to force him to cease his roving and become a producer. 
The law against vagrants was not more severe than those of 

1 Cotton stealing was so prevalent that the legislature passed an act at this 
session making it unlawful in sonic counties to send cotton to market except 
in bales, or to buy cotton after dark. If brought in bags it was prima facie 
evidence of being stolen cotton. Other measures were provided for checking 
the crime. See act of November 25, Laws of 1865, p. 1G8. 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 119 

many Northern states.^ The refusal of the legislature to 
accord the negro civil and political rights was, of course, 
due to prejudices and traditions which constituted a part of 
the very fabric of Southern society, and the sudden banish- 
ment of which was not an easy task. 

On the 30th of November, General Howard telegraphed 
the assistant commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau that 
as long as the bureau remained in Mississippi it would con- 
tinue to protect the freedmen in the right to lease lands, and 
that the act of the legislature denying them the right was 
not recognized at Washington as valid. He directed, further- 
more, that an investigation be made in all cases where freed- 
men were arrested for violation of the above law, and the facts 
be reported to Washington, in order tliat prompt redress 
might be aiforded. Thereupon the governor sent Judges 
Yerger and Acker to Washington, to lay before the Presi- 
dent the measures of this legislature relating to freedmen, 
and to request him to indicate such as the military authori- 
ties would be allowed to disregard. He informed the legis- 
lature, October 1, 1866, that the President had assured him 
that none of the acts should be nullified except by the courts 
of law. 

1 At the time this legislation was enacted the statutes of Wisconsin denom- 
inated as "vagrants" all idle persons who had no visible means of support, 
and all persons wandering abroad and not giving a good account of them- 
selves, or who begged bread from door to door. Vagrancy was punishable 
by imprisonment not exceeding ninety days. Revised Statutes of 1878, 
p. 465. 

The New York statutes denominated such persons as " tramps," and upon 
conviction they were to be imprisoned at hard labor in the nearest peniten- 
tiary for a period not exceeding six months. Revised Statutes of 1881, Vol. 
III. p. 1898. 

In Maine all persons who refused to work, or who had no ordinary calling 
or lawful business, were required to be sent to the workhouse. All vagabonds 
or idle persons going about begging in town or country, or neglecting their 
calling or employment, or misspending what they earned and not providing 
support for themselves and families, were imprisoned not exceeding six 
months. Revised Statutes of 1871, p. 260. 

In Massachusetts the laws against vagrancy were almost identically the 
same as in Wisconsin. If any difference, they were more severe. Supp. to 
Gen. Stats. Vol. I. 18G0-1872, ch. 235, p. 510. 

In Indiana iiny person, male or female, over fourteen years of age, who 
had made no reasonable effort to procure employment, or who had refused 
to labor and was found begging from door to door, was subject to a fine of 
$50. Going about begging and asking subsistence was vagrancy. Revised 
Statutes of"l881. 

In Conrtecticut all idle persons who had no means of supporting them- 
selves, all beggars who wandered abroad from place to place without lawful 
business, and all who misspent what they earned, were subject to impris- 
onment at hard labor not exceeding sixty days. Revision of 186G, ch. 4, 
p. 642. 



120 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The legislature not only declined to confer upon, the freed- 
men such civil and political rights as the President had 
advised, but refused to accept the requirements of the con- 
gressional policy. On December 4, the joint standing-com- 
mittee on state and Federal relations, to which had been 
referred the documents and resolutions relative to the pro- 
posed Thirteenth Amendment, brought in a report in which 
it was declared that the first and main article of the amend- 
ment had already been adopted by the state of Mississippi, 
in so far as her own territory was concerned, and was a 
part of her constitution in almost the same language as the 
proposed amendment ; that it was not possible for the state 
by any act or in any manner to change the status of the 
slave as fixed by the convention ; that slavery had been 
abolished in good faith ; the state would abide by it, and 
cousequently the adoption of the proposed amendment could 
have no practical effect in Mississippi. The chief objection 
was the second section, which empowered Congress to enact 
the appropriate legislation to carry the first section into 
effect. Slavery having been totally abolished, they said they 
could see no necessity for this second provision. Slavery 
existed legally nowhere in the United States except in 
Kentucky and Delaware, and the Thirteenth Amendment was 
not necessary to coerce the people of those states to abolish 
it. Moreover, they said, the second section contained a 
dangerous grant of power by the states at a time most 
unpropitious for enlarging the powers of the Federal govern- 
ment. Besides, it was unwise and inexpedient to reopen a 
sul)ject which would afford a theme for radicals and dema- 
gogues to use against the best interests of the country, and 
Mississippi was unwilling to give her deliberate consent to 
leave any question open from which further agitation could 
arise. The question of slavei-y being settled in all the states 
except two, the public mind should be withdrawn from a 
subject " so irritating in the past, and the door as effectively 
closed against all future agitation as it was possible for 
human wisdom to do." Such was the argument against the 
ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment. 

The ri'})ort concluded : " Connected as tlie provisions are, 
a ratification of the first and a rejection of the second would 
be inoperative and of no effect, therefore the rej(!ction of 
both is recommended." The report was adopUul.' This 

1 The Virkshurg Herald of November 9 asked : "Shall Mississii)pi ratify 
the. Thirteenth Amendiiieut? We answer, No! ten thousand times, mo!" 
The editor was willing tliat the section abolishing slavery should be ratified, 



THE STATUS OF THE FREEDMEN 121 

was the second step in the defeat of President Johnson's 
plan of reconstruction. The proposed Fourteenth Amend- 
ment met tlie same fate the following year. The governor in 
transmitting it to the legislature said it had been proposed by 
a Congress of less than three-fourths of the states, in " pal- 
pable violation " of the rights of more than one-fourth of the 
states ; that it was an " insulting outrage," and a denial of 
the equal rights of so many worthy citizens who had shed 
glory and lustre upon their race and section, both in the 
forum and in the field ; that it was such a gross usurpation of 
their rights that a mere reading of it would cause the legis- 
lature to reject it. He recommended its rejection, and the 
legislature unanimously adopted the recommendation. ^ 

Governor Sharkey, who had asked to be relieved from the 
duties of provisional governor at the time of Humphreys' 
inauguration on October 16, was informed by Seward on 
the 14th of December that the time had come when, in the 
judgment of the President, the care and conduct of affairs 
in iNIississippi might be remitted to the properlj^ constituted 
autliorities, chosen by the people thereof, without danger to 
tlie peace and safety of the United States. 

He was instructed to transfer the papers and property of 
the state, then in his custody, to Governor Humphreys. The 
President acknowledged the fidelity, loyalty, and discretion 
which had marked the governor's administration. On the 
same day, the President sent a despatch to Governor Hum- 
phreys tendering him the cooperation of the United States 
government, whenever it might be found necessary in effect- 
ing the early restoration and the permanent prosperity and 
welfare of the state of Mississippi. This completed the 
reconstruction of the state according to the presidential 
policy. 

but not the section empowering Congress to enact the legislation necessary 
to carry into effect the first. 

1 Senator-elect Sharkey, in a letter to Humphreys, dated Washington, 
Sept. 17, 1866, advised against the ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment 
on the ground that it had not been proposed by two-thirds of the Congress of 
the United States. New York Herald, Oct. 6, 1866. 



r 



CHAPTER FOURTH 
The Economic Aspects of Reconstruction 

I. economic problems 

As a result of the events described in some of the preced- 
ing chapters, one would naturally not expect the economic 
outlook to have been very encouraging at the beginning of 
reconstruction. The people were generally impoverished ; 
the farms had gone to waste, the fences having been 
destroyed by the armies or having decayed from neglect ; 
the fields were covered with weeds and bushes ; farm imple- 
ments and tools were gone ; live stock had disappeared so 
that there were barely enough farm animals to meet the 
demands of agriculture; business was at a standstill ; banks 
and commercial agencies had either suspended or closed on 
account of insolvency ; the currency was in a wretched con- 
dition ; the disbanded Confederate soldiers returned to their 
nuines to find desolation and starvation staring them in the 
face ; there was no railway or postal system worth speaking 
of ; only here and there was a newspaper still running ; the 
labor system in vogue since the establishment of the colonies 
was completely overturned, and the laborers were wandering 
aimlessly about the country refusing to perform their accus- 
tomed toil. Worse than all this, was the fact that about 
one-third of the white breadwinners of the state had either 
been sacrificed in the contest or were disabled for life, so 
that they could no longer be considered as factors in the 
work of economic reorganization.^ Another class of depend- 
ents were the widows and orphans, the support of whom 
claimed a no inconsiderable share of the state's bounty during 
the reconstruction period. The number of dependent orphans 
alone was estimated to be ten thousand. ^ Man}- of the women 

1 According to one authority, of the 78,000 troops furnished by Missis- 
sippi to tlie Confederate army, 12,000 were killed or died of wounds received, 
and 10,000 died of disease contracted wiiile in the service. Hinds Cutinty 
Gazette, Feb. 2, 186G. 

^ Appeal of Kev. C. K. Marshall in Neio York Times of Feb. 27, 1806. 

122 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 123 

had never been accustomed to perform domestic service, and 
consequently found themselves at a great disadvantage in 
the struggle which now ensued. ^ There was hardly a home 
in the state in which there was not mourning for some mem- 
ber of the family who had been killed in the war. A North- 
ern newspaper correspondent said it looked as if one-half 
the adult males of the state had disappeared. A family 
that had not lost a member was an anomaly, and, for the 
most part, those who had fallen were the young and vigor- 
ous, who were so much needed in the work of economic reor- 
ganization. A traveller, who was present at a meeting of 
three hundred people in the town of Aberdeen in 1865, 
declared that at least one-third of them had lost either a leg 
or an arm, while one-half of the remainder bore unmistaka- 
ble evidences of severe campaigning. To supply this class 
of persons with artificial limbs, one-fifth of the state revenues 
were appropriated in 1866. Another traveller found only 
five hundred of the original inhabitants in the town of Cor- 
inth, these being chiefly women and children and old men. 
Instead of shops, stores, and warehouses, he saw only fortifi- 
cations and piles of debris. Still another tells a pathetic 
story of an incident which came under his observation in 
July, 1865, while visiting the home of an old citizen in Mon- 
roe County. Ten years before, the traveller had known the 
man in question as the possessor of a happy home of five 
sons and two daughters. Upon inquiry as to the where- 
abouts of the eldest son, he was informed that the son had 
been killed at Shiloh. The second son had died of small- 
pox in the army, and all the others had either been killed in 
battle or had died of disease contracted while in the service. 
The two daughters whom he had known in 1855 as charm- 
ing girls of thirteen and seventeen respectively were both 
dressed in mourning, each having lost a husband in the war. 
The motlier, heartbroken with grief, had died a raving maniac. 
A more pathetic sight than this aged survivor, who wept bit- 
terly as he spoke of his bereavements, would be difficult to 
imagine, yet the desolation of this household had its coun- 
terpart in thousands of others in the state. Our traveller 
records that as he continued his journey through a part of 
the state which he had known years before, he found here 
and there an old man occupying the former mansion ; but 

1 A Northern gentleman relates that while travelling in Smith County in 
1865 he found a woman and four daughters who had never cooked a meal in 
their lives. They had flour but could not make bread, and cows which 
they could not milk. 



124 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

in the place of the feast there was famine, and in the place 
of enjoyment there was sadness.^ 

The state census of 1866 furnishes some interesting facts 
concerning the effect of the war upon the population of the 
state. It appears that between 1860 and 1866 there was a 
decrease in population of 66,585, and what seems strange, the 
proportional decrease among the blacks was more than four 
times that of the whites, the decrease among the whites be- 
ing less than 3 per cent, while that of the blacks was about 
13 per cent. The following exhibit tabulated from the 
United States census of 1860 and the state census of 1866 
is given in illustration: — 

White population, 1860 353,899 

1866 343,400 

Decrease . . . . o . 10,499 

Black population, 1860 . , . . . . 437,404 
1866 381,258 

Decrease 56,146 

The census returns showed that Hinds County alone had 
4000 fewer negroes than at the beginning of the war. 
What became of the 56,146 negroes puzzled those of the 
North who reflected upon the question. The Southerners 
said they had died from disease and starvation resulting from 
their sudden emancipation, and the explanation was not en- 
tirely without foundation. Governor Humphreys relates 
that he had 59 juvenile blacks at the close of the war, and 
only about 20 survived the "hardships" of emancipation. 
Governor Sharkey told the reconstruction committee in 
1866 that one-half the negroes of the state had perished since 
the close of the war, and he was positive that the race was 
doomed to an early extinction. Ludicrous as Sharkey's 
prophecy may seem now, it is certain that the condition of 
the blacks in 1865 did not present a very hopeful prospect 
for their future. 

When it comes to reckoning up the economic loss apart 
from the population, the student encounters great diiliculty 
in reaching any intelligible results. Besides the destruction 
of the railroads with their rolling stock, the levees, fences, 
bridges, public and private buildings, growing crops, saw 
and grist mills, factories, machine shops, and live stock, there 
was the emancipation of the slaves, which is generally counted 

1 Letter in Chicago Tribune of Aug. 25, 1865. 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 



125 



as one of the items in the loss account. The assessed value 
of personalty (including slaves) in 1860 was 1351,636,175 ; 
in 1870 it was -$59,000,430.1 During the same time the value 
of realty decreased from !5^157,836,737 to P18,278,460. Tlie 
figures for 1866 are not available. A local authority esti- 
mates the actual loss in one county (Hinds) as follows: ^ — • 



22,353 slaves emancipated . 




111,170,000 


200 buildings burned . 




600,000 


Growing crops destroyed 




500,000 


10,000 bales of cotton burned 




3,000,000 


Vehicles, furniture, etc., destroyed 




200,000 


Stores, barns, etc. 




250,000 


Live stock carried away 




2,000,000 


Depreciation in value of lands 




10,000,000 


Total .... 




12.5,926,000 



The estimate is based upon no actual records of property 
destroyed, and is no doubt largely in excess of the real 
amount. However this ma}^ be. Hinds County suffered 
much from the ravages of the armies, and the actual loss did 
probably reach several million dollars, independently of the 
emancipation of the slaves. The following exhibit from the 
United States census and the estimates of the Department of 
Agriculture, imperfect as it may be, furnishes some idea of 
the economic situation in 1866 : ^ — 



Number of horses 

" mules 

" oxen and other cattle 

" sheep 

" swine 

Value of live stock 



I860. 



117,.570 
110,723 
522,263 
352,632 

1,532,768 
141,891,692 



1866. 



69,355 

71,316 

401,410 

253,895 

717,884 
$23,530,710 



The statistics relative to the production of cotton in 1866 
are not available, but it is significant that the cotton crop, 
which in 1860 amounted to 1,202,507 bales, as late as 1870 
had reached only 565,559 bales. 

The condition in which the war left the levees along the 
banks of the Mississippi River may be cited as another illus- 

1 In 1860 the number of slaves was 436,031, valued at $218,000,000. 

2 Hinds County Gazette, Feb. 2, 1866. 

3 Report Dept. of Agr. 1860, p. 105; ibid. 1866-1867, pp. 57, 68; Com- 
pendium Ninth Census, p. 752. 



126 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

tration of its economic effects. At tlie outbreak of hostilities, 
310 miles of continuous levees stretched from the base of the 
hills near the Tennessee line to Brunswick Landing in War- 
ren County, protecting from overflows the Yazoo basin com- 
prising 4,000,000 acres of as fertile land as there is on 
the globe, and constituting the heart of the cotton zone of 
the United States. Although sparsely settled, this region 
in 1860 produced 220,000 bales of cotton and 2,500,000 
bushels of corn.^ During the progress of hostilities the 
levees which protected it were cut in many places by one or 
the other of the contending armies. The floods of 1867 com- 
pleted the destruction, so that by 1870 many of the hitherto 
well-kept farms were covered with weeds and bushes, while 
the steamboats lay idle at the wharves along the Yazoo and 
Tallahatchie rivers. With the reestablishment of civil gov- 
ernment in 1870, the country was divided into levee districts, 
placed under the jurisdiction of levee boards which were 
empowered to assess taxes on cotton and land, and employ 
engineers to superintend the reconstruction of the levees. 
This was one of the chief problems of economic reconstruction. 
The war played quite as much havoc Avith the printing- 
presses as with the railroads and levees. Upon the approach 
of the Union army, the newspaper establishments were usu- 
ally removed to less exposed districts, where publication was 
sometimes continued, but more often suspended. It often 
happened, however, that owing to the suddenness with 
which a detachment of Federal cavalry would swoop into a 
village, the unsuspecting editor was prevented from remov- 
ing his type to a place of safety. In some instances the 
presses were destroyed, and the type thrown into a neighbor- 
ing well or river, or, as in the case of the Jackson Mississip- 
pian^ scattered about the streets and tramped into the mud. 
Sometimes presses were taken possession of, and the paper 
continued to the end of the war as a Union sheet by some 
of the soldiers. This was the case with the Vickshnrg 
Citizen, the Natchez Courier, and a Corinth paper. In one 
case a press captured at Jackson by the Sixteenth Infantry 
was carried away and kept for the use of the army. It 
is still in possession of that regiment, and at present is 
doing duty in the Philippine Islands.'^ A local authority 
says the " events of the war " reduced the number of papers 
in the state from fifty to about one dozen, most of which 

1 Memorial to Congress, IT. Mis. Docs. 1867-18G8, No. 14. 
3 New York Times, Feb. 11, 1901. 



ECONOMIC Pi:OBLEMS 127 

were "half sheets," and that in November, 1865, only four- 
teen were running. ^ However, with the return of peace a 
perfect mania for the establishment of newspapers took 
possession of the people, and by April, 18GG, fifty were in 
operation, ten of them being dailies. 

One of the largest items in the loss account was the cap- 
ture or destruction of cotton. The records of the United 
States Claims Commission furnish an imperfect idea of the 
amount seized by the Union forces. No records of the 
amount destroyed by the Confederate forces are available 
to the writer. The Confederate government, at one time 
or anotlier, owned 127,341 bales in INIississippi valued at 
$7,947,455.2 It was held as security for loans, and was 
generally stored on the plantations waiting for the removal 
of the blockade so that it could be exported. Much of 
this, as well as cotton not belonging to the Confederacy, 
was captured by the military forces of the United States. 
The amount of Confederate cotton thus seized in Mississippi 
was estimated at 60,000 bales, or nearly one-half the amount 
owned by the Confederacy in the state. ^ Of the remainder, 
some was removed to Texas, or burned to prevent capture, 
some was concealed in the woods or swamps where the bag- 
ging decayed from dampness, while a no inconsiderable part 
was sold by the slaves, at a nominal sum, to speculators who 
swarmed about the country. Private cotton seized was of 
three kinds : first, that abandoned by the owners upon the 
approach of the enemy ; second, that captured in the course 
of military operations ; and tliird, that confiscated on account 
of the use to which it was being put in aid of the Confederate 
cause. In tlie case of abandoned cotton, the owner was en- 
titled to recover its value if, upon the conclusion of peace, he 
could furnish satisfactory proof of loyalty throughout the 
war. The same was true of cotton improperly captured. 
Of course, nothing could be recovered for confiscated cotton. 

It is difficult to ascertain with any degree of accuracy the 
amount of cotton seized by the government under each of 
these heads. The report of the Secretary of the Treasury 
shows that after June 1, 1865, 36,898 bales were collected 
in Mississippi by the cotton agents. Most of it seems to 
have belonged to the class known as " captured " cotton, and 
was collected in the months of July, August, and September, 
1865. About two-thirds of the amount was gathered in the 

^ Hinds County Gazette, Nov. 4, 18G5. 
2 Ex. Docs. 39th Cone;. 2d Ses. No. 97. 
8 H. Mis. Docs. No. 190, 44tb Cong. 1st Ses. pp. 40-42. 



128 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



counties of Noxubee, Lowndes, Oktibbeha, and Monroe.^ 
These seizures were doubtless a small portion of the total 
amount which at one time or another passed into the pos- 
session of the United States. Between 1872 and 1878 claims 
were filed for f 6,285,240 on this account.^ Up to June 30, 1868, 
the Court of Claims had awarded to residents of Mississippi 
•f 890,227 for captured and abandoned property, the claimants 
in each case being able to satisfy the government of their 
loyalty or to adduce satisfactory proof that the property 
had been improperly seized. The bulk of it was captured 
in Coahoma, Claiborne, Jefferson, Noxubee, Newton, Hinds, 
Washington, Warren, and Yazoo counties.^ During this 
period, a few claims from Mississippi amounting to less than 
one thousand bales were also adjudicated by the Secretary of 
the Treasury. In 1871, a commission was created by Congress 
to hear and determine all claims for cotton alleged to have 
been improperly seized by the United States authorities in the 
South. Claimants were compelled to establish positive proof 
of loyalty in order to secure an award. Residing in the Con- 
federate lines as a matter of choice, voting for secession can- 
didates, holding civil or military office under the Confederacy, 
furnishing it supplies, arming or equipping any person for 
its service, subscribing to its loans, selling cotton or any 
other produce to the Confederate authorities, or doing any- 
thing whatsoever to aid the Confederate cause, were, by the 
rulings of the commission, acts of disloyalty. The following 
exhibit shows the number of claims from Mississippi ad- 
judicated by the commission, the amounts claimed, and the 
amounts allowed during each year of its existence: — 



Year. 


Amount claimed. 


Amocnt allowed. 


1872 

1873 

1874 

1875 

1876 

1877 

1878 

1879 


$490,977 
710,883 

1,097,617 
559,018 
711,760 

1,078,820 
391,262 

1,134,727 


$108,975 
83,188 
147,251 
57,996 
54,833 
53,051 
26,210 
34,201 



1 Ex. Docs. No. 23, 43d Cong. 2(1 Ses. p. 58. The amount collected in 
Noxubee was 11,605 bales, in Lowndes 10,592 bales, in Monroe 0185 bales, in 
Oktibbelia 2108 bales. 

2 Tabulated from the seven annual reports of the United States Cotton 
Claims Commission. 

8 See Ex. Docs. 44th Cong. 1st Ses. No. 189. The total awards for all the 
Southern states was $9,545,293. 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 129 

The court was aided in its labors by special claims commis- 
sioners in each state, wliose duties were to administer oaths 
and to take testimony and forward it to Washington.^ Four 
hundred and sixty-tliree claims for the value of 32,444 bales 
of cotton were filed before the commission by residents of 
Mississippi.^ By an act of June 15, 1878, it was provided that 
all claims not reported should be forever barred thereafter. 
Five thousand seven hundred and two cases in all were left 
unadjudicated. 

The total amount of the awards was, of course, a very 
small proportion of the value of the property destroyed. All 
claimants were regarded as prima facie disloyal during the 
war, and the burden of proof rested upon them to show the 
contrary. The history of a single one of these claims is here- 
with presented as an illustration of the difficulties which 
claimants had to confront. 

On the 5th of October, 1864, Colonel Osband, the com- 
mander of a negro regiment, took possession of the house 
of Mr. Edward McGehee, a wealthy planter in Wilkinson 
County. McGehee says the negroes ransacked his house, 
became intoxicated from wine found in the cellar, insulted 
his family, struck him about the head and cursed him, de- 
manded his money and valuables, and finally ordered him to 
remove his furniture, as they intended to burn his house. 
As he removed the furniture, they either stole it or chopped 
it to pieces with axes, so that nothing but a piano was saved. 
They then burned the dwelling-house, stables, and gin house, 
together with 350 bales of cotton, and evidences of debt 
amounting to $30,000. After the close of the war he filed 
a claim for il34,962. He testified that he was originally a 
Whig, and in all sectional or state-rights contests he was a 
Union man, that he had " earnestly and warmly opposed 
secession," but when secession became a fact he " acqui- 
esced." The committee to whom his claim was referred 
reported that it did not appear from his testimony whether 
his sentiments and prayers were for the Union or for the 
Confederacy, and that he did not make out a case entitling 
him to relief. They asked to be discharged from further 
consideration of his claim. ^ A majority of these claims met 
a similar fate. 

1 The commissioners for Mississippi were E. P. Jacobson, I. V. Blackman, 
and J. T. Moseley. 

2 For the name of each claimant and the number of bales claimed, see Ex. 
Docs. 43d Cong. 2d Ses. No. 23, p. 58 et seq. 

8 Sen. Reports, 41st Cong. 2d Ses. No. 83. 



130 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

As already intimated, the character of the currency was 
such as to materially hinder the work of speedy economic 
reconstruction. The circulating medium consisted chiefly 
of about four million dollars of " cotton notes " issued at 
the beginning of the war, and the notes* issued by several 
of the railroads by permission of the legislature. After the 
surrender of Lee, the millions of state and Confederate 
treasury notes were of course worth nothing. There was 
also great uncertainty as to the status of the so-called " cot- 
ton money." It will be remembered that these notes were 
advanced in consideration of pledges for the delivery of an 
equivalent of cotton upon the demand of the governor, who 
was authorized to issue his proclamation for delivery as soon 
as the Federal blockade was raised. On the 8th of Janu- 
ary, 1866, Governor Humphreys called upon all those to 
whom advances had been made to fulfil their promises and 
deliver the cotton at certain specified points. It was, of 
course, a great hardship, inasmuch as the cotton notes had 
fallen in value to fifteen or twenty cents on the dollar.^ This 
proclamation had the effect, however, of causing a rise in the 
value of cotton money to seventy-five cents on the dollar, and 
speculators were soon doing a good business. There was 
still much uncertainty as to whether the act under which 
this money was issued was in aid of the Confederate cause 
or not. If the former was the case, the act would be declared 
unconstitutional, and the money would be worthless. Public 
opinion was divided on this question. The Jackson News 
advised the people not to be " humbugged " by purchasing 
or dealing in cotton money, said it was veritable trash, and 
not a dollar would ever be redeemed. The Hinds County 
Gazette^ however, said the people did not believe in repudia- 
tion and dishonor, and that no court in Mississippi would 
hold the cotton notes void.^ The editor congratulated an 
"old and valued friend" who had succeeded in buying 
$2500 worth in Jackson for thirty cents on the dollar. He 
declared that many persons were purchasing it to pay debts 
with, as they should do, and that one bale of cotton would 
buy enough to lift a debt of |j2000.3 The Neivs was right. 
The Supreme Court held the cotton money act to be null and 
void, as being in " aid of the rebellion." * For ten years after 
the close of the war, the government of the state was con- 
ducted on a credit basis by means of " warrants," which ranged 



1 Hinds County Gazette. « Issue of Feb. 23, 1800. 

8 Issue of Feb. 2, 1866. * Thomas vs. Taylor, 42 Miss. 661. 



ECOKOMIC PROBLEMS 131 

in value from about forty cents on the dollar to ninety-nine 
cents in 1876. 

Superadded to the difficulty of a deranged currency was 
the burden of paying two Federal taxes. 'The first of these 
was Mississippi's quota of the twenty million direct tax levied 
by Congress in 1861. The President had been authorized 
to collect the amount with accrued interest at 6 per cent at 
the close of the war. On July 1, 1862, in pursuance of an 
act of Congress, he imposed a penalty equal to 50 per cent 
of the quota on all states " in rebellion," the same to be a 
lien on the land thus taxed until paid.^ By a subsequent 
act, the privilege of redemption was denied to any person who 
could not present a clean record for loyalty. The amount of 
Mississippi's quota, together with the penalty, was $413,000. 
The landowners complained that the mode of assessment 
would work a great hardship upon them, inasmuch as the 
tax was levied on property, the value of which was several 
times as great in 1862 as in 1865. Moreover, they said, 
1200,000,000 worth of slaves had been emancipated in the 
state since the imposition of the tax, and the vast amount 
of property destroyed by the authority of the United States 
in Mississippi, such as courthouses, penitentiaries, asylums, 
and other public buildings, should be made a partial offset 
to the tax. It was levied, they said, at a time when the state 
did not have a representative in Congress, the people were 
not able to pay, and it would consequently mean the confis- 
cation of their lands. In view of these facts, Congress was 
asked to relieve the state from the payment of the tax, or 
at least from the penalty of 50 per cent ; or make a reason- 
able deduction for public property destroyed by the United 
States ; or make a change in the mode of assessment and 
valuation ; or give a reasonable extension of the time for its 
payment and for the privilege of redeeming lands sold for 
non-payment of the tax.^ By an act of July 2, 1866, the 
Secretary of the Treasury was directed to suspend the col- 
lection of the direct tax in the late seceded states until 
January 1, 1868. At the time of tliis act, $69,917 had been 
collected in Mississippi.^ No lands in Mississippi were sold 
for non-payment of the tax. 

The tax on cotton was levied in 1863, when, of course, none 
of the cotton-producing states had representatives in the 



1 Official Records, Series III. Vol. 3, Serial No. 124, p. 185. 

2 Laws of 1866, p. 267. 

8 Report Secretary of the Treasury, 1807-1868, p. 286. 



132 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



Congress of the United States. A small amount was col- 
lected in 1863 and 1864, but what proportion of this came 
from Mississippi does not appear from the reports of the 
Commissioner of Internal Revenue. The following exhibit 
shows the rate of the tax and the amount collected in 
Mississippi for each year after the war so long as the law was 
in operation : ^ — 



Year. 


Kate. 


Amount. 


1866 ...... 

1867 

1868 


3 cents per lb. 

01 « 


$756,289 
4,640,664 
3,521,702 

Total $8,918,655 



The weight of this burden is only appreciated when it is re- 
membered that the cotton crops of 1866 and 1867 were almost 
failures. The amount contributed by Mississippi in 1867 
and 1868 was six or eight times the expenditures of the state 
government, and was estimated to be about one-fourth of the 
value of the crops.^ Moreover, there was a general feeling 
that inasmuch as it was practically a tax on exports, the bur- 
den was in violation of the Constitution. The Secretary of 
the Treasury recommended the repeal of the tax as a means 
of restoring the productive power of the Southern states as 
rapidly as possible. '* Even in their deplorable condition," 
he said, " more than two-thirds of our exports last year con- 
sisted of their products, and it is the crop of the present 
year (1867), small though it is, that is to save us from the 
ruinous indebtedness to Europe."^ For a time this view 
was not acceptable to Congress, and, in fact, an attempt was 



1 Report Secretary of the Treasury, 1867-1868, p. 260. The total amount 
contributed by tlie Southern .states in the form of a tax on cotton while they 
were unrepresented in Congress was as follows : — 



1863 
1864 
1865 
1866 
1867 
1868 



Total 



$ 351,311 
1,268,412 

1,772,983 
18,409,654 
22,500,947 
23,769,078 

$68,072,385 



2 Memorial II. Mis. Docs. 40th Con^. 2d Ses. No. 66. 
8 Report Secretary of the Treasury, 1867-1868, p. xxix. 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 133 

made to increase the tax to five cents per pound. The New 
York Chamber of Commerce memorialized Congress against 
sncli a measure, declared that taxation without representa- 
tion was tyranny, that the cotton tax was in spirit at least 
a violation of the Constitution, that the proposed increase 
" lacked an impartiality which was calculated to provoke hos- 
tility at the South," and instead of such measures Congress 
ought by just and generous legislation to seek "to lift up 
those cast down, and inspire them with hope of better days." ^ 
The tax was repealed in 1868. For a long time cotton plant- 
ers carefully preserved their tax receipts in the belief that 
the amount collected from them would be returned. ^ 

The deranged economic conditions, together with the 
general impoverishment, led to a demand on the legislature to 
stay for a time the collection of all debts. The legislature 
yielded to the pressure in 1866, and passed a law suspending 
all laws for the collection of debts until January 1, 1868. It 
was vetoed by the governor, passed over his veto, and subse- 
quently declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. 
The Hinds County Gazette denounced the law as a ruinous 
measure, and declared tliat nineteen of every twenty men 
were opposed to it. 

One of the chief economic problems of reconstruction was 
the readjustment of the labor system in conformity with 
the new conditions growing out of emancipation. Not one 
planter in ten believed that free negro labor could be made 
profitable. Carl Schurz relates that while on his tour 
of inspection through the South in 1865 every planter 
witli whom he talked, without a solitary exception, declared 
emphatically that negroes would not work witliout compul- 
sion. At the time these views were expressed, the negroes 
were taking a sort of protracted holida}^ It was but a tem- 
porary impulse, and they soon returned to the plantations 
and begged for employment, although it will be admitted that 
their labor was of a very unreliable character. They refused 
to contract for the whole year, but insisted upon employment 
by the month, according to the rule established by the Freed- 
men's Bureau. This was of course a very inconvenient 
method for the cultivation of the cotton plant. On account 
of the moral certainty that the negro would make a change 

^ Sen. Mis. Docs. .".Oth Coiiff. 1st Ses. No. 109. 

'■^ The Supreme Court of the United States was divided in opinion as to 
tlie constitutionality of this tax, and no decision was ever reached. The 
opinion in tlie recent case of Coe vs. Errol, IKi U.S. 517, however, sustains a 
tax of this kind. 



134 EECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of emjDloyers at the end of the month, it was almost useless 
to attempt a crop on such a plan. For a while, in the 
autumn of 1865, they refused to make contracts under any 
circumstances, in the belief that the lands were to be divided 
among them about Christmas time. The Jackson Clarion of 
December 2 declared that the question of labor for the com- 
ing year was getting to be " interesting," and, to be sure, 
it looked very much as if the lands would lie idle if negro 
labor was to be the only dependence of the planters. In 
this situation, the planters began to turn their attention to 
the importation of white immigrants from the North or from 
Europe. The Hinds Coimtij G-azette advised the people to 
form associations and send agents abroad for this purpose. 
The advice was followed, and " immigrant clubs " were 
formed in many communities. A prominent planter of 
Lowndes County said Columbus was " fairly alive " on the 
subject, and that unless white laborers could be had, one- 
third of the lands in the county would lie idle, and the 
remainder would be poorly cultivated. It was his opinion 
that it would be cheaper to pay a German $25 per month 
than a negro $12. 50.^ A correspondent of the Cincinnati 
Commercial said he had never seen such anxiety among the 
Southern people for the introduction of white immigrants. 
These movements met with very little success. Of the 
162,918 immigrants who arrived at New York between Janu- 
ary 1 and October 3, 1865, but 21 found their way to Missis- 
sippi. The outlook was so discouraging that quite a few of 
the inhabitants prepared to emigrate to some of the Spanish- 
American countries. Some of the late Confederate generals 
were the leaders of the emigration movement. ^ General 
Sterling Price wrote from Cordova, Mexico, in December 
1865 : " I pray to God that my fears for the future of the 
South may never be realized, but when the right is given to 
the negro to bring suit, testify before the courts, and vote in 
elections, you all had better be in Mexico."^ General Jubal 
A. Early, another Confederate soldier who had emigrated to 
Mexico, gave, however, a discouraging view of the situa- 
tion, and advised emigrants not to take their families.* 
The Choctaw Herald of December 1, 18(56, announced that 
several families had left that county for Brazil, and that 
they were "merely pioneers of a large colony" which was 

1 Dc Boio's Beview, June, 1867, p. 585. 

2 The 3Icxican Times of Nov. 11, 18()5, is quoted as containing a list of 
fifty-one prominent Confederate soldiers who liad taken up their abode in 
Mexico. 3 2>e Brno's Beview. * Ibid. 1866, p. 666, 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 135 

preparing to move there. General Wood, formerly of Natchez, 
went to Brazil shortly after the close of the war, to make 
arrangements for transplanting a colony of Mississippians to 
that country. Upon his return to the tJnited States, he pub- 
lished the result of his mission, relative to which the Hinds 
County G-azette said : " Sensible and practical men should not 
permit themselves to be led astray by such visionary men. 
Better submit and endure wrongs than be exiles in a foreign 
land."i The Jackson Clarion of July 25, 1867, published a 
letter from a returned emigrant who declared that the emi- 
gration movement was a " delusion gotten up for the benefit 
of speculators." As soon as it became evident that free negro 
labor could be made profitable, and that the admission of the 
negro to the witness stand and the jury box would not be 
accompanied by the terrible results predicted, the emigration 
movement died out entirely. 

Although few immigrants came from Europe, there were 
causes at work which led to the iinmigration of that class of 
persons from the North which came later to bear the name 
of "carpet baggers." These causes were the cheajmess of 
the lands and the high price of cotton. Many of these 
immigrants were soldiers in the Union army, who during 
their stay in Mississippi had been attracted by the prospects 
of great profit in cotton growing. At the close of hostili- 
ties, cotton was worth a dollar per pound, and land could be 
bought at a song. Newspapers contained whole columns of 
advertisements of plantations for sale at a "sacrifice." One 
pamphlet advertised a list of one hundred " fine plantations " 
at greatly reduced prices. One of these consisted of 2690 
acres, of which 1100 were in cultivation, and a house which 
in 1859 cost '"^22,500 at the rate of -f 10 per acre.^ A plantation 
three miles from Corinth was sold for 35 cents per acre. Com- 
menting upon these facts, a local paper declared that a finer 
opening for legitimate speculation was never presented.^ A 
correspondent of a Northern journal informed its readers that 
the cheapness of the lands " amazed " those who knew some- 
thing of their value in former years ; and to him the produc- 
tiveness of the half-cultivated fields was even more amazing. 
The Union soldiers wlio settled in the state after being mus- 
tered out, made frequent appeals through private letters and 
through the press to their Nortliern friends to join them in the 
South. A colony of Ohioans in Noxubee and Lowndes coun- 

1 Issue of March 0, 18G6. 

2 See list in Be Bow's Iievicu\ December, 1866, p. 667. 
^ Hinds Countu Gazette, June 1, 1866. 



136 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ties addressed a commuiucation to the Cleveland Republican^ 
saying, "We should like to see more of our Buckeye frieuds 
turn their attention in this direction. The inducements offered 
far surpass anything in the West. Fine improved plantations, 
varying in size from 200 to 300 acres, convenient to the rail- 
road, are offered at from flO to $25 per acre ; im^iroved and 
well-timbered tracts at from f 3 to $8 per acre. Our treatment 
by the citizens has been uniformly kind, their conduct toward 
us has been open and generous, and we have many times 
been under obligation to them for kind services." The 
result of such representations was a considerable influx of 
Northern immigrants. The majority of them rented plan- 
tations, although in some instances they came as purchasers, 
and in others as common laborers. The belief was general 
among the Northern settlers that they could by the intro- 
duction of scientific methods revolutionize cotton planting. 
The impression also existed that in view of their relations 
to the negro race, free negro labor could be made to 
yield greater returns than where Southern whites were 
the employers. This, however, did not prove to be true. 
The remorseless energy and thrift of the Northern planter, 
and tlie exacting nature of tlie service which lie demanded, 
did not appeal to the slow-going freedman, who was accus- 
tomed to the patience and forbearance of the Southerner. 
None of the planters were so quick to declaim upon the 
unreliability of negro labor as those who had helped to eman- 
cipate the negro. 

So far as revolutionizing the methods of cotton culture 
was concerned, it is not too much to say that a majority of 
the Northern planters were unsuccessful, and with the inaug- 
uration of the reconstruction policy in 1807, they virtually 
abandoned the business and became office holders.^ It is 
incorrect, therefore, to call them " carpet baggers." They 
did not go South to get offices, for there were no offices for 
them to fill. The causes wliich led them to settle there 
were purely economic, and not political. The genuine 
" carpet baggers " who came after the adoption of the recon- 
struction policy were comparatively few in number. 

The virtual failure of the attempt to procure a supply of 

1 Tills opinion is based upon an examination of the " personal testimony " 
given by a larp:e number of these men before the various reconstruction 
coiimiittees tliat illvesti,t,^'^U'(l affairs in Mississippi. One of tlie NortlK-rners 
who liaii an expei'ience of tiiis kind was (Jovernor Andrevv's of Massachusetts. 
Hi; is rei)uti'd to have "sunli" ^.'50,000 on a plantation in Issaquena ("ounty. 
lie attributed tlu; failure to negro labor. 



ECONOMIC PROBLEMS 137 

white laborers by immigration made it necessary, therefore, 
to fall back upon the negro. The chief problem was how to 
devise a plan that would secure a reasonable return to the 
planter, and a corresponding reward for the toil of the 
laborer. There were certain economic elements that facili- 
tated the solution of the problem. Thus, the white man 
owned the land, the stock, and the farming implements ; the 
freedman furnished the labor. But the relative values of 
each was a question to be determined by experiment. Some 
of the planters adopted the plan of renting land to freedmen 
for a stipulated sum of money, but the difficulty of collecting 
rent in this form led to its early abandonment. A better 
plan was to rent for a stipulated portion of the crop, say one- 
third. The most common method adopted, however, was 
the "share " system. Few freedmen possessed farm animals 
or implements or sufficient standing with the mercantile class 
to secure credit for the necessary supplies while the crop was 
growing. The planter, therefore, agreed to furnish the land, 
the seed, the farm implements and animals, and furnish the 
merchant with security for any supplies which the freedman 
might need. On the other liand, the freedman was to plant, 
cultivate, and gather the crop for a certain portion of it. 
This was usually one-half. In some instances, the farmer 
furnished the rations in addition, and received two-thirds of 
the crop. In Amite County, the value of labor and board 
was reckoned as being equivalent to the use of the land and 
animals ; in Washington County, one-fourth of the crop was 
paid for the labor, and one-third where the laborer furnished 
his own supplies. In Winston County, three-tenths of the 
crop was given for the labor. On the Yazoo, one-fourth of 
the gross product was paid for labor when the laborer fur- 
nished his own rations. In Tippah, the use of the farm, tools, 
and stock was regarded as an equivalent for the labor, rations, 
and feed for the stock. The scheme, however, by which the 
planter furnished the tools and animals and the freedman 
the labor, each receiving one-half of the crop, was in the end 
adopted everywhere. 

The " share " system was disastrous to the planters of 
Mississippi in 1866 and 1867. On account of overflows, 
droughts, and insects, the yield was not sufficient to pay for 
the food and clothing of laborers. The failure, however, was 
not due solely to unfavorable seasons, but in a great measure 
to the unreliable character of negro labor. Even now, the 
negrb is not a model of industry, frugality, and foresiglit. 
He was much farther from it in 1866. His undertakings 



138 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

nearly always resulted in failure. He was peculiarly unfitted 
for the cultivation of the cotton crop, which requires careful 
attention the greater part of the entire year. Free to go 
where he pleased, and to own fire-arms, he hunted and fished, 
attended "• frolics " and protracted meetings, while the grass 
choked his cotton to death. The following incident was a 
common occurrence. A planter in Amite County had fur- 
nished a yoke of oxen and a cart to a f reedman who had four 
children to help him on the farm. Seeing him on his way 
to the village one day with a small load of wood, and know- 
ing that his little farm was rapidly going to grass, the planter 
said to him, " How is this, uncle ? " " Oh," he said, " I am 
out of tobaccy, and am gwine to town to sell a load of wood. '' 
His wife was housekeeping, and his four chiklren had gone 
a fishing. His cows brought two calves, both of which starved 
to death. 

Another freedman in the same county, who as a slave 
had managed fifteen laborers for his master, and who was 
understood to be an intelligent overseer, rented a farm of 
fertile bottom land, and with seventeen colaborers went into 
the business of cotton planting for himself. He bought two 
mules, four liorses, eight cows, a wagon, twelve hundred 
pounds of bacon, a hundred and forty bushels of corn, bor- 
rowed four yoke of oxen, and obtained credit for flOOO. 
He made four bales of cotton, no corn, fodder, or vege- 
tables. Both mules and one yoke of oxen were dead at 
the end of the year, and two of the horses were too 
poor to stand alone ; two were run off and sold ; no rent 
or debts were paid ; and an additional debt of $500 was 
incurred. Although a negro might have a half interest in 
the crop he was cultivating, if lie was offered employment 
for a day or two at a little more than the usual rates he 
would leave his crop in order to earn a few dollars to spend 
for trifles that would only please a child. He exhibited the 
same weakness in a far more pronounced degree for aban- 
doning his work to attend political meetings. 

Much of the legislation after the war was designed to en- 
courage the flow of capital to the state, the establishment of 
various manufacturing industries, and the building of rail- 
roads. Some of the acts thus passed related specifically to 
the publication of accurate crop reports; for the exemption 
from taxation for a period of years of all factories established 
in the state ; for the encouragement of the growth of wool ; 
and for the encouracronient of acfricultural and mechanical 
institutions, county and state fairs, etc. 



THE POSTAL AND RAILWAY SERVICE 



139 



n. RECONSTRUCTION OF THE POSTAL AND RAILWAY 

SERVICE 

One of the first duties of reconstruction was the reestab- 
lishment of the postal service in the late " insurrectionary " 
states. It will be remembered that upon the outbreak of 
liostilities, the United States postal officials in these states 
turned the funds and other property belonging to the Post 
Office Department over to the Confederate authorities or 
appropriated them to their own personal use. In February, 
1861, the service was withdrawn from the South, it being 
impossible to continue it longer. As the territory passed 
under the control of the Union armies, a limited postal ser- 
vice was reestablished for the exclusive use of the military 
forces of the United States, whenever the territory was 
held for any length of time. The President in his procla- 
mations appointing provisional governors directed the Post- 
master General to take steps to reestablish the United States 
postal service in the South. Provisional governors were at 
once notified of the readiness of the department to appoint 
postmasters and mail contractors upon recommendation, 
and to put the mail on the railroads as soon as notified 
of their willingness to carry it.^ Steps were also taken 
to recover the funds which had been turned over to the 
Confederate authorities or misappropriated at the begin- 
ning of the war. The amount thus due from former 
postmasters in Mississippi was about -^34,000.2 The claim 
of the delinquent postmasters that they should be cred- 
ited with the amounts turned over to the Confederacy 
was not allowed. It appears that no effort was made to 
reorganize the service in Mississippi until November, 1865, 
when i\Ir. Kelly, a special agent of the department, came to 
Jackson, charged with the duty of arranging the necessary 

1 Report Postmaster General, 1865-1866, p. 12. 

2 Tbid. p. 107. The following amounts were claimed from the presidential 
offices in Mississippi : — 

Aberdeen^ $ 225 

Canton 2556 

Clinton 141 

Columbus 1027 

Holly Springs 1750 

Jackson 3134 

Natchez 6230 

Vicksburg 3243 

The total amount for all the Southern states was ■$341,000. 



140 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

details. He called upon the people to recommend suitable 
persons to act as postmasters and make proposals for carry- 
ing the mail, assuring them that postal facilities could not 
be extended without the cooj^eration of the people. But the 
chief difficulty of restoring the service was due to the re- 
quirement that postmasters and mail contractors should take 
the iron-clad oath of July 2, 1862. Consequently, the open- 
ing of mail facilities proceeded at a rate that was exceed- 
ingly annoying to the inhabitants. The Jackso7i Clarion of 
January 7, 18l)6, complained that they had received no mail 
from the North for eight days, " and yet the people were 
loyal." As late as August 20 of the same year, only eighty- 
nine offices in the state had been " reconstructed," but one 
of wliich was in Hinds County. 

The mail was carried by private contract between many 
towns for mouths after the collapse of the Confederacy. 
The Clarion urged the citizens to make an effort to find 
suita])le persons who could take the oath, and if no such 
could be found, to get unmarried women ap])ointed with the 
understanding that they were to appoint deputies to attend to 
the post offices. Tlie same difficulties were met with in putting 
into operation the United States revenue laws. It was felt 
by the President and the Cabinet that the unpleasant duty 
of collecting Federal taxes from the impoverished people of 
the South should be performed by their own citizens. In 
view, therefore, of the difficulty of finding eligible Southern 
whites to serve as assessors and collectors, the President, in a 
way, dispensed with the test oath, and allowed it to be taken 
in a qualified form where the applicant was known not to have 
been a disunionist.^ The same ruling was made with regard 
to postmasters and mail contractors. When Congress met, 
it adopted a resolution requesting the President to transmit 
tlie names of all persons who had been allowed to qualify by 
taking the oath in a modified form. Upon receipt of tlie 
information, Congress passed an act declaring vacant the 
offices held by sucli incumbents. In Mississippi, several of 
the assessors and collectors, and a majority of tlie postmas- 
ters, were compelled to surrender their offices. It was then 
ordered that the mails should not be delivered at any place 
where there was not a postmaster duly sworn according to 
the iron-clad oath. 

The reorganization of tlie railway service upon "loyal 
principles " was another problem of reconstruction, but was 

1 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong, No. 81, p. 5. 



THE POSTAL AND RAILWAY SERVICE 



141 



not attended with tlie same difficulties as in the case of the 
postal and revenue service. As the Union armies penetrated 
the Southern states, the railroads were seized as captured 
property, and held during the war and for some months after 
the cessation of hostilities, and used for military purposes. 
The seizures were made by the commanders in the field with- 
out reference to any other consideration than depriving the 
enemy of their use. Tliey were destroj^ed or repaired and 
used as occasion required. The business of managing these 
roads became so great that a bureau styled "the Military 
Railroad Department " was created. In all, 42 southern 
railroads were thus seized, aggregating 2538 miles, and 
$45,000,000 were expended by the government in repairing 
and equipping them. In August, 1865, the President di- 
rected that they be turned over to their owners, and the 
management reorganized by the election of boards of direc- 
tors whose loyalty should be estal)lished to the satisfaction 
of the commanding general. Each company was further- 
more required to furnish satisfactory bonds that it would 
within a certain time pay the government a fair valuation 
for the rolling stock which it had supplied from Nortliern 
roads or had had especially manufactured for use on the 
Southern roads. Thus they became purchasers of govern- 
ment rolling stock to the amount of about $7,000,000, Prac- 
tically none of the Southern roads were able to pay the 
several amounts as they fell due, and the radicals in Con- 
gress denounced the whole proceeding as a " complete sur- 
render." The following exhibit shows the dates on which 
the several lines in Mississippi were seized for use as military 
roads, when they were restored, and their indel)tedness to 
the government at the time of their restoration : ^ — 



Name. 


WuEN Seized. 


When Restored, 


Indebtedness 
TO the U.S. 


Memphis and Charleston 
Mississippi Central . 
Selma and Meridian 
Mobile and Ohio 
New Orleans, Jackson, 

and Great Northern 
Mississippi and Tennessee 


Feb'y, 1864 
Jan. 30, 1863 


Sept., 1865 
Aug. 24, 1865 
Aug. 25, 1865 

June 30, 1865 


1474,496 

61, .529 

142,870 

302,365 


102,460 







^ House Report, No. 15, 2d Ses. 40th Cong. ; also Ex. Docs. ibid. No. 73. 



1'42 EECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The only one of these roads that had received a land grant 
from Congress was the Selma and Meridian, which, in 1856, 
had been given 171,750 acres. ^ On account of the aid which 
it gave the Confederacy, there was a strong sentiment among 
the reconstructionists in favor of forfeiting the grant. It 
appears, however, that no action was taken with that end in 
view. 

So much for the reconstruction of the railroads from the 
political point of view. There was another very important 
aspect, namely, that of physical reconstruction. The condi- 
tion of the roads in Mississippi was particularly unfortunate 
at the close of hostilities. They were creditors to the Con- 
federate government to the amount of many millions of dol- 
lars for transporting its troops and supplies, all of which was, 
of course, lost. In the second place, they had paid large debts 
due to the state in Confederate currency under an act which 
was subsequently declared by the courts to be null and void. 
Consequently, these debts had to be discharged again, and in 
sound money. Worse than either of these misfortunes was 
the actual physical condition of the roads and their rolling 
stock. Nothing illustrates so well the desolation of the war 
as a picture of the several railway lines at the close of hos- 
tilities. 

The Memphis and Charleston road extending across the 
northeastern corner of the state was taken actual possession 
of by the Federal army in 18G2, and for three years it was a 
sort of picket line between the two armies, each of which 
seemed to try to outdo the other in inflicting destruction 
upon it. When the company was reorganized loyally, and 
its property restored, only a wreck of the former road ex- 
isted. From Pocahontas to Decatur, a distance of 114 miles, 
it was almost entirely destroyed. Every bridge and trestle 
was gone, the cross ties were rotten, the depots and other 
buildings were in ashes, the water tanks were destroyed, the 
ditches fdled up, the track covered with weeds and bushes, 
and forty miles of rails were burnt and twisted. Nearly all 
the locomotives and cars were destroyed, the machinery was 
beyond repair, and there was not a saw-mill left along the 
line. 

The Memphis and Tennessee road, which runs from Cren- 
ada to Memphis, suffered quite as much as the Memphis and 
Charleston. Of the fifteen Howe truss bridges on its line 
in 1860, only three small ones remained at the close of the 

1 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 101, p. 58. 



THE POSTAL AND RAILWAY SERVICE 143 

war. Two and a half miles of trestle, almost one-lialf of 
the rolling stock, nearly all the water tanks, and two-thirds 
of the depots were destroyed. On the first of May, 1865, 
but thirty of the one hundred miles of the road were in oper- 
ation. The work of reconstruction was begun without a 
dollar in the treasury. By the middle of June, trains were 
running as far north as Senatobia, at which point passengers 
for Memphis were transferred to horse cars. Many enter- 
prising Memphis merchants contributed money to aid in 
repairing the road, in recognition of which their names were 
placarded in the cars, and the friends of the road requested 
to give them their trade. By the end of the year 1865, it 
was nearly reconstructed. Freight depots had been built at 
Memphis, Horn Lake, Cold Water, Como, Sardis, Batesville, 
and Popes ; the Tallahatchie and Yazoo rivers had been 
bridged; two and a half miles of trestle built; 100,000 new 
cross ties laid; section houses, wood and water stations re- 
placed; a good deal of track relaid; and a machine shop at 
Memphis erected and equipped. On January 3, 1866, the 
first train went through from Memphis to Grenada. 

The Mississippi Central railroad, extending from Canton, 
Mississippi, to Jackson, Tennessee, was at the close of hostili- 
ties a mere wreck between Abbeville (near Oxford) and Grand 
Junction. But eight passenger coaches were left on the 
road. Bridges, depots, culverts, and most of the cross ties 
were gone. The machine shops at Canton and Holly Springs 
were destroyed, and the company carried a debt of '$1,500,000. 
By the middle of June, 1865, trains were running between 
Grenada and Oxford. At the latter place, passengers for 
points north were transferred to hand-cars, which consti- 
tuted the chief means of conveyance between Oxford and 
Holly Springs. Both passengers and freight had to be trans- 
ferred by boat across the Yazoo River at Grenada. By Sep- 
tember 20, all the bridges were completed to Holly Springs, 
and by November 15, regular trains were running through 
from Canton to Grand Junction. Until June, 1866, how- 
ever, there were only three locomotives in the service north 
of Grenada. The work of reconstruction was pushed rapidly, 
and before the end of the year 1865, depots had been built at 
Holly Springs, Oxford, Coffeeville, Winona, Vaiden, West 
Durant, and Goodman, and a number of others were repaired. 

The most important railroad in the state was the New 
Orleans, Jackson, and Great Northern, now a part of the 
Illinois Central, 206 miles in length, extending from New 
Orleans to Canton, and built at a cost of J^7, 000,000. It 



144 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

was completed but a year or two before the outbreak 
of the war, and was said to be the best equipped road in 
the Confederacy. Its rolling stock was taken possession 
of by General Lovell in April, 1862, but was subsequently 
restored, and that part of the road between New Orleans and 
Ponchatoula continued to be operated until the surrender of 
the Confederate armies in 18G5. A considerable portion of 
the track in the vicinity of Jackson was destroyed by Gen- 
eral Sherman in 1863. Some of it in the southern part of 
the state was also destroyed by General Grierson. Con- 
sequently, that part of the road from Ponchatoula to Brook- 
haven, a distance of eighty-one miles, was not used after the 
spring of 1863. Most of the bridges were destroyed, the 
road-bed was covered with weeds, bushes, and briers, and 
three-fourths of the cross ties were rotten. From Brook- 
haven to Jackson, a distance of fifty-five miles, the road, 
though in a dilapidated condition, continued to be used with 
the exception of about three miles south of Jackson. From 
Jackson to Canton, the northern terminus, it was torn up 
and the material destroyed. At the outbreak of hostilities, 
this road was equipped with 49 locomotives, 87 passenger 
cars, and 555 freight, baggage, and gravel cars. At the 
close of tlie war, there were but one locomotive, three pas- 
senger cars, and six freight and baggage cars fit for use 
between Jackson and Canton. Between Brookhaven and 
Jackson there were but two locomotives, both badly dam- 
aged by fire, four box cars, and nine flat cars. Of all the 
depot buildings and platforms attached, woodsheds, and 
water stations, all of which were in good condition in 1862, 
only those at Osyka, Magnolia, and Summit remained 
standing in 1865, the rest having been destroyed from 
time to time by the armed forces of the United States 
or of the Confederacy. Not a dollar of available funds 
remained in the treasury of the company when it was reor- 
ganized loyally in the summer of 1865. The new directors 
set to work to reconstruct the road. Men were employed 
to rebuild the bridges beginning at Ponchatoula. An agent 
was sent to Washington to negotiate for rolling stock then 
in possession of the government, and to secure contracts for 
carrying the mail. General Beauregard was elected presi- 
dent, and by the middle of June, the road between Jackson 
and Canton, with the exception of a mile at Jackson, was in 
running order. Passengers for New Orleans, however, had 
to travel by hand-car from Brookhaven to Ponchatoula, a 
distance of eighty-one miles. In less than a year seventy- 



THE POSTAL AND RAILWAY SERVICE 



145 



eight bridges had been rebuilt, forty-two thousand cross ties 
laid, and a large amount of rolling stock acquired. By Octo- 
ber 3, 1865, trains began to make regular trips from New 
Orleans to Canton for the first time since May, 1863. 

The Mobile and Ohio was the chief railroad in the eastern 
part of the state. It was built largely by English capital- 
ists, and was said to be one of the best equipped lines in the 
South. The last rail was laid just before the firing upon Fort 
Sumter. Upon the outbreak of hostilities it was taken pos- 
session of by the Confederate authorities, and used for the 
transportation of its men and supplies. At the end of the 
war, the Confederate government owed the road ff5,000,000, 
none of which was, of course, ever paid. From Union 
City, Tennessee, to Okolona, Mississippi, a distance of 
184 miles, all the bridges and trestles were destroyed. 
In the vicinity of Meridian, twenty-one miles of rails were 
bent and twisted by order of General Sherman, and all the 
bridges, trestles, and water tanks, as well as the rolling stock, 
were destroyed. The repair shops at Jackson, Tennessee, 
were destroyed, and all the tools and working materials 
carried away. The following comparative table shows the 
effect of the war upon the Mobile and Ohio railroad so far 
as rolling stock is concerned : — 



Locomotives in order . 
Locomotives out of order 
Passenger oars 
Freiglit cars 



Jan., iseo. 


May, 1865. 


59 


15 





38 


26 


11 


721 


231 



In this condition the road was restored to the company in 
May, 1865, upon the condition that government business 
should have precedence ; that all military orders should be 
obeyed; and that nothing should be construed as relieving 
the company from the pains and penalties imposed by the 
confiscation acts. The road was operated almost exclusively 
according to military orders, until all Confederate cotton 
captured by the United States was removed. By the middle 
of June, 1865, trains were running as far north as Okolona, 
and occasionally to Corinth. 

The railroad from Vicksburg to Meridian was in no better 
condition, if as good, as the others. It suffered chiefly from 
the raids of Generals Sherman and Grierson. 



146 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Nothing illustrates better the spirit which animated the 
people of the South in their efforts to repair the losses of the 
war than the rapidity with which the railroads were recon- 
structed and put into operation. They seem to have showed 
few signs of discouragement at the disheartening picture 
which they were compelled to face upon the return of peace, 
but plunged into the work of reconstruction with the same 
confidence and enthusiasm with which they took up arms 
in the great contest which was destined to inflict incalculable 
ruin and misery upon them. 



CHAPTER FIFTH 

Congressional Reconstruction 

I. THE national INQUEST 

Although the United States was able to suppress the 
" insurrection," it was unable to change the sentiments of the 
Southern people with regard to the righteousness of their 
cause. This was, to be sure, very natural under the cir- 
cumstances, and nothing else should have been expected. 
The opinion was common, however, among the more radical 
politicians of the North, that the surrender of the Southern 
armies should be accompanied by an immediate surrender 
of their convictions on the subjects of slavery and secession, 
and an open profession of a warm attachment for the flag 
and government of the United States. For some time after 
the return of peace, the degree of this attachment was the 
subject of investigation by special committees and commis- 
sioners. Upon the result of these investigations, the gov- 
ernment at Washington based its policy in dealing with the 
late seceded states. As to the manner of conducting the 
investigation, two different plans were followed. One was 
the despatch of special commissioners to the states in ques- 
tion, with instructions to take the testimony of representative 
leaders of all classes, and to observe personally the conduct 
of the people in their political, business, and even social 
relations. The other plan was the ex parte method by par- 
tisan committees. The one was the presidential plan, the 
other the congressional plan. 

In pursuance of the presidential plan, three special com- 
missioners in turn visited the South for the purpose of dis- 
covering whatever visible signs of "returning loyalty" there 
might be. The first of these was the general of the army, 
who had been the most conspicuous figure in the suppression 
of the insurrection ; another was a major general, who pos- 
sessed elements of statesmanship ; and the third was a civilian, 

147 



148 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

in whom the President reposed confidence. Each, indepen- 
dently of the other, visited the important towns and cities of 
the late Confederacy ; had interviews with leading citizens, 
soldiers, and Confederate generals, travelled over the principal 
railroads, navigable rivers, and even in stage-coaches ; called 
upon post and district commanders of the United States army 
and upon Freedmen's Bureau agents, and, when possible, 
procured written statements of their views. As a result of 
these investigations, the first commissioner, General U. S. 
Grant, reported that there was such " universal acquiescence " 
in the authority of the national government as to make the 
mere presence of a military force, without regard to numbers, 
sufficient to maintain order ; that economy and the good of 
the country required that white troops should be employed 
in the interior of the country ; that the presence of black 
troops demoralized the labor system by encouraging the 
freedmen to abandon the plantations and congregate about 
the military camps ; that the people of the Southern states 
were anxious to renew their allegiance to the United States ; 
and that they were earnest in wishing to do what was re- 
quired by the government, provided it was not humiliating 
to them as citizens, and if such a course were pointed out to 
them, they would pursue it in good faith. ^ 

Another commissioner, Carl Schurz, spent several weeks 
in the South, visiting, among other places in Mississippi, 
Meridian, Jackson, Vicksburg, and Natchez. With regard 
to Mississippi, he reported that the people had reorganized 
their government and were yielding obedience to the laws 
and Constitution of the United States with more willingness 
and greater promptitude than could reasonably be expected 
under the circumstances ; that they evinced a laudable desire 
to renew their allegiance to the government, and to repair 
the devastation of war by a prompt and cheerful return to 
peaceful pursuits ; that the demoralizing effects of the war 
had occasioned disorders in some cases, but they were gener- 
ally local in character, and i-apidly disappeared as the author- 
ity of the civil law was extended and sustained.^ 

Mr. Truman, the tliird commissioner, took a most rosy view 
of the situation. He declared that he looked to the dis- 
banded regiments of the Confederate army with great con- 
fidence as the best and altogether most hopeful element of 
the South — the real basis of reconstruction and the material 



1 See Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cons. No. 2, p. 106, for General Grant's 
report. '^ See ibid. pp. 1-10(3, for General Schurz's report. 



THE NATIONAL INQUEST 149 

of worthy citizenship, and affirmed that there were few more 
potent influences at work in promoting real and lasting recon- 
ciliation and reconstruction than the influence of the Southern 
soldier. He said : " I know from actual observation that thou- 
sands of the rank and file and hundreds of their officers would 
gladly enlist in the United States army against any and all 
foreigners, particularly if they could serve under their old 
olficers." He thought less than fifty of the leading poli- 
ticians of the South still believed in the constitutional right 
of secession. He denied the report that Northern men were 
persecuted in the South, and declared that the freedmen were 
well treated by their late masters.^ 

The substantial concurrence of the commissioners in the 
opinion that the status in the South was such as to justify 
the readmission of the state to the Union, was highly gratify- 
ing to the supporters of the presidential policy, and was 
pointed to with pride as a vindication of their measures. 
The radicals, however, refused to accept this as a true picture 
of the situation, and General Grant's verdict in particular 
was criticised as a " whitewashing" report.^ They rejected 
both the report and the testimony on which it was based. 
Whether there were objections to the manner in which the 
investigation was conducted, it does not appear. A new 
method of inquiry was accordingly devised. It consisted of 
a joint congressional committee on which the party of the 
South had one-fifth of the representatives. Considering the 
relative strength of the two parties in Congress, the com- 
mittee can hardly be said to have been unfairly constituted. 
The testimony relating to Mississippi was taken by Hon. 
George S. Boutwell. He summoned such witnesses and 
asked such questions as his own sense of fairness dictated. 
No representative of the Southern party was present to 
cross-examine those whom he called. Mr. Boutwell held his 
examinations at Washington, and did not visit the scene of 
his investigations. Of the witnesses who were examined upon 
the condition of affairs in Mississippi, none were Democrats, 
and only two were citizens of the state. These were Gov- 
ernor Sharkey and Judge Hill. Of the other eight witnesses, 
three were major generals in the Union army, one a briga- 
dier general, one a captain of a company of colored troops, 
one a United States treasury agent, one a revenue agent, and 
the other one said he was " engaged in ascertaining the 
amount of cotton in the Southern states for an association of 

1 See Sen. Docs. ibid. No. 43, for Truman's report. 

2 Burr's Life of Grant, p. 845. 



150 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

New England manufacturers." ^ One of the witnesses, in 
reply to a question as to what opportunities he had enjoyed 
for observations in Mississippi, said that he had not been 
there for a year, except on a visit.'^ The congressional 
method was thus poorly devised for discovering "signs of 
returning loyalty." In this respect, it was well-nigh a fail- 
ure. One of the witnesses gave his opinion that, with the 
exception of the northeastern part of the state, there was 
little loyalty to be found ; ^ another thought there was an 
organization in the South for a renewal of the rebellion ; * 
another declared that the Mississippians were the least loyal 
of any people in the South. Two of the witnesses affirmed 
that the condition of the freedmen was worse than in the 
days of slavery, which was probably true in the year 1865.^ 
There was a concurrence of opinion among the witnesses 
who had served in the Union army, that without protection 
of Federal troops. Northern men in the state were in danger 
of violence. The complaint was also general among the wit- 
nesses that Northern men were not well received in Southern 
society, which was doubtless true in 1865, yet this was 
scarcely a proper subject for congressional investigation. It 
was certainly not a violation of the Thirteenth Amendment, 
under authority of which the investigation was made, and 
was not an evil for which there was any adequate legislative 
remedy. One of the witnesses professed surprise at never 
having met a Confederate who expressed regret or sorrow 
for anything except the failure of the Confederacy ; ^ another 
saw few manifestations of good feeling toward the govern- 
ment;" another testified that Jeff Davis was cheered in 
"every conceivable way" hy the people;^ and another was 
horrified at meeting a rebel general who preferred Davis to 
Abraham Lincoln for the presidency.^ 

1 Testimony of Warren Kelsey before the reconstruction committee, pt. 
iii. p. 1. 

2 'J'estiinony of Warren Kelsey, ibid. 

8 Testimony of Edward Hatch, ibid. p. 4. 

* Testimony of B. H. Grierson, ibid. p. 121. 

^ Testimony of J. H. Matthews, ibid. p. 47 ; and Warren Kelsey, ibid. p. 1. 

The following explanation from the majority report of the reconstruction 
committee is significant: "To obtain the necessary information, recourse 
could imly be had to the examination of witnesses whose position had given 
them the best means of forming an accurate judgment, who could state facts 
from their own observation, and whose character and standing afforded the 
best proof of their truthfulness and impartiality." 

8 Testimony of General Fiske, iJiid. p. 32. 

■^ Testimony of General Hatch, ibid. p. 4. 

8 Testimony of General Matthews, ibid. p. 4. 

® Testimony of A. P. Dilliugham, ibid. p. 116. 



THE NATIONAL INQUEST 151 

The failure to find the Confederate leaders in sackcloth 
and ashes was by no means conclusive proof of disloyalty. 
Nothing could have been more unnatural than for those who 
had made so many sacrifices for a cause whose rectitude 
they never doubted, to have suddenly changed positions, 
openly admitted their error, and asked forgiveness. That 
there should have been few healthy manifestations of good- 
will for the flag which the Southerners associated with all 
tlieir woes, could hardly have been expected so soon after the 
smoke of battle. Men cannot, by laws and proclamations, 
be made to change their affections from one object to another 
in a moment, especially if the one has been an object of love 
and the other of hate. It was sufficient that in the summer 
of 1865 they took solemn oaths to obey the Constitution, and 
henceforth defend the flag of the United States. It was 
political intolerance to cite, as a proof of continued disloyalty, 
the admiration of the people for Davis, and their preference 
for Confederate leaders for positions of honor and trust. It 
was a subject of special complaint, and was cited as a further 
proof of disloyalty that Humplu'eys, an unpardoned Confed- 
erate brigadier general, was elected governor in 1865, over 
Judge Fisher, a non-combatant during the Civil War. The 
truth is, Humphreys was as much opposed to secession as his 
opponent, but, unlike the judge, he was unable to escape the 
snares of the conscript officer, had he wished to do so. Being 
a gallant soldier and a man of personal popularity, he easily 
defeated his opponent. With good taste, the people, in 1865, 
chose few original secessionists to offices of importance. All 
the members elected to Congress were Whigs, except one, who 
was a Union Democrat. All had originally opposed secession, 
but after secession became a reality, they could not avoid mili- 
tary service had they so desired. It was not dishonorable 
that the people were faithful to their leaders, and that the 
candidacy of any man who had been indifferent to the success 
of the Confederacy should be looked upon with disfavor. The 
sense of appreciation for faithful military service and skilful 
leadership was as keen in the South as anywhere. This was 
nowhere better illustrated than by the liberal appropriations 
made for the defence of Davis, and the setting aside of one- 
fifth of the state revenues to furnish maimed soldiers with 
artificial limbs. Few men Avere more unpopular in Missis- 
sip[)i in 1865 than Davis, yet the fact that he was the chosen 
chief of tlie Confederacy kept alive a feeling of attachment 
which the disasters for which he was laigely responsible could 
not eradicate. As one man put it, " I don't like Jeff Davis, 



152 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

but he was our leader, and we would be mean creatures if, 
when he is reviled, we should not defend him." ^ 

One of the subjects of investigation by the reconstruction 
committee was the alleged formation of historical societies in 
Mississippi. Governor Humphreys had, in February, 1866, 
suggested to the superintendent of army records the organi- 
zation of a state historical society, and of local affiliated 
societies. The reason given was the rapid passing of many 
of the actors in the recent history of the state, that " one 
side of the story had been written, and the world's verdict 
had been rendered against the South and her people." ^ 
The purpose of the local societies was to gather historical 
data for the central society. General Grierson professed to 
have discovered in this an "organization for the renewal of 
the rebellion." The following is the testimony on the 
point : — 

Mr. BoutweU : Have you seen an order [letter] purporting to 
have been issued by Governor Humphreys, advising the organiza- 
tion of historical societies in Mississippi ? 

General Grierson.: I have. 

Q. Do you suppose that order to be genuine ? 

A. I do. 

Q. What is the purpose of these societies ? 

A. One puri:)ose is said to be to collect the records of distin- 
guished soldiers in the Confederate service, and forward them to 
the state capitol for preservation. 

Q. Do you know anything of the societies ? 

A. No, sir. 

Q. Do you know whether any were organized before you left ? 

A. Yes, sir. I know of several. 

Q. Do you know whether any of the people belong to them ? 

A. I think they all belong to them, at least they give their aid 
and assistance in furnishing documents.^ 

What connection the organization of historical societies 
had with the loyalty of the people and the fitness of the 

1 Charles Nordhoff : Cotton States in 1875, p. 82. 

2 The letter is printed with the reconstruction testimony, pt. iii. p. 123. 

' Ibid. p. 144. The character of this testimony well illustrates the practice 
of the post belhim Southern committees in imiuiring into tiie domestic institu- 
tions of the people and their social habits and customs, their political ojiinions 
and prejudices. The constitutional right of Congress to enforce by appro- 
priate legislation the Thirteenth Amendment would perhaps sanction an 
investigalion of any alleged violation of that amendment, but there is no 
constitutional authority for such an investigation as the above, where there 
was no jiretonce that the amendment had been violated. The instructions of 
the reconstruction committee were to " inquire into thecondilion of the Con- 
federate states, and report whether they were entitled to representation." 



THE NATIONAL INQUEST 153 

state for representation in Congress, does not appear from 
the report of the committee. The most probable explanation 
is, that in the opinion of the majority, the collection and 
preservation of historical data relative to alleged " Yankee 
depredations," was not conducive to loyalty. 

The witness who was most competent to testify on Missis- 
sippi aifairs, both from his wide acquaintance, his official 
relation, and his conservatism, was Governor Sharkey. He 
told the committee that the people had given up all idea of 
secession ; that the secessionist party admitted that they had 
made a " most miserable failure," and that they felt sore over 
having involved the country in such terrible calamities ; that 
the state government was in the hands of original Union men, 
with the exception of the supreme bench, which, he regretted 
to say, was occupied by secessionists ; ^ that so far as obedi- 
ence to the laws was concerned, the people were loyal, and 
were disposed to do the freedmen justice ; that the recent 
legislation relative to freedmen violated the Constitution, 
which gave them the right to hold real and personal prop- 
erty ; and that the military leaders had taken the oath of 
allegiance, were conducting themselves honorably, and were 
anxious to be restored to the Union. The governor declared 
that the freedmen had gone to work and were doing well, 
but that the chief obstacle to good feeling between them and 
the whites was the Freedmen's Bureau and the presence of 
negro troops. He was sanguine enough to believe that had 
these been withdrawn, he could have had a " perfect state of 
order " in two weeks after his appointment. In regard to 
the obligations incurred by the state government during the 
war, he said they had, with one or two exceptions, been 
repudiated ; that the people were glad of an opportunity to be 
relieved of them, and he did not think that a dollar of the debt 
would ever be paid. The governor did not deny that much 
crime existed in the state, but he attributed it to the demoral- 
ization incident to tlie disbandment of the armies, and the 
collapse of civil government in some communities. Governor 
Sharkey's views as to returning loyalty, no doubt represented 
the opinions of the more intelligent and conservative citizens. 
After all, it is their opinions only that possess any historical 
value. On the whole, the conduct of the secession leaders 

1 The JarJcsnn Clarion of April 26, 1866, took exception to some of Gov- 
ernor Sharkey's allegations on this point, and declared that the air of Wash- 
ington City did not agree with him, and asserted that he had better return 
home before losing the confidence of the people who had intrusted him with 
so much. 



154 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

showed modesty and good taste, though it will be granted that 
there were exceptions. For a time after the collapse of the 
Confederacy, they declined to make public addresses or take a 
conspicuous part in political movements. Ex-Senator Brown 
says he studiouslj'^ avoided every act which might be con- 
strued as an attempt to interfere in matters with which a 
" proscribed rebel " had nothing to do.^ Governor Clarke 
refused to address the legislature so long as he was a " pris- 
oner of state under parole." ^ They were all willing to aban- 
don the doctrine of secession, provided they might admit that 
it was good so long as it lasted. But as the arbitrament of 
the sword, if not the logic of the schools, had settled the 
question against them, they were willing to accept the result. 
This sentiment was expressed in an address at Vicksburg by 
a candidate for the office of Attorney General. He said: 
"In 1850, I opposed an attempt to break up the Union, and 
in 1860 I did the same. I travelled in Alabama and Missis- 
sippi to oppose the measure. But after the state did secede, 
I did all in my power to sustain it. I believed in secession 
while it lasted, but am now as good a Union man as exists, 
and am in favor of breaking down old barriers and making 
harmony and peace prevail." ^ A candidate for Congress ex- 
pressed a similar opinion. He said: "In 1851, I was a dele- 
gate from Lauderdale County to the state convention and 
again in 1860. I was opposed to secession, and fought it with 
all my power; but after the state seceded, I went with it as 
a matter of duty, and sustained it until the day of the sur- 
render, with all my heart and soul, mind and body."* The 
sentiment was unanimous in favor of the repudiation of 
secession, the acceptance of the result of the war, and the 
desire to be restored to the Union, although, they said, we 
carmot be expected to give up at once our convictions of 
right. Carl Schurz says sentiments like these were repeated 
to him hundreds of times in every state he visited, with some 
variation of language, according to the different ways of think- 
ing, or the frankness or reserve of the different speakers. 

Governor A. G. Brown represented a respectable minority 
in the view that from the day they laid their arms at the feet 
of the conqueror, they had no rights which he was bound to 
respect, and that it was absurd for a conquered people to talk 
of being degraded by submitting to the will of the conqueror. 

1 New York Times, Au^. 22, 1867. 

2 Letter in New York Herald of April 3, 1867. 
8 Vickshurf/ Journal. Sept. 10, 1805. 

* Report of Carl Schurz, supra, p. 10. 



THE NATIONAL INQUEST 155 

He thought those who, like himself, were proscribed, had no 
legitimate reason for complaint.^ At the same time, he did not 
believe that they were guilty of treason, inasmuch as one bel- 
ligerent could not commit treason against another.^ Few of the 
leaders who joined in the secession movement accepted the re- 
sult of the war so unreservedly as did Alcorn, one of the United 
States senators-elect. He acknowledged that when he cast 
his vote for the ordinance of secession, he did so with the full 
understanding that it was an act of rebellion, and that he was 
liable to the penalties for treason.^ He expected that his lands 
would be confiscated, and himself punished, but he was thank- 
ful that neither had happened, and that he had not heard of 
any individual who had been punished for treason.* 

Chief-Justice Campbell, one of the most intelligent mem- 
bers of the Mississippi bar, and a former member of the Con- 
federate Congress, said : " I think there never was a people 
more thoroughly subdued than the people of the South. They 
were sick and tired of war, wearied and worn out; with the 
destruction of the Confederate grovernment and the abolition 
of slavery, all cause of enmity between the people of the 
United States had passed away, and I think the feeling of an 
overwhelming majority of our people was one of readiness to 
be faithful to the government." ^ 

In June, 1866, the reconstruction committee made its 
report. The states lately in secession were declared to have 
been in a state of anarchy at the close of the war, without 
government or constitutions, and sustaining no political rela- 
tions to the government of the United States ; that Congress 
could not be expected to recognize as valid the election of 
representatives from disorganized communities ; that Con- 
gress would not be justified in admitting such communities 
to a participation in the government of the United States 
without providing such constitution or other guarantees as 
would tend to secure the civil rights of all citizens of the 
republic, a just equality of representation, protection against 
claims founded in rebellion and crime, a temporary restora- 
tion of the right of suffrage to tliose who had not actively 
participated in the rebellion, and the exclusion from positions 
of public trust of a portion of those who had. 

1 Speech in New York Times, Aug. 22, 1867. 

2 Letter to New York Ilcrnld of April 3, 1867. Next to Davis and Quitman, 
Brown was tlie most influential of the secessionists before the war. His course 
after the war, however, was conservative. 

3 See his inaugural address, March 10, 1870. 
* Address at Helena, 1869. 

^ Boutwell Report on Mississippi Elections, 1875, p. 938. 



156 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



II. THE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS 

The report of the majority of the congressional committee 
was accepted by the radicals as " an absolutely truthful pic- 
ture of the Southern states at that time," and became the 
basis of the reconstruction policy finally adopted. ^ The late 
" insurrectionary " states were declared to be without legal 
governments, and without power to protect life and property. 
In order to insure these blessings, the states were grouped 
into military administrative districts, and placed under the 
authority of the United States. For convenience in admin- 
istration, the local subdivisions were retained, and for the 
most part the macliinery of the civil government was made 
use of, although declared illegal in the preamble of the act. 
The private law of the territory was not changed by the 
acts of Congress, but the military commanders were vested 
with full authority to modify or supersede it in their dis- 
cretion. The duties of the district commanders were in 
general to maintain order, register the new electorate, and 
direct the movement for the reestablishment of " repub- 
lican " government. For the accomplishment of these ends, 
they were given absolute authority over life, liberty, and 
property, with the exception that death sentences should 
require the approval of the President. The existing state 
governments were to be deemed as provisional only, and 
in all respects subject to the paramount autliority of the 
United States at any time to " abolish, control, modify, or 
supersede the same." The right of suffrage was conferred 
upon the freedmen, and withheld from a large class of 
whites. 

It thus appears that the basic idea of the policy adopted 
was the duty of Congress to communicate a new political 
life to certain communities which had, by some act or other, 
put an end to their existence as states. Attempted with- 
drawal from the Union, and levying war against the United 
States, were alleged by the radicals to be the means by 
which tlie state existence was forfeited. Those who held to 
this view were undoubtedly inconsistent when they denied 
the validity of the ordinances of secession, as they generally 
did. Moreover, these ordinances had either been repealed 
or declared null and vciid, ab initio^ by constituent assem- 

1 J. G. Blaine, Twenty Years of Congress, II. p. 9. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS 167 

blies, and hence could have had no validity in 1867, if 
they ever had any. Another view was, not that the states 
had by act of rebellion lost their membership in the Union, 
but that they had forfeited their right to be treated as states 
on an equality with the original members. This would be 
a more rational view, were there any constitutional authority 
for a class of states in our Federal system not on an equality 
with the original states. And even if it be granted that the 
Union is not one of equals, it cannot be seriously claimed 
that Congress, as an agent of the sovereign, could have the 
authority to establish the inequality and define its extent. 
This would be an exercise of constituent powers, while the 
creation of states and the delimitation of their spheres of 
activity is, under our system, an act of the sovereign, and 
not of the government. Moreover, in assuming that the 
states were still in rebellion, that their governments were 
illegal, and that life and property were insecure. Congress 
seems to have gone to unnecessary lengths. As a matter of 
fact, the commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the 
United States had more than a year before officially pro- 
claimed the rebellion at an end, and there was probably not 
a Confederate soldier in arms against the government. As 
for the alleged illegality of the state governments, it is suffi- 
cient to say that they were organized in the regular American 
way, and for the most part in accordance with constitutions 
and laws made before the passage of the ordinances of seces- 
sion, and whose validity Congress never denied ; and made 
by men who, if tliey had forfeited tlieir political rights by 
rebellion, had, nevertheless, received the executive pardon 
Avhich absolved them from the legal consequences of their 
actions. Moreover, these governments had been recognized 
by the chief executive as legal governments. His right to 
do so seems to be well settled. ^ 

The duty of the United States to guarantee " republican " 
government to the states was relied upon by Congress as a 
justification for its action. The exact content of the term 
"republican" government had not been expressly defined 
in 1865. By the well established principles of the public 
law of the United States, it may be said to have meant 
government by representatives, chosen by the political 
people. 2 Judged by this test, the governments in the 
Southern states could hardly be said to have been unre- 

1 Luther vs. Borden, 7 How. 1. 

2 Cooley, Principles of Const. Law, p. 213. 



158 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

publican. In Mississippi, certainly, all adult male citizens, 
with a few unimportant exceptions, were vested with the 
suffrage. This statement, of course, assumes that mere 
emancipation did not elevate the freedmen to citizenship. 
If the civil rights act of 1866 was a constitutional measure, 
it does not alter the case. The mere declaration of Congress 
that certain classes of persons within a commonwealth are 
citizens of the United States, does not invest them with 
the suffrage. If anything tvas more clearly established than 
another as a part of our public law in 1865, it was the prin- 
ciple that the definition of the electorate had been left by 
the sovereign to the several commonwealths. No attempt 
was made by the sovereign to alter that principle until 1868. 
Hence the action of the government in investing the late slaves 
with the suffrage in 1867, as well as its action in subverting 
the state governments, was one of doubtful validity. Able 
Southern jurists saw at once a possible escape from the 
" horrors " of reconstruction by a resort to the courts. 
The congressional policy had barely gone into operation 
in Mississippi, when a movement was set on foot to pre- 
vent its further execution. The method adopted was an 
application to the Supreme Court of the United States 
for a bill of injunction against the President and the 
district commander, to restrain them from enforcing the 
reconstruction acts. Ex-Governor Sharkey and Hon. Rob- 
ert J. Walker appeared as counsel for the state. The bill 
which they asked permission to file declared that the 
attempt of a portion of the people to dissolve the connec- 
tion between the state and the United States was null 
and void, and consequently the state was then, as it had 
always been, a member of the Federal Union, unimpaired 
and indestructible, and, being such. Congress could not 
constitutionally expel it from the Union. ^ Tlie petitioners 
furthermore maintained that they had good reason to 
believe that Andrew Johnson, a citizen of Tennessee, in 
violation of the Constitution of the United States, and of 
the sacred rights of the states, would soon proceed, in 
pursuance of a mere ministerial duty against his own will, 

1 The Jackson Clarion of April 12, 1867, took exception to the fille2;ation 
that secession was the work of a portion of the people of the state, and de- 
clared it to be uiitrutliful — " a plea of not suilty to an act wliicli is unjustly 
alleged to be a crime, and which all tlie world knows the state did deliberately 
commit." The editor declared it to liave been the act of iiineteen-twentieths 
of the people, and the attempt to throw the consequences upon a portion of 
the citizens violated the truth of liistory. " If their argument is true," he 
continued, " tlicre is uo hope for Mr. Davis." 



THE RECONSTRUCTION ACTS 159 

to execute the said acts as though they were the law of 
the land. They alleged that the so-called reconstruction 
acts would in effect annihilate the state and its govern- 
ment, and render every citizen liable to deprivation of life, 
liberty, and property at the breath of a military com- 
mander, without the benefit of trial by jury, and without 
the observance of any of those requirements and guar- 
antees by which the Constitution and laws protect the 
rights of the citizen. They further alleged that the duty 
of the President in the premises, being merely ministerial, 
was subject to the control of the courts. ^ The court refused 
to allow the bill to be filed on the ground that for reasons 
of expediency and policy the President should not be 
interfered with by the courts in the performance of his 
duties. No opinion was expressed as to the constitution- 
ality of the reconstruction acts.^ The petitioners then 
decided not to aim so high, and with others filed a bill 
against the Secretar}^ of War, the general of the army, and 
the commander of the third district. The court in this case 
held that it had no jurisdiction over the subject-matter 
presented in the bill, and accordingly deemed it unimpor- 
tant to examine the question as it respected jurisdiction 
over the parties defendant.^ 

Soon after this, a case involving the validity of the recon- 
struction acts came before the Supreme Court on appeal from 
a military commission sitting at Vicksburg. For a while, 
things looked gloomy for the reconstructionists, as there ap- 
peared to be no way by which the court could avoid a deci- 
sion on the points involved. A decision in their favor would 
have been of great value to the party, but the risk of an 
adverse opinion was too great to be incurred. Consequently, 
after the arguments had been made, and while the case was 
under advisement. Congress with " unwonted celerity " passed 
an act depriving the court of jurisdiction in the particular 
case, and of all others of a similar character.* Thus perished 
the hopes of the opponents of the congressional policy. 
Every effort to have the Supreme Court pass upon the valid- 
ity of the reconstruction acts failed either through evasion 
upon the part of the court or through the vigilance and 

1 The arg:iiments of Sharkey and Walker fill five columns of the Neio 
York Herald of April 6, 18G7. Walker's and Stanberry's arguments are 
printed in the New York World of April 13, 1867. 

2 Mississippi vs. Johnson, 4 Wall. 475. 

3 Georgia vs. Stanton, (i Wall. 57. 

* Ex parte McCardle, 6 Wall. 318 ; 7 Wall. 514. 



160 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

activity of Congress in dej)riving it of jurisdiction in cases 
where the question was involved. 

There was rumw" of a movement to arrest the district com- 
mander in Mississippi by the h:)cal authorities, on a cliarge of 
treason against the state, and thus compel the courts to take 
cognizance of the case.^ Steps were also alleged to have 
been taken to secure a mandamus to compel Congress to 
admit the representatives of the state to seats in that body. 
Reverdy Johnson, to whom application is said to have been 
made, was too good a lawyer to undertake the task of secur- 
ing the mandamus. After the defeat of the constitution in 
1868, proceedings in the nature of a quo icarranto were insti- 
tuted against General Ames, who was district commander 
and also provisional governor, requiring him to appear 
before the Circuit Court at Jackson to show by what author- 
ity he held the office and executed the duties of governor 
of Mississippi. But the attempt to oust the commander 
did not turn out successfully, and he continued in the dis- 
charge of his duties until the readmission of the state to the 
Union. 

Although the validity of the reconstruction acts was never 
passed upon by the Supreme Court, their constitutionality 
was affirmed by the United States district judge in Missis- 
sippi in a habeas corpus proceeding. ^ 

The same judge upheld the enforcement act, another 
measure which may be said to have constituted a part of 
the congressional policy. ^ The civil rights act does not 
appear to have come before the United States district court 
in Mississippi, although it was passed upon by the chief jus- 
tice of the state, one of the " original secessionists " whose 
election to the bench had been the subject of Sharkey's 
lamentations before the reconstruction committee. The case 
was a habeas coiyus proceeding instituted by a freedman who 
was in custody for carrying firearms in violation of a state 
law. The plaintiff alleged that the Thirteenth Amendment 
made him free, and ijjso facto vested him with all the rights 
of a citizen under the Constitution of the United States, one 
of which was the right to bear arms. The chief justice 
thought otherwise, and held tliat the Thirteenth Amend- 
ment absolved the negro from slavery, but left his social and 
political status "to the developments of time and experi- 
ence." Whether as a state judge it was within his province 

^ Nevj York Herald, April 10, ISfi?. ^ Ex parte McCardle, supra. 

8 Kx parte Walton et nh See Affairs in Insur. States, (Miss.) Vol. II. 
p. 985, for the text of the decision. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 161 

to declare an act of Congress null and void was a question 
which he said he had maturely considered, and was satisfied 
that it was his duty. " Under a solemn sense of official 
duty," he said, " I am therefore constrained to hold that the 
act of Congress in question is in contravention of the Con- 
stitution of the United States as to the matter now presented 
for my action, and is inoperative and void."^ The decision 
no doubt reflected the prevailing opinion in the state, but 
the right of the judge in the premises was not seriously 
maintained by the bar, and, of course, the military authori- 
ties did not permit its enforcement. 

In general, therefore, it may be said that whatever doubts 
may have existed as to the constitutionality of the congres- 
sional policy, it was carried out with great thoroughness, and 
with practically no interference from the courts. 



III. MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 

Shortly after the enactment of the reconstruction measures, 
the President assigned General E. O. C. Ord to the com- 
mand of the fourth military district, embracing the states 
of Mississippi and Arkansas, with headquarters at Vicksburg. 
General Ord was a native of Maryland, a graduate of West 
Point, commanded Sherman's right wing at Corinth, his left 
wing at Jackson, and was present at the surrender of Vicks- 
burg. He was not, therefore, an entire stranger in Missis- 
sippi at the time of his appointment as district commander. 
On March 26, he issued a general order informing the people 
of his appointment, and a week later came to Jackson and 
spent several days as the guest of the civil governor, visiting 
and inspecting the public institutions, forming acquaintances 
with leading citizens, and gathering such information as 
would be of value to him in discharging the difficult duties 
which the reconstruction acts imposed upon him. He was 
waited on by many of the citizens who were pleased with 
his "firm but generous and judicious demeanor. "^ The 
Jackson Clarion assured him that all the people, both officers 
and private citizens, would "strive conscientiously to pro- 

1 The full text of the opinion is printed in the Xew York Times of Oct. 26, 
1866. 

2 The Clarion of April 4 said that the district commander had made a 
favorable impression by his visit to Jackson. " lie is," said the editor, " an 
educated officer of the old United States army, and who in fighting the battles 
of his government during the late war obeyed orders, and did what he doubtless 
believed to be his duty. The war having closed, he has no spirit of revenge or 

M 



162 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

mote the public peace and avoid collisions with the military 
power." This seems to have been the general feeling. 

The district commander's duties were of a twofold charac- 
ter : first, the maintenance of peace and order ; second, the 
registration of the new electorate and the direction of the 
movement for reestablishment of civil government. In 
the discharge of the first class of duties, it was necessary, to 
some extent, to reconstruct the official organization which he 
found, to modify the private law so as to make it conform to 
the new order of things, and to detect and punish crime. 

Shortly after General Ord assumed command, many of 
the civil officers, on account of the uncertainty as to what 
policy he would pursue, abandoned their offices, while some 
of the citizens hesitated or refused to pay taxes, in the be- 
lief that the collectors were not competent officials. The 
governor accordingly issued a proclamation informing the 
people that the reconstruction acts recognized the civil 
government, and that the relations and responsibilities of 
civil officers to the Constitution remained unchanged until 
the civil government should be superseded. Civil officers 
were informed that they would be held to a strict accounta- 
bility for the performance of their duties, and all good citi- 
zens were admonished to assist the civil authorities in the 
maintenance of peace, to deal " justly and indulgently with 
each other in their political helplessness," and to offer no 
resistance to the military authorities except such as might 
be authorized by the courts. They were also directed to 
pay the taxes assessed upon them for the support of the civil 
government. 1 One of the first orders of the new commander 
was to authorize all competent civil oflicers to arrest and 
punish offenders against the laws, " so as to obviate as far as 
possible the necessity for the exercise of military authority 
under the reconstruction acts."^ As his civil functions were 
limited chiefly to the maintenance of peace and order, he did 
not regard it necessary to instruct civil officers as to their 
duties when their functions did not relate to these subjects. 
lie assumed, as a matter of course, that they would continue 
to perform their duties without authority from militarj^ 
headquarters. 

partisan malice to gratify, and will strive to execute the law, under which he 
is actinc:, to the letter. Our people will ask no exemptions which are not 
accorded to their brethren of the other excluded states." 

1 Jackson Clarion, Ajiril 0, 1867. 

2 Correspondence Relative to llecouKtruction, Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 40th Cong. 
p. 144. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 163 

While the district commander was not specially author- 
ized at first to remove civil officers, it was the spirit of the 
reconstruction acts that vacancies should be filled with 
" loyal " incumbents. General Ord, therefore, notified the 
people that no elections would be held to fill vacancies 
until a registration of voters was made in accordance with 
the reconstruction acts. Civil officers of the state govern- 
ment were directed to inform him of all vacancies occurring, 
in order that he might fill them. Local officers were now 
authorized to continue in the performance of their duties 
until otherwise directed or until removed. ^ In reply to a 
telegraphic inquiry from the Secretary of War concerning a 
report that he had threatened to disperse the legislature and 
take possession of the public money, records, and other public 
property of the state, General Ord said that he had made 
no threats to depose any civil officer except for failure to do 
impartial justice to persons accused of crime, and that he 
contemplated no seizures of state property unless it was found 
that the laws of Congress could not be enforced otherwise. 
No civil officer, he said, had been displaced except in certain 
cases where incumbents had been tried by military commis- 
sions and convicted.^ The unpleasant duty of removing 
all the civil officers was imposed upon a later district com- 
mander. Ord was, however, by the act of July 19, author- 
ized to remove all disloyal persons in office, but the offices 
were not actually declared vacant until February, 1869. On 
the 29th of July, he notified all state and local officers of the 
special laws of Congress for the reorganization of the state 
government on the basis of suffrage, without regard to color, 
and informed them that any attempt to render nugatory those 
laws by speeches or demonstrations would be regarded as a 
sufficient cause for summary removal.^ Again they were 
reminded that it was made the duty of the commanding gen- 
eral to remove from office all disloyal persons, and all who 
used their official influence in any way to obstruct the proper 
administration of the reconstruction measures. This an- 
nouncement was shortly followed by the removal of most of 
the municipal officers of Vicksburg, in order to " secure an 



1 All the special and general orders of the military districts under the 
reconstruction acts, together with the records of proceedings of military 
comniissions, have been collected, chronologically arranged, and bound by 
General F. C. Ainsworth of the War Department. The more important 
orders, however, are printed in the Correspondence Relative to Reconstruc- 
tion. 

2 Cor. Rel. to Recon., p. 138. s Appleton's Ann. Cyclop. 1867, p. 576. 



164 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



equal and just administration of the laws upon all alike, and 
to secure the best interests of the citizens thereof." Several 
local officers were also removed in Choctaw, Kemper, Holmes, 
Neshoba, and Washington counties. The aggregate num- 
ber of removals by General Ord probably did not exceed 
twenty-five. The total number of appointments made by 
him was about seventy, all being for local offices.^ The diffi- 
culty of finding suitable persons who could qualify made it 
necessar}^ in some instances to leave the offices vacant. Thus, 
no person could be found in Leake County who possessed the 
necessary qualifications for the office of sheriff. A Northern 
man was appointed and sent to the county. Some of those 
who could take the oath were not disposed to defy public 
sentiment by accepting office under a "military despotism." 
One of Orel's appointees was I. T. Montgomery, formerly 
a slave of Jefferson Davis. He was made a justice of 
the peace, and was probably the first negro in the state to 
hold a public office. ^ There was no loud protest against Ord's 
policy toward the civil officers. He made as few removals 
as his sense of duty dictated. 

General Ord's duties in the field of legislation related for 
the most part to police administration, the regulation of 
labor, and the status of freedmen. To " preserve health and 
prevent epidemics," non-resident persons were forbidden to 
congregate in towns. A weekly inspection of all garrisoned 
towns was ordered, and occupants were directed to keep their 
premises in order. Orders were also issued to prohibit the 
carrying of concealed weapons. The economic and social 

1 The following is a list of General Ord's appointments : — 



Justices of the peace . 


13 


Circuit clerks 


2 


Members board of police 


12 


Probate judges 


3 


Constables .... 


4 


Circuit judges 


2 


County administrators 


5 


Sheriffs .... 


10 


Aldermen .... 


7 


Mayors .... 


7 


Magistrates 


2 


County treasurers 


1 


Marshals .... 


1 


Recorders .... 


1 


Assessors .... 


1 


Total 


71 



2 Montgomery was the only colored member of the Constitutional Con- 
vention of 1890, and is at present the mayor of Mound Bayou, Mississippi. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 165 

demoralization of the time, together with the general impov- 
erishment, developed a widespread sentiment in favor of sus- 
pending or wiping out private debts. Accordingly, the 
military commanders in most of the districts were over- 
whelmed with petitions praying for the enactment of stay 
laws. General Ord was not able to Avithstand the pressure, 
and on the 12th of June, he issued an order staying and sus- 
pending, until the 30th of December, 1807, all proceedings 
for the sale of land under cultivation, or of the crops, stock, 
implements, or other material used in tilling such land, in 
pursuance of any execution or writ, where the debt was con- 
tracted prior to January 1, 1866. All interferences under color 
of legal process with tenants in cultivating the growing crops 
was forbidden, except where the crops had been hypothe- 
cated for money or supplies. 

The purpose of the order was alleged to be to " secure to 
labor its hire or just share of the crops, and to protect debtors 
and creditors from the sacrifices of property by forced sales " 
in the then impoverished condition of the country. Occasional 
orders were issued to stay executions in individual cases. 
Sheriffs, by another order, were directed to exempt from 
seizure and sale by distress for rent, all property exempt 
from execution or attachment by the terms of the homestead 
exemption act of Mississippi. 

Sub-district and post commanders were ordered to seize all 
distilleries that did not pay the legal taxes assessed on them, 
and sell their property for the benefit of tlie poor. It was 
alleged that corn, so much needed by the poor, wlas being 
illicitly made into whiskey, 

A considerable part of General Ord's legislation related to 
the freedmen. He issued an order congratulating them that 
they now held a common interest in the general prosperity 
of the state, but at the same time he reminded them that 
prosperity did not depend so much upon how they voted, as 
upon how they labored and kept their contracts. He informed 
them that the most important duty devolving upon them in 
their new condition was to make provision for the support 
of themselves and their families. They were admonished 
not to neglect their business to engage in political discussion, 
but to continue to comply with their contracts, and thus avoid 
the threatened famine. They were assured that at the proper 
time for them to have their names registered as voters they 
should be informed through the proper channels. 

Orders were then issued at different times to prevent dis- 
crimination against them in the administration of the laws. 



166 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Thus, it was ordered that whipping or maiming as a punish- 
ment for crime, misdemeanor, or other offence should be pro- 
hibited. All civil officers were forbidden to collect any tax 
on freedmen as a class, that was not imposed upon all persons 
without distinction of race or color. Such a tax was alleged 
to be inconsistent with the civil rights act. 

Another order required agents of the Freedmen's Bureau 
to investigate all charges against landholders for driving 
off freedmen with a view to withholding from them their 
arrears of wages. The removal of all crops was forbidden 
until the shares of laborers were ascertained and assigned to 
them. Post commanders were directed to investigate all 
complaints made by persons who claimed to have been perse- 
cuted by the civil authorities for opinion's sake, and to forward 
to headquarters a full report of the same, together with the 
testimony and aihdavits taken in the course of the investiga- 
tion. An order of September 10 directed all persons within 
the state, who had voluntarily exiled themselves since April, 
1865, to report in person or in writing at the headquarters 
of the commanding general within thirty days. Another, 
informed overseers of the poor that every neglect to provide 
for colored ^^aupers would be a dereliction of duty. Another, 
directed that persons indicted for criminal offences, and who 
were willing to make affidavit that during the war they were 
in the Federal service, and for that reason could not get jus- 
tice in the civil courts, might transmit the papers in the case 
and the names of witnesses to headquarters, for trial by 
military commission. 

The large amount of theft in General Ord's district seems 
to have claimed a good deal of his attention. One of the 
most common offences of this kind was the stealing of seed 
cotton, the demand for which made its sale an easy matter. 
To diminish the amount of this traffic. General Ord enacted 
that it sliould be a military as well as a civil offence, and 
therefore triable by military commission, and that no person 
after June 1, 1868, should be permitted to purchase country 
produce without a license from the mayor in incorporated 
towns, and from a member of the county board in country 
districts. Heavy penalties were prescribed for violations of 
the order. 

Another offence of this kind was horse stealing. For the 
suppression of it. General Ord adopted rather drastic meas- 
ures. He refused to allow the civil courts to take juris- 
diction of such offences, but tried them before military 
commissions constituted by himself. Post commanders 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 167 

were directed to despatch forces of mounted men in search 
of such thieves, upon receiving reliable information that a 
theft had been committed in the neighborhood of their re- 
spective posts. Civil authorities were requested to hand 
over to the military officials such offenders of this class as 
were in their custody. All good citizens were urgently re- 
quested to cooperate with the commanding general in his 
efforts to break up the " nefarious trade," by giving full and 
explicit information, and by volunteering to act as guides. 
He asked for permission to imprison in the Dry Tortugas 
such thieves as were sentenced by military commission, be- 
lieving tliat the moral effect would be wholesome. The per- 
mission was granted with certain restrictions, and a number 
of persons were thus punished. 

General Ord's interference with the civil authorities does 
not seem to have been very general, although he occasionally 
exercised his power in a way that led to loud complaints. 
The legislature was in session when he assumed command, 
and although he did not disperse it as he did the Arkansas 
legislature, such of its acts as were not conducive to the 
success of the congressional policy, as he understood it, were 
not permitted to be enforced. Thus, he suspended all action 
that had been taken in Scott County for the removal of the 
courthouse until an election could be held by the qualified 
voters under the reconstruction acts. Verdicts of juries and 
judgments of courts in a few instances were set aside or 
modified. His interference with the judicial authorities led 
the chief justice to resign his position. ^ The other members 
of the court followed his example shortly thereafter. 

The freedom of the press and of speech was tolerated only 
to a limited extent. An " unreconstructed " white man in 
Newton County was tried before a military commission and 
given ninety days' hard labor at the Dry Tortugas for allow- 
ing himself in the heat of passion to say that if it were in 
his power he would blow the old government to atoms, that 
the registration of negroes was a " humbug," and that no true 
Southern man could or would take the oath. Another man 
was given two years for "insulting the flag." 

Two Vicksburg editors were tried before a military com- 

1 In his letter of resignation, the chief justice declared that the character 
and dignity of the court could not be maintained, since its powers must be 
held and exercised in subordination to the behests of a military connnander. 
"The conduct of the commanding general," said he, " is such an invasion of 
the legitimate powers of the judiciary as to place it in a condition of military 
duress in which I cann .t seem to acquiesce by acting under it." Davis, 
Rise and Fall of the Confederacy, IT. pp. 753-754. 



168 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

mission for publishing libels against each other. The most 
noteworthy instance of General Orel's interference with the 
press was the well-known case of Colonel McCardle, the 
editor of the Vickshurg Times. Colonel McCardle took occa- 
sion to severely criticise the general's course in particular, 
and the congressional policy in general. On November 13, 
1867, a squad of soldiers under the command of a lieu- 
tenant filed into the Times office, arrested the editor, and 
sent him to the headquarters of General Gillem, where he 
was confined in a military prison. Shortly thereafter, he 
was brought for trial before a military commission upon 
the charge of denouncing General Ord as a usurper and 
a despot, with defaming the character of a certain agent 
of the Freedmen's Bureau, and with advising voters to 
remain away from the polls on the occasion of the election 
to ascertain whether a convention was desired to secure 
the readmission of the state. ^ These specifications were a 
part of the general charge of impeding the execution of the 
reconstruction laws. The prisoner applied to the United 
States Circuit Court for a writ of habeas corpus. The writ was 
issued, and Colonel McCardle was given a hearing by Judge 
Robert A. Hill, who held that the question presented involved 
the constitutionality of the reconstruction acts, in pursuance 
of which the prisoner had been arrested. He decided that 
those acts were constitutional, that the powers vested in 
the commanding general had not been transcended by him, 
and that the prisoner was subject to arrest and trial before 
a military commission without indictment or jury. He 
was accordingly remanded to the custody of the military 
authorities. He appealed to the Supreme Court of the 
United States under the act of February 5, 1867, authorizing 
appeals in such cases, and upon entering into his recog- 
nizance of $1000 conditioned for his appearance before that 
tribunal, he was released. ^ Before a decision could be 
reached Congress passed an act depriving the court of 
jurisdiction of the case. 

The following is a complete list of the cases tried by 
military commissions during General Ord's administration, 
togetlun- Avith the name of the place where the offence was 
committed, and the punishment in each case : ^ — 

1 The followins; well-known army officers constituted the commission that 
tried Colonel McCardle : General Oniem. (Jeuei'al rennypacker, Major John 
Power, Major Lynde Catlin, Major S. S. Sumner, and Major I). G. Swain. 

2 Ex parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 500. 

» This list is compiled from " The Special and General Orders of the 
Fourth District." 



MILITAEY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL ORD 



169 





Offence. 


Where committed. 


Punishment. 


1 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Adams County . . 


2 years' imprisonment in 
the penitentiary. 


2 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Yazoo County . . 


6 months' imprisonment. 


3 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Adams County . . 


1 yr. (colored offender). 


4 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Claiborne County . 


1 yr. (col'd offender). 


w 


Larceny of a horse . . 













6 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Oktibbeha County . 


6 mo. (col'd offender). 


7 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Lauderdale County, 


2yr. 


8 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Warren County 


1 yr. 


9 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Marshall County . 


2yr. 


10 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Washington Co. 


Acquitted (col'd offender). 


11 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Hinds County . . 


1 yr. (col'd offender). 


12 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Hinds County . , 


Acquitted. 


13 


Robbery 


Noxubee County . 


Acquitted. 


14 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Issaquena County . 


1 yr. (2 col'd offenders). 


15 


Murder of a negro . . 


Panola County , . 


10 yr. 


16 


Rape and subornation of 








perjury 


Kemper County 


Acquitted. 


17 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Lowndes County . 


2yr. 


18 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Monroe County 


3 yr. (col'd offender). 


19 


Larceny of two mules . 


Marshall County . 


Syr. 


20 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Amite County . . 


lyr. 


21 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Carroll County . . 


4yr. 


22 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Madison County . 


3 yr. (col'd offender). 


23 


Disloyal utterances and 
deterring negroes from 








registering .... 


Newton County 


3 mo, at the Dry Tortugas. 


24 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Adams County . . 


2 yr. (col'd offender). 


25 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Jefferson County . 


2 yr. (col'd offender) . 


26 


Assault on negro . . . 


Warren County . . 


2 yr. 


27 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Lee County . . . 


6 mo. (col'd offender). 


28 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Copiah County . . 


Acquitted. 


29 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Warren County . . 


Acquitted. 


30 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Grenada County . 


Acquitted. 


31 


Assault on uegro . . . 


Marshall County . 


2yr. 


32 


Assault on negro . . . 


Marshall County . 


3yr. 


33 


Larceny of five mules . 


Yazoo County . . 


5 yr. hard labor at Dry 

Tortugas. 


34 


Selling pistol to soldier . 


Warren County 


6 mo. and fine of $200, 


35 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Simpson County . 


1 yr. 


36 


Larceny of three horses, 


Pike County . . . 


5 yr. at Dry Tortugas. 


37 


Larceny of twelve horses, 


Warren and Hinds 








counties . . . 


5 yr. at Dry Tortugas. 


38 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Claiborne County . 


5 yr. at Dry Tortugas. 


39 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Claiborne County . 


Acquitted. 


40 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Jefferson County . 


2 yr. at Dry Tortugas. 


41 


Burglary and robbery . 


Pike County . . . 


7 yr. and 2 mo. at Dry Tor- 








tugas. 



170 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

It is "well to remember that in all these cases the offenders 
were civilians, and in no way connected with the military 
service. In no case was there a presentment or indictment 
by a grand jury, altliough the accused was furnished with a 
written copy of the charges against him ; nor was there a 
trial by a jury of the vicinage, nor were the well-established 
forms of judicial procedure followed ; yet, according to the 
proclamation of the President, the rebellion had come to an 
end more than a year before, and the courts, both state and 
Federal, were open and in the full and unobstructed discharge 
of their accustomed functions. Every effort to have the Su- 
preme Court of the United States pass upon the validity of 
such proceedings in the South was defeated, sometimes by 
methods of questionable propriety. Trial by military com- 
mission in a Northern state where the courts were open was 
held to be unconstitutional.^ 

Next to the McCardle case, the most notable instance of a 
trial before military commission in Mississippi was that of 
E. M. Yerger, editor of the Jackson Neivs. He was charged 
with slaying Lieutenant Colonel Crane of the United States 
army and acting mayor of Jackson by military appointment. 
He was arrested by the military authorities, and taken before 
a military commission presided over by Brigadier General 
R. S. Granger. His counsel protested against the authority 
of a military tribunal to try him, alleged that he was a 
citizen of Mississippi not in the service of the army or navy 
of the United States, and consequently, the civil courts of 
the state were competent to deal with him on the regular 
indictment by a grand jury. The objections were overruled, 
whereupon Yerger applied to the Circuit Court of the United 
States for a writ of habeas corpus, which was granted. The 
court decided that the imprisonment was lawful, and ordered 
that the prisoner be remanded to the custody of the military 
authorities, to be held to answer the charges brought against 
him. To obtain release from imprisonment Yerger asked 
for a writ of certiorari to have the case taken to the United 
States Supreme Court for review, and for a writ of habeas 
corpus. October 25, 1868, the chief justice gave his decision, 
attirming the power of the court to issue the writ, but gave 
no opinion as to the power of a military commission to try 

1 Ex parte MilllEcan, 4 Wall. 2, 120. Attorney General Hoar, in an opinion 
of May ".My 1809, held tliat the district commander in any state undergoing 
reconstruction might take a man from the civil jiower and try him before a 
military commission, and according to mnrtial law, even though neither party 
was in the military or naval service of the United States. 



REGISTRATION OF THE NEW ELECTORATE 171 

a civilian in time of peace without a jury and without 
indictment by a grand jury.^ Tlie hearing on this all-im- 
portant question was postponed until the next term of the 
court. Before the case was reached, the military govern- 
ment of the state had come to an end, and Yerger was 
handed over to the civil officers for trial. TIius, what 
would have doubtless been an interesting and important 
decision was avoided. 

Such, in brief, was the administration of General Ord, so 
far as his first class of duties was concerned. There were 
local charges that he abused his powers and was an irrespon- 
sible despot, but it does not appear that he violated the spirit 
of the reconstruction acts, although it will be admitted that he 
might have administered them with less rigor and severity. 



IV. REGISTRATION OE THE NEW ELECTORATE 

The chief political duty of General Ord was to make a 
careful registration of the new electorate, as defined by the 
reconstruction acts. To protect the registration officers from 
interference while in the discharge of their duties, he made 
liberal requisitions upon the War Department for troops, and 
organized a large number of parties of mounted men to assist 
in the work of registration. ^ On the 15th of April, he 
appointed by special order a board of four military officers, 
who were charged with the duty of dividing the state into a 
convenient number of election districts for the purpose of 
facilitating the work of registration. It was also made the 
duty of this board to examine and recommend applicants for 
the position of registrar, and in order to procure suitable 
persons, the board was directed to correspond with the 
"most prominent and reliable Union men of the state." 
That none but " loyal " men should be appointed, the board 
was directed to make a record in each case, giving fully the 

1 Ex parte Yerger, 8 Wall. 85. 

2 The following was the strength and distribution of the military force in 
the state at the time of the registration : — 

STATION. STRENGTH. STATION. STRENGTH. 

Vicksburg 269 men Pass Christian .... 80 men 

Brookhaven 80 " Grenada 250 " 

Meridian 83 " Columbus 161 " 

Jackson 242 " Holly Springs . . . . 162 " 

Winchester 77 " Corinth 167 " 

Woodville 77 " Yazoo City 77 " 

Natchez 86 " » 



172 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

reasons for recommending the applicant.^ A board of three 
registrars was appointed for each county. Each appointee 
was required to subscribe to and file in the office of the 
commanding general an oath that he had never voluntarily 
borne arms against the United States ; that he had never 
given aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons 
engaged in armed hostility thereto ; and that he had never 
sought, accepted, or attempted to exercise the functions of 
any office whatever under the authority or pretended authority 
in hostility to the United States, nor yielded a voluntary sup- 
port to any such authority. Of course, few of the native 
whites could take this oath. As a consequence, General 
Ord's registrars were for the most part freedmen, military 
officers, and ex-Union soldiers who had settled in the state 
since the close of the war.^ 

The first board of registrars was appointed by special 
order on April 24. Other appointments followed in quick 
succession, until the 30th of May, when the last registry 
board was completed. ^ They were directed to select suit- 
able offices and begin at once the registration of the electors. 
The several counties were to be divided into a suitable num- 
ber of precincts, each of which was to be visited by the 
registrars in person after giving five days' notice, and they 
were to remain sufficiently long at each precinct to enable all 
qualified voters to register. Each person registered was to 
be furnished with a certificate showing that he was a legal 



1 Gen. Oi'ders No. 9, Cor. Rel. to Recon. p. 147. The following was the 
detail for the board : General Alvau C. Gillem, Colonel Joseph K. Smith, 
Major O. D. Greene, Major Charles A. Wikoff. 

^ In an early report to General Grant, Ord announced that lie purposed to 
visit each county and make his a])pi)intments only after personal interviews 
with applicants. He also declared his intention of selecting two of the three 
election judges in each county from the late volunteer forces, and the third 
member from "loyal" residents, when such could be found. In his first 
report, he expressed the opinion that there were few such persons in the state, 
by which, of course, he meant tliere were few who could take the iron-clad 
oath. 

^ The names of the registrars appointed by General Ord, together with the 
special orders issued to each board, are to be found in the (Correspondence 
Keiative to Reconstruction, pp. 148-190. The expenses of registration were 
very large, on account of the elaborate machinery provided for the lair] ose. 
On July 9, befoi-e the work of registration was half comijlcted, the Paymaster 
General informed Secretary Stanton that a furtlier apin'opriation of .s24o,58U 
was needed for the completion of reconstruction in the fourth district. He 
said: " If General Ord's registrars estimated for to July I should be contin- 
ued on duty to July ;^1, there shoulil be added to the above expenses for that 
month 11159,781, and if continued to the end of August, $319,r)(;2." Of the 
original appropriation of March 80, 18(<7, §97,222 had been used in the 
fourth district. Report of Secretary of War, 1867, p. 260. 



REGISTRATION OF THE NEW ELECTORATE 173 

voter under the reconstruction acts. Pending the decision 
of the Attorney General as to who were disfranchised, regis- 
trars were to give the strictest interpretation to the law, 
and exclude every person about whose qualification there 
might be any doubt. Any person so excluded, who might, 
under the subsequent decision of the Attorney General, be 
entitled to vote, would be duly informed and permitted to 
register. 

On the lOtli of June, a circular of instructions to registrars 
informed them that they had no power to decide in doubtful 
cases upon the question of qualification or disqualification, 
but must register all persons who were willing to take the 
required oath, although it might be evident that the appli- 
cant was perjuring himself. It was the opinion of the com- 
manding general that the applicant must determine upon his 
own responsibility, and at his peril, his ability or disability. 
Registrars were, however, directed to report promptly to 
headquarters for investigation by a military commission all 
cases in which there was reason to believe that persons dis- 
qualified by the reconstruction acts had taken the oath. 
They were urged to use every possible means to ascertain 
the antecedents of doubtful applicants, and to warn them of 
the penalty fixed by the reconstruction acts to the crime of 
perjury. If, however, the applicant insisted upon being reg- 
istered, he must be given a certificate marked " reported for 
investigation." ^ General Ord transmitted a copy of these 
instructions to General Grant for his approval. In the let- 
ter of transmission, he expressed the opinion that the position 
he had taken in regard to registration accorded with the 
intent of the reconstruction acts, and that with the certainty 
of trial before a military commission, few disqualified persons 
would have the boldness to take the oath.^ General Grant at 
once replied that he entirely dissented from the views of Gen- 
eral Ord, and it was his opinion that registrars should use 
every means to prevent disqualified persons from registering, 
and to that end, they should be empowered to administer oaths 
and examine witnesses.^ In a subsequent circular, registrars 
were instructed to act in accord with the views of General 
Grant on this point, and Congress, by the act of July 19, 
made his instructions the law of the land. It provided 
further that no person should be entitled to vote by reason 
of any executive pardon or amnesty. 

1 Cor. Rel. to Recon. p. 142, Circular of June 10. 

2 Ibid. p. 141, Letter of June 15. ^ Ibid. p. 143, Despatch of June 23. 



174 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The work of registration began early in June. The 
registrars, accompanied by soldiers, clerks, and assistants pro- 
ceeded from precinct to precinct. Only males twenty-one 
years of age, who bad resided in the state one year, and who 
could take an oath of which the following was the substance, 
were entitled to be registered as legal voters : that the appli- 
cant had never been a member of any legislature, nor held 
any executive or judicial office and afterward engaged in 
rebellion against the United States, or had given aid or com- 
fort to its enemies ; that he had never taken an oath as a 
member of Congress or as an officer of the United States, or 
as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or 
judicial oihcer of any state, to support the Constitution of 
the United States, and afterward engaged in insurrection 
against it, or gave aid or comfort to its enemies. ^ These 
stringent requirements in effect disqualified most of the 
prominent and influential white citizens, for there were few 
of that class who had not at some time held a petty office. 
They had all served the cause of the Confederac3^ 

In the meantime, tlie work of registration was going on. 
General Ord was able to telegraph General Grant June 15 
that registration was progressing satisfactorily in thirty-five 
counties. 2 By the first of July, he reported that the work was 
going on in all the counties.^ In a number of places, the 

1 Reconstruction act of March 23. The provisions of this oath in effect ex- 
tended the disfranchisement beyond the requirements of the act of March 2, 
inasmuch as neither conviction, judgment of a court, nor any express 
legislative act was required to establish the fact of disfranchisement. Opin. 
of Stanberry, Attorney General, May 24, 1867. There was a difference of 
opinion as to the meaning of the phrase, "executive and judicial officers of 
a state." It was the opinion of the Attorney General that members of the 
secession convention, and all persons who during the war actecl in an othcial 
capacity, where the duties of the office necessarily had relation to the support 
of the Confederacy, were intended to be included in the disqualifying clause. 
Officers who.se duties were simply the preservation of order and the adminis- 
tration of the law did not come within the purview of the act. Such, for 
example, were militia and municipal officers, commissioners of public works, 
directors of state institutions, of banks, and of other corporations. Conscripts 
and slaves forced into the Confederate service were not to be taken as persons 
who had engaged in the rebellion. IMere acts of charity, where the intent was 
t'> relieve the wants of tlie Confederate soldier and not in aid of the cause 
which he represented, did not disqualify, although organized contributions of 
food and clothing for the general relief of persons engaged in the rebellion, 
and not of a mere sanitary character, were acts which disqualified. Volun- 
tary contributions to the Confederacy in the form of loans and the purchase 
of its bonds or securities likewise worked disqualification. Opinion of June 
12, 1867. The act of July 19 defined "executive and judicial officers" as 
being all civil officers created by law for the administration of any general 
law of the state or for tlie administration of justice. 

2 Cor. Rel. to Recon. p. 141. s /jj,^. p. 144. 



REGISTRATION OF THE NEW ELECTORATE 175 

whites were charged with deterring the negroes from regis- 
tering. The report was spread abroad that the purpose 
of registration was to enable the government to impose a 
tax upon the negroes, and to require military service of 
them. By an order of June 29, bureau agents were directed 
to visit every important plantation within their reach, and 
instruct the freedmen upon the subject of registering and 
voting, and to correct any mistaken ideas that they might 
have, and report to headquarters the names of all persons 
interfering with the work of registration. Only one indi- 
vidual seems to have been punished on this account. 

Early in September the work was completed, with the 
following result : ^ — 

White voters 46,636 

Colored " 60,167 



Total . . . 106,803 

Of the sixty-one counties, thirty-three had negro majorities. 
The announcement of the result greatly surprised the whites. 
The negro majority was far in excess of the estimates made 
by the newspapers, and showed that the negroes were not 
becoming extinct as rapidly as the census of 1866 seemed to 
indicate. The result showed, moreover, the thoroughness 
with which General Ord had executed the reconstruction 
acts and settled the question as to whether the negro was 
interested in politics. It revealed, too, as nothing else had 
done, the real political situation in which civil war and 
reconstruction was fast placing the whites. It was now 
plain that the management of their political affairs, which 
they had come to look upon as theirs of right, must soon 
pass to their late slaves, together with white strangers from 
other states. Many declared that the state was no longer a 
fit habitation for white men, and some prepared to emigrate 
to other countries. Those who went in advance, however, 
made such discouraging reports that it was decided that 
negro suffrage was preferable to a life of exile. ^ 

As the holidaj^s approached, rumors of a negro insurrec- 
tion disturbed the peace and quiet of the state. Again the 

1 These figures do not include the registration In Bolivar, Covington, and 
Tunica. The population of Bolivar and Tunica was overwlielmingly black. 
The counties with the largest colored majorities were Adams, Carroll, Clai- 
borne, Hinds, Issaquena, Jefferson, Lowndes, Noxubee, Warren, Washington, 
and Yazoo. 

8 De Bow's Review, 1867, p. 537. 



176 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

negroes had conceived the notion that Christmas woukl bring 
a distribution of the hinds among them. Accordingly, they 
refused to make contracts for the ensuing year, or to leave 
the plantations where they lived. The indications of an 
armed outbreak became so numerous that the civil governor, 
Mr. Humphreys, on December 9, issued a proclamation recit- 
ing that communications had been received from different 
portions of the state expressing serious apprehensions that 
" combinations and conspiracies " were being formed among 
the blacks to seize the lands unless Congress should arrange 
a plan of distribution by January 1. It appears that com- 
plaints had been made to General Ord, which complaints 
were referred to Governor Humphreys for his cooperation 
with the military authorities. The proclamation of Decem- 
ber 9 warned the blacks that if they entertained any such 
hopes, they had been grossly deceived. The governor told 
them plainly that the first outbreak against the peace and 
quiet of the state would signalize the destruction of their 
cherished hopes and the ruin of their race. The day before 
General Ord turned over the command of the fourth district, 
he instructed General Gillem, commander of the sub-district 
of Mississippi, to ascertain what white men were advising the 
freedmen to take up arms and seize the lands, and to inform 
the leading freedmen that there was no intention upon the 
part of Congress to take the lands of planters for the benefit 
of their former slaves, that the government already had 
plenty of land in Mississippi for freedmen, and tliey could 
settle upon it whenever they chose to do so. General Gillem 
accordingly issued a proclamation informing them that they 
would be required to earn their support during the com- 
ing year, and those who were able to work, and would not, 
would render themselves liable to arrest and punishment as 
vagrants. The cooperation of all civil officers was invoked 
to secure the enforcement of the order. 



V. PARTY POLITICS IN 1867 

The registration being complete. General Ord made ready 
for an election to determine whether the electorate, as now 
constituted, was in favor of a constitutional convention for 
the purpose of reestablishing civil government and restoring 
the state to the Union, or whether they preferred to remain 
under military rule and without representation in Congress. 
An election to settle this question was ordered to be held on 



PAETY POLITICS IN 1867 177 

the first Tuesday in November. Delegates to the convention 
were to be chosen at the same time. On September 26, the 
commanding general issued an order regulating in detail 
the manner in which the election was to be conducted. The 
election at each precinct was to be held by a registrar, a 
judge, and a clerk, wlio were to receive $6 per day for their 
services.^ Only those who could subscribe to the iron-clad 
oath were qualified to serve as election officials. Each bal- 
lot was to have written on it the words " for a convention," 
or " against a convention," and also the names of the dele- 
gates voted for. No returning officer was allowed to be 
a candidate at this election. The commanding general an- 
nounced that he would exercise to the fullest extent the 
powers vested in him to punish all cases of fraud and vio- 
lence. If it appeared that a majority of the votes cast were 
in favor of a constitution, the names of the delegates would 
be officially announced, and orders issued for the assembling 
of the convention. The excitement incident to the approach 
of the first election in the state in which colored voters par- 
ticipated, led the commanding general to adopt stringent 
measures to preserve the peace and secure a fair election. 
Sub-district commanders were directed to cause all bar-rooms 
and saloons to be strictly closed on occasions of political 
meetings. All persons making inflammatory speeches to 
freedmen, or endeavoring to endanger the public peace by 
exciting one class against another, were to be reported to 
headquarters. In pursuance of this order, a man was tried 
before a military commission at Vicksburg for an alleged 
attempt to deter registrars from their duties, and inducing 
freedmen not to register by telling them it was the design 
of the government to enroll them for service in a foreign 
war. He was convicted and sent to the Dry Tortugas for 
imprisonment. The assembling of armed bodies of citizens 
under any pretence whatever was forbidden. 

1 General Ord's action in appointing freedmen as judges and clerks of the 
election was the subject of great protest by the Vicksburg Herald. Tliat 
journal said : " We hoped this shameful humiliation would be spared our 
people, at least until the freemen of Mississippi decide whether they will sub- 
mit to negro equality at the ballot box or elsewhere. General Ord has here- 
tofore exhibited a wisdom in his administration which has been highly 
approved by the people, but we doubt not the lovers of peace throughout the 
country will condemn the order as injudicious, if not insulting, to that race 
whom God has created superior to the black man, and whom no monarch can 
make his ecjual. The general commanding cannot surely have forgotten that 
the negro has no political rights conferred on him by tlie state of Mississippi, 
although he is given the privilege by a corrupt and fragmentary congress to 
cast a ballot in the coming farce dignified by the name of election." 

N 



178 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

As these reconstruction movements proceeded, a difference 
of opinion arose among the whites as to the proper course 
for them to pursue in the premises. On the 15th of Octo- 
ber, a state convention of " constitutional Union men " was 
hekl at Jackson, and it adopted resolutions urging all per- 
sons in sympathy with them to abstain from participation 
in the election of delegates to the reconstruction convention. 
In an address of December 12, they declared that the policy 
of Congress had reduced the people to utter ruin, and had 
contrived for tliem the perpetuity of negro rule, which 
meant that the Southern states were foredoomed to become 
African provinces, in which they and their children were to 
be held in negro subjection. Tlie supporters of this party 
purposed to take no part or lot in the proceedings by which 
such a condition of things was to be inaugurated.^ They 
took the view that inasmuch as the government was being 
reestablished on principles abhorrent to their traditional 
ideas of popular government, and by those who had shown 
so little consideration for their welfare, their interests could 
be best subserved by abstaining from all participation in 
the work of reconstruction, and by permitting the state to 
remain under military rule. As the call for the reconstruc- 
tion convention required the approval of a majority of the 
registered voters, they could easily defeat it by refusing to 
vote. Although the call for a convention of those who held 
to these views had been published in every county, and the 
people urged to send delegates, only six or eight counties 
responded. The Clarion said this proved beyond doubt that 
the people were in favor of reconstruction. 

The other party, which consisted of a respectable minority 
of the leading politicians and editors, took the position that 
it was the duty of the whites to register, vote for a conven- 
tion, and in every possible way assist in the reconstruction 
of the state. They saw clearly that there was no escape 
from negro domination, and that a 2X)licy of sullen inactivity 
would only increase the prejudice of the radicals in Congress, 
to whose power they were undoubtedly subjected. ^ An 
acceptance of the reconstruction policy as cheerfully as their 

^ Their address is publislied in the Neio York World of Jan. 4, 1868. 

2 The Jackson Clarion of June 21, 1867, said : '' The belief that negro suf- 
frage can bo averted by voting tlown a convention is a miserable, bald, and 
stupid delusion, and will soon run its course." Tlie Koscinsko Clironicle de- 
•clared that if tlie (juestion of a convention was defeated, anotlier reconstruc- 
tion act would be passed disfranchising nineteen-twentieihs of the whites, 
and the state would be reorganized by the negroes, and those few whites 
who could take the oath. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1867 179 

pride would permit could not make their situation any the 
worse, and it would perhaps be the means of securing con- 
cessions from the radicals in Congress. Their support was, 
of course, not to be an outspoken advocacy of the reconstruc- 
tion measures, but a hearty acquiescence. Some of the lead- 
ing politicians of the state who supported this view were 
ex-Senator Brown, Mr. Barksdale, editor of the Jackson 
Clarion^ and Judges Watson, Campbell, and Yerger.i Brown 
acknowledged the right of Congress to dictate terms to them, 
and he was willing to "make the best of it."^ As for negro 
suffrage, he would not oppose it as an original proposition if 
it was done at the right time, by the right men, in the right 
way.^ He was ready to " meet Congress on its own plat- 
form and shake hands."'* Judge Campbell said he was in 
favor of accepting the reconstruction acts of Congress, for 
he felt that the people were in the power of the Federal gov- 
ernment. " I agreed," he said, " with Mr. Barksdale, who 
favored a prompt acquiescence on the part of our people, and 
to make the most of the situation and form an alliance with 
the negroes politically by a full recognition of their rights 
to vote and hold office, acquire ascendency over them, and 
become their teachers and controllers instead of allowing the 
Republicans to do so." He thought the policy of the Demo- 
cratic party drove the negroes to band together under the 
lead of the Republicans.^ Ex-Governor McRae, Fulton 
Anderson, and others, advised every man who could to take 
the oath and vote for delegates to the convention. The fore- 
most advocate of this policy was the Jackson Clarion, a Demo- 
cratic paper. As early as the IGth of May, it advised the 
whites to register, vote, and otherwise aid in the work of 
reconstruction. The same issue of the Clarion published 
a list of twenty-two papers that had come out in favor 
of reconstruction. The editor affirmed that the policy of 
inactivity had no advocates in the state, and that " multi- 
tudes," who were at first inclined to take no part in recon- 
struction, had come over to its support. A state central 
reconstruction club was formed at Jackson, and counted 
among its members the two most eminent members of the 
Mississippi bar, Wiley P. Harris and William Yerger. Upon 

^ See editorials in the Jackson Clarion of Aug. 1 aud 2, 1867, in which the 
duty of the whites is stated. 

2 Letter in Jackson Clarion, Jan. 6, 1869. 
2 Letter in New York Herald, April 3, 1867. 
< New York Tribune, Feb. 11, 1869. 
6 Testimony in Boutwell Report, p. 937. 



180 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

their advice, local affiliated clubs were formed in many 
communities. 

The most advanced reconstructionist among the promi- 
nent whites was General Alcorn. Inasmuch as there was no 
hope of escape from the power of the radicals, he proposed 
to form an alliance with them in order to secure terms. He 
proposed to " vote with the negro, discuss politics with him, 
sit, if need be, in council with him, and form a platform accept- 
able to both, and pluck our common liberty and prosperity 
from the jaws of inevitable ruin," With a platform guaran- 
teeing to the negro all his rights as a citizen, generous pro- 
vision for the education of his children, and the possession of 
a homestead, Alcorn believed that the white people would be 
able to hold their old positions as advisers of the negro race. 
With such an alliance, they would be in a position to " open 
negotiations " with the dominant political party of the North, 
with a view to securing the abolition of the cotton tax, the 
reconstruction of the levees, and the restoration of political 
rights. Northern hatred of the Democratic party, he said, 
made it useless to continue to affiliate with that jjarty.^ 

In the meantime, a new political party was being organized 
in the state. On the 10th of September, it held a conven- 
tion at Jackson. This was the first Republican convention 
ever held in the state. About one-third of the delegates 
were freedmen, the others were election registrars, bureau 
agents, and Northern men who had recently taken up their 
abode in the state. They adopted a platform endorsing all 
the principles of the national party, and declared that the 
Mississippi Republicans would " keep step with it in all the 
progressive political reforms of the age." They endorsed 
the congressional plan of reconstruction, and promised to 
use their best efforts in extending the benefits of free educa- 
tion to every child in the state, and to give the ballot to 
every man not disfranchised for crime, including treason. 
They declared that they would never recognize any distinc- 
tion based on race or color. 

" Two things are clear," said a newspaper correspondent 
who reported the proceedings, "first, tlie negro vote is in the 
majority ; second, it will be controlled by a few white men."^ 
The Clarion found something in the action of the conven- 
tion to be hopeful for. It said: " Whatever may be thought 
of their platform, it is clear that if they get control of the 

J See his address to the people, in the New York Times of Sept. 2, 1867. 
2 Neio York Herald, Sept. 25, 1807. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1867 181 

convention, it commits them against imposing disabilities 
and proscriptions beyond the requirements of the recon- 
struction acts. Tliey have heartily adopted the congres- 
sional plan, and cannot go beyond it." The judgment of the 
Clarion proved to be unsound.^ 

The election to settle the question of a convention was 
held in the latter part of November, and the reconstruction- 
ists won by a large majority. The following was the result : 

Registered voters 139,327 

Votes cast 76,016 

For a convention 09,739 

Against a convention 6,277 

The votes in favor of a convention were not only a major- 
ity of those cast, but a majority of the registered votes. The 
great mass of the whites took no part in the election, but 
allowed it to go by default. In pursuing this course, they 
made a great mistake. As a result of their refusal to par- 
ticipate in the election, the radicals secured a large majority 
of the delegates in the convention.^ On December 10, tlie 
commanding general issued an order from Holly Springs, 
declaring that inasmuch as a majority of the votes cast were 
for a convention, it would assemble as already directed in a 
general order of December 8. 

On the '28th of December, General Ord was directed to 
turn over his command to General Alvan C. Gillem and pro- 
ceed to San Francisco and assume command of the Depart- 
ment of California. His incumbency as military commander 
of Mississippi covered a period of about nine months. From 
the standpoint of the reconstructionist, his administration 
was a thorough success, being vigorous in character, and in 

1 Among the delegates to this convention, and who were therefore among 
the founders of the Republican party in Mississippi, were George C. McKee, 
Jonathan Tarbell, R. W. Flourney, J. S. Morris, J. L. Wofford, L. W. Perce, 
H. R. Pease, and the Rev. James Lynch, colored. During the organization 
of tlie convention. Pease moved that the word "colored " be added to the 
name of each negro delegate, whereupon Lynch moved to amend so that the 
color of each delegate's hair be added, also. Both motions were laid on 
the table. 

- Relative to this election, a Vicksburg paper said : "We urge every decent 
white man, every honorable gentleman of the Caucasian race to avoid Gen- 
eral Ord's election as he would pestilence and prison." After the election, it 
said : " We are gratified to be able to announce that at the courthouse 
yesterday, the only place open to the whole people, there were cast the votes 
of eight persons only. We tried to get the names of the interesting sneaks 
who voted, but failed, though we are ready to pay a dollar for the name of 
each." 



182 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

accordance with strict military methods. It was distinctly a 
military administration of military law, and therefore the 
sphere of civil liberty was reduced to a minimum. There 
were loud protests against the severity of his rule, and upon 
his own request, it is said, the President removed him and 
appointed as his successor a commander whose Southern 
sympathies led him to mitigate to a great extent the rigor of 
military rule which had been established. ^ 



VI. MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL 

GILLEM 

General Gillem assumed command of the fourth district 
January 9, 1868. He had already been in command of the 
sub-district of Mississippi since the inauguration of the 
congressional policy, and was therefore, like his predecessor, 
not an entire stranger in the state. General Gillem was a 
native of Tennessee, a personal friend of President John- 
son, had distinguished himself for gallantry in the Union 
army, and had taken a leading part in the reorganization of 
Tennessee. 

At the time he assumed command of the fourth military 
District, the T\vent3^-fourth and Thirty-fourth regiments of 
infantry, together with two companies of cavalry, constituted 
the military force in the state. The troops were posted at 
Vicksburg, Meridian, Jackson, Natchez, Grenada, Columbus, 
Holly Springs, Corinth, Durant, Brookhaven, and Lauder- 
dale. On account of the excitement incident to the election 
and the apprehension of coUisiojis between the white and 
black races, four companies of infantry were brought from 
the Department of the Cumberland in June.^ 

There was a marked improvement in the economic condi- 
tion of tlie state during Gillem's administration. The cotton 
crop had been almost a total failure in 1867, employers being 
unable to meet their obligations either to laborers or mer- 
chants from whom they obtained their supplies. There was 
much suffering among the poorer whites and the negroes. 
Both races appealed to General Gillem, who was then a sub- 

1 General Ord died of yellow fever at Havana in 1883. The order of the 
"War Department announcing his death, concluded as follows : " As his inti- 
mate associate since boyhood, the general commanding [Sherman] here 
bears testinidny of him that a more unselfish, manly, and patriotic person 
never lived." Powell's Dlhcurs and Soldiers, p. 27. 

- Report Secretary of War, 18G8-1869, p. 523. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL GILLEM 183 

district commander, for assistance. General Gillem believed 
that the relief asked for would be an actual injury, and so 
he declined to advance provisions to either. He urged 
the farmers to plant extensivel}^ and the freedmen to enter 
into contracts for the following year, assuring both races 
that each would be held to a strict compliance with their 
agreements. Finding that they would receive no aid from 
the government, all went to work, and an abundant crop 
was made, the first since 1860. The system of labor so de- 
ranged at the close of the war, had, in a measure, adjusted 
itself to the changed conditions. The whites had become 
convinced that free negro labor could be made profitable ; 
the negroes, on the other hand, had come to believe that 
there was no desire on the part of the whites to reenslave 
them or cheat them out of their earnings. General Gillem 
reported that there were few complaints during his adminis- 
tration from either laborers or employers. 

There was also an improvement in tlie political condition 
of the state, and a relaxation of the rigors of military rule. 
Gillem's first official act was to restore to the civil courts 
jurisdiction in cases of horse stealing, and, in fact, of all 
cases whatsoever, except in a few instances, where, from 
excitement or prejudice on account of race, politics, or 
" local animosities " it was believed that justice could not be 
secured. In such cases the military tribunals were to con- 
tinue to have jurisdiction. Certain of his predecessor's 
orders giving to the military tribunals jurisdiction of cases 
involving disputes over the division of crops among employ- 
ers and employees, and of cases between debtors and creditors 
were revoked, except where the Freedmen's Bureau had juris- 
diction by act of Congress. These cases were now to be cog- 
nizable by the civil courts. He also used his pardoning power 
rather freely to relieve from imprisonment many persons con- 
victed of crime by General Ord's military commissions. The 
cases of all persons who were in confinement awaiting trial on 
the charge of horse stealing were directed to be investigated 
at once by post commanders, and reports made of those cases 
which, in their judgment, would receive impartial justice at 
the hands of the civil authorities. Such cases were to be 
turned over to the civil courts "with the least possible 
dela3^" General Ord's order requiring licenses to sell coun- 
try produce after sunset was revoked, and so were his orders 
imprisoning several Vicksburg editors for libel against one 
another. A number of General Ord's appointments were 
also revoked. 



184 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



As will appear from the following exhibit, comparatively 
few cases were tried by military commissions during Gillem's 
administration, and there were still fewer convictions: — 



Offence. 


Where committed. 


PrNISHMENT. 


1. 


Illegal collection of fines 
and obtaining money 
under false pretences 










(bureau agent) . . . 


De Soto County 


" Guilty, but acquitted." 


2. 


Murder 


Warren 


(( 


Five years' imprisonment. 


3. 


Murder of a freednian . 


Hinds 


a 


Acquitted. 


4. 


Larceny of a horse . . 


Lowndes 


a 


Acquitted. 


5. 


Murder 


Panola 


n 


Acquitted. 


6. 


Robbery and assault 
with intent to kill 










(soldiers) .... 


Grenada 


« 


Ten years' imprisonment. 


7. 


Bribery and illegal 
charges for service 






Dishonorable discharge 
from army. 




(bureau agent) . . . 


Panola 


« 


Ten months' imprison- 
ment and fine of ^50. 


8. 


Theft (U. S. soldier) . 


Grenada 


(( 


Two years' imprisonment. 


9. 


Larceny of a mule . . 


Tishomingo 


)" 


Five years' imprisonment. 


10. 


Assault on a freedman 


Graysport 




Acquitted. 


11. 


Assault with intent to 










kill 


Jeffers'n County 


Three years' imprison- 


12. 


Murder of a private 






ment. 




soldier 


Lincoln 


« 


Acquitted. 


13. 


Assault with intent to 










kill (colored offender) 


Grenada 




Acquitted. 


14. 


Larceny of two mules . 


Tishomingo 


*' 


Five years' imprisonment. 


15. 


Larceny of 400 lbs. meat 


Choctaw 




Acquitted. 


16. 


Larceny of two swine . 


Choctaw 




Acquitted. 


17. 


Riot 


Choctaw 




Acquitted. 



There were also comparatively few cases of interference 
with the civil authorities during General Gillem's adminis- 
tration. In one case, he ordered a change of venue, in an- 
other case, he suspended for investigation a chancellor's 
decree, in another, he declared a private sale of property void, 
and in another, he detailed an army officer to investigate the 
question of the removal of a County courthouse. By another 
order lie directed that a special tax on guns and pistols in 
Washington County be reduced so as to conform to the tax 
levied in otlier counties, and in another case, lie suspended 
the collection of the levee tax. With a view to diminishing 
crime, he forbade the carrying of concealed weapons, under 
heavy penalties, and to settle disputes between employer 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL GILLEM 185 

and employees, he made provision for boards of arbitration. 
In the absence of legisLative sessions, it devolved upon him 
to make reg-ular appropriations for support of the state 
institutions. 1 So far as reconstructing the official person- 
nel of the civil government was concerned, it may be said 
that General Gillem removed a few more officers than his 
predecessor, due chiefly to the pressure which Congress 
brought to bear upon the district commanders. The mayor 
of Jackson was removed for failure to enforce law and 
maintain order, and an army officer was appointed to act 
in his stead. The circuit and probate clerks of Madison 
County were removed for using their positions for " political 
purposes." Sheriffs, probate judges, district attorneys, and 
justices of the peace were removed in several instances. 
On account of these removals, and on account of a good 
many resignations, the power of appointment was exercised 
considerably more than by his predecessor. The total num- 
ber of civil appointments made by General Gillem aggre- 
gated about two hundred and thirty. ^ 

There were during Gillem's incumbency few complaints 
from freedmen or white men, such as had occupied the time 
of the courts, agencies of the Freedmen's Bureau, and the 
" arbitrary boards " established by General Ord. Gillem 
says tliere was not a single complaint from the sub-district 
of Vicksburg, containing a large population of whites and 
blacks. His theory was to interfere as little as possible with 
the civil authorities, and to restrict the sphere of the mili- 
tary power to its legitimate function, that of preserving the 
peace. He reported at the end of the first year of his 
administration that the courts of record almost without 
exception had performed their duties impartiall}^ although 
some of the minor courts were not so fair. The civil author- 
ities, he said, did what lay in their power to maintain order 
and enforce the law.^ 

1 At different times he appropriated sums aggregating $32,560 for the 
Lunatic Asylum, $13,551 for the University, and $500 for the Penitentiary. 

2 The following is a list of General Gillem's appointments: — 

Three judges of the High Court of Errors and Appeals, 2 circuit judges, 
7 probate judges, 2 district attorneys, 21 sheriffs, 15 mayors, 14 assessors, 
12 circuit clerks, 3 probate clerks, 3 county treasurers, 4 magistrates, 56 
aldermen, 28 justices of the peace, 20 constables, 5 marshals, 3 recorders, 
3 coroners, 24 members Board of Police, G school trustees. 

3 Report Secretary of War, 1868-1 8(iO, p. 506. It was his opinion that the 
great defect in administering justice lay, not in the courts, but in the imprac- 
ticability of detecting crime and arresting criminals. The majority of the 
crimes were committed at night by persons in disguise whom their victims 
were unable to recognize. 



186 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The extent of General Gillem's authority under the recon- 
struction acts subsequently came before the state Supreme 
Court. It arose over an act of his in setting aside the 
decision of a board of arbitration made adversely to the 
claim of a negro, satisfactory evidence having been sub- 
mitted to the general that undue advantage had been taken 
of the negro's ignorance. Objections were taken to the 
authority of the district commander, but his action was 
sustained by the Circuit Court held by Judge Tarbell, a 
Northern man. The Supreme Court reversed the decision 
of "^he lower court. The two justices who concurred in the 
decision held that while very large discretion had been 
vested in the district commander so far as political ques- 
tions were concerned, and in the maintenance of peace and 
order, absolute power over person and property had not 
been conferred upon him. They denied tliat the military 
commander could set aside and vacate the judgment of a 
court in a civil case. From this decision Justice Tarbell, 
who had in the meantime been appointed to the Supreme 
bench, dissented, and aflirmed that the military commander 
was the source of all power, authority, and law ; and that he 
could annul the constitution or code, either wholly or in 
part, or he could make law by his military liat as he pleased, 
and that in the exercise of the power vested in him, he could 
displace the judge, and hear and determine the case himself. 
" By no refinement of reasoning, therefore," he continued, 
" can we escape the fact that tliere existed in the state in 18 '58 
a pure undisguised military government, and the military 
force was not kept there simply as a police force, a sort of 
comitatus to preserve the peace, but it was sent there to 
govern as well. " ^ Tarbell's view was certainly justified by the 
actual practice of the commanders, if not by the spirit of the 
reconstruction acts ; whether it was justified by the Consti- 
tution of the United States is not quite so clear. 



VII. THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 

The important political event of General Gillem's admin- 
istration was the session of the reconstruction convention, 
locally known as the " Black and Tan " convention. It 
assembled at Jackson January 9, just two days before Gen- 
eral Gillem assumed command of the district. Viewed from 

I Welborne vs. Mayrant, 48 Miss. 663. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 187 

the standpoint of both its personnel and its policy, it deserves 
to be ranked as the most remarkable political assemblage 
ever convened in Mississippi. General Ord, who had brought 
it into existence, fixed the number of delegates at one hun- 
dred, and apportioned them in such a way, it was charged, as 
to give the reconstructionists a large majority. Thus thirty- 
two of the sixty-one counties of the state had negro majori- 
ties, and were given seventy delegates, while the twenty-nine 
white counties were given but thirty.^ This was the first 
political body in Mississippi in which the negro race was 
represented, there being seventeen colored delegates returned. 
With the exception of the colored ministers,^ they were with- 
out education, and none of them had ever before held pub- 
lic office. There were but nineteen conservatives in the 
convention. The so-called "carpet bag" element had twenty 
odd representatives, nearly all of whom had been soldiers 
in the Union army. There were twenty-nine native white 
Republicans, derisively called " Scalawags." Four of the 
Northern born Republicans had lived in the South before the 
war, and two of them had served in the Confederate army. 
Among the. more prominent ex-Union soldiers in the conven- 
tion were General Beroth B. Eggleston, a native of New 
York, but who had enlisted as a private in an Ohio regi- 
ment ; Colonel A. T. Morgan, of the Second Wisconsin Volun- 
teers ; General W. S. Barry, formerly commander of a negro 
regiment raised in Kentucky; General George C. McKee, for- 
merly a practising attorney at Centralia, Illinois, and a grad- 
uate of Knox College ; Major W. H. Gibbs, of the Fifteenth 
Illinois infantry ; Judge W. B. Cunningham, of Pennsyl- 
vania ; and Captain E. J. Castello, of the Seventh Missouri 
infantry. These were among the founders of the Republican 
party in Mississippi, and were more or less prominent in the 
politics of the state down to 1876.^ 

1 The following inequalities were computed from a table giving the popu- 
lation of each county (see Appleton's Ann. Cyclop., 1868, p. 517). There 
were 106,000 registered voters (before the revision). Apportioning 100 dele- 
gates among these would give a ratio of 1 delegate to 1100 voters ; yet 
Tippah County with 901 votes had two delegates ; Panola with 12;13 had 
two; Holmes with 877 had two and one floater with Madison; Washington 
with 2231 had three, and Tishomingo with 3273 (nearly all white) had only 
two. 

^ One authority says the number of colored preachers was eight, the most 
prominent being J. Aaron Moor-,! of IMeridian, now a blacksmith at Jackson, 
Mississippi, C. W. Fitzhugh, and T. W. Stringer, the latter a Northern man 
who went South with the Freedmen's Bureau. He sat for Warren County. 

^ The subsequent careers of some of the members of the " Black and Tan " 
convention are full of interest. Five met violent deaths. Caldwell, after- 



188 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The convention was called to order January 7, by Mr. 
Mj'gatt, a Northern man who had lived in the state before 
the war, and who had supported the cause of the Confederacy 
in a feeble way until the surrender of Vicksburg, shortly 
after which he renewed his allegianco to the United States. 
Upon taking the chair, he delivered a harangue in which he 
reminded the delegates that the long-looked-for hour had at 
last come, — " the hour," said he, " for which our registrars 
have so long toiled, the hour that all loyal men have labored 
to hasten, but which a disloyal press has striven to prevent." 
" This hour," he said, " brings to a close a period of Missis- 
sippi history."^ Eighty-three members answered to their 
names, one of whom (Orr of Harrison) failed to produce 
official evidence of his appointment. The committee on cre- 
dentials reported that in the matter of contested seats it 
belonged to the commanding general to determine who were 
elected, and who, therefore, were entitled to seats. 

General Eggleston was elected president of the convention, 
and Thad P. Sears, late of the Federal army, was chosen 
secretary. There was also a large corps of employees and 
hangers-on, for some of whom it must have been difficult to 
find any duties.^ 

The first task of the convention was to fix the compensa- 
tion of the delegates and employees, and provide for raising 
the necessary means, for it will be remembered that the 



wards senator (colored) from Hinds, was, with his brother, assassinated on 
the streets of Clinton in December, 1875. He had been charged with partici- 
pation in the Clinton "Massacre"; Combast was hung by the Kuklux in 
Sunflower County ; Orr was shot at Pass Christian ; Fawn was shot in the 
courthouse at Yazoo City ; Fred Parsons, defender of Governor Ames in 
his impeachment trial, was found dead in a water-hole, having been mui'dered 
by unknown persons. The Northern members, almost without exception, 
left the state after the "revolution" of 1875. 

1 Convention Journal, p. 3. 

2 The following is a i)artial list of the thirty employees of the conven- 
tion, and the per diem of each, where the amount is ascertainable from the 
journal : — 

One reporter at ^15 per day; 1 secretary at $15 per day; 2 assistant 
secretaries at $10 each per day; 1 sergeant at arms, $10; 2 assista:it ser- 
geants at arms, $5 each ; 1 printer ; 1 warrant clerk ; 2 enrolling clerks ; 
1 reading clerk ; 1 minute clerk; 1 auditor; 1 treasurer; 1 auditing clerk; 
1 chaplain at $10 per day ; 1 postmaster at $8 per day ; 1 hall porter at $4 per 
day ; 4 pages at $2.50 each ; 2 doorkeepers at $5 ; 1 woodchopper at $2.50. 
There was also a number of committee clerks with salaries ranging from 
$5 to $15 per day. The employment of a regular chaplain was exclusively 
a reconstruction imiovation. Every one of the emphiyees was either a North- 
ern white man or a negro, " men of known loyalty," as they were called. 
A resolution offered by a native white Republican that some of the clerkships 
be given to loyal Southern men was voted down. — Journal, p. 30. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 189 

expenses of the convention were to be defrayed by the state, 
and not by the United States. On the first day of the con- 
vention, one member had the temerity to propose that " in 
order to expedite business and quicken consciences " each 
delegate be required to pay his own expenses. His motion 
was of course laid on the table, and a committee was appointed 
to arrange a schedule of salaries. The committee reported 
an ordinance fixing the compensation of members at §5-0 per 
day. This, however, was thought to be too large, and it was 
accordingly reduced to -$10 per day and forty cents per mile 
while travelling to and from the capital. ^ Perhaps less than 
a dozen of the delegates who voted for the compensation 
ordinance were owners of real estate in Mississippi. This 
was said to be the " louGf-looked-for hour " to which the 
chairman of the committee on compensation had alluded in 
his address already mentioned, the hour for which " loyal " 
men had so long toiled, and a " disloyal " press striven to 
prevent. Never had a legislative body or a state convention 
in Mississippi placed so high an estimate upon the value of 
its services. And what seems almost incomprehensible, 
there was a feeling that tliey had a legitimate right to 
exploit the taxpayers to au}^ extent they pleased. To pro- 
test ag^ainst such a schedule of salaries was treason and 
disloyalty. 2 Upon the passage of the compensation ordi- 
nance, an indignant Democrat offered a resolution declar- 
ing that inasmuch as a large and influential class had been 
disfranchised, and a large class who had never been citizens 
were enfranchised, a majority of the delegates on the floor 
were not entitled to their seats, and therefore the assembly 
was illegal and not entitled to compensation. This resolu- 
tion was voted down with a whoop and amid cries of expul- 
sion. He did not despair, however, and after regaining his 
composure, offered another resolution, to the effect that after 
the expiration of twenty days, no delegate should receive 
over 85 per day for his services. His language was de- 
nounced as insultincf to the convention, and a resolution 
was introduced asking him to withdraw and pay his own 
expenses. The resolution further directed that he be cen- 



1 Some of the delegates drew as much as $240 on account of mileage. 

The average seems to have been about f UiO. 

2 It should be said, however, that on account of the depreciated state of 
the currency, the compensation was not as great as it appears. Members 
were paid in state warrants worth sixty-five or seventy cents on tin- dnUar. 
It should also' b^said that the scale of compensation for members was but 
little higher than that fixed by the Democratic legislature in 1866. 



190 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

sured and granted a leave of absence for fourteen days.^ A 
committee was then appointed to ascertain if any member 
was opposed to reconstruction, or had declared the conven- 
tion unconstitutional, or did not regard its acts as valid. 

The convention was extravagant in other particulars. 
The Secretary of State was requested to furnish delegates 
with stationery. He replied that he had none on hand, and 
no means with which to procure any. A committee of three 
was appointed to provide stationery for the convention.^ 
They sent an agent to New Orleans to purchase a supply. 
The amount of his bill was 81458.80.^ This supply was 
soon exhausted, and additional quantities were purchased 
of a local firm.* The delegates also seem to have had a 
lively appreciation of the value of keeping posted on current 
events. They made ample provision for supplying them- 
selves with daily newspapers, those of the reconstruction 
type, of course, being given the preference.^ A no incon- 
siderable sum was spent in sending telegrams to Washington, 
and in sending committees to various places, especially to 
Vicksburg to consult with General Gillem. Having got a 
taste of office, the members of the convention now made an 
eifort to oust every official in the state from his position. 
About the third day after the organization of the convention, 
General Barry moved the appointment of a committee of seven 
to memorialize "our noble Congress" to confer on the conven- 

1 Convention Journal, p. 35. 

2 Ibid. p. 16. 

8 Ibid. p. oG. The largest items were, 105 reams paper, $897.80 ; 2400 
writing pens, .189 ; 900 penholders, $18 ; 150 inkstands, $42 ; 650 lead 
pencils, $80 ; 26,000 envelopes, $195. There were, in addition, large quan- 
tities of ink, blotting paper, erasers, mucilage, fasteners, etc. 

* The total sum paid the local firm for stationery, as far as can be ascer- 
tained from the journals, was $468.47. 

6 Each delegate was allowed five copies of any daily paper that he might 
select. One member favored making the number twenty ; another thought 
fifty was not too large. So far as can be determined from the journal, the 
following amounts were appropriated for newspapers : for the 

Jackson Pilot $ 44. 

Times 85, 

Vicksburg Journal 1783. 

Memphis Bulletin 8. 

Clarion 1123.53 

Vicksburg Herald and Neio Orleans Republican . 139.60 

Vicksburg Republican . 120. 

Memphis Fast 68. 

Avalanche 3. 

Vicksburg Chronicle 296, 

Total S 3670.13 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1888 191 

tion power to declare all civil offices vacant, and vest the ap- 
pointment of the new incumbents in the convention, in order 
that all the said oiiices might be filled by men of "known loy- 
alty" to the United States government. ^ The Clario7i said this 
was the "coolest piece of audacity " that had come to its notice, 
and that if the scheme was consummated, it would do more 
than anything else to concentrate the opposition of the people 
against the entire work of the convention, and surely lead to 
its rejection. Fifteen conservatives protested against send- 
ing the memorial to Wasliington, and allirmed that the gov- 
ernment of the state was not in the hands of rebels ; that 
tlie civil officers had not neglected to protect life, liberty, and 
property of loyal men ; that there were not enough competent 
men in the state who could take the iron-clad oath; and that the 
convention was assembled to make a constitution, and had, 
therefore, no jurisdiction in the premises. The convention 
refused to allow the protest to go upon the records, and 
decided by a vote of fifty to nineteen that " it be wrapped in 
brown paper and returned to the gentleman from Marshall." 
The orthodox test of loyalty, in General Barry's opinion, was 
straight-out radicalism. That the state should be banded 
over to his party, was a matter of supreme importance, and 
he insisted that the consideration of his motion be made the 
special order of the following day. It was lost by only a 
small majority .2 It became so manifest that one of the pur- 
poses of the convention was to secure the offices, that Judge 
Watson made an attempt to checkmate the radicals by an 
ordinance declaring delegates ineligible to any office of trust 
or profit under the state, should it be reorganized in accord- 
ance with Barry's measure. His resolution was voted down 
by a large majority.^ 

The convention had been in session several weeks before 
it seems to have dawned upon the delegates that the estab- 
lishment of a constitution was the purpose for which they 

1 The memorial declared that " the loyal people of this state require your 
immediate aid to remove obstructions impeding the actions of their repre- 
sentatives ; that the loyal men of the state have" accepted in good faith the 
reconstruction laws, and are laboring to institute a civil government that shall 
recognize and protect the liberties of the citizens ; that the state is under a 
civil government organized in 1805 by not more than one-third of the white 
men who were authorized to vote by the President's proclamation, rebels in 
name, in heart, in head, in policy, indeed in all respects save open hostility. 
All this has been borne by the faithful Union loyalists with a calm defiance 
and unaltering devotion to country, to liberty, and to the Union ; and now 
this rebel sentiment has culminated on the floor of this convention by a mem- 
ber in a report averring that this body is an unauthorized assembly." 

2 Convention Journal, p. 14. s Ibid. p. 15. 



192 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

were assembled. They remained in session but three hours 
per day, apparently adopted no methods for expediting busi- 
ness, in fact, exliibited no inclination to speedily conclude 
their labors and secure the readmission of the state at as 
early a date as possible. The greater part of the first week 
was consumed in effecting an elaborate organization and 
arranging the compensation schedule. 

The next subject to engage their attention was the inven- 
tion of some scheme for the support of the colored people in 
their idleness. There were many freedmen who still clung 
to the delusion that the government intended to make a 
division of the lands among them. Their refusal to labor or 
make contracts resulted in reducing large numbers of them 
to poverty. One of the first acts of the convention was the 
appointment of a committee of five to investigate and report 
what legislation was needed to afford adequate relief and 
protection to the state and citizens thereof.^ The committee 
reported early in February that they had made a careful 
examination and found that there existed nearly all over 
the state an " alarminsc " amount of destitution amona^ the 
laboring classes and, to some extent, among other persons 
" strangers to labor and economy." They were inclined to 
fix the number at thirty thousand, although they believed 
that to be a low estimate. They thought the number of 
those in " straitened and needy circumstances " could be 
safely set down at not less than forty thousand ; that only 
eleven counties were free from distress and suffering, and in 
nearly all the rest, there was more or less destitution, and in 
some, it bordered on actual starvation. They recommended 
that the poll tax collected in the several counties be placed 
at the disposal of a commissioner selected by the convention, 
and applied to the relief of destitute persons in their respec- 
tive counties. 2 

The resolution was ado})ted, and a connnittee sent to Vicks- 
burg to ask General Gillem to issue the requisite order. 
But the commanding general, knowing that the report was 
greatly exaggerated, and being further convinced that the 
convention did not possess powers of general legislation such 
as were involved in the appropriation of a poll tax and the 
appointment of a committee to distribute it, refused to 

1 Convention Journal, p. 18. The convention throughout its entire session 
refused to be bound by the well-established principle of American public law 
that a constituent assembly does not possess powers of ordinary legislation. 

2 The report is printed in the Report of the Secretary of War for 18G8, 
p. 613. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 193 

comply with their request. At the same time, he assured 
the committee that he had thoroughly investigated the sub- 
ject of destitution throughout the state, and, as assistant com- 
missioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, he had the means and 
would employ them in relief of such destitute persons as 
really required assistance ; that he had instructed the officers 
and agents of the bureau to procure employment for all who 
were able and willing to earn a support ; and that the aged, 
decrepit, and orphans would be cared for in hospitals and 
asylums. General Gillem was satisfied that the demand for 
laborers exceeded the supply, and if destitution existed, it was 
due to the unwillingness of the negroes to labor. He said 
he was constantly receiving letters requesting aid in hiring 
laborers. He declared tliat the very day on which the com- 
mittee interviewed him, five hundred negro men with their 
families could have procured labor at the office of the bureau 
in Vicksburg, and that free transportation would have been 
furnished every laborer to the point where he was wanted. 
He accompanied his reply with official reports of bureau 
officers to show that there was no legitimate reason for des- 
titution, if it existed.^ In view of this, he said he deemed 
it " inexpedient " to direct so large an amount of the revenue 
of the state to the object specified, when there were no funds 
in the state treasury, and when the state penitentiary, lunatic 
asylum, and other institutions were being supported at the 
expense of the United States. ^ 

It was charged by the Democrats that the extraordinary 
solicitude of the convention for the colored people was a 
political move to secure their support at the next election, at 
which nearly all the delegates expected to be candidates.^ 

^ See Convention Journal, p. 226, for report of Colonel J. W. Scully, 
U. S. A., dated Vicksburg, February 18. The colonel declared that the 
destitute condition of the freedmen was mainly due to their refusal to work 
for wages. " They insist," said he, " that upon the adjournment of the con- 
vention, the lands will be divided among them, and until then they can live 
without work. " See also ibid. p. 227, for repoi't of Lieutenant Merritt Barber, 
dated Vicksburg, February 12. He says persons from Tennessee and points 
in Mississippi had visited Grenada (headquarters of his sub-district) for the 
purpose of procuring laborers, offering excellent terms, without being able to 
secure a single one. The bureau agent at Panola reported that he had more 
applications for laborers than he could fill. The Holly Springs agent reported 
the same, and declared that the laborers of his district had received all their 
wages for the last year, and that not an instance of destitution had come to 
his notice. 

2 General Gillem's letter declining to issue an order directing sheriffs to 
reserve the poll tax is found in the Convention Journal, p. 223 ; also in the 
Report of Secretary of War, 1868-1860, p. 614. 

' See speech of Senator James B. Beck, appendix to Globe, 41st Cong. p. 257. 
o 



194 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Failing in this scheme, the convention turned its attention 
to the invention of other " relief " measures. A committee 
was early appointed to frame an ordinance for the " relief 
of the people of Mississippi from their pecuniary embarrass- 
ments." In the opinion of the convention, this could be 
successfully accomplished by means of stay laws or abolition 
of all debts. The commanding general was accordingly 
requested to order tax collectors to suspend the collection of 
all taxes which might have been assessed against freedmen 
prior to January 1, 1868.^ Another provided for the aboli- 
tion of all debts, contracts, and judgments that had been 
incurred or made prior to April 28, 1805.^ This measure 
was actually adopted, and a committee appointed to confer 
with General Gillem and request him to issue the order for 
its enforcement. Again, the general refused to cooperate 
with the convention. He respectfully referred them to 
the homestead and bankrupt laws, and suggested that with 
the allowances and exemptions provided by these, no family 
was threatened with starvation, present or prospective, by 
allowing the law to take its course.^ 

Again, a committee of five was appointed to proceed to 
Vicksburg and urge the commanding general to issue an 
order forbidding all officers and trustees from making fur- 
ther sales of property, except for wages or mechanical labor, 
until further orders from him. Again, the general informed 
them that the law under which the convention was assem- 
bled did not vest them with general powers of legislation, 
and that, moreover, such action would be " detrimental " to 
the interests of the people of the state. He declined to issue 
the order. ^ 

The commanding general was next requested to furnish 
from the public funds the necessary means to enable all per- 
sons known as " refugees " to return to their former homes, 
from which, it was alleged, they had been dragged by the 
slave trader and sold in Mississippi as slaves, and for lack of 



1 Convention Journal, p. 70. 

2 Report Secretary of War, pp. G08, 009. This was of course in violation 
of the Constitution of the United Slates, Art. I. Sec. 10, par. 1. Mr. Rails- 
back, a radical preacher from Eolivar County, offered a resolution for the 
incorporation of an "article" in the constitution for suspending, for a pe- 
riod of ninety-nine years, all legal proceedings for the collection of all debts, 
of whatsoever kind, incurred before the passage of the ordinance of secession. 
It was laid on the table. 

8 Appleton's Ann. Cyclop, p. 506. 

* Letter to Hon. George A. Stovall, H. Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong. p. 69 ; 
also Report Secretary of War, 18G8-18G9, p. 609. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OE 1868 195 

means had never been able to return. ^ Others, they said, 
had been induced by promises of liberal compensation for labor 
to leave their families and friends, and were now " cast on 
the cold charities of the world without money, and far from 
friends who might be able to afford them temporary relief." 
To General Gillem this apjieared to be another scheme for 
exploiting tlie treasury, and he respectfully declined to com- 
ply with the request, alleging that there was no legal author- 
ity for expending the public funds for such a purpose. ^ 
Congress was now asked to set aside for distribution to the 
colored people through the Freedmen's Bureau one-half of 
the Federal cotton tax collected in the state. ^ 

On March 7, the convention adopted a resolution request- 
ing General Gillem to issue an order directinof the restora- 
tion of property alleged to have been unlawfully taken from 
colored persons, on the ground that property accumulated by 
them while in a state of slavery belonged to their masters. 
It was also alleged that the courts did not protect them in 
their lawful rights. Gillem at once informed the conven- 
tion that he was charged by the reconstruction acts with 
protecting all persons in their rights, and any instance 
brought to his notice where persons, without regard to race 
or color, were deprived of their property, should receive 
his prompt attention. He declined to issue the desired 
order.^ 

The convention in the meantime was institutingf an in- 
quisitorial investigation into the affairs of the civil governor, 
]\Ir. Humphreys. In the first week of the convention, a 
committee was appointed to investigate and report on 
the charges made by Governor Humphreys, in his procla- 
mation of December 9, relative to the apprehended negro 
insurrection.^ The committee reported that it had spent 
some time "hunting up information," and had found that 
there was no just cause for issuing the proclamation, that 
it was a libel on the people of Mississippi (the colored people, 

1 This report is signed by Moore, Stringer, and Fitzliugli, all colored 
ministers. Report Secretary of War, p. Oil. 

2 Convention Journal. The commanding general informed the conven- 
tion that it had been his custom, as assistant commissioner of the Freedmen's 
Bureau, to furnish children with transportation to parents or relatives desir- 
ing to take charge of them, and also destitute persons who were likely to 
become a charge on the government, to places where employment might be 
obtained, or where they might be provided for by friends. Further than that, 
it was imprudent to extend the practice. He declared that it would take 
$1,000,000 to transport the negroes of Mississippi to their places of birth. 

'^ Journal, p. 70. 

* Report Secretary of War, p. 632. ^ Convention Journal, p. 30. 



196 EECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of course), and the governor was requested to furnish the 
convention with " more specific information " in regard to 
the reports which constituted the basis for his action. In 
a sarcastic reply, the governor said that he presumed the 
convention did not admit that it had any constitutional 
right to require him to account for his administration of 
civil government in Mississippi. He acknowledged, how- 
ever, the right of the people to petition for redress of 
grievances, and the correlative duty of civil officers to fur- ' 
nish, when respectfully requested to do so, such information 
as pertained to the welfare and happiness of the people. This 
proclamation, he said, had been issued at the urgent request of 
General Ord, from whom he received all the information then 
in his possession, except a few letters from private citizens. 

General Gillem declined to furnish the convention with 
the sources of information, believing it would be a breach of 
faith to do so, and would result in no public good.i The 
governor's course in another matter had aroused the op- 
position of the convention. It will be remembered that 
the ladies of Baltimore had contributed supplies for the 
relief of the destitute of Mississippi, and had sent their 
donations to Governor Humphreys to be distributed. It 
appears that the whites were almost wholly the beneficiaries 
of this benevolence. When the convention met, one of its 
first acts was the appointment of a committee to inquire 
into the distribution of all funds received by the state 
treasurer or other state officers from various towns, cities, 
or private individuals in the Northern states, for the relief 
of the destitute in the state, and to demand of the gov- 
ernor an itemized statement of the receipts and disburse- 
ments of such funds during his term of office. Upon 
receiving the request, the governor at once replied that he 
had received no such funds. He said, "those who have 
intrusted me, as their private agent, with the distribution 
of their charities, hav^e neglected to instruct me to account 
to your body, and your committee have failed to furnish me 
with any evidence that the donors have given you any author- 
ity to make the inquiry proposed. As these donors may re- 
gard their charities as their own private matters, and may 
object to having the names of the beneficiaries made public, 
I must respectfully decline to comply with the request of 



1 H. Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Con^. affairs in Mississippi, p. 71. See 
also Report Secretary of War, pp. 029-632, for the correspoudence between 
General Gillem and the convention on this subject. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 18C8 197 

the committee, until autliorizecl to do so by tlie donors, at 
which time I will cheerfully exhibit the proper vouchers."^ 
This ended the matter. 

The convention did not enter actively upon the discharge 
of its main duty until provision was made for defraying its 
enormous expenses. While the United States government 
had borne the expense of registration and election, it was 
left to the state to provide the means for the support of the 
convention. Various revenue schemes were suggested. One 
of these provided for the lev}^ of a tax of i!2.50 on every voter 
in the state for this purpose. ^ Another scheme provided for 
the issue of state warrants, to be made receivable in payment 
of taxes and other dues to the state. Still another provided 
for a committee of three, to confer with the President of the 
United States, and represent the " true state of affairs " in 
Mississippi, and request from the United States government 
a loan of !f!lOO,000 for the use of the convention.^ A resolu- 
tion was finally adopted instructing tlie finance committee to 
frame an ordinance for levying a tax upon the real and personal 
property of the state.* This, of course, shifted the burden to 
the shoulders of those who received so little consideration at 
the hands of the convention. Those whom members referred 
to as the " loyal " people of tlie state did not contribute enough 
to pay the doorkeepers and pages of the convention. 

On the 26th of January, the chairman of the finance com- 
mittee called on tlie commanding general at his headquarters 
and asked whether, in the event of the adoption of an ordi- 
nance for the levy and collection of a special tax on the real 
and movable property of the state, the civil authorities would 
be prevented from collecting the tax either by forcible re- 
sistance, or injunction, or other judicial process.^ The chair- 
man was informed the same day tliat the civil authorities 
would not be prevented from collecting the taxes by forcible 
resistance, and any ordinance made in conformity with the 
reconstruction acts under which they were assembled would 
be recognized as legal. ^ With this assurance, the convention 
proceeded to enact an elaborate revenue measure, consisting 

1 H. Mis. Docs, .id Ses. 40th Cong, affairs in Mississippi, p. 71. 

2 Convention Journal, p. .31. The number of registered voters at the 
June election was 139,327. This plan would have produced $348,317.50. 
The motion was made by a white Democrat for obvious reasons. The 
scheme was, of coui'se, rejected. 

3 Ibid. p. 238. * Ibid. p. 125. 

^ II. Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong, condition of affairs in Mississippi, 
p. 71. 

G Report Secretary of War, 18G8, p. 586. 



198 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of thirty-six sections, and imposing a tax on auction stores, dis- 
tilleries, livery stables, coal yards, carriage factories, bounty 
agents, gunsmiths, banks, exchange brokers, street venders, 
express and telegraj)!! offices, grist-mills, cotton gins, ferries, 
bridges, turnpikes, billiard tables, photograph galleries, in- 
surance agencies, etc. The ordinance reads like a war rev- 
enue measure. Even the press did not escape,^ nor the 
railroads, although exempt by statute from taxation until 
1874.2 Every bale of cotton in the state was taxed fifty 
cents. In addition, a special tax equivalent to one-third of 
the state tax was levied upon all real and movable property.^ 
^ Immediately after the passage of this ordinance, a commit- 
tee of tax payers called on General Gillem and protested 
against its enforcement, declaring it to be in conflict with 
the reconstruction act under which the convention was as- 
sembled. That act authorized the convention to lay a tax 
on the property of the state for the purpose of defraying the 
expenses of the convention. The commanding general de- 
clined to take any action, but suggested that they appeal to 
the United .States district court, as the construction of a 
Federal statute was involved. Judge Hill was then applied 
to for an injunction to prohibit the collection of the tax. 
He declined, without examining into the merits of the bill, 
to interfere, on the ground of lack of jurisdiction. They 
then applied to one of the state circuit judges, who granted 
the injunction. On February 12, the convention passed a 
resolution reciting the action of the state courts in enjoining 
the collection of the tax and the opposition of the people in 
public meetings and through the press, and requested Gen- 
eral Gillem to publish an order forbidding interference by 
the courts, and directing the people to pay.* General McKee 
was appointed to wait upon the commanding general and pre- 
sent the resolution. This he did on the 13th of February. 
Gillem's reply was delayed until the 19th. He then informed 
the convention that after a careful examination of the ordi- 
nance, he was convinced that many of its provisions were in 
violation of the reconstruction act; that they had not re- 

1 The amount imposed on each daily newspaper was $50 ; on each tri- 
weekly, $30 ; on each weekly, $20 ; on each job printing office, $25. 

2 Five of the roads were assessed $200 each ; three, $50 each ; and the 
others $10 each. 

8 The ordinance is published in the Report of the Secretary of War, pp. 
fil6-G20. 

* The commanding general was requested to "answer immediately." 
They had now been in session more than a month without having received 
any compensation. 



THE EECONSTEUCTION CUNVENTION OF 1868 199 

stricted themselves to levying a tax on property, but had 
taxed persons, privileges, and franchises ; had, in fact, made 
some of their taxes retrospective in effect ; and, moreover, 
had assumed the legislative power of creating a new system 
for the collection of the tax, through collectors unknown to 
the laws of the state, and from whom no bonds were required ; 
and also a special treasurer to receive and disburse the money 
collected. 1 It was General Gillem's opinion that the tax 
would net an income of 1300,000, although the convention 
claimed to need only 1100,000.2 'pi^^ convention was in- 
formed that the additional state tax levied by the twenty- 
seventh article of the ordinance seemed to be in conformity 
with the reconstruction act, and he would afford them every 
facility in collecting it. The others he declined to enforce. 
He recommended that sheriffs be intrusted with the collec- 
tion of the tax, and the state treasurer with the disbursement 
of the funds. ^ 

On the 27th of February, the convention adopted another 
revenue ordinance. It levied a general tax, equal to fifty 
per cent of the state tax for 1867, upon all property ; a spe- 
cial tax of one and one-half per cent on the value of stock 
belonging to all dry goods stores, groceries, drug stores, and 
all other personal property of whatever nature ; and fifty 
cents on every bale of cotton in the state. ^ Sheriffs were 
authorized to make the collections. This was acceptable to 
General Gillem, and he issued an order directing the sheriffs 
to proceed with the collection, though he extended the time of 
collection from ten to thirty days.^ Soon after the publication 
of this order, the commanding general received a communica- 
tion from the president of one of the railroads, protesting 

1 Section 17 provided for at least one collector in each county, who was to 
receive as compensation for his services five per cent of all money collected. 
The collectors were given extraordinary powers. They were authorized to 
administer certain oaths, and if not satisfied with the statement of the person 
as to the amount of his sales, the collector might assess and collect whatever 
seemed to hiin just. There was no limit to the exaction which he might 
make. Only five days' notice was to be given to the tax payer. The prop- 
erty of the delinquent was to be sold on three days' notice. Gibbs, a car- 
pet bagger, had made an effort to get through an ordinance exempting all 
officers from making bonds, 

'■^ Tiie convention seems to have anticipated this, as provision was made 
for investing the surplus in U. S. Bonds. 

3 The text of his letter to McKee is printed in the Keport of the Secretary 
of War, pp. 621, 623. 

* The ordinance is printed in the Report of the Secretary of War, p. 625. 

^ Ihid. p. 625. The convention was afterward convinced that even this 
extension did not allow sufficient time for the collection of the tax, and re- 
quested, by resolution, that it be extended from April 6 to August 1. 



200 KECONSTHUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

against the assessment of the tax on his road, on the ground 
that it was exempt by law from taxation until 1874.1 Gen- 
eral Gillem referred the communication to the judge advo- 
cate and to the attorney general of the state, both of whom 
gave opinions that the tax was illegal, the exemption being 
a vested and chartered right. 2 The High Court of Errors 
and Appeals had also taken this view.-"^ General Gillem 
accordingly issued an order directing sheriffs not to collect 
the tax on railroads. The convention then appointed a 
committeeto confer with the general on the subject. They 
called on him May 15, at Vicksljurg ; insisted that the con- 
vention had the same power to tax property in Mississippi 
that Congress had ; that it did not recognize any state law 
or chartered rights granted by the legislature, and that if 
the collection of the tax, estimated at 150,000, was not 
enforced, it would be necessary for the convention to delay 
its contemplated adjournment, or meet again in about ten 
days to provide for the deficiency thus caused, which would 
involve a much heavier expense. General Gillem says ho 
was convinced that the convention was exceeding its powers 
and violating the national Constitution. As for the delay 
of the contemplated adjournment, he did not think it had 
sufficient legal force to require refutation. He therefore 
declined to enforce the tax on railroads, but assured the 
convention that he would enforce the collection of any tax 
which might be levied in conformity with the acts of Con- 
gress, and that sheriffs who had failed to collect the tax 
already levied should be directed to do so at once.^ A list 
of delinquent counties was reported to him, and he at once 
issued an order informing the sheriffs of those counties that 
a failure to collect the taxes would be considered a failure 
to faithfully execute the duties of tax collector, as required 
by their bonds. The taxes were paid reluctantly, of course, 

1 An act of Feb. 27, 1854, had exempted from taxation for twenty years 
the fixtures and property of tlie S. W. Air Line Extension R. K. Co., and 
extended its benetits to r.ll railroad charters granted before the passage of the 
act as well as all granted thereafter. 

2 See Report of Secretary of War, pi). (5o5, 037, for their opinions. 

* So R. P.. (-0. vs. Mayor and Alderman of Jackson, 38 Miss. p. 334. 

* Report of Secretary of War, p. 041. The Jackson Clarion of April 13 
contains a strong appeal to General (Mllem to "call-ahalt" upon scliemesof 
the convention. It said : " In the nnnie of a long-suffering, tax-ridden, and 
patient people, we apprnl to him for relief. TIh' people are not permitted to 
right their own wrongs, else they would not ask for help. Goaded almost to 
desperation, they appeal earnestly to the commander to see that tli-.' law is 
no longer wantonly and deliberately violated for purposes of insult and 
pelf." 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 201 

and the convention seems to have had ample funds to meet 
its enormous expenses. 

After having been in session more than a month, discuss- 
ing schemes for the "relief" of "loyal " people, endeavoring 
to adopt a tax ordinance that would be acceptable to General 
Gillem, and in passing various resolutions relating to state 
sovereignty, and explanatory of the principles of govern- 
ment as they understood them, a motion was carried for the 
appointment of a committee of fifteen, to prepare a constitu- 
tion for the state, and to report in three days.^ A resolution 
to adopt the old constitution with the changes made neces- 
sary by the abolition of slavery was laid on the table. It 
was determined that the new constitution should have as 
little in common with that of 1865 as possible. The subject 
receiving the greatest attention was the qualifications for 
office and suffrage. The discussion on these topics began in 
February, and continued until the latter part of April. A 
strong effort was made by the minority to secure tlie adop- 
tion of a provision that would exclude from the franchise 
the great mass of ignorant blacks. After the report of the 
francliise committee, a long and acrimonious debate took 
place, during the course of which many personalities were 
indulged in.^ 

The franchise article was adopted by a large majority on 
the eighty-sixth day of the convention, whereupon twelve of 
the white delegates resigned their seats and returned to their 
homes. They were followed by two. others on the succeed- 
ing day .3 "They are," said the Clarion of April 17, "a 

1 On the forty -fifth day the convention began holding night sessions. On 
the sixty-sixth day Aaron Moore offered a resolution that as the convention 
was composed of majors, generals, captains, lawyers, ministers, farmers, 
planters, and blacksmiths, they ought to go to work and frame a constitution, 
and go home to their constituents. It was unanimously adopted. It was 
not until the convention had been in session one hundred and eleven days 
that they consented to the adoption of a resolution that after a certain date 
(May 15), the per diem of members should cease. Journal, p. 687. 

2 At one point the bitterness became so great that personal altercations 
and fights were of common occurrence. The president of the convention 
was assaulted in front of the capitol building by a Democratic delegate. Other 
fights occurred. A majority of the members on both sides went armed. 

3 Journal, p. 541. The vote on the franchise article was 44 to 25. For 
some weeks the Democratic members had taken little part in the proceedings. 
They felt that they were out of place, and consequently remained away. 
Their absence was the subject of criticism by the Republicans. On the 13th 
of February, Captain Castello moved the appointment of a physician to in- 
quire into the health of the absent members. It was charged that they were 
engaged in writing articles for the newspapers, defamatory of the convention, 
and otherwise impeding the work of reconstruction. Journal, p. 273. One 
delegate was expelled for drunkenness and for publishing an article impugn- 



202 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

noble band whose names will long be remembered by their 
countrymen." 

By the franchise article as finally adopted, applicants for 
registration were required to take and subscribe to the test 
oath prescribed by the reconstruction acts, and swear further 
that they admitted the civil and political equality of all men.^ 
No person was eligible to office who, as a member of the legis- 
lature, had voted for the call of the secession convention ; 
or who, as a delegate to any such convention, had voted for or 
signed the ordinance of secession ; or who had given voluntary 
aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to persons en- 
gaged in armed hostility to the United States ; or who had 
accepted or attempted to exercise the functions of any office, 
civil or military, under any authority or pretended govern- 
ment, authority, power, or constitution within the United 
States hostile or inimical thereto, except all persons who 
had aided reconstruction by voting for the convention ; 
or who had continuously advocated the assembling of it 
and should continuously and in good faith advocate the acts 
of the same. 2 Members of the legislature and state officers 
were required to make oath that they had never, as members 
of any convention, voted for or signed an ordinance of seces- 
sion, or, as members of any legislature, voted for the call of 
any convention that passed such an ordinance.^ Many other 
resolutions, generally with long preambles, were adopted. 
One declared all acts of the convention of 1865 null and 
void ; another changed the name of Davis County to Jones, 
and the name of the county seat from Leesburg to Jonesboro, 
and the name of Lee County to Lincoln ; '^ another provided 
for the appointment of a committee of fifteen to take into 
consideration the propriety of moving the capital from Jack- 
son to Kosciusko.^ Other ordinances forbade forever the 
adoption of any property qualification for office or the adop- 
tion of any property or educational qualification for suffrage ; 

ing the motives of members. The Democratic members fell to making light 
of the couvfiitioii, and offered various resolutions to bring it into contempt. 
One such began with the preamble : "We the carpet baggers and scalawags 
of Ohio, Vermont, Connecticut, Maine, Africa," etc. Another moved that 
the " whole convention go down to Pearl River and drown itself." Journal, 
p. 209. After the twelfth day, newspaper reporters were excluded for desig- 
nating negro members as '"colored," and for refusing to prefix "Mr." to 
their names. 

1 Section 3, Art. 7. 2 Section 5, Art. 7. 8 Section 26, Art. 12. 

* Convention Journal, pp. 1'.VP,, HT). 

^ Ibid., p. 040. 'l"he conimittee reported in favor of continuing the cap- 
ital at Jackscm until 1875, after wliich it should be removed to Kosciusko, a 
village situated then twenty-five miles from the nearest railroad. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 203 

forbade slavery or involuntary servitude in the state other- 
wise than in punishment for crime ; denied the right of 
any state to withdraw from the Union on account of any 
real or supposed grievances ; forbade the making of any 
distinction among the citizens in reference to the pos- 
session, enjoyment, or descent of property ; prohibited the 
abridgment of the right of all citizens to travel on public 
conveyances ; and recommended to Congress the removal 
of the political disabilities of one hundred and thirty 
persons.^ 

This was the chief work of the " Black and Tan " conven- 
tion. After having been in session one hundred and fifteen 
days, it adjourned May 18. ^ 

The cost of making the constitution and securing its adop- 
tion was at least a quarter of a million dollars. The per 
diem of the delegates aggregated i|116,150. The pay of the 
large number of emploj^ees and hangers-on probably raised 
the amount to ^150,000 ; ^ $28,518.75 was paid to four 
newly established Republican papers to print the proceed- 
ings. 

The amount was distributed as follows : — 

3Iississippi State Journal ...... $13,924 

Vickshurg Republican ...... 6,910 

Meridian Chronicle ....... 5,428 

Mississippi Pilot _....... 2,255 

This does not include the cost of printing the large jour- 
nal of nearly 800 pages, nor the cost of publishing the con- 

1 Relative to this memorial, one of tlie radicals wrote Speaker Colfax, 
saying : " We need these men to fill certain positions in the party, and to labor 
for its success, and it is of great importance to us that their disabilities be 
removed so that the reward of loyalty may be seen and felt. They have all 
done us great service, and are still at work fighting valiantly side by side with 
the best and truest radicals of the party. We want them for office." H. 
Mis. Docs. 2d Ses. 40th Cong. No. 34. 

2 The following comparative table shows the number of days for which 
each of the several constitutional conventions in Mississippi, except that of 
1817, was in session : — 

Convention of 1832 29 days. 

Convention of 1861 23 days. 

Convention of 1865 11 days. 

Convention of 1868 115 days. 

Convention of 1890 71 days. 

8 The Appendix to the House Journal of 1870, pp. 125-178, contains a list 
of the convention warrants that had been cashed up to September 1. There 
were 3071 warrants, amounting to $130,886.13. The cost of the constitu- 
tional convention of 1890 was .'?53,760, exclusive of printing. It does not 



204 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

stitution and ordinances in the local papers, nor the cost of 
printing 20,000 copies for distribution. Items like the 
following appear on the pages of the Journal : — 

For printing constitution, Summit Sentinel .... $ 481 

For printing constitution, Corinth News .... 400 

For printing constitution, Grenada Sentinel .... 245 

For "services as public printers," Gens. Uugan and Stafford . 30,337 

In addition to the expenditures on account of the conven- 
tion must, of course, be reckoned the cost of revising the 
registration lists twice, and of holding two elections before 
the constitution was finally ratified. As will be seen later 
on, the expenses under these two heads were very large, 
and were defrayed out of the state treasury. 

Before adjourning, the convention made elaborate provi- 
sion for submitting the constitution to the people. The 
22d of June was selected as the day on which the election 
should begin. It was to be continued through such period 
as the commanding general might direct, in order that every 
voter should have an opportunity to express his preference. 
Provision was made also for an election at th^ same time 
of state ofiicers, members of the legislature, and members of 
Congress. The legislature to be chosen was to meet on the 
second Monday after the official promulgation of the consti- 
tution, and proceed at once to ratify the Fourteenth Amend- 
ment. Until this was done, that body was to have no power 
of legislation, nor were members to receive any compensa- 
tion for their services. Another notable provision was the 
appointment of a committee of five from the members of the 
convention to have general supervision of the arrangements 
for holding the election, to ascertain the result, and make 
proclamation thereof. This committee was empowered to 
sit during the adjournment of the convention, and exercise 
all powers " necessary to carry into effect the purposes of 
the reconstruction acts." It was authorized to appoint three 
commissioners for each county to attend the election, be 
present at the counting of the votes, and forward the result 
to the chairman. 1 The committee of five was empowered to 

appear from the Journal the amount expended on the latter account. The 
expenditures on account of the convention of 180") amounted to $14,050. 

1 Tliese commissioners were to receive $0 ]ier day and their expenses, to 
be paid out of the convention fund. This added vastly to the cost of the 
convention. It is the testimony of certain of General Gillem's election in- 
spectors tiiat in numerous instances tliese conmnssioners rented offices when 
there were vacant rooms in the courthouses which they might have used. 



THE RECONSTRUCTION CONVENTION OF 1868 205 

reconvene the convention in the event of the rejection of 
the constitution. 

VIII. PARTY POLITICS IN 1868 

The day after the adjournment of the convention, that is, 
Miiy 19, General Gillem issued an order reciting the authority 
under which the convention liad been called, and announced 
that its labors were now terminated, and the constitution of 
government would be submitted to the registered voters of 
the state for their ratification or rejection, beginning on June 
22, and continuing until every elector had had an opportunity 
to cast his vote. Electors were to vote " For the Constitu- 
tion " or "Against the Constitution," and also, upon the same 
ballots, for state officers and representatives in Congress. 
Commencing fourteen days before the election, the several 
boards of registration were to meet at the county seats in 
their respective counties, and after having given reasonable 
public notice, were to proceed to revise the registration lists 
for a period of five days. All additions and removals were 
required to be reported to headquarters. 

In order to secure as nearly as possible a full expression 
of the people, it was ordered that the election should be 
held at each precinct under the direct supervision of the 
board of registration. PZach county was to be divided into 
three equal portions, to each of which was assigned a registrar, 
who, with a judge and a clerk of his own appointment, was to 
be held responsiI)le for the conduct of the election. They 
were to provide themselves with ballot-boxes, locks, and keys, 
and after giving timely notice by means of hand-bills, were 
to proceed from precinct to precinct, holding the election 
on consecutive days, when the distance between precincts 
would permit. Detailed instructions were given for opening 
and closing the polls, examining certificates of registration, in- 
specting, locking, and sealing ballot-boxes, etc. Registrars 
were to begin at the most remote precinct and proceed toward 
the county-seat, at which place an election was to be held under 
the joint supervision of all the registrars for the benefit of 
any voters who might not have had an opportunity to vote 
in their precincts. Judges and clerks of election were to be 
selected by registrars, preferably from among the residents 

They continued to draw pay for days after the election. The expenses of 
these 1(35 commissioners must have aggregated .f 10,000, assuming that the 
expense of each was about $60. 



206' KECONSTKUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of their respective districts, if competent persons of eligibility 
were available. They were required to take and subscribe 
to the iron-clad oath of July 2, 1862, a copy of which was 
to be transmitted to headquarters and kept on file in the 
office of the acting assistant adjutant general. Careful lists 
of all registered voters who did not vote were to be kept and 
forwarded to headquarters. None but registered voters were 
allowed to challenge the right of others to vote. Sheriffs 
were to be held responsible for preservation of order, and were 
directed to appoint a sufficient number of deputies for each 
precinct. As additional safeguards for insuring peace, each 
judge, registrar, and clerk was empowered to make arrests ; 
and all public bar-rooms, and other places at which intoxicat- 
ing liquors were sold, Avere ordered to be closed on election 
days. The carrying of firearms or other deadly weapons in 
the vicinity of the polls was strictly prohibited. Registra- 
tion judges and clerks were foi'biddento stand as candidates 
for any office, and all army officers and bureau agents were 
prohibited from electioneering, speaking, or endeavoring to 
influence voters, although they might instruct freedmen in 
regard to their rights as electors. The commanding general 
announced that he would exercise to the fullest extent the 
powers vested in him to secure a fair election, and he warned 
all persons against attempts to abridge the right of electors 
by contracts.^ On the following day, he announced, by gen- 
eral order, the names of the registrars for the several coun- 
ties.'^ An active army officer or an ex-Union soldier was 
placed on each registration board. The other two members 
were usually native Republicans, although occasionally a 
Democrat was appointed. Appointees were directed to re- 
port at once their acceptance, and to subscribe to and forward 
to headquarters a copy of the test oath. 

A week later, the commanding general issued another order 
detailing ten army officers to serve as inspectors of election, 
one for each of the ten districts into which the state was 
divided.^ It was made their duty to visit the boards of regis- 
tration in their respective districts, and ascertain by close 
inquiry and examination Avhelher the registrars fully under- 
stood their duties, and to furnish them such information and 
instruction as might a])pear to be necessary. They were 
required to make detailed reports to headquarters of the 

1 See Report of the Secretary of War, 1808-1869, pp. 645-648 ; also H. 
Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong. No. 63, p. 76. 

2 Ibid. p. (i49 ; ibid. p. 79, where names of registrars are given. 
* Report Secretary of War, p. 651. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1868 207 

progress of registration in each county, and to make minute 
inquiry into the nature of the services performed by regis- 
trars, in order to be able to form correct judgments as to the 
reasonableness of their accounts. Furthermore, they were to 
give particular attention to the cost and means of transporta- 
tion and the rental of offices for registrars. 

When it was found that improper persons had been ap- 
pointed, they were to recommend removals and nominate 
their successors by telegraph. They were authorized to give 
orders in the name of the commanding general, and to keep 
him constantly informed of the progress of the election.^ 
Registrars were also directed to travel throughout their sub- 
divisions during the nine days intervening between the close 
of the registration books and the beginning of the election, 
and give general and thorough notice of the time at which 
the election would be held in each precinct. The command- 
ing general urged upon registrars the most rigid econ- 
omy, and informed them that whenever their accounts were 
deemed excessive they would be disallowed.^ 

On June 12, he issued a circular designating one person in 
each county to take the election returns and records of 
registration boards to Vicksburg.^ Other circulars directed 
that the polls should be open two days instead of one 
in the fourteen largest towns of the state ; authorized 
duplicate certificates in certain cases; and directed inspec- 
tors to fill vacancies in registration boards in certain con- 
tingencies.* The constitutional convention having provided 
for the election of state officers, representatives in Con- 
gress, and members of the state legislature, a circular 
was issued May 28, defining the congressional and state 
senatorial districts and apportioning representatives in the 
legislature. 

On the 15th of June, General Gillem announced through 
a general order that commanding officers of stations, posts, 
or detachments would be held responsible for the preserva- 
tion of peace and good order during tlie election, and directed 
that detachments be sent to such places as might be deemed 
necessary, to protect all classes in the right of voting.^ Five 
additional companies of troops were brought from the Depart- 
ment of the Cumbei'land to aid in maintaining peace. These, 
with the troops already in tlie state, amounted to thirty-two 
companies, and were distributed at sixty-three points. Gen- 

1 Report Secretary of War, p. 655. 2 jj^i^, pp. 654, 655. 

8 The circular is printed in ibid. p. 661. * Ibid. pp. 658-669. 

6 Gen. Orders, No. 8, ibid. 134. 



208 RECONRTEUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

eral Gillem asserts that in every instance in which it was 
reported that fears of disturbance or interference with elec- 
tions was apprehended, regardless of the source from which 
the report emanated, troops were sent to the locality, in order 
to insure peace and prevent intimidation.^ 

Nothing illustrates so well the thoroughness of the con- 
gressional policy of reconstruction as the regulations for 
registering the voters and conducting the elections. Every 
possible precaution to prevent fraud and unfairness seems to 
have been taken by the district commander. It is difficult 
to see what more could have been done. 

The policy of the convention had hardly been determined 
when the friends and opponents of the constitution began to 
marshal their forces for the contest that was evidently pre- 
paring. The Republican state convention met at Jackson, 
February 5, less than a month after the meeting of the recon- 
struction convention. There were about 175 delegates 
present, the majority of whom were members and hangers- 
on of the reconstruction convention. The leading candidates 
for the gubernatorial nomination were General Eggleston 
and Mr. Musgrove, both Northern men, and Judge Alderson, 
a native Republican. General Eggleston was nominated. He 
was a native of Saratoga County, New York, and claimed the 
distinction of having received the surrender of Atlanta. The 
other nominees were also. Northern men, with two exceptions. 
The negro race was completely ignored, although a strong 
appeal was made in behalf of the Rev. Mr. Stringer for a place 
on the ticket. " Two things are noticeable," said the Clarion^ 
in regard to the action of the radical convention : " first, 
the imported stock out-distanced all competitors ; second. 
Sambo was left out." The nc^groes, who constituted ninety- 
nine one-hundredths of the Repu])lican voters, were naturally 
not pleased with this sort of recognition, and some of them 
protested loudly. One of these was the Rev. Mr. Fitzhugh, 
a well-educated negro from the North, and a member of the 
reconstruction convention. lie published a letter in the 
Wuodville Republican of August 1, 1808, in which he informed 
his race of the action of the state convention in refusing to 
recognize their claims, and of his belief that it was the 
intention of the white Rejmblicans not to permit colored men 
to hold office. Tie accordingly urged them to join hands with 
the Southern whites and " bid deiiance " to the carpet bagger. 
These men, he said, " garbed in the disguise of friends to us, 

1 Report Secretary of War, p. 74. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 18G8 209 

are impostors, and will cause more blood to be spilt than the 
Union is worth." He announced his withdrawal from the 
Eepublican party, believing it to be " ruinous to the Union, 
and an enemy to the black race." ^ 

After some wrangling, the convention endorsed General 
Grant for President, and adopted a platform pledging its 
adherence to the Republican party, declared in favor of equal 
rights to all, and " unwavering fidelity " to the Union, and 
announced that it would stand by these principles, and never 
lower the standard of Republicanism. The convention also 
nominated presidential electors, all except one of whom were 
" carpet baggers." 

The opponents of the constitution began to bestir them- 
selves even earlier than the reconstructionists. On the 8th of 
January, the day after the assembling of the reconstruction 
convention, the Jacksoii Clarion published an urgent call for 
a convention of " white citizens," to meet on the first Monday 
in February, to " take into consideration our situation, and 
determine our future course." It pleaded for a union of all 
white men as the only means of preventing the ratification of a 
constitution which, it apprehended, would embody the " worst 
elements of radicalism." " We need and pray," said the 
Clarion^ " for such a body. It is no time for pique, petulance, 
or preference. It is no time for personalities, or for narrow, 
purblind selfishness." 

On the 16th of January, a convention of conservatives was 
held at Jackson, and a platform of principles adopted. 
They styled themselves the Democratic White Man's Party 
of Mississippi, and declared that the '' nefarious design of the 
Republican party to place the white men of the vSouthern 
states under governmental control of their late slaves, and 
degrade the Caucasian race as the inferiors of the African 
race, is a crime against the civilization of the age which needs 
only to be mentioned to be scorned by all intelligent minds, 
and we, therefore, call upon the people of Mississippi to 
vindicate alike the superiority of their race over the negro, 
and their political power to maintain constitutional liberty." 
Nothing worried the leaders of this party so much as the fear 
of division among the whites, such as existed the year before. 
The January convention, in dropping the name of the party 
(Constitutional Union), under which the campaign was con- 
ducted in 1867, was the subject of considerable opposition 
upon the part of the more conservative opponents of the con- 

1 The letter is printed in the New York Herald of Aug. 18, 1808. 



210 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

stitution. The Clarion of January 18, in a strong appeal for 
unity of action said: " Fellow-citizens, let there be no strife 
among us in this solemn hour. We are all Constitutional 
Union men, we are all Democrats, let us unite with one 
heart and one mind." 

On the 19th of February, what seems to have been the 
regular state convention of the Democratic party was held at 
Jackson. It was largely attended, and was in session three 
or four days. There was a considerable difference of opinion 
among the delegates as to the proper course to pursue, although 
the Clarion said there was no difference of principle. They 
endorsed the action of the January convention, and adopted a 
long platform severely arraigning the radicals, and declar- 
ing that the only hope for the restoration of constitutional 
liberty lay in the defeat of the constitution. 

They denied that the state had ever been out of the Union, 
and affirmed that the convention then in session assuming 
to frame a constitution of government for Mississij^pi, was 
assembled without constitutional authority, the delegates not 
being elected by the qualified voters of the state, but by 
negroes destitute alike of the moral and intellectual qualifi- 
cations required of electors in all civilized countries, com- 
bined with a small minority of white adventurers from other 
states ; that the acts of the latter class demonstrated them 
to be the enemies of the people of the state, who had consti- 
tuted it from its territorial infancy to the present time ; that, 
under a fraudulent pretence of framing a constitution, they 
were wickedly conspiring to disfianchise and degrade the 
people, and rob them of their liberty and property, to destroy 
their political and social status, and, finally, to place them 
under the yoke of a negro government. 

The convention appointed a committee of five to prepare 
and publish an address to the people of the state " explana- 
tory of the views and principles which govern the Demo- 
cratic party." April 27, the address was issued. It called 
upon the people for renewed activity to defeat the radical 
constitution. A plan of organization was submitted to the 
county associations for their acceptance. It ap})ealed to all 
lovers of liberty to assemble and organize, and prepare for 
the great contest before them. There was a registered ma- 
jority of seventeen thousand to be overcome, but with eternal 
vigilance and activity it could be done. 

On the 12th of May, the convention was reassembled to 
determine more definitely what action should be taken at the 
coming election. The February convention had neither 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1868 211 

nominated state officers, presidential electors, nor decided 
whether it would be expedient to take any part in the elec- 
tion on the constitution. Their first thought was to defeat it 
by "sullen inactivity," but the action of Congress in provid- 
ing that a majority of the votes cast at the election would 
be sufficient to ratify the constitution spoiled this plan. The 
reassembled convention therefore nominated a state ticket, 
and advised that an effort be made to defeat the constitution 
by outvoting the Republicans. It made no difference which 
way the election went, their nominees for state offices would 
never be installed into office, for if the constitution was 
defeated, there could be no state officers, and if it was ratified, 
the Republican nominees would, of course, be elected. Officers 
were nominated, therefore, with no expectation that they 
would ever be called upon to serve, but as a means of rally- 
ing the voters. The executive committee was empowered to 
nominate presidential electors in the event the state was 
permitted to take part in the presidential election. General 
Gillem was appealed to for permission to take part in the 
choice of electors, but he informed the chairman of the 
Democratic executive committee that he had no authority to 
order such an election. The state, therefore, took no part in 
the presidential election of 1868. 

As the proscriptive character of the constitution became 
more generally understood, the opposition of the whites 
increased. Every man who had given counsel or encourage- 
ment to a Confederate soldier was to be debarred from office. 
It was provided, however, that these proscriptive clauses 
should not apply to those who had aided reconstruction by 
voting for the convention, or who had continuously advocated 
its assembling, or who had in good faith advocated all its 
acts. Simple acquiescence in their work of proscription and 
disfranchisement, however sincere, was not sufficient ; but 
continuous and outspoken advocacy of acts which the com- 
manding general had to suppress as palpable violations of 
law and justice was necessary to secure to the most intelli- 
gent and virtuous citizen rights accorded to the most ignorant 
of his former slaves. The franchise clause was almost equally 
obnoxious to the whites. The applicant for registration was 
required, in the first place, to make oath that he was not 
disfranchised by the reconstruction acts. Tliis in itself 
excluded a large and influential class. He was, moreover, 
required to make oath that he believed in the political and 
civil equality of all men. Removal of political disabilities 
imposed by the reconstruction acts was not valid in Missis- 



212 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

sippi until the act of Congress should be concurred in by the 
state legislature. This constitution thus practically denied 
the power of Congress to remove political disabilities without 
the consent of the state legislature. There were, besides the 
so-called proscriptive features of the constitution, other objec- 
tions. The next governor, who, it was well understood, 
would be General Eggleston, was made a veritable autocrat. 
He was to have the appointment of all judges, supreme and 
circuit, all chancellors, all militia officers, and all county, 
district, and precinct officers. The present incumbents were 
to be removed by him within thirty days, and his power of 
appointment was to continue until the legislature should pro- 
vide by law for the election of such officers.^ Other objec- 
tions were the provision for mixed schools and the increased 
expense of administering the government under the new 
constitution. Relative to the proscriptive features of the con- 
stitution, the Clarion asserted that if adopted it would dis- 
franchise twenty or thirty thousand citizens of the state, and 
that not more than one thousand whites would be able to 
hold office, vote, serve on juries, or teach in the public 
schools.^ "Such a picture," it said, "is shocking, and is an 
outrage on humanity, an impious desecration of religion, and 
a declaration of outlawry against the virtue and intelligence 
of the state — a decree of exile against her white citizens, for 
they could not live under such a government." ^ Although a 
negro majority of nearly twenty thousand had to be overcome, 
a determined effort was made to do it. Early in the cam- 
paign, J. Z. George addressed an open letter to the people, 
advising them to arouse from their lethargy and organize for 
the election. The letter was widely published, and the sug- 
gestions contained in it were acted upon. The Yazoo Banner 
called upon the young men to organize for the "impending 
struggle." The Clarion endorsed the appeal, declared that 
the cause which they represented was as holy as any that 
ever gave strength to the arm of man or inspiration to the 
heart, and appealed to the young men to organize not only 
into "clubs " but into "vigilance committees" and "commit- 
tees of correspondence " and "enter at once upon the work with 

1 One of the best informed men of the state at the time estimated that the 
number of civil officers which would come within the purview of the provision 
would aggregate 2160 ; the number of militia officers, 6450, making a total of 
over 8000 offices, which it was expected would be distributed among the 
friends of the convention. Appendix, 41st Cong. p. 26. Testimony of Judge 
J. W. C. AVatson. 

2 Issue of June 25, 1868. 

8 Issue of January 22, 1868. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1868 213 

all the zeal of their generous and unselfish natures." " They 
ought," the editor said, " to have a club at every precinct, 
and move in solid column when the final day of the struggle 
comes." ^ Again it called upon the people to hold regular 
meetings and appoint canvassers, and in all their movements 
" be firm, discreet, and resolute." ^ " With such exertions, we 
know," said the hopeful editor, " that the constitution can be 
defeated, and oh, how great will be the reward ! " ^ 

The campaign that ensued has certainly never been sur- 
passed in enthusiasm and determination except by the great 
contest of 1875. The student who reads the local news- 
papers of the time cannot fail to find abundant evidence that 
the whites were aroused as they had never been before. The 
address of the state executive committee covered an entire 
page of the Clarion^ and was kept running in its columns dur- 
ing the whole campaign. The same paper, of May 29, con- 
tained announcements of thirty-six Democratic mass meetings, 
at one or more of which every speaker of note in the state 
was billed for an address. In Rankin County alone sixteen 
mass meetings were held during the first week in June. 
Such was the political campaign of 1868. Just before the 
election began, the attention of the people was diverted by 
another event, namely the supersedure of General Gillem and 
the appointment of General Irwin McDowell in his stead. 



IX. THE REMOVAL OF GOVERNOR HUMPHREYS AND THE 
APPOINTMENT OF GENERAL AMES 

Having completed elaborate preparations for holding 
the election, General Gillem, by direction of the President, 
turned over the command of the fourth district to General 
Irwin McDowell, who ruled Mississippi from June 4 to 
July 4. 

During his brief administration, he issued but five gen- 
eral orders, only one of which has any historical importance. 
That was an order for the removal of the civil governor, 
Mr. Humphreys, and the attorney general, Mr. Hooker. The 
reason alleged for the displacement of these officials was 
their opposition to the reconstruction acts. The specific 
charge was activity in the campaign against the constitution. 
Brevet Major General Adalbert Ames, lieutenant colonel 
of the Twenty-fourth Infantry, was appointed provisional 

1 Issue of April 7, 18P8. « jsgue of April 15. » Issue of May 12. 



214 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

governor. Captain Jasper Myers, United States army, was 
detailed to perform the duties of attorney general. On 
February 9 following, the Secretary of State was also re- 
moved, and Mr. AVarner, late of the Federal army, was 
appointed in his stead. The new appointees were directed 
to repair without delay to Jackson, and enter at once upon 
the discharge of their respective duties. They were to 
receive no further allowances than as officers of the army. 
General Ames proceeded at once to Jackson, informed Gov- 
ernor Humphreys of his appointment, and expressed a desire 
to be notified of the time when it would be convenient to 
receive him for the purpose of carrying out the order. 
Governor Humphreys dela3'ed his answer nearly a week, 
and then informed General Ames that he regarded the 
attempt to remove him as a usurpation of the civil govern- 
ment of Mississippi, unwarranted and in violation of the Con- 
stitution of the United States ; and that he had telegraphed 
the President, and was authorized to say that the executive 
disapproved the order making the removal. " I must, there- 
fore," he concluded, " in view of my duty to the constitu- 
tional rights of the people of Mississippi, and the disapproval 
of the President, refuse to vacate the office of governor, or 
surrender the archives and public property until a legally 
qualified successor under the constitution of INIississippi is 
appointed." On the following day, Colonel Biddle, com- 
manding the military post at Jackson, made a formal demand 
upon Mr. Humphreys for the governor's office, and being 
refused, sent a detail of soldiers into the state house to take 
forcible possession. The governor called in several persons 
to witness the seizure of the office and the ejection of the 
chief executive, in order tliat the world might know, he 
said, that he yielded only to " stern, unrelenting military 
tyranny." Upon his return to the office, from which he 
had temporarily absented himself, he was ordered to halt 
at the point of the bayonet, and was not permitted to 
enter. 1 

The removal of the governor and attorney general was 
the subject of loud protest by the Democratic press. The 
Viekshurg Times gave the following account of the affair 

1 Lowry & McCardle, Hist, of Miss. p. 880. Relative to Humphreys' refu- 
sal to surrender, the Clarion of June 23 said : " Let the sj^eneral now exhibit 
his army in front of the Capitol in a time of peace. Let him open his batter- 
ies ami charge witli his bayonets. Let him enter by force the office of the 
governor. Let him bivouac as did Grant in the executive mansion. There 
let him play Bombastes Furioso ; there let him strut the hero and ape the 
wise man ; there let him issue the victor's bulletin." 



THE REMOVAL OF GOVERNOR HUMPHREYS 215 

which represented the view of the less conservative Demo- 
crats : — 

The First Act of Our New Despot — Shoulder- Straps in the 

Executive Mansion 

" General McDowell has signalled his appearance in Mis- 
sissippi by removing and attempting to degrade two of the 
ablest and purest officers of which any state can boast. For 
this act of tyranny, insolence, and outrage on the part of 
our new-fledged despot, General McDowell has neither 
apology nor the shadow of excuse. It is a gross, wanton, 
and outrageous exercise of unbridled power of brute force 
which is as disgraceful as it is indefensible." 

The executive mansion was taken possession of in a simi- 
lar manner. For some days after the ejection of Governor 
Humphreys from the executive office, his family was per- 
mitted to occupy a part of the official residence jointly with 
General Ames. But the course of political events was not 
satisfactory to General Ames. Accordingly, he addressed 
a letter to Mr. Humphreys informing him that since his 
appointment as provisional governor he had found good 
cause to change his mind in I'egard to the joint occupancy 
of the mansion, and that he desired it to be vacated at as 
early a date as possible. Mr. Humphreys at once replied 
that the executive mansion was built by the tax payers of 
Mississippi only for the use and occupancy of their constitu- 
tional governors and families ; that at the recent election, 
the qualified voters, both black and white, had unmistakably 
expressed their desire for his continuance in the use and 
occupancy of the mansion ; and that, moreover, such occu- 
pancy could not obstruct the administration of the recon- 
struction laws. He therefore respectfully declined to vacate 
the mansion until a legally qualified successor should be 
elected under the constitution and laws of the state. Gen- 
eral Ames grew impatient at a correspondence that seemed 
destined to be protracted indefinitely, and on July 10 
wrote : " You entirely ignore the reconstruction acts and 
the action taken by those empowered to act under them. I 
recognize no other authority. The feeling entertained not 
only by me, but by others, not to cause you any personal 
inconvenience has, through your own action, ceased to exist. 
This controversy about the mansion can only terminate as 
indicated in my letter of yesterday." This ended the corre- 



216 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

spondence.^ Colonel Biddle was called upon to do the 
rest. Accordingly, on July 13, he addressed a note to Mr. 
Humphreys informing him that the mansion must be vacated. 
The note was delivered by Lieutenant Bache, who, with a 
guard detailed for the purpose, proceeded to execute the 
order. 

He notified the governor of his purpose, and expressed 
a desire to avoid all unpleasantness toward him and his 
family, but added, " If you desire for political purposes to 
have a military pantomime, it shall be carried out with 
all the appearance of a reality without actual indignity." 
There could be but one termination to this controversy. 
The governor and his family were marched out between the 
files of guards, leaving General Ames in possession. 

General McDowell made but a single change in General 
Gillem's arrangements for holding the election. Three days 
before the beginning of the election he issued an order 
directing that the election should be continued for an addi- 
tional day at each county seat, exclusively for the benefit of 
those who had lost their certificates of registration. ^ 

X. THE REJECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION 

The result of the election was a surprise to both parties. 
On the 10th of July, General Gillem, who had, in the mean- 
time, been restored to the command of Mississippi,^ announced 
by general order that 5(3,231 votes had been cast for the con- 
stitution, and 63,860 against it. He announced further that 
four of the five members elected to Congress were Democrats,* 
that Humphreys had defeated Eggleston for governor by a 
majority of over 8000, and that of the 138 members of the 
legislature, the Democrats had secured Q6.^ 

1 The correspondence continued through a period of more than a week. 
It is printed in Appletou's Ann. Cyclop, i'or laOU under article " Misbis- 
sippi." 

2 Gen. Orders No. 24, H. Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong. No. 33, p. 93. 

8 Relative to the restoration of General Gilleai to his old command, the 
Clarion of July 2 said: "Another -fraud' has been perpetrated at the 
expense of radicalism. General (iilh'm is again in command. Let the peo- 
ple rejoice. The clouds of apprehension will soon be dispelled. The rays of 
law, liberty, and order are brightly beaming." 

* All the Republican nominees for Congress were Northern men. George 
C. McKee was the only .successful candidate on the Republican ticket. 

'' The legislature contained about a dozen negro members, but one of 
whom was a senator. Tiiis was the Rev. Mr. Stringer of Vick.sburg. See 
Report of Secretary of War, 1808, pp. .'>9U-U03, and H. Mis. Docs, supra, 
for the election returns as reported by General Gillem. 



THE REJECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION 217 

In officially reporting the result of the election, General 
Gillem alluded to the charges of fraud made by both parties, 
but expressed the belief that the election had been as free 
from intimidation and fraud as was possible to secure 
under existing circumstances. As the defeat of the con- 
stitution involved the continuation of military rule, he said 
he felt it to be his duty to call the attention of Congress to 
the difficulty of finding competent persons to fill vacancies 
in the state and local offices. He accordingly recommended 
the modification of the act of July 19, 1867, so as to render 
eligible to office persons who were qualified voters.^ The 
election inspectors seem to have concurred in the view of 
Gillem that there was as little fraud and intimidation as 
could have been expected under the circumstances.^ The 
announcement of the result was somewhat disconcerting to 
the radicals. The prospect of being excluded from the offices 
filled them with gloom. Without despairing, however, they 
set to work to have the election declared a Republican 
victory. The committee of five appointed by the convention 
to ascertain the result and make proclamation thereof, now 
called upon the commissioners whom they had appointed to 
attend the polls, to make detailed reports of their observa- 
tions. The committee, after investigating these reports, 
announced that fraud had been practised in various counties. 
A sub-committee was then appointed to confer with the com- 
manding general and request him to make an investigation. 
This he declined to do.^ The committee of five then deter- 
mined to make the investigation for itself, and to withhold its 
proclamation until the result was known. Without waiting, 
however, for the investigation, they made a long report to 
the reconstruction committee two days before the election 
registrars had completed their returns, with the intent, it was 

1 Report of Secretary of War, p. 603. 

2 One of the inspectors reported instances in which negroes were threat- 
ened with the vengeance of the Kukkix and with discharge from employment 
if they did not vote the Democratic ticket. On the other hand, he knew of 
two well-authenticated crises of negroes who were threatened with being 
taken to Vicksburg in irons, sent to Cuba and sold into slavery, should they 
fail to vote the radical ticket. The men who made these threats stated that 
they had "orders" from the headquarters of the fourth military district. 
These influences deterred the negroes from voting, "bothered" them, as 
they expressed it, so that not more than half the colored vote was cast. 

3 General Gillem told the reconstruction committee at Washington that he 
investigated all the reports of fraud that came to his notice, both before and 
after the election, and that in each case he sent troops to the locality under 
an officer with directions to make an investigation. H. Mis. Docs, supra, 
p. 60. 



218 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

charged, of forestalling Gillem's report. They charged that 
threats and intimidations had been resorted to to such an 
extent in some counties that election commissioners had 
been unable to discharge their duties ; that in others, a reign 
of terror was inaugurated for the purpose of deterring 
colored men from voting ; that social proscription, threats 
of discharge from employment, resolutions refusing to coun- 
tenance in any manner those who voted for the Republican 
ticket, and publishing the names of negro voters as enemies 
to the white people of the state were some of the means used 
by the Democrats to carry the election. 

The committee asked leave to call attention to the fact 
that in most of the counties of the state the offices were held 
by " disloyal " persons, and Congress was memorialized to 
afford " adequate relief " as soon as possible. The report 
concluded with the announcement that prominent men would 
visit Washington at the earliest possible moment to " confer 
with the proper authorities in regard to the condition of our 
state." 

After making this report to Congress the committee 
of five proceeded to make an elaborate investigation. It 
had rooms at the Capitol, was supplied with stationery at 
the expense of the state, and the members received §10 
per day for their self-imposed services.^ The committee was 
overwhelmed with communications and reports from disap- 
pointed office seekers throughout the state, giving accounts 
of fraud and outrage which were alleged to have come under 
their observation. Hundreds of depositions, most of which 
were signed with marks, were taken and are published as a 
part of the documentary evidence on the subject.^ The com- 
mittee sat with closed doors and took the testimony of a 
large number of negroes who made their way to Jackson 
from different parts of the adjacent country. The Demo- 
crats were not permitted to take any part in the investiga- 
tion, either to cross-examine witnesses or to offer testimony 
in rebuttal.^ Ever since the defeat of the constitution, 

^ General Gillem did not particularly fancy the idea of an investigation 
by this committee. They had insisted upon having three commissioners of 
their own appointment present at each polling place, and he had yielded to 
tlieir demands, although the reconstruction acts required that the election 
should be conducted by officers or persons ai)pointed by the commanding 
general. 

2 H. Mis. Does, supra, pp. 1.16-299. 

8 The rhairman of tlie Democratic executive committee addressed a com- 
munication to General Gillem suggesting that as a matter of obvious justice 
and propriety the Democrats should have an opportunity of cross-examining 



THE REJECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION 219 

the radicals had entertained the hope that Congress would 
afford them the " relief " asked for in their address of 
July 8, by declaring the constitution ratified, spite of Gil- 
lem's report to the contrary. For a number of days before 
his report was made public, persons claiming to represent 
the committee of five hung around the rooms of the recon- 
struction committee at Washington, urging it to recom- 
mend Congress to declare the constitution ratified. On 
July 24, the House passed a bill to reassemble the con- 
vention and frame a new constitution, but the Senate 
rejected it. 

After an investigation continuing through a period of 
about four months, the chairman of the committee, on 
November 3, issued a pompous proclamation from "the 
rooms of the committee of five, of the Mississippi constitu- 
tional convention," reciting at length the reconstruction 
acts, the calling of the convention, and the adoption of the 
ordinance providing for a committee, and concluded as fol- 
lows : " Now, therefore, by virtue of the authority vested in 
the said committee of five, I, as chairman of the said com- 
mittee, after a careful examination of the reports made by 
the commissioners appointed to hold said elections, and after 
a patient and diligent investigation of the affidavits and state- 
ments of many other citizens of the state in reference to the 
conduct of said elections, do proclaim and declare the con- 
stitution thus submitted to have been duly ratified and 
adopted by a majority of the legal votes cast at said election, 
and the Republican state ticket duly chosen and elected at 
the same time ; and I do further declare that the elections 
held in the counties of Copiah, Carroll, Chickasaw, De Soto, 
Lafayette, Rankin, and Yallobusha, on account of threats, 
intimidations, fraud, and violence practised in said counties, 
to be illegal and void." He further declared that two of the 
five Republican candidates for the Fortieth Congress had 
been elected instead of one as returned by Gillem's registrars. 
He even declared that five Republicans had been elected to 
the Forty-first Congress, although it does not appear that 
an election was held for the choice of members to that Con- 
gress. He also declared and proclaimed that a large number 
of Democratic senators and representatives, reported by Gen- 
eral Gillem as having been elected, were chosen through 

and producing witnesses on their own behalf. The general was urged to issue 
an order so directing, but refused. The refusal of the committee to allow 
Democrats to hear the testimony led to an altercation between the committee 
and a party of whites. 



220 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

fraud. ^ The audacity of the proclamation shows the des- 
peration- to which they were reduced. There was not a 
shadow of authority for the extraordinary action of the chair- 
man. The proclamation had little effect, however, for it 
remained with Congress to determine the status of Missis- 
sippi. The rejection of the House bill of July 24, to reas- 
semble the convention, did not dampen their ardor. A 
movement for a state convention of Republicans to take 
action on the subject was set on foot. It met at Jackson, 
November 25, memorialized Congress to declare the consti- 
tution ratified, drew wp a long address with a statement of 
some of the causes of their "present embarrassment," and 
appealed to Congress for "speedy and permanent relief." 
The address charged that since the suppression of the rebel- 
lion a large class of people in Mississippi, in "defiance of 
the authority and regardless of the wishes of Congress, had 
rejected in contempt all terms of restoration, and had assumed 
the right to dictate the terms under which they would con- 
descend to be readmitted to the Union." 

The address then took up the matter of the late election, 
and declared that it had been carried by "bribery, threats, 
misrepresentation, fraud, violence, and murder." By way 
of criticism of General Gillem, the address declared that it 
had been a cause of great embarrassment to the " loyal " peo- 
ple of Mississippi that " disloyal " persons had been contin- 
ued in office, and their opposition to reconstruction thereby 
encouraged. The address concluded with a fervent appeal 
to Congress to declare the constitution in force, and the 
Republican ticket elected. 

A committee of six persons from the state at large, and two 
from each of the five congressional districts, was appointed 
to proceed to Washington and lay before Congress the 
address and urge the readmission of the state. ^ This com- 
mittee is commonly known as the committee of sixteen.^ 
In the meantime, the Republicans throughout the state were 



1 The full text of the proclamation may be foiand in H. Mis. Docs, supra, 
pp. 18, 19 ; also in the appendix to the Globe, 40th Cong. p. 259. 

2 The addre.ss is printed in full in H. Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong. No. 5.3, 
pp. 261-263. It is signed by R. W. Flourney, Alston Mygatt, George F. 
Brown, W. H. Gibbs, G. W. Van Hook, T. W. Stringer. 

3 'Ihe following are the names of the committee of sixteen. For the state 
at larg<!: R. W. Flourney, Jonr.than Tarbell, A. Alderson, Alston Mygatt, 
E. Stafford, and F. Ilodgcs. First district, U. Ozanne, J. L. Alcorn ; secoi'.d 
district, W. \V. Bell, J. G. Lyons ; third district. George F. Brown, G. W. 
Van Hook ; fourth district, T. VV. Stringer, H. W. Barry ; fifth district, E. 
J. Castello, W. H. Gibbs. 



THE REJECTION OF THE CONSTITUTION 221 

holding mass meetings and local conventions, adopting reso- 
lutions and addresses to Congress. Such a meeting was 
held at Corinth, December 8, with Major Gillenwaters of the 
United States army in the chair. Resolutions were adopted 
declaring that, in view of the financial condition of the state, 
and the " distraction " to the various industrial pursuits con- 
sequent upon a heated political canvass, another election 
would be detrimental to the peace and quiet of the state, 
and should Congress refuse to readmit her, the best interests 
of the people would be subserved by giving the state a pro- 
visional government. 1 The Republicans of Lauderdale 
County held a mass meeting at Meridian, December 28, and 
adopted similar resolutions. Congress was urged to readmit 
the state and declare the Republican ticket elected. ^ On the 
following day, a meeting of the Washington County Repub- 
licans was held at Greenville, and resolutions were adopted 
appealing to Congress to admit the state to the Union in 
accordance with the proclamation of the committee of five.^ 
The Republicans of Wilkinson County assembled at the Union 
League hall at Woodville, January 2, and adopted resolu- 
tions of the same tenor. ^ On the 16th, the Scott County 
Republicans assembled at Hillsboro, declared the late elec- 
tion to be an " echo of terrorism " ; that even the soldiers 
sent to their protection publicly expressed a desire to shoot 
" radicals and negroes " ; and that the result was a wicked, 
damnable fraud on the freedom of election, and this was 
known by General Gillem.^ The Rankin County colored 
Republicans recommended another constitutional conven- 
tion. They expressed a desire to cultivate kind relations 
with their white friends, invited the whites to join with 
them in these sentiments, and announced their intention 
to support capable and honorable men who were identified 
with the countr3\^ Resolutions such as the foregoing 
were adopted by Republican mass meetings in nearly 
every county of the state. They were all published in 
the Republican journals of the time, and copies trans- 
mitted to the committee of sixteen at Washington, to 
be in turn laid before the reconstruction committee of 
Congress. 



1 H. Mis. Docs, supra, p. 251. ^ j^id^ p. 253. » Ibid. p. 269. 

•^ Ibid. p. 252. 4 Ibid. p. 269. « Ibid. p. 234. 



222 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



XI. THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION IN CONGRESS 

The struggle over the constitution was now transferred to 
Washington. Shortly after the meeting of Congress in De- 
cember, the committee of sixteen arrived on the scene, and 
for many weeks badgered members of Congress, and urged 
them to put no faith in Gillem's report, but to declare the 
constitution ratified or to revive the convention. They went 
individually before the reconstruction committee and gave 
their testimony. The chairman of the committee of five 
recited at length his conference with General Gillem, and 
the latter's refusal to make an investigation ; affirmed that 
the committee of five had a right to make arrangements for 
holding the election, and to appoint commissioners to be 
present at the polls ; and expressed his conviction that a large 
number of the members elect of the legislature would not be 
able to take the oath of office required by the reconstruction 
acts. On December 16, ex-Governor Sharkey appeared before 
the committee, and testified that, so far as he knew, the elec- 
tion was conducted as fairly as any he had ever seen ; that 
many of the negroes of the state voted voluntarily with tlie 
Democrats ; that there was a state of good feeling between 
the races; and that while the negroes demanded the right 
of suffrage for themselves, they had no desire to deprive 
white men of the right. It was his opinion that the 
constitution was defeated fairly, and if another was sub- 
mitted with the prescriptive clauses stricken out, it would 
be ratified. 

General Gillem testified as to the precautions he had taken 
to insure a fair election, and declared that he had investi- 
gated every report of fraud and intimidation brought to his 
knowledge. In regard to the charge that sheriffs and sol- 
diers liad electioneered against the constitution, he informed 
the committee that most of the sheriffs were loyal men ap- 
pointed by himself and General Ord. As for the soldiers, he 
said not twenty of them had been enlisted in the state, but 
that they were Northern men. If, therefore, they voted 
against the constitution, as tliey had a right to do, it af- 
forded additional evidence of the obnoxious character of that 
instrument. He gave it as his opinion that the defeat of the 
constitution was due to its prescriptive character, as it was 
unreasonable to suppose that men would vote to disfranchise 
themselves, and if a constitution had been framed in accord- 
ance with the reconstruction acts, it would liavc been adopted 



THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION IN CONGRESS 223 

by a large majority. He denied emphatically that his ad- 
ministration of affairs in Mississippi was animated by a spirit 
of opposition to the reconstruction acts and the policy of 
Congress, and claimed that the opposition to his course had 
been confined to disaffected persons, who failed to get ap- 
pointments, and others whom he had declined to allow to 
enter upon the discharge of their official duties, because they 
could not give the requisite bonds. Then there were others, 
he said, whose schemes of plunder he had thwarted. These 
persons found fault with his administration, and desired his 
removal. 

Another important witness before the reconstruction com- 
mittee was Hon. J. W. C. Watson, an old-line AVhig who had 
canvassed the state against secession in 18G0, but who, upon 
the passage of the ordinance, could not persuade liimself, as 
he says, to go against his blood and kindi-ed, and so went 
earnestly into the contest on the side of the Confederacy, and 
did all he could, consistently with the rules of civilized war- 
fare and of Christianity, to advocate its cause. He was a 
member of the Confederate senate from 1863 until the close 
of the war, a member of the reconstruction conventions of 
1865 and 1868, from which latter he resigned when it be- 
came evident that the majority intended to frame a constitu- 
tion, the effect of which would be to disfranchise the more 
influential whites, and render them ineligible to office. When 
the constitution was submitted to the people, he canvassed 
the northern part of the state against it. He was satisfied 
that had the convention gone no further than the require- 
ments of Congress, the constitution would have been adopted 
by a large majority. The white people of the state, he said, 
were still opposed to negro suffrage, but with no further 
disfranchising provisions than were actually required by Con- 
gress, it would have been accepted. 

On the 24th of INIarch, the committee of sixteen called on 
President Grant, congratulated him on his election, thanked 
him for removing Gillem, and asked his influence in the 
enactment of a bill to readmit the state in spite of the re- 
jected constitution. The President told them that the mat- 
ter was in the hands of Congress, but it appeared to him that 
the most feasible way to settle the question was to resubmit 
the constitution, in such a way as to enable the electors to 
vote on the obnoxious clauses separately.^ While the radi- 
cal Republicans were besieging the President and members of 

1 The New York Herald of March 25, 1869, contains an account of the 
interview between President Grant and the committee of sixteen. 



224 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Congress to have Gillein's election set aside, and themselves 
installed into office, a committee of conservative Republicans 
were bestiiring themselves at Washington to defeat tlie policy 
of the "Eggleston Clique." They styled themselves the 
representatives of a " very large, respectable, and influential 
portion of the Republican party," and in an address to the 
reconstruction committee protested against the attempt of 
the radicals to have the constitution forced upon the people 
against their will. They recommended Congress to declare 
all the offices vacant, provide for the appointment of a pro- 
visional governor with power to till the vacancies, divest the 
constitution of its proscriptive features, and resubmit it to 
the people for ratification. ^ 

About the same time a committee of Democrats, among 
whom were ex-Governor Brown and Judge Sinlrall, waited 
upon the President and appealed to him to use his influence 
with Congress to defeat the radical programme. The venerable 
justice, who is one of the few survivors of those who were 
prominently connected with the events above described, thus 
speaks of his mission to Washington : "' When we reached 
Lynchbarg, we learned from the papers that the reconstruc- 
tion committee of the House would close its hearing that 
day. We telegraphed the committee to hold the matter open 
until we arrived. Our request was granted, and we had a 
full and patient hearing by the committee. During our stay 
in Washington, the senators and prominent members of the 
House seemed anxious to confer with us at their houses. 
We had no difficulty in discussing the matter with any we 
desired to see. We had two interviews with General Grant: 
first, at the war office, and afterward at the executive man- 
sion at night, the latter meeting having been arranged by 
Mr. Dent, the President's brother-in-law. At this interview, 
several members of the committee of sixteen were present, 
and at the President's suggestion, two on each side were 
heard. General Grant gave no intimation by word or ex- 
pression of countenance what impression had been made. 
At its conclusion, the President took from a table a 
printed copy of the constitution and referred to the sev- 
eral clauses relating to the elective franchise and said, in 
substance, that these proscriptive clauses should not be 
there, that the}'' would be a continual source of discord and 

^ Some of the leaders of this party were A. Warner, A. C. Fisko, Judge 
Jeffords, J. L. Wofford, and Frederic Speed. Tliey were all Northern 
men except one, and were more or less prominent in the politics of the 
state. 



THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION IN CONGRESS 225 

disorder, provocative of riots and bloodshed, perhaps, be- 
tween the races. 

" Turning his thoughts to the remedial aspect, he said, in 
effect, that he had been down in Mississippi, and knew some- 
thing of the conditions ; that the people were poor and had 
not fully recovered from the effects of the war ; that he 
could, through the commanding general, order the same 
convention to reassemble, but they might not improve the 
matter; or he could have another convention called, but 
that would be expensive. 

" Addressing himself to the governor and myself, he asked 
how it would do to submit the constitution to another vote, 
first striking out the objectionable clauses. Governor Brown 
and I consulted, and replied that to us that seemed the short- 
est way out of the trouble, and we believed it would be satis- 
factory to our people. In a short time, the suggestion was 
adopted by the government, and on the second vote these 
clauses were, by a very large majority, stricken out. If 
credit is due to any one, it is to President Grant, for the 
result attained." 

In the meantime. Congress was giving its attention to the 
question of the status of Mississippi. Bills for the read- 
mission of the state were successively introduced by Bing- 
ham and Beck in the House, and Boutwell and Payne in the 
Senate. Nothing however came of these efforts, and the 
Fortieth Congress ended March 4, 1869, with the question 
still unsettled.^ The matter was at once taken up by the 
Forty-first Congress, which assembled early after the adjourn- 
ment of the Congress. 

On the 19th of March, Mr. Butler introduced a bill to pro- 
vide for the organization of a provisional government for 
Mississippi. On the 24th, the chairman of the committee on 
reconstruction, who happened to be Mr. Butler, reported 
back his bill with the recommendation that it pass. The 
bill provided that for the "better securitj^ of persons and 
property in Mississippi," the convention should be authorized 
to forthwith assemble upon the call of the president thereof, 
and upon his failure to make the call within thirty days, the 
commanding general should be authorized and required to 
do so. 2 The reassembled convention was to have power to 

1 See Globe, 2d Ses. 40th Cong. pp. 1143, 1227. 

2 Appendix to Globe, 1st Ses. 41st Cong. p. 74. The president of the con- 
vention was at that moment in the lobby endeavoring to have the constitution 
declared in force. There was not the remotest probability that he would 
refuse to call the convention together. He would have been only too glad for 
an opportunity do so. 



226 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

appoint a provisional governor, and to remove and appoint 
registrars and judges of election.^ The constitution thus 
framed was to be submitted to the people within ninety days 
after the adjournment of the convention. ^ ]Mr. Beck, a Demo- 
cratic member of the reconstruction committee, and the leader 
of the opposition, at once took the floor and proposed an 
amendment to the Butler bill, vesting the appointment of the 
provisional governor in the President of the United States, 
instead of in the convention. General Butler, in a set speech 
on the 24th of March, defended his bill, and explained its 
meaning section by section.^ Beck replied to him on the 
same day, pointing out in his speech the objections to the bill, 
and defending his own amendment. He wished the power 
to appoint a provisional governor vested in the President, 
because he said he had infinitely more confidence in him 
than he had in the convention, believing that the President 
would use his power to secure a free and fair election, 
whereas he knew the convention would not permit either. 

Discussion of the Butler bill continued through several days. 
On the 31st, Mr. Farnsworth of Illinois offered a substitute, 
providing that the commanding general should be empowered 
to submit the constitution again to the qualified voters, and 
that the objectionable clauses should be submitted separately, 
and if defeated, they should be stricken out of the constitu- 
tion. Another feature of the substitute provided that the 
sections relating to the appointment of chancellors and judges 
should be so changed as to require those officers to be elected 
by the people.* 

Mr. Farnsworth followed up his substitute with a speech 
in defence of the same. It seemed to find favor with mem- 
bers, and was, no doubt, a better measure than the Butler 
bill. Discussion on tlie measure continued off and on for 
several weeks. On March 31, Mr. Dawes of Massachusetts 
spoke at length in favor of postponing further consideration 

1 Dawes, Butler's colleague, in speaking of this bill, said he would as soon 
leave the choice of the warden of the state prison at Charlestown to the con- 
victs themselves as to leave the choice of a provisional governor to the Missis- 
sippi reconstruction convention. Globe, IstSes. 4Ist Cong. p. 14 (Appendix). 

2 Ibid. p. 25.3. 

2 General Butler said Egglesttju had accepted the surrender of Atlanta, and 
he would accept the surrender of Mississippi if lie was appointed provisional 
governor. He frankly admitted that "good politics" required compliance 
witli the schemes of the radicals. lie said : " Now if you do not reconstruct 
Mississippi, you cannot get a loyal legislature [and consequently two 'loyal' 
senators] ; you cannot pass the Fil'teenth Amendment, and with it you lose 
half a dozen Northern states." Ibid. pp. 10, 17. 

* Globe, ibid. 398. 



THE MISSISSIPPI QUESTION IN CONGRESS 227 

of the Mississippi question until the next session, on the 
ground that life and property would be safer in the state the 
longer it remained under military rule.^ 

On the 1st of April, further consideration of the bill was 
postponed until the first Monday of December.^ On April 8, 
1869, General Butler reported from the committee on recon- 
struction a bill modelled after Farnsworth's substitute. It 
authorized the President of the United States, at such time 
as he might deem best for the public interest, to submit the 
constitutions of Mississippi, Virginia, and Texas to a vote of 
the people, and at the same time submit to a separate vote 
such provisions as he might choose. In the event of ratifi- 
cation, the legislature was required to assemble at the Capi- 
tol on the fourtli Tuesday after the official promulgation of 
such ratification. The commanding general was empowered 
to suspend all laws that he might deem unjust and oppres- 
sive to the people, this power to be subject to the approval of 
the President, and to terminate upon the assembling of the 
legislature.^ This last provision was directed principally 
against the poll-tax law in Mississippi, and several laws con- 
cerning the collection of debts, which laws, the Republicans 
alleged, were unjust and oppressive. Mr. Paine objected to 
the bill, which authorized the President to submit the con- 
stitution to the voters, and at the same time submit separately 
the obnoxious clauses. He therefore offered a substitute, au- 
thorizing the President to submit the constitution, in the first 
place, as a whole, and then submit it with the objectionable 
provisions stricken out.* The same day the bill passed the 
House by a yea and nay vote of 125 to 25.^ It was immedi- 
ately sent to the Senate, where it was read twice, and ordered 
printed without reference to a committee. The following 
morning the bill was called up and read, when Mr. Morton 
offered an additional section, providing that before the states 
in question should be admitted to representation in Congress, 
their several legislatures should be required to ratify the 
Fifteenth Amendment.^ Tliis section became the subject of 
an animated discussion, and was opposed by Republicans and 
Democrats alike. Senator Trumbull declared that in impos- 
ing this new condition, the government was breaking faith 
with those states, inasmuch as Congress had already given its 
solemn pledge that they should be readmitted upon the per- 
formance of certain conditions. He desired to know of 

1 Globe, 1st Ses. 41st Cong. p. 408. s jf^i^i, p. 633. 5 /ft,-,?, p. 636. 

2 Ihid. p. 437. * Ibid. p. 634. e lud. p. 653. 



228 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

senators when this thing of imposing conditions upon the 
late insurrectionary states was to end. " Suppose," said he, 
" they comply with this requirement, then are they to be told 
at a subsequent session of Congress that there is something 
else to be done before they can be admitted to representa- 
tion." Morton was urged not to press his amendment, as it 
was unnecessary, and might lead to a protracted debate and 
delay their contemplated adjournment on the following day. 
The Indiana senator said he regarded the amendment as 
being of the utmost importance, and would rather see the 
bill fail than to have it pass without the additional section. ^ 
After a short but spirited debate, Morton's amendment 
passed the Senate by a yea and nay vote of 30 to 20.^ The 
bill with the Morton amendment, together with several 
unimportant verbal amendments, passed the Senate by a vote 
of 49 to 9. Later, on the same day, the House, under a sus- 
pension of the rules, concurred in the amendments of the 
Senate, after which it adjourned, leaving the Mississippi 
question in the hands of the President and the people of 
the state. 



^ XII. MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL AMES 

On the 4th of March, 1869, the man who had placed Gen- 
eral Gillem in command of Mississippi, and who had sustained 
him in his opposition to the policy of the radicals, passed 
from the presidency to private life. On the following day, 
the order went forth for Gillem's removal. This was the 
first victory of the committee of sixteen. There was a gen- 
eral manifestation of regret by the whites over the removal 
of General Gillem, and it was openly declared that the rea- 
son for tlie President's action was the incapacity of the gen- 
eral to serve political ends. However this may be, it was 
certainly unfortunate for the political repose of the state. ^ 

1 Globe, p. 654. 

2 Ibid. p. 056. 

3 Ex-United States Senator Fowler, in an unpublished memoir of General 
Gillem, says he not only possessed high qualities as a soldier, but also ele- 
ments of statesmanship ; that he always deprecated the invasioii of the civil 
power by the military, never forgetting that he had risen from the ranks of 
the people, and must confide the destiny of his children to their hands ; that 
his worli in Mississippi was greatly complicated by the errors of a predecessor, 
and that the material interests of the state and the general tone of society- 
assumed an improved aspect after he became commander. He subsequently 
served as commander of the Department of California, took part in the 
Modoc War, and died in 1876. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL AMES 229 

General Gillem's successor in Mississippi was General Adel- 
bert Ames, who, it will be remembered, had been acting-civil 
governor since July 15, 1868, by appointment from General 
McDowell. General Ames was a native of Maine and a 
graduate of West Point. He was brevetted major general 
for gallantry and meritorious conduct in the Civil War, and 
in 1868 was sent to Mississippi with the rank of lieutenant 
colonel in the Twenty-fourth Infantry. He was but thirty- 
three years of age when he became provisional governor, had 
never held a civil office, and was without training in the 
civil law. His administration as provisional governor seems 
to have been characterized by moderation and tact. His 
appointment, therefore, as district commander was favorably 
received. The Hinds County Gazette extended him a " cor- 
dial welcome," and promised to " most gladly support him 
in every honest effort to give a good administration." 
Barksdak of the Clarion^ who had better opportunities for 
knowing him, said : " The appointment should be acceptable 
to the people. In the discharge of the duties of provisional 
governor. General Ames has commanded the respect and won 
the esteem of all classes." ^ The new commander assumed 
control by issuing the following brief order : — 

Headquarters 4th Military District, 
ViCKSBURG, March 17, 1869. 
General Orders) 

No. 14. I 

In compliance with paragraph No. 55, current 
series, headquarters of the army, adjutant general's office, the 
undersigned hereby assumes command of the 4th Military District. 

Adelbert Ames, 
Brevet Maj. Gen. U.S.A. 

Shortly after assuming command, the headquarters of the 
district were removed from Vicksburg to Jackson for his 
convenience as provisional governor. In the two capacities 
of civil governor and military commander, there were few 
limitations upon his power. According to his own testi- 
mony, his power as military governor gave him supremacy 
in Mississippi, and he allowed no law to stand in his 
way when he felt that it was a hindrance to the execution 
of his policy. 2 His authority embraced the whole municipal 

1 Clarion of March 11, 1860. 

2 Boutwell Report on Miss. Elections, 1876, p. 17. 



230 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

power of the state. It included the rights of person and 
property, the assessment and collection and disbursement of 
taxes, the apportionment of representatives in the legislature, 
and the control of elections through the appointment of reg- 
istrars, judges, and inspectors, and by prescribing the time, 
place, and manner of holding them. At the time he assumed 
command, there were about one thousand troops in the state.^ 
These were employed, he says, for ordinary routine duty, 
and in making expeditions for the purpose of " arresting 
lawless characters guilty of murder or other serious offences." 
He reported that a few men, "supported by public opinion," 
committed murders and outrages, and the civil authorities 
were unequal to the task of bringing them to justice ; that 
neither injured parties nor their friends often undertook to 
aid the civil or military authorities, and if so, with reluctance; 
and that offenders were often secretly concealed or otherwise 
shielded by the people. ^ His charge that public sentiment 
supported criminals in their lawlessness was repelled by the 
press as a base "calumny upon the fair name of the state." 
His report was the subject of much unfavorable comment, 
and cost him not a little of the confidence and respect which 
he at first enjoyed. 

The removal of Gillem was not the only victory scored by 
the committee of sixteen. It will be remembered that they 
had represented to Congress that all the offices in the state 
were in the hands of rebels and disloyal persons. Congress 
was therefore urged to declare all offices vacant, and order 
them filled with "loyal" men. A joint resolution was ac- 
cordingly adopted, declaring that all persons holding office 
in Mississippi, who could not take and subscribe to the oath 
of July 2, 1862, should be removed, and the vacancies filled 
by the district commander with persons who were able to take 
the oath. This practically vacated all the civil offices in 
the state, for not one in a hundred of the incumbents could 
take the oath required. The resolution went into effect 
February 16, 1869, and was not to apply to those whose dis- 
abilities had been removed by Congress. On the 23d, a gen- 

1 The following exhibit shows the strength and distribution of the military 
force of the state during his administration : — 

I'OST. BTKKNllTH. I'OST. BTRENOTH. 

Ship Island 280 men Natchez 50 men 

Jackson 209 " Lauderdale 60 " 

(Jronada 173 " Corinth 86 " 

Vicksburg 129 " 

— Report Secretary of War, 18f;0, p. IGO. « Ibid. p. 99. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL AMES 231 

eral order to carry into effect the joint resolution was issued 
by the commanding general. The order declared that all 
incumbents whose disabilities had not been removed, and 
who had not qualified under appointment from headquarters 
were directed to take and subscribe to the oath at ouce, and 
forward the same to headquarters. Those who could not 
take the oath were directed to retain custody of all books, 
papers, and other property belonging to their respective 
offices, and transfer them to their successors when they had 
qualified and were ready to enter upon the discharge of their 
duties. The work of turning out the " rebels " now began 
in earnest. Nearly every civil officer in the state, from gov- 
ernor down to the pettiest constable, was removed. Three 
days after the promulgation of the general order mentioned 
above, General Ames made his first batch of appointments.^ 
General Ames's order book shows that scarcely a day passed 
during the remainder of his term on which a special order 
was not issued removing certain persons from office, and 
appointing their successors. He removed nearly all the 
state officers, and hundreds of county and local officers. At 
the same time he appointed 60 sheriffs, 72 circuit and pro- 
bate judges, 3 judges of the criminal court, 16 prosecuting 
attorneys, 70 county treasurers, 120 circuit and probate 
clerks, 60 county assessors, 50 mayors, 220 aldermen, 385 
justices of the peace, 165 constables, 370 members of the 
board of police, 40 coroners, 20 surveyors, 25 city marshals, 
more than 300 election registrars, and a large number of 
minor officials, such as school commissioners, city collectors, 
superintendents of the poor, county attorneys, trustees of 
state institutions, etc.^ All appointees were required to fur- 
nish the proper bonds and take and subscribe to the iron-clad 



1 Special Orders, No. 59, dated March 26. By this order the state treas- 
urer, Mr. Echols, was removed, and Captain Myers of the ordnance depart- 
ment of the army was detailed to perform the duties of the office. By the 
same order, the probate judges of Madison and Scott counties were removed, 
and two Northern men appointed to succeed them. A Northern man was 
appointed circuit clerk of Madison, and two Northern men were appointed 
sheriffs of Lowndes and Yazoo counties. 

2 These statistics are tabulated from a printed volume entitled, Special 
Orders of the Fourth Military District, which General Ames kindly placed 
in my hands. It contains 283 special orders, being all that were issued from 
Jan. 2 to Dec. 31, 1869. The majority of them relate to the removal and 
appointment of officers. The others relate to special duties of army officers, 
boards of survey, trial of offences by court martial and military commis- 
sions, movements of troops, registration of voters, and management of elec- 
tions. Of the orders in this volume General Gillem issued fifty, General 
Ames the others. 



232 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

oath, and forward a copy to the acting assistant adjutant 
general at headquarters. They were then furnished with 
written authority by the commanding general to enter upon 
the discharge of their duties. As few of the native whites 
of respectability could take the oath, General Ames found it 
next to impossible to get competent persons to fill the offices. 
Being a stranger in the state, he was compelled to follow the 
recommendations of those who, doubtless, deceived him in 
many instances. He says he did the best he could under the 
circumstances. He was charged by Congress with appoint- 
ing only persons who could take the iron-clad oath, and if 
there were few respectable whites who could do it, making it 
necessary, therefore, to appoint freedmen and white strangers 
from the North, the blame should properly attach to Con- 
gress and not to him. No man unaccustomed to civil pur- 
suits, and unacquainted in the state, could have selected two 
thousand honest and competent officials out of a body of citi- 
zens from which the more intelligent and influential Avere 
excluded. Some of the Northern men appointed by General 
Ames were competent and worthy officials. That they were 
not always cordially received in the communities to which 
they were sent was due chiefly to the Anglo-Saxon instinct 
for home rule. The action of Congress in handing the local 
governments over to the former slaves of the whites, together 
with a few strangers from other parts of the country, may have 
been necessary to the congressional policy of reconstruction, 
but it certainly complicated the problem by increasing the 
animosities and passions of the time, inflicting corrupt and 
expensive government upon the inhabitants, and producing 
other causes which resulted in persecution, fraudulent elec- 
tions, and finally revolution.^ 

The course of General Ames in reconstructing the official 
organization with only those who were known to be his politi- 
cal supporters was the subject of loud protest. He did not 
scruple to remove the " loyal " appointees of Gillem and Ord, 
when it became known that they were not his supporters. 
The removal of the sheriffs of De Soto, Claiborne, Clay, 
Calhoun, and Hinds counties were cases in point. In some 

1 Of the twenty-five appointees of General Ames who subsequently became 
the most prominent Republican politicians in the state, not one had ever held 
office there before, eight were colored, while all of the white ajjpointees except 
four were Northern men who had come to tlie state since the war. One of 
these apjjointees became governor, one United States Senator, one lieutenant 
governor, two justices of the Supreme Court, two representatives in Congress, 
one attorney general, while the others were judges, sheriffs, members of the 
legislature, and county officers. 



MILITARY GOVERNMENT UNDER GENERAL AMES 233 

of these instances, the new appointees had never been in the 
counties to which tliey were sent, and made tlieir bonds in 
other parts of the state. In another instance, he removed a 
justice of tlie Supreme Court whom he had four months before 
recommended to the President for appointment as United 
States district judge. It was alleged that the judge in ques- 
tion had ceased to be a party adherent of the commanding 
general. He summarily dismissed the state printers who had 
been elected by the legislature, and appointed in their stead 
the editor of a Republican sheet lately established. None of 
his removals, it was said, showed so much the prejudices of 
the commander as his dismissal of a highly respected Presby- 
terian minister from the governing board of the asylum for 
the blind. The same was said of the removal of a promi- 
nent banker from the board of directors of the Illinois Cen- 
tral railroad. The United States attorney for the Southern 
district resigned his position, and gave his reason in a published 
address that he was unwilling to be identified with an admin- 
istration "whose acts in Mississippi he could not approve." 
The officer in question was a Northern man, and one of the 
founders of the Republican part}' in Mississippi.^ The Pilot, 
the organ of the Republican party, said, that General Ames 
had made mistakes in some of his appointments was appar- 
ent, but that he would in due time rectify them. But what 
called forth greater criticism was his apparent disposition to 
shield such of his aj)pointees as turned out to be dishonest in 
their official relations. Thus his appointees to the ofiices of 
probate judge and sheriff in Rankin County were convicted 
of official crimes and sent to jail. The commanding General 
is said to have sent over a detachment of troops, which 
forcibly opened the jail, took the prisoners out, and a soldier 
with musket in hand escorted the judge to the court house, 
and opened and adjourned the court. The offenders were 
then given an opportunity to leave the state, which they lost 
no time in making use of.^ 

Complaints were loud among the whites that General Ames 
went to an unreasonable extent in his interference with the free- 
dom of the citizens and with the actions of the civil authorities. 
Professor Highgate, a negro teacher in Madison County, and 

^ Clarion, Aug. 17, 1869. In a letter to the President, he said General 
Ames's course had been marked by a "tyrannical exercise of power utterly 
antagonistic to the reconstruction acts." "I should be false to the party if I 
longer retained the oflBce to which you have appointed me." 

2 Jackson Clarion, Oct, 9, 1873. See also Lowry and McCardle's History 
of Mississippi, p. 382. 



234 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

an ex-Union soldier, presumed to criticise somewhat severely 
the conduct of the military authorities in the Rankin County 
affair already described. For this he was arrested and made 
to stand on a barrel with his hands tied behind him and 
his mouth gagged from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.^ By the com- 
mander's direction, twenty-five or thirty white men in Copiah 
County were somewhat arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned, 
for political purposes, it was charged.'^ Two tax collec- 
tors in Choctaw County were " arbitrarily " dealt with, and 
an official in Yallobusha was arrested and imprisoned " with- 
out authority of law." ^ Commanders of posts at Jackson, 
Vicksburg, Corinth, Natchez, Lauderdale, and Grenada were 
forbidden to obey any writ of habeas corpus issued by a 
Federal court for the release of prisoners in their custody, 
the purpose being to prevent the testing of the legality of 
arbitrary arrests by the military authorities. The Clarion 
of August 24 called it a " high-handed measure," and 
said it was evidence of the " malignant and despotic tem- 
per " with which they were ruled in time of peace. The 
legislature had made liberal provision for supplying maimed 
Confederate soldiers with artificial limbs, and had exempted 
such persons from the payment of a poll tax. By a general 
order of April 14, General Ames forbade the further use 
of money for this purpose, and directed that the poll-tax law 
should be applied to disabled Confederates the same as to 
other persons. He ordered furthermore that the poll tax 
should be reduced in amount on account of its alleged 
oppressiveness to the non-property-holding class.* One of 
the most important enactments of General Ames was an 
order, of April 29, 1869, declaring freedmen to be competent 
jurors.^ There was of course a great outcry against the 
order, quite as much as against the admission of negro testi- 
mony to the courts, but, as the Clarion said, nobody was 
surprised. The Clarion advised its readers to take a " practi- 
cal view of it, and treat it as they would any other matter of 

1 Highgatii's affidavit setting forth these facts is published in the Clarion 
of Aug. 31, 18(;9. 

2 Lowry and McCardle, History of Mississippi, p. 382. 
8 Clarion, Oct. i), 1873. 

* Relative to this order the Aberdeen Examiner said: "No one blames 
General Ames for his late order, as it reduces the poll tax from $t to $1.50 ; 
for though it was the only tax collected from the mass of the freedmen, it was 
exorbitant, and tho, boy of twenty-one who owned nothing save the: scanty 
suit that defended him from the blast was mulcted in as large an amount for 
the benelit of tlie revenue as tlie man of fifty-iive with his scciion of fraudu- 
lently assessed land." 

6 Report Secretary of War, 186(>-1870, p. 100. 



MILITARY GOVERISMENT UNDER GENERAL AMES 235 

concern." While the editor regretted that persons so incom- 
petent as the freedmen were to try issues involving life, 
liberty, and property, he was satisfied that the white citizens 
infinitely preferred service with them to association with the 
lower class of " carpet baggers " who had been appointed of 
late.i The state Democratic executive committee urged every 
white man who was summoned to do jury duty to be care- 
ful to attend, without fail, and "aid the inexperienced to dis- 
charge the new trusts confided to them."^ For this act, and 
others of a similar kind. General Ames says the colored peo- 
ple sent him to the United States Senate.^ 

There being no legislature to provide for the support of 
the state institutions. General Ames by military order appro- 
priated various sums for this purpose.'* Other orders were 
issued for extending the time allowed by law for tax asses- 
sors to complete and deliver their rolls ; ^ for extending the 
time of collection by distress and sale of personal property 
in a number of counties ; ^ for extending the time allowed by 
law for tax collectors to make their settlements with the 
auditor ; for constituting courts martial ; for constituting 
military commissions ; for setting aside injunctions and 
other processes of the civil courts ; '' for annulling the pro- 
ceedings of a magistrate's court and ordering a new trial be- 
fore the county judge ; for directing the circuit court of 
Clarke County to dismiss a case pending before it, and pro- 
hibiting the said court from entertaining jurisdiction of it in 
the future ; for directing tliat all proceedings in the circuit 
court of Lauderdale County in the case of the Selma and 

1 Issue of April 29, 1869. 2 jud. 

8 "In order that the whites shoi;ld know that colored men were not slaves, 
and in recognition of their loyalty, I gave them office and put them in the 
jury box, and relieved them from unjust and oppi'essive legislation of their 
masters, for which a successful and grateful party sent me to the senate." 
Speech of General Ames on the Enforcement Act, U.S. Senate, May 20, 
1872. Globe, 42d Cong. 1st Ses. p. 520. 

* On the 1st of March, he directed that $10,000 be drawn from the treas- 
ury for the support of the Lunatic Asylum ; $10,000 on May 4 ; $10,000 on 
June 22 ; $10,u00 on August 25 ; and §10,000 on December 7. May 25, 
$1200 was thus appropriated for repairs on the Asylum for the Blind. 

6 The beneficiaries of this order were the assessors in fourteen counties 
only. 

^ Twenty in all. 

•^ By Special Order No. 232, dated Nov. 1, 1869, an injunction granted by 
Judge James M. Smiley of the Chancery Court of Claiborne County restraining 
the board of aldermen of Port Gibson from carrying into effect an ordinance 
creating tlie office of city wt igher, was set asido. By Special Order No. 1, of 
Jan. 3, 1870, an injunction issued by the circuit court of Marshall County 
to restrain a certain individual from keeping a feed and sale stable on the 
public square of Holly Springs, was likewise set aside. 



236 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



Meridian Railroad Company be vacated, that the sheriff be 
directed to release all rolling stock held by virtue of any 
process of said court, and that the said property be exempted 
from seizure by virtue of any authority from the courts of 
Mississippi. * 

Although General Ames interfered more or less with the 
civil authorities, he seems to have left the courts to exercise 
jurisdiction over criminal offences, except crimes against 
freedmen and Union men. The folloAving is a list of the cases 
tried by military commissions during his administration : — 



Offence charged. 


Where committed. 


PCNISHMBNT. 


Killing of a freedman . 


Newton County 


Acquitted. 


Arson and larceny . . 


Newton County 


Acquitted. 


Murder of a freedman . 


Warren County 


Acquitted. 


Murder of a freedman . 


AVarren County 


Acquitted. 


Conspiracy to murder a 






teacher 


Adams County 


One year's imprisonment. 


Killing of two mules . . 


Claiborne County 


Acquitted. 


Robbery and assault . . 


Claiborne County 


Ten years' imprisonment 
(two negroes) . 


Carrying pistol and re- 






sisting military officer . 


Lee County 


Acquitted. 


Forgery 


Lee County 


Two years' imprisonment. 


Assault on U. S. soldier . 


INIarshall County 


Two years' imprisonment. 



The most notable of these cases was the alleged conspir- 
acy of four young men in Adams County to murder the 
teacher of a negro school. They were charged with taking 
him from his house and demanding the revelation of the 
password to the Loyal League. Upon his release they mal- 
treated him somewhat barbarously. Under the state law, 
this offence was only a misdemeanor, and was not punish- 
able by imprisonment in the penitentiary. Their counsel, 
Judge Simrall, sued out a writ of habeas corpus before the 
United States district judge, and based his argument for 
their discharge on the ground that the reconstruction acts 
did not repeal the state laws, and that the military tri- 
bunals were only substitutes for the state courts, and could 
not improvise a penalty as could a court martial. The judge 
agreed with him, and discharged the prisoners. The mili- 
tary authorities obeyed the mandate, and discharged the 
prisoners from custod3^ The military autliorities thereafter 
invariably conformed to that interpretation of the acts of 
Congress. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1869 237 



XIII. PARTY POLITICS IN 1869. THE CONSTITUTION 

RATIFIED 

On the 13th of July, 1869, President Grant issued a proc- 
lamation designating Tuesday, November 30, as the day on 
which the constitution should be resubmitted to the electo- 
rate. 

He directed that the three prescriptive clauses, together 
with the provision forbidding the loaning of the state's credit, 
should each be submitted to a separate vote. Each voter 
who favored the ratification of the constitution without the 
above provisions was directed to indicate his will by voting 
"for" the constitution. Those who favored the rejection of 
the constitution were directed to vote " against " it. Each 
voter was also allowed to cast a separate ballot for or against 
the objectionable provisions.^ Soon after the publication of 
the proclamation, preparations for the campaign began. The 
white Republicans were still divided into a conservative and 
a radical wing, the negroes for the most part affiliating with 
the radical contingent. The conservatives made the first 
move. Early in June a circular was sent to prominent poli- 
ticians in various parts of the state, who were known to be 
in sympathy with the conservative movement, inviting them 
to meet at Jackson on the 23d for the purpose of " taking 
steps to promote the general interests of the state," Those 
who signed the call had been conspicuous in the opposition to 
the committee of sixteen, and they styled themselves " Mem- 
bers of the National Union Republican party of Mississippi." 
In their address they said : " Believing that our state should 
be reconstructed in accordance with the acts of Congress 
and the principles enunciated by General Grant, and that 
toleration, liberality, and forbearance will command respect, 
inspire confidence, restore harmony, and bring peace and 
prosperity, we ask the aid of every patriotic citizen in the 
state, be he white or black, high or low." The proposed 
convention of conservatives met at Jackson pursuant to the 
call, and was presided over by Mr. WofTord, an ex-Confed- 
erate soldier, but a Republican in politics, and at the time 
editor of a Republican paper published at Corinth. The 
convention made ready for the coming campaign by the 
appointment of a state executive committee, and the adop- 
tion of a platform of principles, but adjourned without mak- 

1 Richardson, Messages and Papers, Vol. VII. pp. 16, 17. 



238 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ing any nominations. Their platform expressed "unfalter- 
ing devotion " to the National Union Republican party, and 
declared that the failure of the reconstruction convention 
by its proscriptive measures to restore the state to the 
Union had rendered its supporters unworthy of the re- 
spect and confidence of the voters of Mississippi. The 
conservatives endorsed the Fifteenth Amendment, depre- 
cated all attempts to impose further disabilities than the 
Constitution and laws of the United States required, 
and voted a resolution of thanks to the President and 
Congress for rejecting the constitution. The executive 
committee was authorized to issue an address to the peo- 
ple declaratory of the principles of the new party, and to 
issue a call for a state convention to nominate candidates 
for office. 

The radical Republicans held their first state convention 
on July 2, and adopted a platform of seventeen resolutions 
in which they likewise expressed " unfaltering devotion " to 
the National Union Republican party with which they pro- 
fessed to be in full sympathy ; declared in favor of an impar- 
tial and economical administration of the government ; full 
and unrestricted right of speech to all men at all times and 
places ; unrestrained freedom of the ballot ; a system of free 
schools ; a reform of the " iniquitous and unequal " system 
of taxation and assessments which discriminated against 
labor ; declared that all men without regard to race, color, 
or previous condition of servitude were equal before the law ; 
recommended a removal of political disabilities as soon as 
the "spirit of toleration now dawning upon the state" should 
be so firmly established as to justify Congress in taking such 
action; declared in favor of universal amnesty, universal suff- 
rage, and encouragement of immigration ; endorsed the 
administration of President Grant ; expressed confidence in 
and admiration for General Ames, and eulogized Congress 
as the assembled wisdom and expressed will of the nation. 
This convention, like that of the conservatives, organized 
the party for the approaching election, and adjourned with- 
out nominating a state ticket. 

It now remained to see what action the regular democracy 
would take. It was apparent from the outset that there was 
little hope of success for them, especially if they entered the 
contest under the name and banner of the regular party. 
A movement was therefore inaugurated for the organization 
of a conservative party, which, though opposed to the policy 
of the radicals, was in favor of ratifying the constitution 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1869 239 

iiiinus the so-called proscriptive provisions. Ex-Governor 
Brown, in a letter to the Clarion of April 22, outlined a 
policy which was favorably discussed by several leading 
newspapers, and was endorsed by mass meetings of conserva- 
tives in different parts of the state. He proposed an accept- 
ance of the Fifteenth Amendment; a guarantee of the civil 
and political rights of the freedmen ; no " partisan " opposi- 
tion to the administration of General Grant; " hostility to 
men who had come to the state for the purpose of making 
mischief, and hearty good will to all who came in good faith 
to share the fortunes of the Southern people." His platform 
had much in common with that of the conservative Republi- 
cans, and soon negotiations were entered into for a union of 
the two parties on the basis of a common opposition to the 
radicals. Tlie conservative Democrats signified their will- 
ingness to support acceptable candidates of the National Un- 
ion llepublican party. Early in May, the conservative press 
of both parties brought forward the name of Judge Louis 
Dent, a brother-in-law of General Grant, as a suitable can- 
didate to head the state ticket against tlie radicals. Judge 
Dent was not an absolute stranger to the people of the state, 
having been a government lessee of " abandoned " land in 
Coahoma County during the later years of the war, and, in 
fact, was a resident of the county at the time of the election 
of General Grant to the presidency. Upon the inauguration 
of the President, he was invited to make his home at the 
White House, where he was living at the time his name was 
suggested for the governorship.^ His chief claim upon the 
democracy of Mississippi was the use of his influence with 
the President against the schemes of the committee of six- 
teen during its sojourn at Washington. 

Soon after the adjournment of the National Union Repub- 
lican convention in June, certain members of the executive 
committee proceeded to Washington to get the formal per- 
mission of Judge Dent to use his name before the nominat- 
ing convention in September. He expressed entire approval 
of the platform, and readily gave the desired permission. ^ 

1 Judge Dent was born in St. Louis, emigrated to California with General 
Kearney in 1846, and there married a daughter of Judge Baine, late of 
Grenada, Mississippi. He practised law in Sacramento and San Francisco, 
was an unsuccessful candidate for Congress, and a member of the first con- 
stitutional convention of California. Two of his uncles, Benjamin and 
George, had lived in Mississippi during the territorial period. 

2 The following is a copy of Judge Dent's letter : — 

Washington, D.C, July 9, 1869. 
Gentlemen : Your communication of this date requesting permission to 
place my name before the National Union Republican Party is at hand. In 



240 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The proposed nomination of Judge Dent met with favor among 
the conservatives of both parties. The Clarion of August 5 
published an address signed by more than one hundred 
prominent Democrats, calling upon the people to support the 
ticket of the National Union Republican party as the only 
means of defeating the radicals. The same paper of August 
7 gave the names of thirty-three newspapers favoring the 
"conservative movement." It was agreed, therefore, among 
the leaders of the De^nocratic party not to put out a ticket, 
but to support Judge Dent. 

They issued an address declaring that the adoption of the 
constitution was not an issue, the only question being as to 
the character of the candidates. The present basis of recon- 
struction was, they said, as fair as could be hoped for. 
The address called attention to the advantages of being 
again admitted to the Union, and thus putting an end to the 
" gigantic military despotism with its terrible humiliations 
and oppressions, under which they had so long languished 
and suffered." "With readmission to the Union," they 
said, "the blessings of peace and civil government would 
return, and capital and labor would flow into the state." 
The address concluded, " No true Mississippian, worthy of 
that honor and name, can think for a moment of adhering 
to the radical party as it exists in the state of Mississippi. 
F'rom them we have received nothing but cruel tyranny, 
unjust persecution, and a degree of oppression unequalled in 
the sad history of conquered nations." The question of 
calling a state convention to nominate a regular ticket was 
carefully discussed by the state executive committee. On 
September 9 the committee announced that it was inexpedi- 
ent to nominate a state ticket. The people were urged to 
meet in county conventions, organize a Dent party, nominate 
candidates for the legislature, and enter upon the campaign 
at once. There were many Democrats, however, who were 
unwilling to sacrifice their party name, and in a measure 
their political principles, by supporting for governor a man 

reply, I beg to assure you that if I can in the least be instrumental in restor- 
ing the state of my adoption to her normal place in the Union and securing to 
her a good local administration, you have permission to use my name for any 
position within the gift of the National Union Republican Party of your state. 
"With great respect, I have the honor to be your obedient servant, 

Louis Dent. 
The platform adopted at your convention at Jackson on the 23d of June 
last I most heartily approve and endorse. 
To Messrs. J. L. Wofford, 
Edw. a. Jencks, 

WiLLARDS. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1869 241 

who was not a lona fide citizen of the state, and whose 
politics were scarcely known to the people. 

In response to a call issued by several Democratic news- 
papers that were opposed to the " Dent Movement," a con- 
vention attended by a small number of delegates was held at 
Canton, October 20. They adopted resolutions declaring that 
the Democratic party would retain its organization intact, 
that it had not been, nor could by any competent authority 
be committed to the support of either wing of the Republican 
party ; that they had no advice to offer to the people of 
Mississippi as to the course proper for them to pursue in the 
present contest, but as for themselves, they proposed to 
remain firm in their devotion to the great doctrine of state 
rights, and leave the responsibility for the establishment of 
a Republican party in Mississippi to rest where it properly 
belonged. The convention further resolved that in view of 
the dissensions existing among the people, a result due to 
the " manoevures " of politicians, it was deemed inexpedient 
for the Democratic party to put a state ticket in the field 
during the present campaign. 

The chief purpose, of course, in nominating the brother- 
in-law of the President was to get the support of the national 
administration. At the time Judge Dent's name was proposed, 
no one doubted that the President would lend his support to 
the conservative party whose policy he had seemed to favor 
on the "Mississippi question." The Clarion of August 10 
announced that the President " unquestionably desired the 
success of the Dent ticket, though delicacy forbade his active 
interference." A few days later the publication of the fol- 
lowing letter destroyed the hopes of the conservatives : — 

Long Branch, Aug. 1, 1869. 
Dear Judge : I am thoroughly satisfied in my own mind 
that the success of the so-called Conservative Republican party in 
Mississippi would result in the defeat of what I believe to be the 
best interests of the state and country, that I have determined to 
say so to you (in writing of course). I know or believe that your 
intentions are good in accepting the nomination of the conserva- 
tive party. I would regret to see you run for an office and be 
defeated by my act ; but as matters look now, I must throw the 
weight of my influence in favor of the party opposed to you. I 
earnestly hope that before the election there will be such conces- 
sions on either side in Mississippi as to unite all true supporters 
of the administration in support of one ticket. ... I write this 
solely that you may not be under any wrong impression as to 
what I regard, or may hereafter regard, as my public duty. 



242 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Personally I wish you well, and would do all in my power 
proper to be done to secure your success, but in public matters 
personal feelings will not intiuence me.^ 

With kindest regards, yours truly, 

U. S. Grant. 

With this discomforting letter ringing in their ears, the 
state convention of the National Union Republican party as- 
sembled at Jackson September 8 to nominate a state ticket. 
Three hundred and twenty delegates representing forty coun- 
ties were present. The " Dent Movement " liad progressed 
too far to be abandoned, in spite of the assurance of the Presi- 
dent that his support should be given to the radicals. Dent 
was accordingly nominated for governor. He was brought 
into the convention hall, where he made a speech accepting 
the nomination. His politics were unknown, and he allowed 
all parties to remain in blissful ignorance of his views on democ- 
racy and republicanism. 2 The ticket was framed with a view 
to catching the vote of the conservative negroes, should there 
prove to be any. The Clarion early in the year had advised 
the selection of colored delegates to the local and state con- 
ventions, and to a limited extent the advice was followed. 
In the state convention there were three colored candidates 
for the nomination for secretary of state. Thomas Sinclair 
of Copiah County succeeded in carrying off the honor. He 
had few qualifications for the position, and was the first negro 
ever nominated for a state office in Mississippi. The remain- 
der of the ticket was divided between the Democrats and 

1 Judge Pent made a spirited reply to the President's letter, in which he 
asked if it was reasonable to suppose that people havinsj the free choice of 
their representatives would elect a class of politicians whose conduct had 
made them peculiarly obnoxious. This, he said, was the charge made 
against the radicals, not because they had fought in the Union army, or 
because they were men of Northern birth and education, for many of them 
were with the conservatives, or because they were Republicans, for their 
opponents were among the first to advocate civil and political equality of all 
men, but because of their policy of proscription, a policy that h;is made 
them objects of peculiar abhorrence. A continual advocacy of proscription 
in time of profound peace was calculated to lead to a black man's party 
and a war of races. He concluded : " To this class of men whom you foiled 
in their attempt to force upon the people of Mississippi the odious constitu- 
tion rejected at the ballot box, you now give the hand of fellowship, and 
spurn the other class, who, accepting the invitation of the Rejiublican party 
in good faith, came en masse to stand upon its platform and advocate its 
principles." 

2 The Grenada Sentinel, a Whig journal, said: "We are not advised of 
Judge Dent's antecedents on whiggery or democracy, but we are willing to 
go for him on the faith we have that Baine would never have consented for 
a daughter of his to marry a Democrat." 



PARTY POLITICS IK 1869 248 

Republicans. The nominees for lieutenant governor, audi- 
tor, and treasurer were ex-Union soldiers, while the nominees 
for attorney general and superintendent of education were 
native Democrats. The Clarion of September 11 announced 
that the ticket would receive its warmest support, inasmuch 
as the triumph of the party meant the " triumph of peace, 
justice, and liberty." 

On September 30, the nominating convention of the 
radical Republicans met at Jackson. Early in the year the 
Okolona News (Republican) demanded that Eggleston should 
be " shelved " in the race for governor, on account of tlie con- 
spicuous part he had taken on the committee of sixteen in 
its efforts to have him declared governor in spite of the elec- 
tion of Humphreys. This view seems to have been wide- 
spread. He was accordingly set aside, and J, L. Alcorn, a 
native Republican, received the nomination. Captain R. C. 
Powers, a Northern man and an ex- Union soldier, was nomi- 
nated for lieutenant governor. He was at the time sheriff 
of Noxubee County by military appointment from General 
Ames. 

The colored race, which had been so completely ignored 
the year before, received a little more consideration at the 
hands of this convention. They were permitted to furnish 
the nominee for secretary of state, and their choice was the 
Rev. James Lynch, an eloquent mulatto preacher from 
Indiana. The nominee for auditor was Mr. Musgrove, an 
ex- Union soldier from Illinois. H. R. Pease, a late Federal 
captain from Connecticut, was nominated for superintendent 
of education. The nominees for the other two offices were 
native whites. The ticket as constituted, therefore, con- 
tained three white "carpet baggers" three "scalawags," 
and one representative of the colored race. An equitable 
distribution of the higher offices among these three classes 
was one of the chief problems of reconstruction politics, and 
was an element that could never be safely left out of consid- 
eration. ^ General Ames was present at the radical conven- 
tion, and informed them that they had his sympathy, and 
should have his support. 

The campaign now began in earnest. Dent was prevailed 
upon to come to Mississippi early in September and enter 

1 Thus in 1870 we find Alcorn governor and Ames and Revels United 
States senators ; in 1875 we find Ames governor and Alcorn and Bruce in the 
Senate, in each case the Northern Republicans, the Southern Republicans, 
and the colored race being represented in one of the three greatest offices 
within the gift of the party. 



244 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

into the canvass at once. The Clarion of September 14 
announced appointments for him at forty-three places. 
Alcorn made his opening speech at Hernando, August 20. 
His speech was confined chiefly to abuse of the Democratic 
party, for which he seems to have had the most profound 
contempt. He drew a gloomy picture of the state under 
Democratic rule, accused the conservatives of attempting to 
deceive the negroes, warned them not to believe the repre- 
sentations of the Democrats, denied that the whites were law- 
abiding, and brought forward statistics in support of his 
charge. Dent challenged him for a joint discussion, and 
they met for the first time at Grenada early in October. The 
Clarion said it was a field day for the National Union Repub- 
licans.^ This however does not appear to have been the fact. 
Alcorn's readiness as a stump orator gave him a decided 
advantage over his adversary, who was unaccustomed to this 
style of campaigning. Judge Dent's chief weapon was his 
sarcasm. As a member of the secession convention, Alcorn 
is alleged to have boasted how he expected to move upon 
the Federal Capital. He did not, however, participate in a 
single battle, or receive a single wound. Dent turned this 
to good account, and pictured Alcorn returning from the 
war he had helped to inaugurate, " covered all over with 
honorable wounds." ^ The judge devoted much of his time 
in an effort to convince his hearers that he was a ho7ia fide 
citizen of the state. He declared that his "whole soul was 
enlisted in the great agricultural and commercial interests of 
Mississippi, and their resuscitation and development."^ 

In the meantime, the district commander was making 
ready for the election. On October 14, a military order 
was issued by General Ames directing that the election be 
held on November 30 and December 1, in pursuance of 
the President's proclamation. The same order contained 
detailed instructions for the revision of the registration lists, 
the general management of the election, and the making of 
the returns. On November 5, he issued another order ap- 
pointing the registrars.* " To the end that the laws might 

1 Issue of October 5. 

2 The Aberdeen Examiner, in speaking of a joint discussion between the 
two candidates at Aberdeen, said : " We had expected in Judge Dent a mod- 
est declalmer who would say his piece and gracefully retire, but we were 
most agreeably surprised to find in the conservative champion a most able 
and eloquent debater and orator, one worthy to cope with any man upon the 
stump whom we have listened to since the war." 

8 Clarion, Aug. 12, 1869. 

* Special Orders, No. 234. The pay of registrars, over one thousand in 
number, was $5 per day and their expenses. The work of registration con- 



PAKTY POLITICS IN 1869 245 

be fairly and justly executed," it was ordered that two white 
and two colored persons of different political parties should 
be selected by the board of registry in each precinct to chal- 
lenge the right of any person to be registered who in the 
opinion of the person challenging was disqualified from vot- 
ing. Many other elaborate provisions were made for secur- 
ing a correct registration and a fair election. Every possible 
precaution with this end in view seems to have been taken. 
The commanding general announced that if fraud was com- 
mitted at the polls, or voters intimidated, a new election 
should be held. On the 6th of November, an order was 
issued detailing forty-nine army officers to serve as election 
inspectors. They were for the most part captains and lieu- 
tenants of the Sixteenth Infantry. In general, an inspector 
was assigned to each county. They were to visit boards of 
registry, and instruct them in regard to their duties, and 
exercise general control of the work of registration, observe 
closely the manner in which the election was held, and report 
to headquarters. They were authorized to give orders in 
the name of the commanding general, and were instructed to 
keep him advised in advance upon probable occurrences 
likely to affect the result of the election. 

The election for the most part passed off quietly. There 
were small "riots" in Sunflower, Newton, and Hinds coun- 
ties, which the Clarion said were due to " radical intimida- 
tion." The constitution was ratified almost unanimously,^ 
but the so-called proscriptive sections submitted separately 
were rejected by overwhelming majorities.^ The Dent 

tinued through a period of five days, the election continued two days, and it 
required several days to complete the returns. The five presidents of registry 
boards in each county were allowed pay for three days extra. The president 
of the board of canvassers in each county was allowed $5 per day and his 
expenses for bringing the returns to Jackson. Presidents of registry boards 
received allowances for ballot boxes, stationery, and room rent, and a deputy 
sheril^ at each precinct was allowed $5 per day during the election. The 
total cost of registering the voters and holding the election could not have 
fallen far short of $100,000. 

1 The vote for the constitution was 113,735 ; against it, 955. 

2 The vote in favor of retaining the disfranchising provision was 2206 ; 
against it, 87,874. The vote in favor of the disqualifying provision was 2390 ; 
against it, 87,253. The section requiring all state officers and members of the 
legislature to make oath that they had never served as members of any seces- 
sion convention, voted for or signed any ordinance of secession, or as mem- 
bers of any legislature voted for the call of any secession convention, was 
rejected by a vote of 88,444 to 2170. But one of the clauses submitted to a 
separate viite was ratified. That was the provision forbidding the loan of 
the state's credit. The results, herewith given, are taken from the official 
report of General Ames, contained in General Orders, No. 60. Appleton's 
Ann, Cyclop, gives the vote in favor of the constitution as 105,223. 



246 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ticket was defeated by a majority that was truly discomfort- 
ing to the Democrats who supported it. Alcorn received 
76,143 votes as against 38,133 cast for his opponent. Almost 
the solid colored vote was cast for the radical ticket. Twenty- 
eight of the sixty counties had colored majorities. Alcorn 
carried all these, together with fifteen counties having white 
majorities. All the candidates for Congress on the Dent 
ticket were likewise defeated, and a straight Republican 
delegation consisting of three Northern men and two natives 
was returned.^ The legislature elected was overwhelmingly 
Republican. The Senate consisted of thirty-six Republicans 
and seven Democrats ; the House of Representatives con- 
tained eighty-two Republicans and twenty-five Democrats. 
No local officers were chosen at this election, the appointees 
of General Ames holding over for two years longer, that is, 
until the fall of 1871, when the first general election for all 
county and local offices since reconstruction was held. 

In announcing the result of the election, the Clarion said 
nobody was surprised. In the first place, the national ad- 
ministration had sustained the district commander in his 
" unscrupulous measures to carry the election by fraud and 
violence. "2 In the second place, a large number of whites, 
which the Clarion estimated at about 15,000, were dis- 
franchised,^ and in the third place, the voters in many 
white counties had remained away from the polls. For 
example, in Lauderdale and De Soto counties, 1300 white 
voters took no part in the election, the number was 1500 in 
Tishomingo, 1000 in Tippah, and 200 in Rankin.'* A Frank- 
lin County pastor suggested a day of thanks and prayer to 
God, who, he said, had permitted the radicals to get control 
of the state, for the reason tliat the whites had forgotten Him.* 

1 The following were the members elected : First district, George E. Har- 
ris ; second district, J. L. Morphis ; third district, II. \V. Barry ; fourth dis- 
trict, George C. McKee ; fifth district, Legrand W. Turce. Harris was'a native 
of Tennessee, and a Whig before the war. He became a Republican in 1807, 
and was livmg at Hernando at the time of his election to Congress. The 
same may be said of Murphis, who resided at Pontot(JC. Barry was a native 
of New York, served in the Union army, rose to the rank of brevet brigadier 
general, and was a delegate in the reconstruction convention. He served 
three terms in Congress, and died in Washington in 1875. McKee was a 
native of Illinois, a graduate of Knox College, and a brigadier general in the 
Union army. He was a delegate in the reconstruction convention, and repre- 
sented the Vicksburg district in Congress from 1870 to 1876. In legal and 
forensic accomplishments he was the ablest of thfi "carpet bageers" in Mis- 
sissippi. Perce was a native of New York, and an ex-Union soldier. Harris 
and Perce are the only survivors of the Mississippi delegation in the Forty- 
first Congre.ss. 2 i^yue of Dec. 21, 18G9. » Issue of Dec. 2, 1809. 

* Issue of Dec. 11, 1869. ' Ihid. 



PARTY POLITICS IN 1869 247 

The Clarion said there was one gratifying reflection upon 
the result, namely, the state would be readmitted to the 
Union, and the right of the people henceforth to hold their 
own elections free from military interference and the right of 
self-government were in sight. While a radical state ad- 
ministration would unquestionably, the editor thought, prove 
a "serious affliction," the prospective advantages alluded to 
would be infinitely preferable to military government under 
General Ames.^ The chief questions of interest were whether 
Alcorn would appoint a good judiciary, and whether he would 
retain his office or abandon it to " adventurers." Relative 
to the first question, the new governor announced that he 
would appoint judges " learned in the law, and whom society 
would not presume to ignore." On the second question he 
was painfully silent. 

On December 20, General Ames issued an order reciting 
the act of Congress under which the constitution had been 
resubmitted, the proclamation of the President relative 
thereto, and his own duty of announcing the result. He 
declared that the Alcorn ticket had been elected, including 
those members of the legislature whose names were there- 
with published. The legislature was directed to meet at 
Jackson, January 11, 1870. 

On December 23, he issued the following order ; — 

Headquarters 4th Military District, 
Department of Mississippi, 
Special Orders, ) Jackson, Miss., Dec. 23, 1869. 

No. 277. \ 

The following named persons are hereby appointed to office in 
the state of Mississippi: — 

Jas. L. Alcorn, Governor. 

Jas. Lynch, Sec'y of State, vice Henry Musgrove, whose resig- 
nation is hereby accepted. 

Henry Musgrove, Auditor of Public Accounts, vice Thos. T. 
Swann, whose resignation is hereby accepted. 

Joshua S. Morris, Attorney General. 

■ Appointees must file with the proper officers such bonds and 
other recognizances as may be required by the statute laws of 
Mississippi, and take and subscribe to the oath of office prescribed 
by the Act of Congress of July 2, 1862 

By command of 

Brevet Maj. Gen. Ames, 

Wm. Atwood, Aide-de-Camp. 

1 Issue of Dec. 2, 1869. 



248 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Although order No. 277 was issued as a " command," Alcorn 
refused to accept the appointment. He informed General 
Ames that, coming as it did from the military authorities, and 
subject for its support to the military power, the fitness of 
things forbade his acceptance, while he held in immediate 
prospect the position of civil governor by that sanction most 
acceptable to his instincts as an American citizen, that of 
popular choice. 



CHAPTER SIXTH 

The Freedmen's Bukeau 

One of the institutions of reconstruction was the Freed- 
men's Bureau. In view of the importance which was attached 
to it by the reconstructionists, it has been thought worth 
while to devote a separate chapter to its history and opera- 
tions in Mississippi. As the Union armies, in the spring of 
1863, moved down the Mississippi Valley to begin the siege 
of Vicksburg, many of the planters abandoned their planta- 
tions and fled before the approach of the enemy, leaving the 
growing crops standing in the fields. The slaves, tempted 
by the promise of freedom, or terrified by the policy of the 
Confederate military commanders in transporting them to 
less exposed parts of the country to prevent their capture, 
went over in great numbers to the Federal lines, gathered 
about the camps, or followed in the wake of the army. As 
a result of this exodus from the plantations, General Grant 
had fifty thousand freedmen in his camps along the Mississippi 
River shortly after the fall of Vicksburg.^ To provide sub- 
sistence for the new " contrabands " was a problem that 
for a time greatly embarrassed him. His first recourse was 
a call upon benevolent and philanthropic people of the North 
for contributions of clothing and other necessaries to relieve 
the government of what appeared to be an insupportable 
burden. At the same time, he sent the Rev. Mr. Fiske, 
chaplain and superintendent of contrabands, to the North, to 
personally solicit supplies for the same purpose. In the 
meantime, plans were in preparation for the employment of 
the freedmen. In August of the preceding year, while Gen- 
eral Grant was in North Mississippi, the President had 
directed him to seize and use any property that he might 
need for the prosecution of the war, and to employ as many 
negro laborers as he might deem advantageous for military 
purposes.^ By an order of August 10, 1863, it was directed 
that at all posts where slavery had been abolished, camps 

1 Report of Secretary of War, 1809-1870, Vol. I. p. 497. 
a Official Records, Series III. Vol. 3, Serial No. 124, p. 397. 

249 



250 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

should be established for freed people out of employment, 
and that superintendents shoulcl be detailed to distribute 
rations among them. It was ordered, furthermore, that they 
should be employed as far as possible on the public works, 
in gathering the crops on the abandoned plantations, or hired 
to the planters. It was made the duty of provost marshals 
to see that every negro within the jurisdiction of the military 
authorities was employed by some white person or sent to 
the camps for freedmen. Planters were permitted to make 
contracts with them for wages by the month, or, in the case 
of families, by the year, the employer in each case obligating 
himself to furnish food and clothing to the laborer and 
support the infirm members of the family. The rate of 
wages was fixed at an amount equal to one-twentieth of the 
value of the crops, and employers were required to give bond 
for kind treatment and proper care of their employees.^ 

The abandoned plantations were seized by the government 
and leased to private persons, who employed the freedmen to 
gather the crops. The harvest for 1863 was small on account 
of the early abandonment of the growing crops, and it proved 
impossible to gather all on account of Confederate raids 
which scattered the negroes, and so terrified them that they 
could not in many instances be induced to remain .^ In some 
places where the plantations were abandoned, the negroes 
left behind asserted a sort of squatter claim, and gathered the 
crops on their own account. One such family was reputed 
to have thus gathered twenty-four bales of cotton, and sold 
it for $2i)0 per bale. The scheme seemed to meet the ap- 
proval of the President, and he announced that the occupation 
of the abandoned plantations and the employment of the 
freedmen thereon might be considered as the settled policy 
of the government.^ Accordingly, preparations on a large 
scale were made for leasing the plantations for the following 
year to such " loyal " persons as would obligate themselves to 
employ the contrabands. The whole matter was under the 
supervision of General Lorenzo Tliomas, who was assisted by 
three subordinates styled " commissioners for leasing planta- 
tions." * In the latter part of October, General Thomas issued 
an elaborate code of regulations for the government of lessees. 
It was stated that the property of disloyal persons belonged of 
right to the United States, and might be taken possession of 

1 New York Times, Aug. ;}0, 180.']. « jV"e?o York Herald, Jan. 3, 1864. 

8 Official Records, Series III. Vol. 4, p. 124. 

* They were Judge Field of Natchez, Colonel Montague of Vicksburg, and 
Judge Dent of Goodrich Landing. 



THE rRP:EDMEN'S BUREAU 251 

and leased to loyal citizens. Owners of " undoubted loyalty," 
who had been so from the beginning, were allowed to retain 
their plantations, but where a doubt existed, they were per- 
mitted to do so only upon condition that the owner in each 
case should take for a partner some "loyal" citizen. It was 
announced that the primary object of this requirement was to 
line the banks of the Mississippi with a loyal population so 
as to secure the uninterrupted navigation of the river. The 
commissioners were overwhelmed with applications for lease- 
holds, for the price of cotton was phenomenal (''1250 per 
bale), the land fertile, and labor cheap. From far and 
near the applications came, many from Northern men, who , 
knew little of the methods of cultivating the cotton plant. 
One newspaper correspondent informed his Northern readers 
that the country would undoubtedly be filled with "loyal" 
men by the first of April following. A few fortunes were 
made by the lessees of abandoned plantations, but the failures 
far outnumbered the successes. One lessee invested $13,000 
in a crop and sold the product for $135,000. One correspond- 
ent thus figured out the profits to be made in a single year: — 

For purchase of stock, implements, supplies, and labor . . % 14,000 
Sale of eight hundred bales of Cotton . .... 160,000 

Net profits .... $146,000 

" There are few places in the North," said the writer, 
" where so large a return can be made from so small an 
investment." ^ And he was doubtless correct. 

The lease was usually in the form of a permit, which 
granted to the lessee the right to " use, farm, and enjoy " the 
possession of a certain plantation until January 1, 1865. He 
was required to take and file an oath of allegiance to the 
United States, to pledge himself to employ a certain number 
of able-bodied freedmen at Wl per month, to care for the 
infirm of the family, to furnish them with a specified 
amount of provisions, and not to inflict corporal punishment' 
on any employee. The consideration which the government 
was to receive was %\. for each bale of cotton, and 5 cents 
for each bushel of corn produced. The utterance of a dis- 
loyal word at any time terminated the lease and all the 
privileges which it carried.^ General Thomas estimated that 
about 160 plantations would be leased in 1864. General 
Sherman opposed the " plantation system," as he called it, 

1 Natchez correspondent, New York Herald, Jan. 3, 1864. 

2 These regulations are printed in the Official Records, Series III. Vol. '^, 
Serial No. 1-24, p. 939 ; also iu the New York Herald of Dec. 31, 1863. 



t 



252 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

on military grounds. He declared that it would be impossi- 
ble to cultivate these abandoned lands on account of their 
proximity to the territory under Confederate jurisdiction.^ 

In May, 1864, an order was issued to protect lessees from 
alleged raids of guerillas. It was directed that whenever a 
government lessee was robbed, the commander of the nearest 
military post should send a sufficient force to seize from 
disloyal persons property enough to indemnify the injured 
lessee. If crops belonging to a lessee were destroyed or 
injured, crops of the same kind belonging to disloyal persons 
in the neighborhood would be seized and harvested for the 
benefit of the lessee. If any lessee should be killed, an 
assessment of flO.OOO was to be levied on all disloyal per- 
sons residing within thirty miles of the place occupied by 
the lessee, and appropriated for the benefit of his family .^ 

In the spring of 18G4, a more elaborate code of regulations 
was adopted by the treasury department for the management 
of abandoned property. Provision was made for the estab- 
lishment of a home farm in each special treasury agency, to 
be set apart for the colonization of such freedmen as preferred 
to cultivate land on their own account. Each colony was to 
be under the supervision of a superintendent.^ 

The site selected for the home farm in Mississippi was a 
peninsula known as the Davis Bend, near Vicksburg. This 
piece of land is shaped by a sweep of the Mississippi River 
toward tlie west for six or eight miles, and then back again, 
making the neck about a half mile in width. This narrow 
stretch was fortified and defended by a regiment of negro 
soldiers. The bend consisted of ten thousand acres of fertile 
land, most of which was comprised in the plantation of 
Jefferson Davis. When Farragut's fleet steamed up the river, 
in 1863, it stopped long enough to allow the marines to go 
ashoie and destroy or carry away everything of value.^ The 
slaves had already been sent away to Edwards Station, where 
Grant freed them shortly afterward. But the land still 
remained as fertile as ever, and General Dana " consecrated 
it as a home for the emancipated." The order setting it apart 
for this purpose declared it to be a "suitable place to furnish 
means and security for the unfortunate race which he [Davis] 
was so instrumental in oppressing." All persons not con- 
nected with the military service were directed to leave the 

1 Official Records, supra, p. 224. 

2 New York Times, May 27, 1804. 

8 Treasury Regulations for the Third Special Agency. 
* T. W. Knox in JSfew York Herald, Dec. 28, 1863. 



THE freedmen's bukeau 253 

plantation by January 1, 1865, after which no white person 
would be allowed there without written permission. And 
thus, it was said, the " nest in which the rebellion was hatched 
has become the ^lecca of freedom." ^ It was to be restored, 
of course, at the close of hostilities, if the owner could fur- 
nish satisfactory proof of undoubted loyalty throughout the 
war. 

The method of leasing the plantations was to a considerable 
extent modified from time to time. Freedmen employed on 
them were not to be enlisted as soldiers. Provost marshals were 
stationed in the neighborhood of leased plantations to " see 
that justice and equity were observed in all relations between 
employers and freedmen." One school at least was to be 
established for colored children in each police district. To 
prevent demoralization of the freedmen by the presence of 
negro troops, the latter were forbidden to visit the plantations, 
while the former were prohibited from leaving their places of 
employment. Employers were required to register the names 
of employees in the office of the nearest provost marshal, and 
laborers were expected to render ten hours of " faithful and 
honest" labor every day, for which they were to receive 
"healthy rations, comfortable quarters, clothing, fuel, medical 
attention, instruction for their children, and $10 per month in 
cash," one-half of which was to be forfeited in case of indo- 
lence, insolence, and disobedience. In case of stubbornness, 
the offender was to be turned over to the provost marshal, 
who had plenary powers in all matters connected with the 
labor of freedmen.^ 

This was the status of the problem when Congress turned 
its attention to the establishment of a more adequate and 
systematic method of caring for the freedmen. On the 1st 
of March, 18G4, the House passed a bill to establish a " Bureau 
of Freedmen's Affairs." The Senate modified it, the House 
refused to concur, and Congress adjourned without taking 
further action on the subject. At the ensuing session, the 
matter was again brought forward, and on the 2d of March, 
18(35, a bill was agreed to by both Houses, and was signed on 
the same day by the President. On the following day. Con- 
gress adjourned without making an appropriation for the 
support of the bureau. However, the revenues from aban- 
doned lands and the proceeds from the sale of confiscated 
property were sufficient to partially meet the demands of the 

1 New York Times, Dec. 4, 1864. 

2 Order of March 11, 18iJ4. Official Records, supra, pp. 166-170. 



254 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

bureau, and it was accordingly organized and put into opera- 
tion. General O. O. Howard, commander of Sherman's 
right wing in the army of the Tennessee, was decided upon 
by President Lincoln for the head of the bureau. The 
assassination of the President, however, occurred before he 
had sent in the nomination, but Mr. Johnson, knowing his 
wishes in the matter, promptly appointed General Howard. 
The head of the bureau in Mississippi was styled an " assistant 
commissioner," and the first incumbent was Colonel Samuel 
Thomas. The state was divided into three sub-districts, each 
of which was under the supervision of an " acting assistant 
commissioner." At first the organization was as follows: — 

I. The Northern District . . Lieutenant Colonel R. S. Donaldson. 
II. The Southern District . . Major George I). Reynolds. 
III. The Western District . . Captain J. H. Webber. 

These were officers of negro regiments. There were in 
addition to the commissioners a state superintendent of edu- 
cation, an assistant adjutant general, an assistant inspector 
general, a surgeon-in-chief, and a large corps of local agents 
and teachers.^ The character and strength of the organization 
varied from time to time. In December, 1865, there were 
fifty-eight local agents and sixty-seven teachers in the service 
of the bureau in Mississippi. It appears also that at one time 
there were nearly a hundred medical officers and attendants 
in the service. The agents were all military officers, and 
the number exceeded those of any other state except Virginia, 
which had eighty-four.^ In 1866, the organization consisted 
of eight districts, each under the supervision of two or more 
military officers, the senior officer in each district being styled 
a sub-commissioner.^ In 1868, the organization consisted of 
twenty-four sub-districts under the supervision of seven 
officers of the regular army, eight officers of the reserve, 
and eight civil officers.* The number of local agents at this 
time does not appear from the reports. In March, 1865, the 
headquarters of the bureau were removed from Memphis to 
Vicksburg, where they remained until the bureau was abol- 
ished in 1869. 

On the 3d of August, 1865, General Slocum, commander 

1 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 69, p. 167. 

2 Report of the commissioner, ibid. No. 11, p. 36. 
8 Sen. Docs. 2d Ses. 39th Cons. No. 6, p. 95. 

* At this time there were 141 cojumissioned officers, 412 agents, and 
348 clerks in the entire service of the bureau in tlie South. Report Secretary 
of War, 1809-1870, p. 407. 



THE FREEDMEN's BUREAU 255 

of the Department of Mississippi, issued an order calling 
attention to the recent act of Congress for the establisliinent 
of the Freedmen's Bureau, and directed all military author- 
ities, who held abandoned property of any kind, to turn it 
over at once to the officers of the bureau, together with all 
funds or other property held for the benefit of freedmen. 
All officers were directed to familiarize themselves with the 
law establishing the bureau, and to aid in executing in good 
faith the Emancipation Proclamaiion.^ 

Officers were instructed to inform colored people that they 
had a right to visit the bureau officers for advice, information, 
and protection whenever they thought they were wronged ; 
that whenever the state laws or courts did not afford them 
justice by admitting their testimony in cases in which they 
were interested, they must apply to the nearest bureau office 
for advice ; and that they were now free and entitled to wages 
for their labor, but that freedom did not mean the right to 
live without work at other people's expense. The freedmen 
were advised to be patient, to behave themselves and not show 
spite toward their former masters, to form lawful and regu- 
lar marriages, and to regard the marriage contract as sacred. 
Their attention was called to the advantages of education, 
and they were informed that teachers would be sent among 
them as soon as possible.^ 

Again, they were informed that, as soon as possible, officers 
would be detailed to visit every locality in the state, while 
others would be stationed at places of importance for the 
purpose of enforcing the laws of Congress and the procla- 
mations of the President; to see that they were secured in 
their freedom and allowed a fair compensation for their 
labor; to impress upon them the nature of their new rela- 
tions and obligations ; and to inform them that the govern- 
ment did not intend to support .them in their idleness.^ 
Planters were urged to visit the bureau officers and by per- 
sonal inquiry learn of its organization, obtain copies of all 
orders and circulars, and communicate the contents to their 
neighbors.* Every effort seems to have been made to estab- 
lish relations of harmony between the bureau and the civil 
authorities, and to secure the cooperation of the latter. The 
efforts in this direction were attended by a large measure of 
success, particularly under the later administration of the 
bureau. 

1 New York Times, Aug. 18, 1865. 

2 Report of the commissioner, Ex, Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 69, p. 155. 
8 Ibid. p. 150. * Ibid. p. 159. 



256 KECONSTRUCTTON IN MISSISSIPPI 

In general, the duties of the bureau were to supervise 
and manage all subjects relating to freedraen and refugees. 
One of these was to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. 
As early as August 1, 1863, General Grant had called upon 
the people of Mississippi to acknowledge the freedom of the 
negroes, and enter into labor contracts with tliera.^ His 
recommendation was regarded about as seriously as his order 
relative to the abandonment of cotton by its owners. Those 
slaves, however, who came into his lines were given their 
freedom so far as the military commander in prosecution of 
the war could do so. The Philadelphia North American esti- 
mated that at the time the above-mentioned order was issued 
there were 155,140 negroes in Mississippi who had been set 
free by the "administration or the events of the war." No 
owner, however, considered his slaves legally free, and of 
course, did not treat them as such, except when under military 
compulsion. With the surrender of the Confederate armies, 
the various post commanders issued proclamations declaring 
the slaves to be free, and admonishing owners to treat them 
as such.^ The freedmen were advised to remain at home, but 
the advice was not generally taken. They congregated in 
the larger towns to such an extent that it became necessary 
in some instances to order them back to the plantations by 
military force. Thus at Columbus the commander issued an 
order reciting that freedmen in great numbers were " revelling 
in idleness," and that they must " retire to their homes or seek 
employment elsewhere." Tliey were given ten days to find 
employment.^ ihey were ordered out of Natcliez in a similar 
manner. In August, 1866, all negroes in Vicksburg without 
visible means of employment were informed by General Wood 
that they must leave at once. In June, 1865, General Oster- 
haus ordered that vagrancy among the negroes mnst not be 
permitted, that they mnst be put to work, and the issue of 
rations "closely watched." 

A circular of July 9, 1865, instructed the agents of the 
bureau in Mississippi to use all practicable means of making 
public the proclamation of the President, in order that the 
negroes might know that they were free. Agents were 
directed to assemble them where possible, read the proclama- 
tion, and use every effort to familiarize them with its contents. 
They were furthermore advised to place printed copies in 
the hands of colored ministers, who were requested to read it 

1 New York Times, Aug. rtO, 18f)l]. ^ j^i^_ June 11, 18G5. 

8 New Yurie Herald, July 10, 1865. 



THE freedmen's bureap 257 

to their congregations.^ Subsequently it was charged that 
" combinations " existed among white persons for the pur- 
pose of retaining control over their former slaves. Accord- 
ingly, bureau officials were directed to take immediate steps 
for the arrest and trial by military commission of such per- 
sons. A sufficient cavalry force was to be placed at the 
disposal of the officer, to enable him to make the arrest. 
Agents were urged to use greater exertions in making public 
the substance of the Emancipation Proclamation.^ These 
instructions were followed by another circular in August, 
which charged that the continued reenslavement of the 
negro was leading to " abuses of the gravest character," and 
the assistant commissioner declared that " the thing must 
stop." He reminded the whites that emancipation was a fact, 
although some of them were refusing to recognize it as such ; 
he discoursed upon the importance of observing good faith 
toward freedmen, and of treating them with kindness ; and 
declared that the "old appliances " of slavery must be aban- 
doned entirely.^ 

The bureau continued the policy of leasing the abandoned 
plantations and of establishing colonies for freedmen, although 
there were some minor changes of methods, for example 
as regards the form and amount of rent which the govern- 
ment received.* The amount of land leased by the bureau 
varied from time to time. In 1865, the amount was 59,280 
acres of land and 52 town lots.^ After the issue of the 
President's amnesty proclamation, great pressure was brought 
to bear upon the military authorities by owners to secure the 
restoration of their lands. The bureau announced its deter- 
mination to reject all applications for the restoration of such 
lands as came strictly within the definition of " abandoned " 
property. Not even a full and absolute pardon from the 
President would be accepted as entitling the owner to a 
restoration. The most perfect evidence of constant loyalty 

1 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 69, p. 150. 2 7^,>^. p. i^s. 

3 Ibid. p. 159. The Natchez Courier of July 22, 1865, contains an editorial 
deprecating the action of certain whites in attempting to make the negroes 
believe that they were still slaves. Every employer was urged to explain to 
his employees that they were free, that labor was honorable, and idleness a 
crime. 

< Thus a circular of Nov. 14, 1865, declared that the previous method of 
leasing lands had failed to secure to lessees the protection necessary to the 
full realization of the benefits of their contracts. It was therefore ordered 
that leases be so modified as to require lessees to pay two cents per pound 
for all cotton produced, in lieu of one-eighth, as stipulated in the existing 
contracts. 

6 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. p. G. 
s 



258 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

throughout the war — evidence which could not be established 
by a simple oath — would alone entitle the owner to his 
property. The President, however, overruled the policy 
laid down by the bureau officials, and by an order of July 1, 
1865, directed that all abandoned property in the possession 
of the bureau should be restored to its owners upon presenta- 
tion of a special pardon from himself or a copy of the amnesty 
oath properly signed and authenticated. This order was 
censured by the radicals, who clamored for the confiscation of 
rebel land and its division among the freedraen.^ On the 
12th of September, a circular was issued prescribing detailed 
instructions for the restoration of abandoned property. The 
land under cultivation by the freedmen was to be held by 
the bureau until the growing crops were gathered, unless 
owners were willing to make full compensation for labor 
already performed. By the first of December, Colonel Thomas 
reported that he had restored ninety plantations in Mississippi, 
aggregating forty-five thousand acres of land, and one hundred 
business houses and lots, and that there still remained in the 
possession of the bureau thirty-five thousand acres and forty- 
two pieces of city property. ^ By the first of November, 1867, 
all property in the possession of the bureau had been restored 
to its original owners.^ Confiscated land was not so promptly 
restored. The bureau continued to lease or colonize it. In 
addition to the Home Farm colony at Davis Bend, already 
mentioned, other colonies were established at Camp Hawley, a 
short distance north of Vicksburg, at De Soto Landing, and at 
the village of Washington near Natchez. The land occupied 
by these colonies was divided up into small farms, tenant 
houses were erected, and a system of self-government in one 
instance was put into operation. The Davis Bend colony at 
one time contained 1750 freedmen who are alleged to have 
cleared il60,000 in 1865. The Camp Hawley colony culti- 
vated 700 acres and produced 223 bales of cotton. This 
colony came out in debt. The Home Farm colony, in 1865, 
produced 234 bales, at an actual profit of about $25,000.* 

1 Report of the commissioner, Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 3f>lh Cong. No. 11, p. 4. 
General Howard propo.sed that in restoring abandoned property, those wlio 
owned more than $20,000 worth should be required to convey in fee simple 
to each head of a family formerly held in slavery, a homestead varying in 
extent from five to ten acres. 

2 Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 3<.)th Cong. No. 27, p. .SO. The plantation of Joseph 
Davis adjoining that of his brother Jefferson was not restored until Jan. 1, 
1867. He was alhnved rent, however, from Mar. 20, 18(>(!, amounting to $8000. 

« Report of Secretary of War, 18(;7-lH(i8, pp. 021, 000. 
* See Sen. Docs. Ist'Ses. 39th Cong. No. 27. 



THE FREEDMEN's BUREAU 259 

One of the undertakings of the bureau was to provide free 
transportation for "refugees" or those who, declining to sup- 
port the cause of the Confederacy, were compelled to move 
away at the outbreak of the war, and those who had followed 
the Federal army to other parts of the country. This policy 
seems to have been attended with great abuses. The com- 
missioner issued an order announcing that free transportation 
should be restricted to cases where humanity demanded the 
return of the refugee.^ Four thousand and thirty-one Missis- 
sippi refugees were beneficiaries of this provision ; 1946 were 
free negroes.^ The rest were white deserters from the Con- 
federate army, stragglers, aliens, and Northern men who were 
living in the state at the beginning of the war. In addition 
to the refugees included under this head, free transportation 
was furnished to 307 teachers and agents of missionary 
societies in the North. The total expenses on this account 
were, for Mississippi, 1312,424. 

A larger task than the above was to provide for the imme- 
diate wants of the large class of freedmen alleged to be 
destitute. To furnish them with medical attention, nine 
hospitals and two dispensaries were established in Mississippi. 
A surgeon-in-chief, twelve medical officers, and seventy-nine 
assistants were employed at one time in the work.^ During 
the first year of its operations, 5716 patients were treated.^ 
During the summer of 1865, 182,899 rations were furnished to 
freedmen in Mississippi.^ They were alleged to be in desti- 
tute circumstances, although the commissioner says in his 
report of December 1, 1865, that no necessity existed why a 
single freedman should be out of employment, and that 
50,000 more laborers could be profitably employed if they 
could be obtained.^ 

By direction of General Howard, no rations were issued to 
freedmen in Mississippi after August 26, 1866, except in case 
of the sick in regularly organized hospitals, and refugees in 
actual want.'^ The number in both of these classes seems to 
have been considerable. Thus from September 1, 1866, to 
June 1, 1867, nearly 5000 freedmen received hospital 
treatment, and during the same period 99,842 rations were 

1 Report of the commissioner, Ex. Docs. IstSes. 39th Cong. No. 11, p. 16. 

2 Charles Truman relates that while at Selma, Alabama, in 1865, he saw 
large numbers of negroes, " refugees," making their way back to Mississippi. 
They had followed Sherman's army to Georgia. 

* Report of the commissioner, supra. 

* Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 27, p. 31. 

6 Ibid. pp. 30, 40. ^ « Ibid. p. 43. 

T Sen. Docs. 2d Ses. 39th Cong. No. 6, p. 95. 



260 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

issued. This was partly due to the failure of the crops, on 
account of which widespread suffering existed in the state. 
Congress came to the aid of the bureau, and authorized the 
Secretary of War to issue through the bureau supplies of 
food to prevent starvation and extreme want to any and all 
destitute persons. From May to September, 1867, provisions 
were issued to more than 12,000 persons, of whom about 5000 
were white.^ Large quantities of supplies were also contrib- 
uted by benevolent persons in the North. 

Another duty which the bureau assumed was that of 
extending the advantages of education to those whom the 
fortune of the war had made free. At first, chaplains of 
colored regiments were put to teaching. Schools were estab- 
lished by missionary societies and benevolent associations. 
Upon the organization of the bureau, a systematic plan of 
negro education was adopted. A state superintendent of 
education was appointed to exercise general supervision 
over the schools. Sub-commissioners were directed to set 
apart the necessary accommodations, and to make provision 
for the employment of teachers.^ During the first year of its 
existence the bureau established sixty-eight schools in Missis- 
sippi, with an enrollment of 5271 pupils.^ The teachers 
were for the most part from the North, were furnished free 
transportation on account of the bureau, and were usually 
paid by missionary societies. The United Presbyterian body 
at one time had fifteen teachers at Vicksburg and Davis 
Bend. The Freedmen's Aid Commission, the American 
Missionary Association, the Indiana and Ohio Friends also 
supported schools in Mississippi. The opposition to negro 
schools led the commissioner to publish a circular on Octo- 
ber 24, setting forth at length the advantages of educating 
the freed man, and the unwisdom of keeping him in igno- 
rance* He advised that no schools be established in any 
place where a bureau agent was not stationed. Pie fur- 
nished the names of twenty-two places where he said it 
would be "safe and expedient" to open freedmen's schools.^ 
Public sentiment soon underwent a change, and many planters 
established schools on their places, donated school sites to 

1 Report Secretary of War, 1867-18G8, pp. 621, 660. 

2 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 09, p. 155. 
8 Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 27, p. 31. 

* The Vicksburg Herald said: "'These unscrupulous agitators who appoint 
themselves in the name of the North to come down here and tell the negro 
what he ought to do if the government does not do this or that, ought to be 
shipped baclc to their homes and warned not to return again." 

6 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 3'Jth Cong. No. 09, p. 100. 



THE FREEDMEN'S BUREAU 261 

the freedmen, or contributed money for the erection of 
schoolhouses.^ 

One of the most useful functions of the Freedmen's Bureau 
was the assistance which it afforded in the readjustment of 
the labor system. In order to prevent dishonest employers 
from taking advantage of the freedman's ignorance to inveigle 
him into oppressive contracts, it was ordered that all labor 
agreements should be made in writing, and copies of the same 
filed with the nearest sub-commissioner, whose approval was 
necessary to their validity.^ The chief objection to this 
requirement was the inconvenience to which it put the 
employer, and the likelihood of injustice resulting from the 
unfamiliarity of the agent with the value of the different 
kinds of labor in the South. 

No complaint was more general among the whites than that 
the bureau encouraged the negroes in their idleness by taking 
them under its care and dispensing rations to them. The 
complaint was certainly not without foundation, and yet the 
higher officials of the bureau constantly used the vast influ- 
ence which they possessed with the freedmen, to induce them 
to form labor contracts and to adopt habits of thrift and 
industry. It will be remembered that the freedmen for the 
most part refused to make contracts for the year 1866, in the 
belief that the lands would be distributed among them.^ 
Colonel Thomas issued circular after circular admonishinof 
the negroes that complaints were being made to him that 
they could not be induced to labor, and that as laborers they 
were unreliable. In order to encourage them to seek em- 
ployment, he offered to furnish free transportation to any 
freedman who found it necessary to go to another part of the 
state in order to find employment. On the 31st of Decem- 
ber, 1865, he issued a circular reminding tliem that the time 
had come when it was highly important that they should 
make contracts for the ensuing year, in order that crops might 
be produced for their support. They were urged to familiar- 
ize themselves with the forms of law, cherish a respect for 
its commands, and regard their contracts and obligations, as 

1 See Report Secretary of War, 1867-1868, p. 621 ; also, report of John 
M. Laughton, inspector of schools, Ypw York Times, Aug. 9, 1867. 

2 Ex. Does. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. (iO, p. 168. 

3 When the Fifty-fifth United States Colored Infantry was mustered out at 
Jackson in February, 1866, not one of them could be induced to enter into 
a labor contract. Charles Truman, New York Times, Feb. 4, 1866. 

A Northern traveller says an intelligent freedman in Mississippi told 
him that he considered no mau free who had to work for a living. Neio York 
Herald, Oct. 2, 1865, 



262 EECONSTRUCTTON IN MISSISSIPPI 

sacred. Every effort seems to have been made to impress 
upon them a sense of their obligations to society and to civil 
government. A general order of the same date made it the 
duty of bureau agents to see that freedmen were properly 
contracted with ; to act as their next friend, by affording them 
advice on all matters relating to contracts ; and to make full 
reports to headquarters of all attempts to deal unjustly with 
them.^ Again, on the 2d of January, 1866, Colonel Thomas 
published an address to the freedmen of the state, telling them 
that he was their lawful protector and adviser, and to some 
extent responsible for their conduct.^ Again he reminded 
them of the necessity of entering into contracts for the ensu- 
ing year, informed them that he had received many com- 
plaints charging them with not living up to their contracts, 
but working as they pleased, and deserting their crops when 
they knew that the employer would lose all. " The time has 
come," he said, " when you must contract for another year's 
labor. I wish to impress upon you the importance of doing 
this at once. You know that if a crop of cotton is raised, the 
work must be begun soon, and hands employed for the year." 
Continuing, he said, " I hope you are all convinced that you 
are not to receive property of any kind from the government, 
and that you must labor for what you get like other people. 
As the representative of the government,! tell you that your 
conduct is very foolish, and your refusal to work is used by 
your enemies to your injury." He told them that the vagrant 
laws were right in principle, and he could not ask the civil 
authorities to allow freedmen to remain idle and depend for 
their subsistence upon begging or stealing. In regard to 
tlieir professed fear of entering into written contracts, he said : 
" Some of you have the absurd notion that if you put your 
hands to a contract you will somehow be made slaves. This 
is all nonsense, made up by some foolish, wicked person. 
Your danger lies exactly in the other direction. If you do 
not have some occupation, you will be treated as vagrants, and 
made to labor in the public works." 

Colonel Thomas time and agfain crave the freedmen sensi- 
ble advice like the above. In view of the great influence 
which army officers exerted upon the freed people, there can 
be little doubt that such addresses were productive of good 
results. 

During the winter of 1865-1866, Colonel Thomas made a 



1 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses, 39th Cons:. No. 27, p. 36. 

2 Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cons. No. 27. 



THE FREEDMEN's BUREAU 263 

tour of investigation through the state to ascertain, as he said, 
how the freedmen were being treated by the whites, what 
they were doing, and the general effect of the return to civil 
law. Among the towns visited by him were Jackson, Me- 
ridian, Lauderdale, Macon, Columbus, Aberdeen, Okolona, 
Corinth, Holly Springs, Grenada, and Canton. He said he 
made it his object to converse with mayors, magistrates, and 
other civil officers, together with the most influential freed- 
men. Upon the completion of his tour, he reported that the 
bureau " was working in perfect harmony with the state gov- 
ernment and the department commander"; that freedmen 
had for the most part contracted with their old masters, had 
gone to work, and showed a disposition to live up to their 
contracts ; that, on the whole, they were treated better than 
could be expected ; that their freedom was generally recog- 
nized by the white people, who had undergone a change of 
feeling toward them ; that the praises of the freedman were 
being sounded everywhere for his readiness to work and his 
general good conduct, there being few crimes among them 
greater than petty larcenies ; that the vagrant laws were 
not being enforced in any of the towns, there being no neces- 
sity for it ; and that the demand for labor exceeded the 
supply.i 

The most notable political function of the bureau was to 
" afford protection and justice " to the freedmen. In General 
Slocum's order of August 3, 1865, announcing the establish- 
ment of the Freedmen's Bureau, he directed that all legal 
controversies between white and colored persons should be 
adjudicated by the bureau, so long as the testimony of freed- 
men was excluded from the civil courts. But at the same 
time, he directed that military officers must not remove from 
the custody of the civil authorities any freedman charged 
with larceny or other misdemeanor, where the court was will- 
ing to concede to the negro offender the same privileges as 
were granted to whites. He declared that it was not the 
purpose of the government to screen negro criminals from 
just punishment, nor to encourage them in the idea that they 
could escape the penalties of crime, but simply to secure to 
them the rights of freemen. ^ The policy of removing civil 
cases to bureau tribunals was extremely objectionable to the 
whites, and was vigorously protested against by the civil 
authorities. On several occasions, the forcible removal of 



1 Sen. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 27, p. 43. 

2 New York Tribune, Aug. 18, 1865. 



264 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

white offenders from the custody of the civil officials created 
not a little excitement. One of these was the case of Joseph 
Jackson, who was charged with the murder of a negro in 
Washington County, the only witness to the act being a 
black man, whose testimony was not admitted to the court. 
Jackson was taken from the custody of the civil authorities, 
and in pursuance of orders from Washington, tried before a 
military commission. ^ That the authority of the bureau 
officials was sometimes abused, appears from the following 
case. A master was before the court of jMadison County, 
charged with maltreating an apprentice. Colonel Donald- 
son, sub-commissioner of the bureau, undertook to instruct 
the circuit judge as to what he should do in the premises. 
This communication was referred to Governor Humphreys, 
who sent it to the major general commanding, with a letter 
in which he pointed out the fact that so far as the differences 
in the law of apprenticeship were concerned, the advantages 
were with colored children. "Why the legislature has dis- 
criminated thus in favor of the freedmen is," lie said, " not 
for the executive to inquire into ; but to avoid collision be- 
tween the military and civil authorities, it is important for 
the civil officers to know with certainty whether these laws 
are to be nullified." The matter ended with a letter from 
Colonel Thomas to Lieutenant Colonel Donaldson, in wliich 
he said : " Nothing but the most convincing proof that the 
child was inhumanly treated should have caused you to take 
any step for his release, and then only after the refusal of 
the judge of probate to release him on the presentation of 
the facts as they were before you. It is the policy of the 
bureau to recognize the civil power of the state to the fullest 
extent, and to infuse into the minds of the freedmen respect 
for the civil officers and government under which they must 
live at no distant day. It is not desired to nullify any state 
law, but to soften the application of those parts that may 
seem op[)ressive, and to interfere for the protection of freed- 
men only in individual cases, when local prejudices may 
cause the executive or judicial officers of the state to deny 
the freedmen the rights which we are here to secure them. 
If you will examine the decision of Judge Campbell attached 
to this paper, you will see that he is willing to give the law 
an interpretation that is liberal and just. It would be wrong 
for the bureau to assume au}^ attitude that would injui-e this 
officer's influence. It is my opinion that the larger number 

1 New York Tribune, Aug. 18, 1865. 



THE FREEDMEN's BUREAU 265 

of the judges of the state would render the same decisions, 
and that only isolated cases occur where the law is inter- 
preted oppressively. It is but treating them with due respect 
to make an effort to correct an evil through them, before any 
other method is adopted. You will see on reflection that it 
was not proper to write a letter of instructions to any officer 
of the civil government. You will, therefore, in the case of 
Charles Pitard, write a letter to the judge of probate at 
Canton, Mississippi, saying that you withdraw your letter of 
instructions." ^ 

A conflict between the bureau authorities and the civil 
power occurred in Copiah County in November, 1865. An 
officer of the bureau had been arrested by the sheriff on a 
warrant, issued by a magistrate, for assault and battery upon 
a citizen. The officer defied the sheriff, but was finally ar- 
rested and lodged in jail. He refused to give bond for his 
appearance at the next term of the circuit court, although it 
is alleged a number of persons offered to make his bond. 
The military authorities decided to release him, and a detach- 
ment from the Fifty-eighth Colored Infantry took him from 
the jail and arrested the deputy sheriff who executed the 
warrant. Governor Humphreys telegraphed the facts to the 
President, and asserted that the civil authorities were being 
defied by the military. The President at once directed Gen- 
eral Osterhaus to cause the release of the deputy sheriff, and 
ordered that no more interferences of this kind be permitted. 
The commander who was responsible for the affair was relieved 
of his command.2 

The possibility of conflicts between the bureau and civil 
authorities was diminished by the arrangement between Gov- 
ernor Sharkey and Colonel Thomas, in which it was agreed 
that negro testimony should be admitted to the courts, and 
military interference should cease. The arrangement was so 
generally carried out in good faith by the judicial authorities 
that all Freedmen's Bureau courts were discontinued Novem- 
ber 1, 1865.3 All further interference by the bureau officials 
in any manner with the execution of the state laws or judicial 
proceedings were henceforth forbidden. On account of the 
ignorance and poverty of the freedmen, however, provision 
was made for assisting them in the prosecution of their cases 
in the courts. They were advised as to their rights at law, 

^ Goodspeed's Memoirs of Mississippi, Vol. II. p. 26. 
2 Jackson correspondent New York Daily News, Nov. 16, 1866 ; also New 
York Tribune, November 25. 

8 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 69, p. 169. 



266 RECONSTRUCTION IN IVnSSISSIPPI 

and were aided by professional counsel. Sub-commissioners 
were directed to appear before the courts in behalf of colored 
litigants, advise them as to the merits of their cases, and of 
the best mode of procedure, and to see that witnesses were 
suitably instructed in regard to the nature and responsibility 
of oaths.i A Northern attorney was employed to act as 
special counsel for freedmen who had cases before the courts. 
He reported, December 1, 1865, that he had defended freed- 
men in nineteen cases and had sworn out writs of habeas 
corpus for their benefit in seventeen instances.^ He was sat- 
isfied as to the judicial integrity of the judges, and did not 
think that a white jury would knowingly convict an innocent 
free dm an. 

With the surrender of the judicial functions of the bureau, 
it was announced that the vagrancy laws might be enforced, 
and convicted parties put to work on the public roads or 
handed over to the bureau authorities, who would undertake 
to find employment for them ; that no more marriage licenses 
would be issued by bureau officials, except upon refusal of 
county clerks to issue them ; and that no further regulations 
would be made concerning the price of labor.^ 

Several changes were made in the administration of the 
bureau in Mississippi. Colonel Thomas's administration was 
marked by numerous conflicts between the military and civil 
authorities, and his course was the subject of constant com- 
plaint by the whites. He was superseded, early in 1866, by 
General Thomas J. Wood, whose administration seems to 
have been an improvement over that of his predecessor. 
There were fewer collisions with the civil authorities, and 
the general tone of society assumed a more settled condition. 
He reported that the whites were " acting nobler than could 
be expected of them," that they manifested a disposition to 
obey the laws and become loyal citizens, and that he and the 
civil government worked in perfect harmony.^ General 
Wood turned over to the civil authorities all complaints of 
crime except in a few extraordinary cases. In all such cases, 
he said, substantial justice ]iad been done the negro, and 
offenders punished. In the beginning of the year, he advised 
the freedmen to form labor conti'acts, but refused to enforce 
the state law absolutely requiring tliem to contract. His 
administration was the subject of favorable comment by the 

1 Report of the commissioner, Ex. Docs. l.st Ses. 39th Cong. No. 69, p. 173. 

2 Ex. Docs. 1st Ses. 89th Cong. No. 27, p. 36. 
8 Ibid. No. on, p. 173. 

* New York Times, Feb. 4, 1866. 



THE FREEDMEN's BUREAU 267 

whites.^ He was succeeded, in January, 1867, by General 
Alvan C. Gillem, who was the last assistant commissioner. 
The offices of district military commander and assistant com- 
missioner of the bureau were consolidated in 1867. 

Congress, in July, 1868, directed that the bureau be with- 
drawn from the several states, and its operations, with the 
exception of the education and bounty divisions, be discon- 
tinued after January 1, 1869. Freedmen were reminded that 
they must now look to the civil magistrates for protection of 
their rights, and that supplies of food, clothing, medicines, free 
transportation, and assistance in making contracts must soon 
cease. ^ 

The chief objection of the Southern white man to the 
bureau was that it established a sort of espionage over his 
conduct. He could not enter into a contract with a freed- 
man, no matter how advantageous the terms might have been 
to both, without the approval of a bureau agent whose head- 
quarters were perhaps fifty miles away, and who perhaps 
knew little of the value of the consideration he was called 
upon to approve. If a colored employee neglected his crop, 
and the employer discharged him, the employer was almost 
sure to be arrested and brought before a Freedmen's Bureau 
court. Police regulations intended to check the demoraliza- 
tion of the freedmen, and compel them to work, were often 
construed as attempts to deprive them of their newly acquired 
rights. Being released from the effects of the old slave laws 
that prevented them from assembling at night, they now 
seemed to be possessed of the belief that it was unrepublican 
not to wander about and hold meetings of different kinds. 
The attempts of tlie civil authorities to restrain this new 
propensity were not generally allowed to be enforced. 

In June, 1866, Generals Steadman and Fullerton visited 
the state as special commissioners to investigate the affairs 
of the bureau.^ I'bey spent more or less time at Meridian, 
Columbus, Corinth, Grenada, Jackson, and Vicksburg, where 
they had personal interviews with all classes of the inhabit- 
ants. They reported that only here and there had the 
bureau accomplished any good. The chief objection, they 
said, was not due to the conduct of the higher officials, but to 

1 The Vicksburg Herald said : " So high does he stand in the estimation of 
our people, that it would be fortunate for the country if the admin'stration of 
tlae FreeduK'n's Bureau could have such an enlightened and excellent officer 
as General Wood in every state. See also the Report of Generals Steadman 
and Fullerton, Chicago Tribune, Aug. 10, 1860. 

2 Report Secretary of War, 1809-1870, Vol. I. p. 497. 

3 Their report is printed in the Neiv York Times of July 7, 1866. 



268 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

the subordinates, " who had the idea that the bureau was 
established simply for the freedmen." ^ 

1 The JVeio York Times of Oct. 5, 1866, contains a letter from I. T. Mont- 
gomery, an intelligent negro at Davis Bend, and the first of his race to hold 
a public office in Mississippi, complaining of the dishonesty of the bureau 
agents in charging excessive fees for their services. The only instances of offi- 
cial dishonesty among the subordinate officials which I have been able to find 
was the case of an agent in Rankin County, who was convicted of malfeas- 
ance by a military commission and sentenced to the penitentiary. See H. 
Mis. Docs. 3d Ses. 40th Cong. No. 53, p. 240. 

Another agent in De Soto County was dismissed by General Gillem for 
imposing illegal fines and for collecting money for a negro woman and refus- 
ing to pay it over to her. Ibid. p. 194. 



CHAPTER SEVENTH 

The Reestablishment of Civil Government 
i. the final act of eeconstruction 

The reconstruction legislature, the body which was to per- 
form the final act in the work of congressional reconstruc- 
tion, so far as the duty of the state was concerned, met at 
Jackson, January 11, 1870, in pursuance of the orders of the 
commanding general. It was the first meeting of a legisla- 
tive body in the state since the inauguration of the congres- 
sional policy of reconstruction, the legislature elected in 
1888 having never been convened on account of the defeat 
of the constitution to which it owed its existence. 

In personnel as well as in politics, the first reconstruction leg- 
islature differed widely from any law-making body that had ever 
assembled in the state. In the first place, it contained nearly 
forty colored members, most of whom were slaves up to the 
close of the war.^ Not one of them had any legislative expe- 
rience, some of them had almost no conception of their duties 
as lawmakers, while a goodly number were unable to read and 
write, and were compelled to attach their signatures to the 
legislative pay rolls in the form of a "mark."^ There were, 
on the other hand, some very intelligent negroes in the legis- 

^ As far as I am able to determine, the following is a list of the colored 
members in the lower House : — 

Charles P. Head, Peter Borrow, and Albert Johnson of Warren ; Henry 
Mayson and C. F. Norrls of Hinds ; .7. F. Bolden of Lowndes ; John R. Lynch 
and H. P. Jacobs of Adams ; Edmund Scarborough and Cicero Mitchell of 
Holmes ; Dr. J. J. Spellman of Madison ; William Holmes of Monroe ; Isham 
Stewart, Nathan McNeese, and A. K. Davis of Noxubee ; John Morgan and 
Dr. Stites of Washington ; W. H. Foote of Yazoo ; Ambrose Henderson 
of Chickasaw ; M. T. Newsom of Claiborne ; Emanuel Handy of Copiah ; 
Merrimon Howard of Jefferson ; J. Aaron Moore of Lauderdale ; David 
Higgins of Oktibbelia ; C. A. Yancey and J. H. Piles of Panola ; H. M. Foley 
and George W. White of Wilkinson ; C. M. Bowles of Bolivar ; Richard 
Griggs of Issaquena ; and George Charles of Lawrence. 

2 My authority for this statement is a letter from Senator Pease, who was 
at the time state superintendent of education. 

269 



270 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

lature, this being particularly true of the ministers of the 
gospel, of whom there were about one dozen in the lower 
House. In the Senate there were five colored members, three 
of whom were ministers.^ 

Nothing illustrates better the extent of the revolution than 
the fact tliat some of the wealthiest counties of the state were 
represented wholly by men who a few years before were negro 
slaves. Thus Warren, of which Vicksburg is the chief place, 
was represented in the House and Senate by four negroes. 
Hinds, the county in which the state capital is located, had 
two negro representatives and one negro senator ; Adams, 
of which Natchez is the county seat, — a county standing 
first in the history of the state for its ancient aristocracy, its 
wealth and culture, was represented in the lower House by 
three negroes, and in the Senate by another ; the large wealthy 
county of Washington, of which Greenville is the chief town, 
had two colored representatives and one colored senator ; the 
great county of Noxubee, in the eastern part of the state, 
noted for its fertile prairie farms and well-to-do planters, was 
represented by three negroes ; Holmes, Panola, and Wilkin- 
son, all large and wealthy counties, had two colored repre- 
sentatives each, while a good many others had one each. In 
addition to this element, there was a sprinkling of " carpet 
baggers," for the most part ex-Union soldiers, who had re- 
cently settled in the state.^ These two elements, together 
with the " scalawags," or native white Republicans, consti- 
tuted a large majority, and thus easily outvoted the repre- 
sentatives of the class which had hitherto held the political 
power of the state. They controlled the organization of 
the legislature, shaped the legislation, and established the 
public policy of the state. The House organized by electing 
to the speakership Dr. Franklin, a " carpet bagger " from 
New York. He sat for the county of Yazoo. Immediately 
after the completion of the organization. General Ames, 
in his capacity as provisional governor, sent in a message 
requesting immediate consideration of the Fourteenth and 

1 The colored senators were Rev. II. R. Revels of Adams ; Rev. William 
Gray of Washington ; Rev. T. W. Stringer of Warren ; Charles Caldwell of 
Hinds ; and Robert deed of Lowndes. Revels became a United States Sena- 
tor, Gray a brigadier general of state militia, and Caldwell was killed shortly 
after tlie Clinton riots in 1875. 

'-The "carpetbaggers" in this legislatnre who subsequently figured 
prominently in the politics of the state, were W. H. Gibbs from Illinois ; 
A. Warner from Connecticut ; A. T. Morgan from Wisconsin ; A. G. Packer 
from New York ; O. C. French from Ohio ; W. B. Cunningham from Penn- 
sylvania ; W. H. Warren from Massachusetts ; and H. W. Lewis from Ohio. 



THE FINAL ACT OF RECONSTRUCTION 271 

Fifteenth Amendments. They were promptly ratified by 
large majorities. ^ 

This completed the reconstruction of Mississippi, so far 
as the duty of the state in the premises was concerned. In 
performing this final act the duty of the legislature was 
ministerial only. It was made an absolute condition prece- 
dent to the reestablishment of civil government and admis- 
sion to representation in Congress. General Ames informed 
the members that they were entitled to no compensation, and 
that they had no power to enter upon general legislation, until 
this act had been performed. 

It devolved upon the legislature at this session to choose 
three United States senators, — one for the full terra begin- 
ning March 4, 1871, and two for unexpired terms. For the 
full term, Governor-elect Alcorn was chosen almost unani- 
mously. For the unexpired terms, General Ames and the 
Rev. Hiram R. Revels (colored) were chosen. ^ Senator 
Revels went to Mississippi during the war as the chaplain of 
a negro regiment. He enjoyed the distinction of being the 
first colored man to secure a seat in the United States Senate, 
and strangely enough was chosen to fill the unexpired term 
of ((.Jefferson Davi&\^ The more sentimental of the radicals 
saw^~ln~~fhis~Tlre fulfilment of a prophecy which Davis is 
alleged to have made to Simon Cameron upon the former's 
withdrawal from the Senate in 1861, namely that in all proba- 
bility a black negro would be sent there to take his place.* 
After ratifying the constitutional amendment and electing 
United States senators, the legislature adjourned to await the 
action of Congress. 

1 The Fourteenth by a vote of 23 to 2 in the Senate ; and by a vote of 87 
to 6 in the House. The Fifteenth was ratilied by the Senate unanimously ; 
in the House but one vote was cast against it. 

2 General Ames received all the Republican votes in the Senate and 72 in 
the House, as against 19 for Lowry, Democrat. Revels was brought in and 
elected as a " dark horse," General Eggleston being the leading candidate in 
the beginning of the contest. 

3 Dr. Revels was born in North Carolina, removed to Indiana in early life, 
where he attended a Quaker seminary and became a Methodist minister and 
a teacher. At the outbreak of the war he was engaged in pastoral work at 
Baltimore, but at once entered the Federal service and assisted in the organi- 
zation of two negro regiments. He followed the army to Jackson, Mississippi, 
and aided in the administration of the Freedmen's Bureau. At the close of 
the war, he settled at Natchez and became a presiding elder and a member of 
the state Senate, which position he was holding at the time of his election 
to the United States Senate. Since 1873 he has lived at Holly Springs. 

* New York World, March 4, 1870. 



272 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



II. EEADMISSION TO THE UNION 

The state having fulfilled every condition of the recon- 
struction acts, and of the act under which the constitution 
had been resubmitted, every consideration of good faith 
I'equired its speedy admission to the Union on an equality 
with the original states. On the 3d of February, 1870, 
General Butler, from the committee on reconstruction, re- 
ported a bill for this purpose, and asked that it be put imme- 
diately upon its passage, it being the same in substance as the 
bill to readmit Virginia, Avhieli had already been fully dis- 
cussed.^ This bill provided for the readmission of tlie state 
upon the condition that before any member of the legislature 
should take his seat, or any oflicer of the state should enter 
upon the discharge of his duties, he should take and subscribe 
to the following oath, a copy of which was to be deposited 
with the Secretary of State for permanent preservation : " I 
do solemnly swear that I have never taken an oath as a mem- 
ber of Congress or as an officer of the United States, or as a 
member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial 
officer of any state to support the Constitution of the United 
States, and afterward engaged in rebellion against the same, 
or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof, so help me, 
God." The provision did not apply to those whose political 
disabilities had already been removed by Congress.^ Addi- 
tional conditions were : first, that the constitution should 
never be amended so as to deprive any citizen of the right to 
vote ; second, that it should never be lawful for the state to 
deprive any citizen of the United States, on account of race, 
color, or previous condition of servitude, of the right to hold 
office under the constitution and laws of the state ; third, the 
constitution should never be amended so as to deprive any 
citizen of the United States of the benefits and privileges of 
the public schools.^ Mr. Beck offered as a substitute for the 
Butler bill a simple resolution for the unconditional readmis- 
sion of the state. The substitute was rejected, and the Butler 

1 Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. pt. i. p. 1013. 

2 Most of the prominent Republicans of the state had already secured the 
removal of their disabilities. By a concurrent resolution of January 15, the 
disabilities of 139 such persons were removed. Most of them were officers 
elect, and the resolution was passed to enable them to qualify. Among them 
were Judges Simrall, Orr, and Peyton, and Hon. J. S. Morris, Hon. J. L. 
Morphis, and George E. Harris. 

8 Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. pt. i. p. 1173. 



READMISSION TO THE UNION 273 

bill passed on February 3, by a yea and nay vote of 136 to 
56.^ In the Senate, the bill was referred to the judiciary 
committee, of which Mr. Trumbull of Illinois was chairman. 
On February 10, the committee reported back the bill with 
the recommendation that the preamble, together with all the 
conditions prescribed for the readmission of the state, be 
struck out, and that a simple resolution be adopted providing 
for the readmission of the state to representation. ^ This was 
the same as Beck's substitute. Every requirement of Con- 
gress had been complied with. A constitution in harmony 
with the reconstruction acts had been framed and ratified 
almost unanimously. The Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amend- 
ments had been ratified by votes approaching unanimity. 
State officers, members of the legislature, and representatives 
and senators in Congress had been elected and were waiting 
to enter upon the discharge of their duties. Notwithstand- 
ing this, there were men in Congress who desired to impose 
unreasonable conditions upon the people of the state, or keep 
them under military rule. Butler in the House and Morton 
in the Senate were the leaders of this party. They demanded 
the reimposition of the old proscription features of the con- 
stitution which had been overwhelmingly rejected at the polls 
in 1869. They went even further, and imposed restrictions 
which, in effect, deprived the state of its equality with the 
original members of the Union. One of the conditions 
imposed by the Butler bill denied to the state the power of 
changing its organic law in certain particulars. Nothing 
could have been more contrary to the spirit of the Federal 
Constitution. 

The debate over the readmission of Mississippi continued 
at intervals for a period of two weeks, when Senator Sherman, 
on February 17, gave notice that unless a vote was reached 
very soon, he intended to antagonize other public measures 
with the Mississippi bill. On the same day, the recommen- 
dation of the judiciary committee was rejected by a vote of 
32 to 27, and the main bill, as it came from the House, passed 
by a vote of 50 to 11.^ It was signed by the President on 
February 23. And thus, after having been excluded, to all 
intents and purposes, from the Union for a period of five 

1 Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. pt. i. p. 1014. 

2 On January 31, Senator Morton had introduced a bill to readmit Missis- 
sippi. On February 1, Senator Conkling introduced a similar bill. Both 
■were leferred to the Committee on Judiciary, but were indefinitely postponed, 
as the subject-matter was covered by the House bill. 

8 Globe, supra, p. 1364, 

T 



274 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

years, during three of which it was treated as conquered terri- 
tory, and held under military government, the state was re- 
stored to the Union, but with conditions annexed which very 
materially impaired its sovereignty, and left it far from being 
on an equality with the original states of the Union. It is the 
essence of a Federal system that the distribution of powers 
among the constituent members shall be the act of the sover- 
eign, and not of the government. Congress, in assuming the 
power to deprive the state of the right to change its constitu- 
tion of government in certain particulars, arrogated to itself 
sovereign powers, and had it been able to enforce its com- 
mands, the principle of the Federal system would have been 
destroyed, and a league inter disparates left in its place. 
Some of these limitations have been disregarded, and no one 
doubts that the others may be set aside in the same way. 
This is one of the numerous instances of the utter break- 
down of the reconstruction policy. 

Upon receipt of information that the President had ap- 
proved the Mississippi bill, Mr. Henry Wilson presented the 
credentials of Senator-elect Revels, and requested that they 
be read and that he be sworn in. The Senator's credentials 
bore the signature of Adelbert Ames, who styled himself 
Brevet Major General U. S. A. and Provisional Governor of 
INlississippi. They certified that Revels had been duly elected 
a Senator of the United States by the legislature on January 
20, 1870, for the unexpired term begining March 4, 1865, and 
ending March 4, 1871. Immediately after the reading. Sena- 
tor Saulsburyof Delaware raised an objection to the reception 
of such evidence, and declared that the certificate of a military 
officer was not such evidence as was required by law ; that (Gen- 
eral Ames, who styled himself provisional governor, was not 
the true executive of Mississippi ; that another person elected by 
the legal voters of the state in accordance with the laws and 
constitution, was the rightful governor, and the person whose 
signature was required by act of Congress to be attached to 
the credentials of senators elect. Senator Stockton offered a 
resolution to refer the credentials of both Ames and Revels to 
the judiciary committee with instructions to inquire anil 
report whether either or both had been citizens of the United 
States nine years, and whether the former was not, for several 
years prior to and at the time of his election, a commanding 
officer in the army of the United States. This resolution was 
discussed on the 24th and 25th of February, after which it 
was ]-ejected. A motion to administer the oath of office to 
Senator Revels was then carried by a vote of 48 to 8, where- 



EEADMISSION TO THE UNION 275 

upon he was escorted to the desk by Mr. Wilson and sworn 
in.^ The day on which Senator Revels took his seat, Mr. 
Robertson presented the credentials of General Ames. They 
were referred to the judiciary committee.^ On the 18th of 
March, Senator Conkling, from the committee, reported back 
a resolution that General Ames was not eligible to a seat in 
the Senate of the United States. Senator Conkling took occa- 
sion to say that had the question been one of sentiment, an 
adverse report could have commanded no support, but that 
inasmuch as the general had gone to Mississippi under mili- 
tary orders, and remained there in obedience to the same, he 
could not be considered a citizen of the state at the time of 
his election. 2 

The debate on the resolution was able and lengthy, ex- 
tending through a period of several weeks. The chief sup- 
porters of General Ames were Senators Morton, Boutwell, 
Edmunds, and Sherman. Bayard and Thurman led the op- 
position. Much was said in regard to the form of the cre- 
dentials which General Ames presented. They were as 
follows : — 

I, Adelbert Ames, Brevet Major General U. S. A., Provi- 
sional Governor of Mississippi, do hereby certify that Adelbert 
Ames Avas elected United States Senator by the legislature of this 
state on the 18th day of January, 1870, for the unexpired term 
which commenced on the 4th day of March, 1869, and which will 
end on the 4th day of March, 1875. 

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused 
the great seal of the state of Mississippi to be affixed this 25th 
day of January, 1870. 

A. Ames, 
Brevet Major General U. S. Army, 
Provisional Governor of Mississippi. 

Although there was no evidence of irregularity or illegality 
in thus certifying to his own election, it was, to be sure, an 

1 Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. pt. ii. p. 1568. It was said that the demands 
of poetic justice required that Senator Revels should be given the selfsame 
seat which Jefferson Davis had occuijied, but it appears that Davis's seat was 
held by a Senator from Kansas who declined to surrender it. 

2 Ibid. p. 1542. 

3 Ibid. p. 1568. The Jarkson Clarion preferred Revels to Ames as a Sena- 
tor. In the issue of Jan. 20, 1870. it said Revels was a citizen of the state 
and a registered voter, and would expect to return to Mississippi after the ex- 
piration of his term, while General Ames did not have the slightest idea of 
ever again being within her borders after crossing the Tennessee line on his 
journey to Washington. 



276 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

anomalous proceeding for a military commander, with the 
vast power which he exercised, to declare himself elected to 
the United States Senate. Nothing just like this had occurred 
in the history of the United States. It was charged that he 
had made use of his influence over the legislature to secure 
his election.^ There is no evidence that General Ames was 
not reguhirly and legally elected by the legislature, over which 
he undoubtedly wielded great influence. But there can be 
little doubt, on the other hand, that he was guilty of bad taste 
in becoming a candidate, in view of the relationship which he 
sustained. It was discreditable to him and the profession 
in which he had honorably distinguished himself, that his 
sense of propriety and his conviction of right did not lead 
him to take another course. He owned no real property in 
the state, paid little or no taxes for the support of the govern- 
ment, knew little of the state and its needs ; in fact, was a 
stranger to the people, and had little respect for their tastes, 
habits, and prejudices. He was summoned before the judi- 
ciary committee and asked as to his intention of making Mis- 
sissippi his permanent residence at the time he became a 
candidate. He replied : " Upon the success of the Republi- 
can party in Mississippi, I was repeatedly approached to 
become a candidate for the United States Senate. For a long 
time I declined. I wrote letters declining. A number of 
persons visited this city [Washington] to find arguments by 
which I might be influenced to become a candidate. I hesi- 
tated, because it would necessitate the abandonment of my 
whole military life. Finally, for public and personal reasons, 
I decided to become a candidate and leave the army. My 
intentions were publicly declared and sincere. I even made 
arrangements almost final and permanent with a person to 
manage property I intended to buy." ^ He declared that it 
was doubtful if he would have remained in the state and 
made it his home had he failed of election to the Senate.^ 
The action of the Senate was hastened by a joint resolution 
of the legislature, passed March 24, declaring it to be the 
solemn judgment of that body that Senator Ames's election 
was regular and legal, and requesting his immediate admis- 

1 One of these charges was that he had placed the colored members of the 
legislature under obligations to him by inviting them to a champagne party ; 
another, that he had threatened to wiMihnld their per diem in case of his 
defeat ; another, tliat General Grant wanted him chosen, and that the state 
would fail of readmission in the event of his failure to secure a seat in the 
Senate. The charges do not seem to have been taken seriously. See Speech 
of Garrett Davis, Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. pt. ii. p. 2108. 

2 Ibid. p. 2126. 8 Ibid. p. 2130. 



THE INAUGURATION OF A CIVIL GOVERNOR 277 

sion.i The report of the committee that he was not an inhab- 
itant of the state at the time of his election, and was not, 
therefore, eligible to a seat in the Senate, was rejected on 
April 1 by a vote of 40 to 12. He was escorted to the desk 
by Mr. Morrill, and sworn in.^ Neither Ames nor Revels pos- 
sessed any of the qualities of the representative in the Ameri- 
can sense of the term, and it was certainly straining a tech- 
nicality to say that General Ames was a ho7ia fide resident 
of the state. He regarded himself as the special representa- 
tive of the colored race, whose rights he had upheld while 
military governor.^ 

The state having been admitted to the Union, and Alcorn 
having qualified as civil governor. General Ames tui-ned over 
the government to him, and passed from the army into the 
United States Senate. In thus exchanging a military career 
for a civil one, he committed, according to his own admission, 
the fatal error of his life. General Orders No. 25, dated 
February 26, 1870, recited the facts relative to the readmis- 
sion of the state to the Union, and announced that the com- 
mand hitherto known as the fourth military district had 
ceased to exist. 



III. THE INAUGURATION OF A CIVIL GOVERNOR 

It will be remembered that after ratifying the Fourteenth 
and Fifteenth Amendments and electing United States sena- 
tors, the legislature adjourned to await the action of Congress. 
On the 8th of March, it reassembled, the state having in 
the meantime been readmitted to the Union. On the 10th, 
Mr. Alcorn, the first Republican civil governor, was inaugu- 
rated, and received the ''crown of civil government from the 
hands of the conqueror." His inauguration marked the close 
of military rule under which the state had existed for years. 
Government by military commanders, provost marshals, and 

1 Globe, 2d Ses. 41st Cong. p. 2314. 

2 Ibid. p. 2349. Among the twelve senators who voted against seating 
him were Conkling, Schurz, Edmunds, and Trumbull. 

8 He said: "I found, when I was military governor of Mississippi that a 
black code existed there, that negroes liad no rights, and that they were 
not permitted to exercise the rights of citizenship. I had given them the 
protection they were entitled to under the laws, and I believed that I 
could render them great service. I felt that I had a mission to perform 
in their interest, and I hesitatingly consented to represent them and unite 
my fortune witli theirs." Testimony before Bout well Committee, March 
28, 1876, p. 17. 



278 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

military commissions was no longer to exist. Legislative 
enactments were to take the place of "general orders," and 
the decrees and judgments of the courts were no longer liable 
to be suspended by military commanders. The troops were 
withdrawn from the state, with the exception of small detach- 
ments at two or three of the larger towns, and the civil 
authorities were left to perform their duties uninterfered witli. 
A large part of the governor's inaugural was of a personal 
character. He spoke of his attachment to the state of Mis- 
sissippi, of his long identification with the people, of his solici- 
tude for their welfare ; he told of the sacrifice of conviction 
which he had made in joining in the " madness which had 
plunged the state into ruin " ; and spoke apologetically, as 
he was so often wont to do, of his course in voting for the 
ordinance of secession, and of his hearty acceptance of the 
legal consequences which attached to his action. " Seces- 
sion," he said, " I liave ever denounced as a fallacy." " In 
casting my lot with my own people in the late war, I did not 
seek justification behind logical subtleties. AVhen I said in 
the secession convention, 'the Rubicon is crossed, I join the 
army that moves to Rome,' I spoke not as a sophist, after the 
fashion of Calhoun, but as a rebel, after the fashion of Csesar.^ 
I took the step in full view of the fact that it was one of 
simple rebellion. In the exercise of the right of revolution, I 
accepted all its risks with my eyes open to the fact that those 
risks included, in both law and fact, the penalties attaching to 
treason. And during even the first hour of defeat, when I 
lay with my people crushed under the heels of thundering 
armies, I accepted the fact that one end of the rope around 
my neck and around their necks had been grasped by the 
hands of a triumphant conqueror." 

Few of the ex-Confederates were so ready as Alcorn to 
acknowledge that their action was rebellion, or openly to 
advocate the reconstruction policy. The majority of the 
leaders advised cheerful acquiescence in, and obedience to, the 
reconstruction measures, but the advice was not based on any 
assertion that the measures were either wise or expedient. 
Alcorn was almost alone in basing; his action as a secessionist 
on the rio'ht of revolution rather than on an inherent leg^al 
power of a state to withdraw from the Union, and by force of 
arms to maintain the separation permanently. He was equally 



1 Relative to this declaration the Jackson Clarion of March 11, 1870, said 
it would have been nearer the truth, in view of Alcorn's military record, if he 
had said he was a soldier after the fashion of Falstaff. 



THE INAUGURATION OF A CIVIL GOVERNOR 279 

m- 

alone among the prominent secessionists in the view that the 
penalties which attached to his action were those of treason, 
the common view being that as belligerents they were legally- 
incapable of committing treason against the tlnited States. 
Whether Alcorn's views were the result of honest convictions 
or of policy there is a difference of opinion. He seems to 
have been sincere in his professions. Of his attachment to 
the people of the state, founded on long residence and identi- 
fication of interests, there can be no doubt. He declared in 
his inaugural that he was a Southern man in heart and soul. 
" My affections," he said, " my interests, my habits of thought, 
identify me indi visibly with the people of the South. The 
conqueror of the armies in which one of my sons won a 
major's star, and another a martyr's crown, is no more a sub- 
ject of love with me than with any other Southern soldier. 
The military government which I have the happiness to bow 
out of the state was no more a subject of pleasure to me than 
it was to any other Mississippian whose blood glows as mine 
does with the instincts of self-government." With regard to 
their new relation, and the hopefulness of the future, the 
governor said : " The Union has brought us back, pardoned 
children, into its bosom. It bids us go forward this day to 
the reconstruction of a government on the ruins left by our 
own madness. Restored to our lost place in the sisterhood of 
states by the grace of the nation, that grace has brought us 
back an equal among sovereigns. Erect and free, Missis- 
sippi goes forward now to work out her destiny in a fellow- 
ship of states, the peer of the proudest." He declared it to 
be the duty of the government under the new regime to 
extend its protection and encouragement to all the citizens 
of the state, black as well as white. He announced emphati- 
call}'- that the state government during his administration 
would expend a large part of its energies and revenues in 
educating the poor white and colored children of the state. 
Those who were charged with setting in motion the machin- 
ery of civil law were advised to " gauge every project of legis- 
lation in the light of severe economy." The hope was 
expressed that those " who were disposed to violate the law, 
and persecute other citizens," would abandon their evil ways, 
and thus save the expense of maintaining an armed militia. 
He asserted positively that so long as he was governor, all 
citizens, without respect to color or nativity, should be 
"shielded by the law as with a panoply," and where neces- 
sary, the militia should be called out and the people brought 
to a sense of their obligations to society. Slavery, he said. 



280 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

was dead, and the ballot box, the jury box, and the offices 
of the state must be thrown open to the honest and competent 
without distinction of color. Relative to his obligation to 
the colored people for their political support, he said : " In 
the face of memories that might have separated them from 
me as the wronged from the wronger, they offered me their 
confidence, offered me the guardianship of their new and 
precious hopes with a trustfulness whose very mention stirs 
my nerves with emotion. In response to that touching reli- 
ance, the most profound anxiety with which I enter my office 
as governor of this state is that of making the colored man 
the equal, before the law, of every other man — the equal, not 
in dead letter, but in living fact." ^ He asserted that the 
wealth, intelligence, and social influence of the state were, to 
a large extent, arrayed against the spirit of the laws enacted 
to secure these rights, consequently, the judges must be in 
hearty accord with the policy of reconstruction. Before clos- 
ing his inaugural address, he took occasion to pay his respects 
to the Democratic party, whose theories, he said, were a 
"system of brilliant fallacies, and whose speedy dissolution 
was a consummation to be devoutly wished for by every patriot 
in the land." 

Much uncertainty existed in the minds of the whites as to 
whether Governor Alcorn would abandon his office for a seat 
in the United States Senate and leave the government in the 
hands of the " carpet baggers." Public meetings were held in 
a number of places, and resolutions adopted calling upon him 
not to resign his office.^ It was said that with all of Alcorn's 
radicalism he was a large property owner, and was disposed 
to economy in the administration of the government, and that 
his transfer to the Senate would mean the removal of the only 
restraint upon those not inclined to economy. Notwithstand- 
ing these representations, he resigned the office of governor 
on the ?)Olh of November, 1871, and passed into the Senate as 
the successor of Dr. Revels, who now became president of the 
new university for colored students. His transfer to the 
Senate was said to be a political move by the " carpet 
baggers," who desired a free hand in the state.^ Whatever 
the facts of the case may be, if Alcorn was disposed to economy 

1 Relative to the position of the class of poor whites before the war, the 
governor said, " Thousands of our wortliy wliite friends have ever remained 
to a fireat extent strangers to tlie lieiping liand of the state." The Clarion 
regarded this ns a fling at the Democratic party. 

"i Jackson Clarion, Nov. 8, 1870. 

8 Lowry and McCardle's Hist, of Miss. p. 226. 



EEORGANIZATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 281 

in the administration of the state government, his influence 
does not seem to have counted for much, for the state expen- 
ditures during his own term were as great if not greater than 
during the term of his successor. In thus exchanging the 
governorship for a place in the Senate, Alcorn was not ham- 
pered by the embarrassment that confronted Ames in 1874, 
for the lieutenant governor, instead of being an unpopular 
colored man, was a worthy and honorable white man, and 
although an ex-Union soldier, he was a bona fide resident of 
the state, an extensive planter, and a conservative Republican 
in his politics.^ Few of the " carpet baggers " won the respect 
and confidence of the native whites to such an extent as did 
Governor R. C. Powers. 



IV. REORGANIZATION UNDER THE RECONSTRUCTION 

CONSTITUTION 

The organization of civil government under the recon- 
struction constitution did not differ materially from the ante- 
bellum type. It Avas more democratic, in that all distinctions 
on account of color were forbidden, as well as all property 
qualifications for jury service, and all property and educational 
qualifications for suffrage. It was more democratic, perhaps, 
in requiring less rigorous qualifications for office, especially 
as regarded residence in the state. This constitution, moreover, 
has the distinction of being the only one in Mississippi ever 
submitted to the electorate for approval or rejection. The 
absolute prolubition upon the legislature as regards loaning 
the credit of the state, was a new and admirable provision, and 
was of great service later on. Under the new constitution as 
compared with the old, the powers of the governor were 
greater, salaries in general were higher, and offices were 
more numerous. An additional source of expense was a sub- 

^ Governor Powers's experience as a reconstruction sheriff in Mississippi 
convinced liira, he says, that the reconstruction policy was little less than a 
" national crime." In a letter to me, he says : " Over and above the vs^ick- 
eduess of the Kukluxism and fraud and intimidation that were resorted to to 
overthrow the congressional plan of reconstruction, there was a cause inher- 
ent in the plan itself, and it was abandoned by its authors on this account. 
Had the plan of reconstruction been based on sound principles of statesman- 
ship, its friends would have stood by it, and tiie long train of evil and suffer- 
ing that resulted from it would have been avoided. Without justifying any 
of the crimes that were committed to overthrow reconstruction, it is eminently 
proper that the historian who writes for future generations should point out 
the crime concealed in the so-called congressional plan itself." 



282 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

sidized press. The reconstructionists seem to have made no 
attempt to change the type of local institutions which they 
found in Mississippi, although there was an effort here and 
there to inject into the administration new ideas, as illustrated 
in the public school system, immigration bureau, etc. The 
doctrine of laissez faire was not so scrupulously followed as 
it had been in the days prior to the war. No complaint was 
more general than that the reconstructionists governed too 
much, and the charge was certainly not without foundation. 
The official organization which they established was consider- 
ably more elaborate than that which obtained before the war. 
They provided for a lieutenant governor, a commissioner of 
immigration and agriculture, a state supeiintendent of educa- 
tion, a state board of education, a state board of equalization, 
a state printer, district printers, special treasury agents, and 
increased the number of judges threefold. They did not 
abolish outright the system of private law which they found 
in force, but through the Constitution reenacted, subject to 
modification or repeal by the legislature, all laws not passed 
in furtherance of secession and rebellion. ^ Those about which 
there was doubt were left to the action of the courts. Many 
of those reenacted by the constituent assembly, however, 
were repealed or modified by the legislature, so that, by 
1875, an entirely new, but not a very different, sj'stem of 
law had been built up. Much of the new legislation was 
no improvement on that which was displaced ; some of it was 
certainly unnecessary, but the belief seems to have been gen- 
eral among the reconstructionists that they were legislating 
for a totally different order of things, and for a new people, 
hence the necessity for a new system of law. 

The chief task of the first legislature, after reconstruction, 
was to organize the system of " Republican " government, estab- 
lished in pursuance of the acts of Congress. One of the first 
measures provided for the organization of the new judicial 
system. The old county probate courts were superseded by 
a system of chancery courts, twenty in number, each to be 
held by an officer styled a chancellor, appointed by the gov- 
ernor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, for a term 
of four years. A term of the court was to be held in each 
county four times a year. The only qualification required of 
the first incumbents was residence in the state six months. 
Another new feature of tlie judicial machinery was pi-ovision 
for a chancery clerk in each county. He was to be elected 

1 Constitution, Art. XIV. See. 2. 



REORGANIZATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 283 

by the people, and was to serve four years. All business 
remaining undisposed of in the probate courts was transferred 
to the new chancery courts.^ 

Fifteen circuit courts were established, each to be held by 
a judge appointed by the governor, by and with the advice 
and consent of the Senate, for a period of six years. Court 
was to be held three times a year in each county, and 
the first judges were not required to be residents of the 
state.2 The old High Court of Errors and Appeals was 
superseded by a Supreme Court consisting of three justices 
appointed in the same manner as the circuit judges and 
chancellors, for a term of nine years.''^ Compared with judi- 
cial establishment before the war, this was rather an elabo- 
rate organization. It proved to be unnecessarily so, and was 
modified slightly by the Republicans, and largely by the 
Democrats after their restoration in 1876. 

The judges appointed by Governor Alcorn were, for the 
most part, Southern men, who, like himself had afiiliated 
with the Republican party since its organization in Missis- 
sippi in 1867. The practical impossibility, however, of find- 
ing competent Southern Republicans for high judicial stations, 
compelled him to appoint several Northern men and some Dem- 
ocrats. On the whole, it was a judiciary of fair ability. The 
judges seem to have been men of official integrity, although 
there were several whose lack of legal training prevented them 
from securing the respect of the bar. One of these was noto- 
riously incompetent, and was induced to resign his office.^ 
The justices of the Supreme Court appointed by Governor Al- 
corn were, H. F. Simrall, E. G. Peyton, and Jonathan Tarbell. 
Simrall and Peyton were both old citizens of the state, and 
the latter was an active supporter of the Republican party. 

1 Constitution of 1868, Art. VI. ; Act of May 4, 1870. 

2 Ibid. Act of April 22, 1870. 

3 Ibid. Act of April 2, 1870. 

^ The chancellors appointed by Governor Alcorn were J. M. Ellis, 0. H. 
Whitfield, W. G. Henderson, A. E. Reynolds, G. S. McMillan, D. P. Coffy, 
J. J. Hooker, E. Stafford, E. G. Peyton, D. N. Walker, Wesley Drane, T. R. 
Gowen, Edwin Hill, E. W. Cabiniss, Austin Pollard, Thomas Christian, 
Ue Witt Stearns, J. F. Simmons, Samuel Young, and Theodoric Lyon. 

The circuit judges appointed by him were J. M. Smiley, M, D. Bradford, 
• W. M. Hancock, B. B. Boone, G. C. Chandler, A. Alderson,'TFriah Millsaps, 
Robert Leachman, J. A. Orr, 0. Davis, C. C. Shackleford, E. S. Fisher, 
•^ason Niles, W. B. Cunningham, and George F. Brown. Less than 
half a dozen of these were "carpet baggers." Alcorn desired to appoint 
Southern white men to all the offices, but was imable to withstand the press- 
ure of the colored politicians and the "carpet baggers." The appointment 
of Judge Tarbell was dictated by the Republicans of Northern birth, Alcorn's 
favorite being Judge Niles of Kosciusko. 



284 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Both were jurists of high repute, and during the passions 
and animosities of the time, they continued to enjoy the con- 
fidence of both political parties. The same may be said of 
Justice Tarbell, an ex-Union soldier from New York, who at 
the close of the war settled in Scott County, and in 1869 be- 
came probate judge by appointment from provisional gov- 
ernor, General Ames. Judge Tarbell belonged to the better 
class of " carpet baggers," was a man of fair ability and extraor- 
dinary industry, a ready and voluminous writer, as his opin- 
ions show, but he lacked experience and knowledge of the 
state jurisprudence when he went upon the bench. ^ Peyton 
and Tarbell were the only Republicans that ever occupied 
seats on the supreme bench of Mississippi. Their successors 
have all been Democrats, and so were their predecessors, with 
the exception of an occasional Whig in the ante-bellum period. 
The local judiciary, consisting of two or more justices of 
the peace in each supervisor's district, was reconstituted, and 
its jurisdiction largely increased. The first incumbents were 
to be appointed by the governor, and were to have jurisdic- 
tion in civil cases where the amount in controversy did not 
exceed S150, and concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit courts 
in cases of assault and battery, petit larceny, insult and tres- 
pass, attachments, actions of replevin, etc.^ The extension of 
their jurisdiction in civil matters from cases involving $50, 
the limit before the war, to t^l50, and the increased amount of 
petty judicial business after the war, made the justice's courts 
an important part of the judicial machinery of the state. The 
system of county courts established in 1865 was abolished, 
and the cases pending before them were transferred to the 
circuit and justice's courts.*^ The old county board of police 
was superseded by the board of supervisors, an institution that 
differed only in name from that which it displaced.'* County 
organizations were not generally disturbed, although in one 
or two instances there was a change of names where the old 
name perpetuated memories which the radicals did not par- 
ticularly cherish.'"'^ A number of the large counties were 
reduced in area, and six or eight new ones were created and 

1 The late .Justice L. Q. C. Lamar of the United States Supreme Court 
says Tarbell \v;us esteemed in Mississippi as an upriglit judge, and his reputa- 
tion for integrity was unquestioned. See Mag. of Am. Hist. Vol. 18, p. 424. 
After the overthrow of the Republicans antl the expiration of his term, he 
removed to Washington, where he died several years ago. Simrall is, at the 
present writing, the only survivor. He is in his eighty-fourth year. 

2 Laws of 1H70, p. 80. » Ibid. p. 87. * Ibid. p. 8L 

s For example, tlie substitution of .Jf)nes County for Davis County, Lincoln 
County for Lee County, and Ellisville for Leesburg, etc. 



REORGANIZATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 285 

given good loyal names, such as Lincoln, Sumner, Colfax, 
Union, etc. One of the reforms of the democracy after its 
restoration was to find new names for some of these counties.^ 
There was a shifting of county seats in a number of instances, 
although this does not seem to have had any political signifi- 
cance. A reapportionment act was passed which had the 
effect of depriving ten " white " counties of separate repre- 
sentation in the legislature, they being consolidated with 
other counties to form large legislative districts.^ 

Much of the legislation of the time related to the erection 
and repair of state institutions which had either been de- 
stroyed during the war or had fallen into decay. The state 
university was reorganized by the removal of the board of 
regents and the appointment of a new board. An investiga- 
tion was instituted, with a view to the removal of the state 
capitol from Jackson.^ Congress was memorialized to re- 
move the disabilities of all citizens of the state who had not 
been so relieved, and to grant the state two millions in money 
and five million acres of land to aid in the restoration of the 
levees. Provision was also made for the codification of the 
laws.* 

Civil rights measures naturally constituted a no incon- 
siderable part of the legislation of this period. All laws 
relative to free negroes, slaves, and mulattoes, as found in 
the Code of 1857, and the laws constituting the so-called 
" Black Code," were declared to be forever repealed. It was 
also declared to be the true intent and meaning of the legis- 
lature to remove from the records of the state all laws of 
whatever character, which in any manner recognized any 
natural difference or distinctions between citizens or inhabit- 
ants of the state, or discriminations on account of race or 
color .^ All distinctions among citizens in drawing, selecting, 
or summoning petit or grand juries were forbidden.^ It was 
made unlawful for any person or corporation controlling 
railroads, steamboats, or stage-coaches to discriminate in any 
manner against any passenger, and the law imposed a penalty 

1 This was the case with Sumner County, which was changed to Webster, 
and Colfax, which wa.s given tlie name of Clay. 

2 Testimony of J. F. Sessions, Kuklux Report, p. 207. The operation of 
the act is well illustrated in the cases of Wayne and Warren counties. The 
former, a " white" county, had no separate representative, while the latter, 
with a large black majority, had five, the fifth being given for a fraction of 
seven hundred people. * Laws of 1870, p. 64H. 

* The commissioners appointed in pursuance of this act were J. A. P. 
Campbell. A. R. Johnson, and A. Lovering, all Democrats. 
6 Laws of 1870, p. 73. ^ Ibid. p. 88. 



286 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

not exceeding $5000 on any conductor who should attempt to 
compel any passenger on account of race or color to occupy 
a particular part of the conveyance.^ The right of negroes 
to seats in theatres, without respect to the particular location 
of any seat, was upheld by the state Supreme Court.^ 

The first session of the first reconstruction legislature in 
Mississippi was the longest in duration of any in the history 
of the state. It continued from January 11 to July 21, with 
the exception of the month of February and a week in 
March. The Democrats allege that few or no attempts were 
made to expedite business, and the allegation was not entirely 
without foundation. The whole body of Democratic legisla- 
tion was overhauled, and little of it was thought worthy of 
retention.^ The increase of the citizenship and the some- 
what chaotic condition of the laws incident to the great revo- 
lution no doubt increased the necessities for leofislation. 
This should, therefore, be taken into consideration in framing 
an intelligent estimate of the comparative cost of govern- 
ment before and after the war. The expenses of the legisla- 
tive department were nearly three times those of 1865.'* 

A session of six months in 1870, however, was not suffi- 
cient to reorganize the state government and enact sufficient 
legislation for the needs of the state, and accordingly the 
legislature met again January 3, 1871. During the recess 
four members had died, among the number being the speaker, 
Dr. Franklin, of Yazoo County. The House organized by 
the election to the speakership of Mr. H. W. Warren, a wliite 
man lately from Massachusetts. He sat for Leake County. 
The colored Republicans, although in the majority, were not 
at this time so demoralized by their greed for office that a 
black skin was an indispensable qualification for the speaker 
who presided over their deliberations. Accordingly they con- 
sented to the election of a " loyal " white man. Subsequently, 
their views of the rights of the colored race in this respect 
were modified. 

1 Laws of 1870, p. 104. Upon request of Governor Alcorn the presidents 
of the several railroads in Mississippi met the colored members of the legis- 
lature at tlie executive mansion for the purpose of settlins,^ if possible, the 
question of equal rights on the railroad trains without recourse to legislative 
action. The colored members demanded that orders be issued to all conduct- 
ors to grant equal privileges to all passengers without res])ect to race or color. 
The railroad managers offered to provide separate cars with equal accommo- 
dations. The negroes rejected the pmimsition, whereupon Alcorn lectured 
them upon their refusal, and plainly told them that a law embodying their 
demands could not be enforced without bloodshed. Clarion^ Feb. 17, 1871. 

2 Donnell vh. the State, 48 Miss. 0(51. ^ Auditor's Report, 1871, Doc. G. 
* The total number of acts and resolutions passed was 32 -J. 



BEORGANIZATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 



287 



The governor in his annual message commended the legis- 
lation of the previous session, and declared that when it was 
remembered that many of the members had lately been "in- 
ducted into freedom," and that few had ever sat in a delibera- 
tive assembly, their work showed a moderation and wisdom 
highly creditable. He indulged in some sarcastic allusions 
to the character of the customary ante-bellum executive mes- 
sage to the legislature, asserted that the " speculative states- 
manship of the South, having had its day and its result," he 
would not follow precedent and devote himself to the prin- 
ciples of government but to questions which more directly 
concerned them. He advised the legislature that as their 
" rights in the territories had occupied the attention of previ- 
ous legislatures, somewhat in excess of wise policy," they 
should devote themselves to the more practical work of gath- 
ering up and rebuilding whatever those abstractions may 
have left of their rights at home. He informed the legisla- 
ture that he had not accepted the facts of reconstruction with- 
out more or less misgivings, but to satisfy himself of the 
wisdom of the policy of Congress, he had instituted a series 
of investigations into the capacity of the colored people for 
" well-ordered freedom." Tlie results of his inquiries into the 
marriage relations of the blacks were in the highest degree 
encouraging to the reconstructionists. Both the constitutions 
of 1865 and 1868 dignified those of the colored race who had 
cohabited together by giving them the legal status of hus- 
band and wife. It had been feared that tlie negroes would 
continue the practice of cohabitation without taking out mar- 
riage licenses. Quite the reverse, however, proved true. 
The dignity of marriage by a minister rather appealed to the 
negro's sense of pride. It implied a sense of equality with 
the whites which they were not slow to appreciate. The re- 
sult was that the proportion of marriages among them after 
1865 was nearly as large as among the whites.^ From this 
the governor felt satisfied that the colored people were striv- 



1 The following results are tabulated from the investigations in thirty-one 
counties : — 



Class 


Population in 


Maeriaob Licenses issued 


1860 


1865 


1866 


1867 


1S68 


1869 


1870 


Whites 

Blacks 


189,645 
239,930 


2708 
664 


3129 
3679 


2829 
3524 


2546 
2802 


2655 
3584 


2204 
3427 



288 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ing " to rise to the moral level of their new standing before 
the law, to the extent of a strict adherence to the formularies 
of sexual proprieties." A recent act of the legislature raising 
the fee for marriage licenses from one to three dollars was 
criticised as a " blow not onl}' at the virtue of the poor whites, 
but at the successful organization of the colored people on 
the basis of a free civilized society." 

Governor Alcorn affirmed that the results of his investiga- 
tions established the general good faith of the freedmen with 
regard to their marital relations. Unfortunately, however, 
there were so many exceptions to this during the early years 
of their freedom that the condition of society did not present 
a very hopeful aspect. But the provision for public schools, 
the multiplication of the number of ministers, and the in- 
crease of religious institutions vastly elevated their sense of 
the sanctity of the marriage contract. In no respect did the 
colored race show greater signs of improvement than in the 
increase of their religious organizations. In twenty-five coun- 
ties the number of churches built by the negroes increased 
from 105 in 1865 to 28o in 1870, while the number of min- 
isters increased from 73 to 26"2. 

With regard to industrial pursuits, there were the same 
evidences of progress. In seventeen counties the number 
of shoemakers' shops owned by the negroes increased from 
21 in 1865 to 63 in 1870, and the number of blacksmith shops 
from 40 to 113. 

Along, however, with the industrial progress of the negro, 
went an enormous increase in the amount of crime, which 
Governor Alcorn thought showed a " degree of barbarism 
truly shocking." ^ Much of this Governor Alcorn attributed 
to the " barbarous practice " of carrying deadly weapons, 
which was almost universal among both races in the South 
at this time. He recommended drastic legislation to prevent 
this " outrage on civil society." 

The most important legislation of 1871 related to the lease 
of the penitentiary and the encouragement of railroad build- 
ing. Tlie provision for the lease of the penitentiary was the 
subject of much censure by the Democrats.^ The act to 
encourage railroad building provided that any railroad com- 

^ In a letter to the New York Tribune Governor Alcorn said 124 murders 
had been coniiuitted in the state from April, 1869, to March, 1871. In a de- 
spatch to Senator Ames in April, 1871, he said the auditor's books showed 
48 murders within the last three months, and there were known to be 15 
cases not reported. Clarion, April 11, 1871. 

'■^ Testimony of J. F. Sessions, Kuklux Report, p. 208, 



REORGANIZATION UNDER THE CONSTITUTION 289 

pany which would construct twenty-five miles of road within 
the limits of the state and have it equipped and in good run- 
ning order by the first of September, 1872, should receive 
from the state the sum of $4000 per mile for each mile so 
constructed.^ The stock which the state held in the various 
railroads of the state was donated to the New Orleans, Jack- 
son, and Great Northern railroad. The amount was about 
$250,000. It appears that when the charter was first granted 
to the road, it was upon condition that the company was to build 
a branch from Canton to Aberdeen by way of Kosciusko, other- 
wise the charter was to be forfeited. Upon the expiration of the 
period named, the extension had not been made, and the charter 
consequently fell. The legislature at this session renewed 
the charter, required the company to complete the branch to 
Kosciusko within two years, and to Aberdeen within five years. 
The same act surrendered to this road all railroad stock held 
by the state, provided the people living along the line would 
contribute $7500 per mile.^ The measure was opposed by all 
the Democratic members, except those who lived on the line 
of the proposed extension, as a piece of unnecessary extrava- 
gance and favoritism. 3 The Republicans, on the other hand, 
contended that unless state aid was given to the road it would 
go into bankruptcy, and the state would lose all its stock.* 

On the 13th of May the legislature adjourned, having been 
in session since January 3, making a total legislative session of 
ten months and a half in 1870 and 1871. The Republican 
members asserted that the legislative needs of the states 
called for long and frequent sessions ; the Democratic mem- 
bers asserted that the per diem method of compensation was 
the true reason.^ 

1 Laws of 1870, p. 745. Under this provision the Ripley Railroad Com- 
pany became entitled to $81,000 from the state. The auditor acting upon 
the advice of the attorney general declined to issue the warrants for the 
amount. It was charged that upon receiving a bribe of $6000 the attorney 
general withdrew his objections — a joint committee of the legislature vipon 
investigation reported that the "robes of the attorney general were tainted." 
See Clarion of March 20, 1873. 

2 Laws of 1871, p. 177. 

8 Testimony of J. F. Sessions, Kuklux Report, p. 213. 

* Testimony of O. C. French, ibid. p. 22. 

6 The compensation was $7 per day and 20 cents per mile going to and 
from the seat of government. After an agreement to adjourn had been 
reached, four members drew up a long protest, declaring that they ought not 
to abandon their posts ; that it was their duty to work "diligently and con- 
siderately, deliberately, dispassionately, moderately, and without too much 
haste." See House Journal of 1871, pp. 823-826. 



CHAPTER EIGHTH 
The " Carpet-Bag " Regime 

I. the election of general AMES AS CIVIL GOVERNOR 

In 1873, the year of the state election, General Ames was 
serving in the United States Senate. In this field, he 
achieved no particular distinction. ^ He was a member of 
the committee on military affairs, and introduced a number 
of measures affecting the army, one of which had in view 
the opening of all branches of military service to colored 
people and the abolition of all distinctions therein on ac- 
count of race or color. He made an ineffectual attempt to 
have Hon. Robert A. Hill, United States district judge, 
removed from office in order to secure the position for a 
friend. The reason alleged for his action was that Judge 
Hill's Southern S3aiipathies prevented him from impartially 
enforcing the Kuklux Act.^ The only measure which Sen- 
ator Ames supported with any marked ability was the bill 
to extend the provisions of the Kuklux Act. This he did 
in a set speech on the 20th of May, 1872, devoting much of 
his time to a defence of the " carpet bagger " in general, and 
of himself in particular. He declared with pride that he 
had fought his way to Mississippi during the war by his 

1 General Ames acknowledges that he was little " versed in civil affairs." 
See Globe, 1st Ses. 42d Cong. p. i'ui). lie writes nie under date of Jan. 17, 
1900: "I am frank to confess that I was jioorly equipped for the position of sena- 
tor. While in the Senate I devoted myself mainly to the Southern question." 
Relative to his abandonment of the army for a civil career, he says : " That I 
should have taken a political office seems almost inexplicable. My explana- 
tion may seem ludicrous now, but then it seemed to me that I had a mission, 
with a large M. Because of my course as military governor, the colored men 
of the state had confidence in me, and I was convinced that I could help to 
guide them successfully, keep men of doubtful integrity from control, and 
the more certainly accomplish what was every patriot's wish — the enfran- 
chisement of the colored men and the pacification of the country." 

2 General Ames subsequently admilted tliat he had been misled as to Judge 
Hill, and always regretted his action. Letter to Attorney (ieneral of the 
United States, Correspondence of Governor Ames, 1874, p. 48. 

290 



/, 

ELECTION OF GENERAL AMES AS GOVERNOR 291 

own right arm, through much blood and over many battle- 
fields, and asserted that he had a right to go there and to 
stay there. ^ This was in reply to an attack by his new col- 
league, Senator Alcorn, who had now entered the Senate as 
the successor of Senator Revels. Alcorn was an old resi- 
dent who had emigrated to Mississippi from Illinois many 
years before the war.^ He was a wealthy planter of fine 
personal appearance, a man of inordinate vanity, somewhat 
imperious in disposition, and, as the debates show, possessed 
some forensic ability. He had served a few weeks in the 
state militia daring the war, in whose cause he had little 
faith, and to the success of which he gave but a lukewarm 
support.^ He had been an old-line Whig in politics, but 
voted for the ordinance of secession, an act for which he 
never ceased to apologize. After the enactment of the 
reconstruction measures, he joined the Republican party, 
believing it to be the duty of the whites to accept unreserv- 
edly the policy of Congress and, if possible, get control of the 
negro vote ; but having a substantial interest in the state, 
and being a popular stump orator, and an ex-slaveholder, he 
succeeded in gaining in a large measure the confidence of 
the native whites, which General Ames was never able to 
do. General Ames's attempt to dispute with Senator Alcorn 
the leadership of the party in Mississippi called down upon 
him the hostility of his colleague, who denounced him in the 
Senate in the most unmeasured terms, and otherwise treated 
him with an air of contempt.* In a speech on the Kuklux 
bill, delivered May 20, 1872, Senator Alcorn charged Gen- 
eral Ames with having taken advantage of his position " to 
seize a senatorial toga before taking off his military coat." 
He said : " My colleague is not connected with my state by 
any of the ties that make up the reality of the representative. 
He is not a citizen of Mississippi. He has never contributed 
a dollar to her taxes. He is not identified with her to the 

1 Globe, supra. Appendix, p. 393. 

2 General Ames said of him : " My colleague went from a free country 
earlier than I did. He is one of the natives. . He is one of the liigh-toned, 
chivalric gentlemen of the state. On the other hand, I am simply from 
Yankeedom." Globe, supra, p. 393. 

3 He is reported as saying that he rejoiced when the flag of the Confeder- 
acy fell. Clarion, July 3, 1869. 

* General Ames had been in Mississippi but a short time before the breach 
occurred between him and Alcorn. In a letter of Marcli 30, 1871, to C. F. 
Norris, a colored member of the legislature, Ames cliarged Alcorn with not 
protecting the negroes, but allowing them to be killed by "tens and hu7i- 
dreds," and with " gaining power and favor from the democracy at the price 
of blood, and that, the blood of his friends." 



292 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

extent of even a technical residence." The mutual hostility 
of the two senators ended in an appeal of each to the Repub- 
lican party of the state for an indorsement of his course. 
Each became a candidate for governor. Ames succeeded in 
securing the regular nomination of the party, receiving five 
times as many votes as Alcorn in the convention. Alcorn's 
adherents bolted and nominated a state ticket in opposition 
to Ames. The nominees were about equally divided be- 
tween Northern and Southern Republicans. The ticket con- 
tained the name of one colored candidate, the ^Jiev. T. W. 
Stringer, a member of the legislature from AditH^bsXounty. 
Alcorn at once challenged Ames to meet him in debate at 
Jackson, but the general, knowing that as a stump orator 
he was no match for the " Sage of Coahoma," declined, on 
the ground that Alcorn was not a regular nominee of any 
political party. 1 In a public speech at Jackson August 29, 
Alcorn announced his candidacy and his platform. He gave 
an account of his record in the Senate, told the negroes that 
he had secured for them the right to ride in railroad cars 
with white people, declared that he had appointed many 
good men to office, and some bad ones, also, and denounced 
Senator Ames as the most vindictive man in Congress. ^ 
Ames received the almost unanimous support of the negro 
voters, who were grateful to him for his course as military 
governor. He was, likewise, the choice of the " carpet-bag " 
element, which was not very strong numerically, but potent 
in influence. Alcorn was supported for the most part by 
the native white Republicans and by the Democrats, who had 
no regular ticket in the field, the Democratic state convention 
at Meridian having declared it " inexpedient " to make a 
nomination, meaning thereby that it was useless to do so. 
As between the two Republican candidates, they preferred 
Alcorn as the lesser of two evils, and therefore gave him a 
feeble support. The result was the election of Ames by a 
large majority.^ On the ticket with Governor Ames were 
the names of three negroes, A. K. Davis, for lieutenant 

1 Jackson Clarion^ Sept. 4, 1873. 

2 pjid. 

8 The exact vote was Ames, G9,870 ; Alcorn, 50,490. As early as the 16th 
of January, 1873, the Hinds County Gazette predicted that Ames would be 
the next governor of Mississippi, and that Ham Carter (colored) would be 
lieutenant governor, and eventually governor, as Ames would be chosen to 
the Senate after a short term as chief executive. The Jackson Clarion of 
May 15, 1873, said Ames was the favorite for governor against all comers. 
The Prairie News (Republican) said his nomination was essential to the suc- 
cess of the party. 



ELECTION OF GENERAL AMES AS GOVERNOR 293 

governor ; James Hill, for secretary of state ; and T. W. 
Cordoza, for superintendent of education. 

The belief among the colored voters that they had not 
secured their proper share of the state offices in 1870, led 
them practically to establish a " color line " before the next 
election. In the state convention of 1873, they demanded 
that at least three of the seven state offices should go to 
colored men, and the Warren County delegates are alleged 
to have mounted the desks in the convention hall, and with 
pistols drawn declared that one of the three candidates must 
come from Vicksburg.i Their argument was that colored 
men did the voting and were, therefore, entitled to the 
offices.^ 

They were strong enough numerically to enforce their 
demands, and as the state superintendent of education, a 
white " carpet bagger " of undoubted competency, happened 
to be a resident of Vicksburg, he was set aside for a negro 
whose chief qualification was the color of his skin. It was 
a common remark that this marked the beginning of the 
downfall of Governor Ames in MississipjDi. Davis and 
Cordoza hung like millstones about his neck, and by their 
dishonesty, incompetency, and bad counsel, which he too 
often accepted, did much to make the administration odious 
in the eyes of the whites.^ The colored secretary of state 

^ Columbus Free Press of Aug. 7, 1875 (a Republican paper edited by two 
Northern gentlemen, Lewis and Bliss). " Let him dispute it who will," this 
paper declared, " it is no less true that there are in the Kepublican ranks, 
scores of colored men who are just as determined to establish a color line and 
run nobody but colored men for office, as there are of white men who are 
bent on establishing a white line." " This policy has finally brought the Re- 
publican party, not only of the South but of the nation, up to the very verge 
of destruction." General Ames writes me that this charge was, no doubt, 
true. He says, "The demands of the colored delegates for state offices 
seemed to be irresistible, especially for lieutenant governor." 

'■^ The Vickshurg Plaindealer, a radical sheet published by a negro, de- 
clared that McKee, Pease, Wells, and other white men had always insisted 
on holding the offices, while the colored men did the voting, but that "this 
thing had played out." 

s Cordoza, at the time of his nomination, was under indictment for larceny 
at Brooklyn, New York. A copy of the indictment is printed in the Jackson 
Clarion of Aug. 13, 1874. It is signed by Benjamin F. Tracy, United States 
District Attorney for the eastern district of New York. Charles Nordholf , a 
staff correspondent of the AVw York Herald, relates that while in New 
Orleans, some one, knowing that he was interested in schools, gave him a let- 
ter of introduction to Superintendent Cordoza. On asking for him in Jack- 
son, he was told that the superintendent had gone to Vicksburg to look after 
an indictment tliat had been found against him. When he himself went 
there, he found that Cordoza was not merely indicted, but, as an indignant 
Republican put it, he was "shingled " all over with indictments for embezzle- 
ment and fraud, and likely to go to the penitentiary if justice was done. 



294 BECOJ^STRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

was a competent officer, and succeeded in escaping the im- 
peachments of the democracy in 1876. 

II. THE INAUGURATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 

The inauguration of Governor Ames took place January 
22, 1874. It is the testimony of his political opponents that 
he made a favorable impression upon those who witnessed 
the inaugural ceremonies. ^ Many such expressed their 
intention of supporting him in his determination, publicly 
declared, to give the people of Mississippi an honest and 
economical administration. ^ '4'hey knew little of the new 
governor. Few, in fact, had ever seen him except as a 
uniformed commander setting aside the verdicts of their 
juries and the decrees of their courts. To the great mass 
of the people he was known only as the cruel *' Yankee " 
who had put the "nigger" in the jur}^ box, removed their 
governor, and ejected his family from the mansion. He 
now stood before them in civilian dress as their civil gov- 
ernor, and in his inaugural address pledged them that, as far 
as lay in his power, they should have an administration 
marked by economy and reform.^ 

The legislature elected in 1873 was overwhelmingly 
Republican, and was otherwise the most interesting of the 
post-bellum legislative bodies in Mississippi. Politically, the 
Senate was composed of twelve Democrats and twenty-five 
Republicans ; the House had thirty-six Democrats, seventy- 
seven Republicans, and several Independents. The Senate 
contained nine colored members and nine white " carpet 
baggers." In the House, there were fiftj^-five colored, and 
sixty white members, the " carpet-bag " element having fif- 
teen representatives. Adams County w^as represented in 
the Senate by a dull but honest colored minister ; in the 
House, by three colored members of little education, and by 
a white ex-Union soldier from Ohio. Hinds, the county in 
wliich the state capital is located, had an illiterate negro 
senator, and three negro representatives. Noxubee, one of 
the largest counties of east jSIississippi, had an extremely 

1 Letter of George E. Harris to President U. S. Grant, Report Sen. Sub. 
Committee on Mississippi elections, 1870, p. 5i)l. 

- Governor Ames said shortly afterward that he intended to make Missis- 
sippi the exception among the reconstructed states, and wanted it t(j escape 
the condition of South Carolina and Louisiana. Correspondence for 1874, 
p, 66. 

8 Inaugural Address, Jan. 22, 1874. 



INAUGURATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 295 

black and ignorant senator. He was, however, honest, and 
had been a member of the legislature continuously since 
1868, and was not even retired by the "revolution of 1875." 
In the House, Noxubee was represented by one negro and 
two white men, both of whom were Republicans. Warren, 
the county of which Vicksburg is the chief city, had as sen- 
ators a negro and a Northern white man ; in the House, 
Warren had three representatives, all negroes. Lowndes? 
had a negro senator of little education, but of some natural' 
ability, a good speaker, and a man of considerable wealth.) 
He had been a slave up to the close of the Civil War. 
Lowndes was represented in the House by two negroes and 
one white Republican. Marshall and Chickasaw had negro 
senators. Wilkinson, Bolivar, and Washington, large river 
counties, were each represented in the Senate by negroes of 
fair intelligence. Yazoo County had three negro representa- 
tives ; Holmes, three ; Marshall, three ; Panola, Jefferson, 
Lowndes, Madison, Rankin, Washington, and Issaquena, two 
each ; while many other counties had one each. There were 
a number of whites of poor ability, some of whom were Demo- 
crats, some Republicans. 

The legislature met in January, and the House organized 
by the election of a negro member named Shadd, from Adams 
County, to the speakership. In the first reconstruction legis- 
lature, the colored members consented to have a white man 
preside over their deliberations, but afterward, as long as 
they were in power, with a temporary exception in 1873, a 
black skin was an indispensable qualification for the office 
of speaker, another illustration of their greed for political 
power. 1 It is not to be supposed, however, that all the col- 
ored speakers were men of ignorance and incompetency. 
Hon. John R. Lynch, the speaker in 1872, was a notable 
exception. He presided over the deliberations of the House 

1 Relative to the course of the colored members in this legislature, a promi- 
nent Democrat writes me as follows : " In my opinion, if they had all been 
native Southern negroes, there would have been little cause of complaint. 
They often wanted to vote with Democrats on non-political questions, but 
could not resist the party lash. The majority of whites of both parties ex- 
hibit the same weakness." With a few exceptions, the colored members 
took little part in tlie work of legislation, although some of the principal 
chairmanships were held by them. They were inoHned to interrupt the pro- 
ceedings with motions and points of order, were particularly sensitive on the 
subject of civil rights, and often objected to Democratic measures on the gen- 
eral assumption that their purpose was the abridgment of the privileges of the 
negro race. Frequent objections were made to the conduct of newspaper 
reporters in designating the negro members as "colored," and refusing to 
prefix " Mr." to their names. 




296 RECONSTEUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

with dignity and impartiality, a fact to which his politi- 
cal opponents bore testimony upon his retirement.^ He 
was a slave at the close of the war, became a justice of the 
peace by appointment from General Ames in 1869, and in 
1873, was elected to Congress, where he served two terms. 
He presided over the Republican national convention in 
1884, and is at present a paymaster in the United States 
army. He is one of the most intelligent men of his race, 
is conservative in his views, and distinctly Caucasian in his 
habits. 

Governor Ames followed up the promise made in his 
inaugural address with a special message on the subject of 
the state's finances, in which he recommended several reforms. 
Taxes were higher at this time than ever before in the his- 
tory of the state, having increased from one mill on the dol- 
lar in 1869 to fourteen in 1874.2 The credit of the state 
was impaired, and the annual expenses of the government 
exceeded by one-fifth the receipts, while state paper was 
hawked about the streets and sold at from 20 to 40 per cent 
discount. The governor recommended a return to a cash 
basis, which he said would save the state 25 per cent in the 
cost of administering the government, or at least 8300,000 
annually. He recommended also that appropriations be cut 
down 25 per cent. He declared with truth that there were 
opportunities for curtailment in every branch of the govern- 
ment ; that $50,000 could easily be saved in the cost of 
administering the judiciary, without impairing its efficiency, 
by a modification of the law relative to the compensation 
of jurors ; and that the expense of maintaining the uni- 
versity and supervising the public schools might be reduced 
in like manner. He said : "The average cost of the legis- 
lature per day is 81800. The annual sessions are long 
drawn out, the average cost of a sixty days' session being 
over 8100,000, aside from public printing." He recommended 
a change in the per diem mode of compensation for the 
legislature, provision for equalization of assessments through- 

1 At the close of the session, the House presented Speaker Lynch with a 
gold wateli and chain. Upon motion of a prominent white Democrat, a reso- 
lution was adopted thanking him for his ''dij^nity, impartiality, and cour- 
tesy " as a presiding ollicer. The Clarion bore testimony to his imi)artiality 
as a speaker in the following words : " His bearing in otBce had been so 
proper, and his rulings in such marked contrast to the partisan conduct of the 
ignoble wliites of his party who have aspired to be leaders of the blncks. tlint 
the conservatives cheerfuliv joined in the testimonial." Issue of April 24, 
1873. 
2 Report of W. 11. Gibbs, state auditor, 1875. 



INAUGUIIATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTHATION 297 

out the state, and begged for the earnest support and coop- 
eration of the legislature in his effort to bring about financial 
relief.^ 

These recommendations were undoubtedly wise and prac- 
ticable. They do credit to the governor who made them. 
They do not sound like the utterances of a " carpet bagger " 
bent on peculation and plunder. They rather indicate that 
Ames had some knowledge of the needs of the state and 
some interest in its welfare.^ Soon after the meeting of the 
legislature, an able and respectful address drafted b}^ a state 
convention of taxpayers was laid before the two Houses. 
The address called attention to the alleged abuses of the 
state government, its wastefulness and extravagance, com- 
pared the expenses of administering the government before 
and after the war, and contained a number of recommenda- 
tions looking toward economy.^ But the legislature to 
which these recommendations were addressed did not seem 
to favor reform. 

Early in the summer, Governor Ames, according to his 
custom, went North to spend his vacation, leaving the negro 
lieutenant governor in charge of the government. The gov- 
ernor remained away from the state one and a half or two 
months, during which time Davis proved conclusively that 
the office of lieutenant governor is something more than an 
empty honor if only the incumbent is given a chance.^ A 

1 Special message to the legislature, p. 4. 

2 A prominent Democrat, wlio was a member of the legislature in 1874 and 
subsequently Speaker of the House, writes me that Governor Ames was un- 
doubtedly more favorable to economy and reform than was the majority of 
this legislature. 

8 This address is printed in full in the Boutwell Report, p. 456 et seq. ; in 
the Report of the Senate Sub-Committee on Mississippi Elections, p. 848-854 ; 
and in James Lynch's Kemper County Vindicated, Appendix, Hon. George 
C. McKee, a Republican member of Congress from Mississippi at the time, 
declared this to be the " ablest paper" he had seen in Mississippi for years. 
He warned the members of the legislature that there was no fear of cutting 
too deep. " The evil," said he, " is too enormous. The petition of the tax- 
payer's convention should be heeded." See Report of Senate Sub-Com- 
mittee, p. 601. The Democratic tax-payers were not the only persons to 
protest against the heavy burdens imposed by the state government. On the 
16th of October, the day before the meeting of the legislature, the Jackson 
Republican Club unanimously adopted a series of resolutions deprecating 
" the heavy burdens under which the people of Mississippi are now groan- 
ing," and declared that they could be safely reduced without impairing the 
efficiency of the government. They respectfully petitioned the legislature to 
abolish annual sessions, reduce by one-half the number of circuit judges 
and chancellors, reduce the expenses of printing at least $75,000 annually, 
and appropriate nothing for the support of the militia. 

* Davis had somewhat exaggerated ideas of the importance of the lieuten- 
ant governor in the administration of the government. He expected the 



298 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

breach had already occurred between the governor and the 
lieutenant governor, the latter, according to the opinion of 
the governor, having gone over to the "sore heads." 

Lieutenant Governor Davis, upon assuming control, at 
once discharged the employees about the capitol and ap- 
pointed his friends to their places. He then dismissed the 
governor's private secretary, and next proceeded to appoint 
chancellors for several judicial districts, although Governor 
Ames, foreseeing the occurrences of these vacancies during 
his absence, had already made provision for filling them 
before leaving the state. Davis held that the governor 
could not legally make appointments before the vacancies 
had actually occurred, but in this view was not sustained by 
the attorney general. ^ Governor Ames, upon returning to 
the state, at once revoked the appointments made by Davis, 
and recommissioned those whom he had formerly appointed. 
This was one of the grounds of his impeachment. Another 
way in which the lieutenant governor made good use of his 
opportunities was by dispensing pardons to his colored 
friends who languished in the county jails or penitentiary, 
or who were under indictment and likely to be sent there. 
From June 15 to July 25, Davis issued twenty-three par- 
dons, commutations, and remissions of forfeiture. Governor 
Ames was again absent for a month in the autumn, during 
which time the lieutenant governor granted thirty-four 
pardons, six remissions of forfeiture, and six commutations 
of sentence.^ 

The following is the record of both the governor and the 

governor to call him to the executive chair when the latter was away from 
the capital, no matter how brief the absence. On one occasion, Governor 
Ames had gone to the Gulf coast, his route taking liim across the corner of 
Louisiana. The lieutenant governor was highly offended because he had not 
been called to Jackson to assume the government, and telegraphed a frii'ud 
in New Orleans inquiring if Governor Ames was in that city. Upon 
receiving an affirmative answer, Davis proceeded to the office and ordered 
the governor's private secretary to open the door and make out com- 
missions for some friends wliom lie desired to have appointed to office. 
The door was shut in his face, and the alleged insult became the sub- 
ject of some interesting correspondence between the governor and the 
lioutenant governor. See correspondence of Governor Ames, 1874, p. 7. 
Governor Ames's continued absence from the state was the subject of 
great complaint. 

1 Opinion in Jackson Pilot, July 11, 1874. 

2 Jan. 1, 1875, Governor Ames writes Davis : " Sir : Pardons having been 
issued by you while acting governor of Mississippi in the enclosed list of sixty 
cases, and not being in possession of your reasons therefor, I am unable to 
report the same to the legislature as required by law. Will you please state 
in writing your reasons for pardon in each case ? " Correspondence of 
Ames, 1875. 



INAUGURATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 299 

lieutenant governor for the first year of the administration, 
namely, from January 22, 1874, to January 4, 1875 : — 



Pardoned out of the penitentiary 
Pardoned out of the county jails 
Pardoned before trial .... 

Commutations 

Remissions 

Total 



mes, 18 


Davis, 32 


9 


4 





" 17 


5 


6 


4 


" 6 


" 36 


65 



It will be seen from the foregoing exhibit that a number of 
pardons issued by Davis were granted to criminals before 
trial — '■ a practice which Governor Ames declares to have 
been abhorrent to his sense of justice, and one to which he 
never resorted. It was proved to the satisfaction of the legis- 
lature in 1876 that Davis accepted a bribe of $800 for par- 
doning a criminal sent up from Lowndes County for murder. 
For this he was removed from office. It should also in this 
connection be said that Governor Ames himself did not 
entirely escape from the charge of abusing the pardoning 
power. 1 

One of the chief subjects of criticism against the adminis- 
tration of Ames was his course in regard to the judiciary. 
At the time of his election, twenty circuit judges and as many 
chancellors constituted the judiciary of Mississippi. They 
were appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of 
the Senate, the former for six 3'^ears, and the latter for four.^ 
It thus happened that the terms of all the chancellors 
appointed by Governor Alcorn in 1870 expired during the 
spring and summer of 1874. Instead of nominating their 
successors for the confirmation of the Senate, in anticipation 
of the vacancies, while that body was in session. Governor 
Ames waited until after its adjournment, and then nominated 
and commissioned the new chancellors with the intention, it 
was charged, of controlling them by removing those whose 
decisions and actions were not in accord with his own views. 



1 Almost his last official act as governor of the state was the issue of a par- 
don to Alex. Smith on March 11, 1876. Smith was sent to the penitentiary for 
life for the crime of rape. The grant of a pardon in this case constituted the 
twenty-second article of impeachment. It charged that pardon was issued 
upon representation made by two of the govei'nor's personal friends who had 
no knowledge of the facts, and to whom it was alleged Smith paid $3000 for 
using their influence with the executive. Smith was prosecuted by a Repub- 
lican district attorney and sentenced by a Republican judge. Impeachment 
Testimony, pp. 49, 50. 2 Constitution, 1868, Art. VI. 



300 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

In short, he purposed to hold their appointments over them 
in terrorem, and make the judiciary " subservient to his cor- 
rupt and partisan purposes, and thereby destroy its inde- 
pendence."^ In pursuing this course, Governor Ames seems 
to have brought down upon himself not only the criticism 
of the Democrats, but of the more respectable Republicans 
as well.^ His action was, to say the least, a violation of the 
spirit of the Constitution, which required the advice and con- 
sent of the Senate to judicial appointments. Moreover, every 
consideration of courtesy to the Senate and for the proprie- 
ties of official life required him to consult that body. To 
this should also be added the consideration of expediency, 
for his acquaintance with the bar of the state was very 
limited and recent. 

During the absence of the governor from the state in July, 
the terms of four of the chancellors expired, and, as already 
noted, Davis appointed their successors, completely ignoring 
the appointments made by the governor before his departure. 
The governor's action in revoking Davis's appointments was 
characterized by the Democratic legislature of 1876 as 
" wilful, corrupt, and unlawful," and intended to " cor- 
rupt, degrade, and control the judiciary of the state. "^ The 
circumstances do not seem to justify the view taken by the 
legislature that the governor was guilty of a " high official 
misdemeanor " in revoking Davis's appointments. It will 
hardly be contended that the spirit of the Constitution 
intended to confer the appointment of the most important 
state officers upon the lieutenant governor when there was 
no question as to the capacity of the governor in the prem- 
ises. Making provision a few days in advance for filling 
vacancies, which he knew would occur during his temporary 
absence from the state, should hardly be construed as a viola- 
tion of the Constitution, although it may be admitted, as 
charged, that his action Avas for " the purpose of advancing 
the interests of his party. "^ 

Another instance in which the governor was charged with 

^ Impeachment Testimony, p. 82. 

2 Hon. ,]. 8. Morris, e.\-attorney general, and one of the leaders of the 
Repul)li(;an party, said : "lie [Ames] refused, contrary to the advice of all 
the intelligent Republicans of the state, to send in his nominations, although 
the Senate was in session and waiting for more than three weeks, and finally 
adjourned and went away. He then a])pointod the chancellors ad interim, 
and claimed and exercised the right to remove them at pleasure, according to 
their absolute and abject obedience to his sovereign will." Letter to New 
York Herald, Jan. 7, 1876. 

8 Impeachment Testimony, pp. 38, 39. * Ihid. p. 104. 



INAUGURATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 301 

" degrading " the judiciary was in allowing " with his per- 
mission, assent, connivance, and assistance," a certain chan- 
cellor and a certain district attorney to exchange offices.^ 
The facts in regard to the affair are these : Tlie chancel- 
lorship was held by a young lawyer of some prominence, 
while the district attorney was an elderly gentleman to whom 
the prosecution of criminals for perquisites was distasteful. 
The chancellor preferred the active and stirring duties of the 
public prosecutor, while the district attorney longed for 
the more quiet and sedate duties of the bench. Each pre- 
ferred the office of the other, and there can be little doubt 
that each was better suited for the place of the other. 
They agreed to resign and ask the governor to appoint them 
to the offices which they desired. They did resign, and he 
complied with their wishes. No complaint of incompetency 
or unfitness was alleged against either. As the governor 
had the undoubted right to accept their resignations and 
reappoint them to other offices, it hardly seems fair to charac- 
terize his action as a " high crime " or a " misdemeanor," nor 
does the charge of " tampering " with the judiciary in this 
instance seem to be well founded, in view of the excellence 
of the change.^ 

The governor's course in another case was the subject of 
much criticism, and substantiates the charge that his purpose 
in withholding the nomination of the chancellors from the 
Senate was to control their decisions. In January, 1874, 
the sheriff elect of Yazoo county, one A. T. Morgan, was 
brought before a chancellor whose appointment had never 
been confirmed by the Senate, upon the charge of killing his 
predecessor in the sheriff's office. After hearing the case, 
the chancellor remanded Morgan to prison without bail. 
He was subsequently removed to Jackson for safe keeping. 
Morgan was a strong personal friend of Governor Ames, 
who was displeased at the action of the chancellor in refus- 
ing him bail, and in not allowing the Republican coroner suffi- 
cient time to qualify as Morgan's successor. He accordingly 
revoked the appointment of the chancellor and appointed 
another in his stead, who thereupon released Morgan on 



1 Impeachmeut Testimony, p. 31. 

2 It was the opinion of the circuit judge of the district, a man who had the 
confidence and respect of botli political parties, that the exchange was an ex- 
cellent one, and conducive to the public good. It should also be said that the 
district attorney was overwhelmingly reelected by popular vote, and the 
chancellor unanimously confirmed by the Senate, Democrats and Republicans 
all voting for him. Report Minority Impeachment Committee, 



302 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

bail,^ the legislature in the meantime having passed a special 
act allowing a second writ.^ It was alleged that the release 
of Morgan was the consideration for the appointment, and 
was one of the specifications in the general impeachment 
charge against the governor of attempting to control the 
judiciary for partisan purposes. In regard to Morgan's legal 
right to bail, there was a difference of opinion among the 
best lawyers of the state. 

Another specification in the general charge against the 
governor of seeking to control and degrade the judiciary 
was the alleged attempt to influence a decision of Chancellor 
Peyton. Peyton was another one of the chancellors ap- 
pointed during the recess of the Senate. Before the meet- 
ing of the legislature, and consequently before his appoint- 
ment had been confirmed, a case was brought before him to 
enjoin the state treasurer from paying to the Vicksburg and 
Nashville Railroad Company certain moneys, amounting to 
nearly $350,000, belonging to the university. These funds 
had been loaned the railroad by act of the legislature in 
1873. The governor, being dissatisfied with the sufficiency 
of the securities provided by the act and offered by the rail- 
road company, and prompted only by a desire to protect the 
state against loss, brought suit against tlie railroad by way 
of injunction. So far, the zeal of the governor for the wel- 
fare of the state was in the highest degree commendable. 
Chancellor Peyton, after hearing the argument, decided that 
the injunction should be dissolved. The governor was 
again displeased with the decision of one of his chancellors, 
and refused to send Peyton's name to the Senate when it met, 
although he had been serving nearly a year. While the case 
was pending, it was suggested at a conference of the lead- 
ing Republicans held in the executive mansion, that the 
governor have a talk with the father of the chancellor, tlie 
venerable chief justice of the state, and induce him to advise 
his son as to the law, and if possible have the injunction 
granted. Accordingly, the chief justice was sent for, where- 
upon tlie governor expressed disappointment at tlie course 
his son had seen fit to pursue, alleging, among other things, 
that he would not suffer his rulings to go upon the records, 
in consequence of which, the case could not be appealed to 
the Supreme Court. The chief justice was indignant at what 
he believed to be an attempt on the part of the governor to 
influence the action of his son in rendering a decision, and 

1 Impeachment Testimony, p. 79. "^ Acts of 1874, p. 22. 



INAUGURATION OP THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 303 

informed him in language rather severe that his son would 
not permit himself to be controlled by any person. Chief 
Justice Peyton was himself a Republican, was a jurist of high 
standing in the state, and higlily approved the governor's 
zeal in wishing to protect the interests of the state. ^ Gov- 
ernor Ames ahvays asserted that his motives in this affair 
were misconstrued. He declares that he had no intention 
of influencing the decision, but simply wished to show 
the cliief justice how the case had been conducted by his 
son. 2 

The most serious and well-founded complaint against the 
course of Governor Ames in regard to the judiciary was that 
he appointed incompetent men to judicial positions.^ Sev- 
eral of the chancellors appointed by him were not even 
members of the bar, were ignorant of both law and practice, 
had never conducted a case in court, and did not know a 
plea in bar from a demurrer.* They secured promises of 
appointment, stood the examination, obtained licenses to 
practice, and were nominated to the Senate.^ Others 
already had licenses before appointment, but they had no 
standing at the bar. One of these appointees was notori- 
ously unfitted for a judicial position, and besides was under 
charge of forgery at the time of his appointment. He was 
a licensed attorney, but had no practice, and depended upon 
several little offices, such as superintendent of education. 
United States commissioner, etc., for his support. Against 
the protests of men of high character, he was appointed 
during the recess of the Senate, and served about eight 
months. When the legislature met, the governor could not 
get his nomination through the Senate, although there were 
only nine Democrats in that body.^ Another judicial 
appointee was a practising physician at the time of his 

^ Impeachment Testimony, p. 54. 

2 Minority Report Impeachment Committee. In a letter to General But- 
ler under date of Feb. 10, 1875, Governor Ame.s said : " It is a matter of little 
political significance, but my duty demands that I should save the third of a 
million to the state if I can." Correspondence, p. 128. 

8 Article XV, impeachment charges. 

* Letter of George E. Harris, Attorney General, to U. S. Grant, Boutwell 
Report, p. 591. 

^ The law required applicants for admission to the bar to be examined by 
the circuit judge, or a committee appointed by him. The examination was a 
mere form. The candidate was usually taken aside and asked a few ques- 
tions, after which the committee reported favorably to the judge, testifying to 
the moral character and competency of the candidate, who was thereupon 
granted a license. 

fi On this point see sworn statements of J. W. C. Watson, Boutwell Re- 
port, p. 982 ; and J. M. Stone, Impeachment Testimony, p. 152. 



304 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

appointment, and supported himself by several paltry offices. 
He was almost wholly unlearned in the law. There were 
others equally unfitted. The articles of impeachment charge 
the governor with " wilfully and corruptly " nominating 
these men for "partisan purposes." I am unable to find 
any evidence of a " corrupt " motive. That they were 
appointed for partisan purposes is more nearly the truth. 
It has long been a practice in the United States to make 
appointments to oflice for partisan purposes. The truth is, 
he could hardly have done better without sacrificing his 
party connections, for, according to his own testimony, there 
were few Republican lawyers in the state, the bar being 
almost wholly Democratic.^ Governor Ames's field of choice 
was further restricted by his practical refusal to appoint 
members of the bar who affiliated with the Alcorn wing of 
the party. Consequently, a considerable proportion of his 
appointees were Northern men. It was also necessary in 
some cases to appoint chancellors to districts in which they 
were not resident. ^ The importance and responsibility of 
the office of chancellor under the constitution of 18G8 were 
such as to require men of judicial training and integrity. 
Their courts had full common law chancery jurisdiction. 
Their writs and processes extended throughout the state, 
and to all causes, without limitation of the amounts involved. 
They had jurisdiction of all orphans' affairs, the estates of 
minors, dower of widows, etc., the business of which was 
enormous after the war. Moreover, the business of the court 
was largely ex parte, so that an incompetent or corrupt chan- 
cellor could do a vast amount of injury. They had also cer- 
tain political functions, such as the appointment of election 
registrars and the public printers for their respective dis- 
tricts. It was for these latter reasons deemed highly im- 
I)ortant that the chancellors should be of the proper political 
faith. 

Notwithstanding the allegations of incompetency made 
against the judicial appointees of Governor Ames, it must 
be said in his favor that the proportion of judgments re- 
versed by the Supreme Court upon appeal from decisions 
of his chancellors was smaller than under his predeces- 

^ Letter to the Attorney General of the United States. Correspondence of 
1874, p. 46. 

2 Thus, June 1, 1874, he wrote an applicant that he could not appoint him 
chancellor of the district in which he resicL-d (it was in tlie northern part of 
the state), but that he might have a chancellorship in one of the southern 
districts. Correspondence, p. 05. 



INAUGURATION OF THE AMES ADMINISTRATION 305 

sor, Governor Alcorn. Of the 33 cases appealed from 
decisions of his appointees in 1874-1875, only 8, or 25 per 
cent, were reversed ; while in the two years preceding, of 
328 cases appealed, 107, or 33 per cent, were reversed. In 
1859-1860, of 266 cases appealed, 107, or 36 per cent, were 
reversed.! 

The criticism of the governor's course in regard to the 
judiciary does not apply to the circuit courts or to the 
Supreme Court. He appointed no circuit judges, these hav- 
ing been appointed by Alcorn in 1870, and their terms, being 
six years, did not expire until 1876.^ 

III. LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE 

^^nder the reconstruction constitution the sheriff, both 
on account of the large emoluments which he received and 
the political powers which he wielded, was the most impor- 
tant county official. He controlled to a large extent the 
selection of the trial juries, appointed one of the three elec- 
tion registrars, and collected the state and county taxes. 
Much of his compensation consisted of fees and perquisites 
for services, which were numerous during the reconstruction 
period. The fees of the office amounted to as much as $20,000 
per year in some of the counties, in others $15,000, while 
perhaps the average was not far below $5000. With the oppor- 
tunities which the sheriff had for speculating in warrants, he 
was sometimes able to amass a snug fortune, and at least one 
sheriff was alleged to have secured a seat in the United States 
Senate by cashing at par the depreciated warrants of the 
members of the legislature.^ He could, of course, use the 
warrants in settling his accounts with the auditor.* Where 

1 Certificate of clerk of Supreme Court, Minority Report of Impeachment 
Committee. It is the testimony of some of the governor's political oppo- 
nents, that the majority of the judges appointed by him were personally good 
men of fair ability and competency. A few were jurists of high standing. 

2 The following are the names of the chancellors appointed by Governor 
Ames : W. G. Henderson, G. S. McMillan, O. H. Whitfield, E. Hill, E. Staf- 
ford, E. G. Peyton, R. Boyd, J. J. Dennis, C. A. Sullivan, W. D. Frazee, 
C. C. CuUens, L. C. Abbott, J. N. Campbell, P. P. Bailey, Thomas Walton. 
\yilliam Breck, H. R. Ware, R. B. Stone, E. H. Osgood, Hiram Cassidy, Jr. 
Six of these were reappointments. They were all Republicans, but less than 
one-half were Northern men. 

^ Tlie author is personally acquainted with a gentleman now living in a 
Northern city who was sheriff of a Mississippi county in 1870. His fees, he 
says, amounted to $20,000 per year. By dealing in warrants he accumulated 
a fortune, after which he returned to the North to enjoy his wealth. 

* The Clarion of April 12, 1876, contains the names of thirty-six colored 
members whose warrants were cashed by the sheriff in question. 



306 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

the colored voters were in the majority in a county, the 
office was often held by a negro, though more generally by 
a Northern white. Few of the colored incumbents were 
competent to perform the duties of the office ; in fact, 
they seldom made any attempt to perform them. The office 
was usually farmed out to white deputies, with whom the 
emoluments were shared. De Soto County for four years 
had a negro sheriff who, it was alleged, could neither read 
nor write, and who did not pretend to have any conception 
of the duties of his office. Issaquena in 1876 had a negro 
sheriff who was serving his fourth term. The fees of the 
office, he says, amounted to $3000 per year.^ Jefferson 
County had a negro sheriff for three terms. Hinds, Bolivar, 
Coahoma, Claiborne, Warren, and Washington, had negro 
sheriffs at one time or another between 1870 and 1876. The 
office in Washington County was worth $15,000 per year.^ It 
could not have been worth much less in the others mentioned. 
Many were the difficulties which Republican sheriffs-elect 
experienced in their efforts to furnish the bond required by 
law. In some cases they were unable to qualify, but as the 
boards of supervisors were generally of the same political 
party, their bonds were usually approved. No complaint 
was more general among the whites tlian that bonds made by 
non-residents and colored men with little or no real estate, 
were approved by these boards. Now and then a Republican 
sheriff was found missing or short in his accounts, leaving 
behind a worthless bond.^ 

The assessor, like the sheriff, was a high-salaried official, 
but did not wield as great political powers. Like the sheriff, 
also, his compensation was in the nature of fees, being a cer- 
tain percentage of the value of the property assessed. , The 
increase in the cost of assessing tlie taxes was a stand- 
ing complaint of the whites. In 1855, the ex})enditures 
under this head were $0980; in 1868, they were 127,638; in 
1871, they were $118,158. Governor Alcorn, in a special 

1 See his testimony, Boutwell Report, pp. 589, 596. 

2 Testimony of S. W. Ferguson, ibid. p. 1470 ; also testimony of H. P. 
Putnam, ihid. p. 1446. 

2 I have been unable to verify the charp;e that many of the Republican 
sheriffs and treasurers turned out to be defaulters. A " carpet-bag" .sheriff 
of Holmes County was alleged to be a defaulter to the amount of ^51,000 ; a 
" carpet-bag" treasurer of Panola County was said to be sliort in his accounts ; 
a "carpet-l)ag" sherilf of Pil<e County disappeared witli a large sum. No 
trace of him has ever been discovered. Wlif^her he w.is robbed and mur- 
dered, or whether he fled the state, is a question about whicli there is a differ- 
ence of oj'.inion. The colored sheriff of De Soto was alleged to be a defaulter 
for $13,000. A radical sheriff of Leake County w^as under similar charges. 



LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE 307 

message to the legislature in 1871, charged that the assessor 
in Warren County was receiving a salary of $8000 per 
3^ear. The state auditor in 1875 estimated that the 
assessor in Warren would receive $4900 ; the assessor in 
Hinds, $4500; in Adams, $4000; in Washington, $4360.i 
The Taxpayers' Convention, in January, 1875, petitioned 
the legislature to fix the compensation of the assessor, so 
that it would not exceed $1500 per year, but the prayer 
was not granted. 

The other county offices, with the exception of those of the 
circuit and chancery clerks, cannot be said to have yielded 
unreasonable fees. They were not usually sought after by 
the colored politicians to the same extent as the office of 
sheriff, although occasionally we find a county with a negro 
treasurer, as in the case of Yazoo in 1875, or with a negro 
superintendent of education, as in the cases of Bolivar, Wilkin- 
son, Washington, Issaquena, and a few other river counties 
where white Republicans were scarce. At one time, the super- 
intendent of Bolivar was B. K. Bruce, who resigned to become 
sheriff of the county, and who eventually became United 
States Senator and register of the treasury. Now and then a 
negro politician had the boldness to accept the office of county 
clerk, the duties of which he was never able to perform. 
De Soto County had in 1874 a negro circuit clerk who, it was 
alleged, could neither read nor write. Warren County had 
a colored chancery clerk in 1870, and a colored circuit clerk. 
Both were men of intelligence, but proved to be dishonest 
officials. Yazoo County in 1874 had colored circuit and 
chancery clerks. Claiborne County had a colored circuit 
clerk in 1875. 

Perhaps the most important local officials under the recon- 
struction constitution were the boards of supervisors and the 
justices of the peace. Their importance was due chiefly to 
.^the work of rebuilding or repairing bridges, public buildings, 
etc., destroyed by the war, and to the vast amount of petty 
offences over which the justices exercised jurisdiction. In 
the Southern type of local government, the county board is a 
legislative and administrative body of great responsibility. It 
assesses and disburses the taxes, has supervision of roads and 
highways, selects juries, awards county contracts, examines 
and determines upon the sufficiency of official bonds, nego- 
tiates loans, and in the river counties appoints the levee com- 
missioners. It was alleged, with more or less truth, that in 

1 House Journal, 1875, p. 44. 



308 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

many counties these officials were incompetent. In some 
instances the board was composed entirely of illiterate negroes. 
Although their duties necessitated calculation and compu- 
tation, there were instances in which no member could do 
the smallest operation of arithmetic, and their highest mark 
of erudition was the ability of the president to sign his name 
to a record, the contents of which he could not read. In 
Issaquena County, in 1874, every member of the board 
was alleged to be an illiterate negro. Several were charged 
with official dishonesty, and two were forced to resign.^ 
The members of the legislature, the sheriff, clerks, justices 
of the peace, and constables, were all colored. In fact, there 
were only two white officers in the county. In Madison 
County, every member of the board was colored, and the 
maximum of learning among them was the ability of one to 
sign his name mechanically. There was not a justice of the 
peace in the county who could write his name.^ In the per- 
formance of their duties, they imposed but few fines, and 
shortly before the meeting of the grand jury, they usually 
got some friendly white neighbor to write up their dockets 
for presentation at the proper time. They were, of course, 
almost wholly ignorant of the law, and often unable to read 
the processes which they issued against persons and property 
in the name of the law. Their signatures were attached to 
these processes in the form of a mark, and the processes were 
in turn delivered to constables equally unable to explain their 
meaning, or attest their action under them. The justices had 
jurisdiction of civil causes involving as much as $150, and of 
all petty criminal offences, such as larceny, trespass, assault and 
battery, etc. It was a standing complaint of the whites that 
it was impossible to prevent the thefts of seed cotton and live 
stock, on account of the leniency of the colored magistrates. 
By the law, theft of property below !|25 in value was classi- 
fied as petty larceny, and was included within the jurisdiction 
of the justices of the peace. For the theft of a cow, they 
imposed a fine of $5 or possibly f 10, or imprisonment in the 
county jail five or six weeks. Their ignorance of the law 
sometimes worked hardships on suitors, and caused the attor- 
neys not a little embarrassment.^ 

Marshall County, in the northern part of the state, had in 

1 Testimony of J. W. Farrish, Boutwell Report, p. 616. 

2 Testimony of Robert Powell, ibid. p. 876. 

8 Mr. Andrews, a member of the Yazoo city bar, related with indi{2:nation 
to the Boutwell committee how the ignorance of one of these officials caused him 
to lose $100 in a case in which he was interested. See his testimony, p. 1704. 



LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE 309 

1874 three colored representatives in the lower House of the 
legislature, and one in the Senate. Of the members of the 
board of supervisors, three were colored, and one was a 
white man from the North who not only believed in social 
equality between the races, but in practice daily lived up to 
his professions. The other member was a conservative. The 
colored officials " could barely read and write." ^ 

Wilkinson County, in the southwestern part of the state, 
was politically in a bad way at the time of the inauguration 
of Governor Ames. The sheriff was a white radical, and three 
members of the county board and all the justices of the peace 
except two were negroes, none of them being able to write 
a summons. The senators and representatives in the legis- 
lature were colored. The county superintendent of educa- 
tion was a negro from Oberlin, Ohio, and most of the 
school teachers were " fancy colored mulattoes from abroad." ^ 
There were as usual charges of extravagance and corruption 
in the administration of the county affairs. Some idea of 
qualifications of the local officials is afforded by the following 
personal testimony of Alexander Branch, president of the 
board of supervisors. He was examined by the Boutwell 
congressional committee at Jackson in 1876. 

Question. Were you a slave before the war ? 
Ansiver. Oh, yes, sir ; one yet. 
Q. Have you any education ? 
A. Not a bit. 

Q. Can you read and write ? 

A. No, sir ; I do not know my a b c's. I never had any op- 
portunities. I am a hard laboring man. 
Q. Have you any property ? 
A. Nothing but a mule, a horse, two cows, and a family.^ 

The adjoining county of Amite had a board composed of 
four negroes and one white man, " all ignorant and unfit for 
the place." * All were under indictment for making illegal 
appropriations. Yazoo County was, from the standpoint of 
the whites, in a melancholy condition. It is one of the large 

1 Testimony of Judge ,T. W. C. Watson, Boutwell Report, pp. 1003-1004. 

2 Testimony of Hon. J. H. Jones, ibid. p. 1639. This witness alleged that 
a Cincinnati firm supplied the county with school desks and chairs at $7.50 
each when the cost was $3.50 ; that the county paid $120 per barrel for pork 
for the use of the poor house ; that the county was charged $1500 for three 
bridges containing four, eight, and twenty planks respectively ; and that the 
county debt had increased'from §(5000 in 1805 to $70,000 in 1870. 

3 Boutwell Report, p. 1-591. 

* Testimony of H. P. Hurst, ibid. p. 104. 



310 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

wealthy counties in the Mississippi Valley, and had a popu- 
lation overwhelmingly colored. The sheriff was the well- 
known "carpet bagger," Colonel A. T. Morgan, an efficient 
officer but, for other reasons, very unpopular among the vv'hites. 
The chancer}^ clerk was a negro, formerly a member of the 
legislature. He liad been a slave up to the close of the war, 
had no conception of his duties, and, in fact, seldom went 
about the office, which was farmed out to white deputies. He 
says he could write a little.^ The circuit clerk was a negro of 
some intelligence, the assessor was a " carpet bagger " from 
Iowa, the circuit judge was from Pennsylvania, and the 
chancellor from New Hampshire. Of the three members of 
the legislature, two were negroes, one of them from Ohio. 
The other was a white " carpet bagger." The county treas- 
urer was a negro, who, apart from bad spelling and punctua- 
tion, could write a very good letter.^ Of the members of the 
board of supervisors, one was a white man from the Nortli, 
another was a native, while the other tliree were illiterate 
negroes.^ There was not a Democratic official in the county. 
It was alleged that the tax rate had increased four or five 
fold since the war, and that the county "was running deeper 
and deeper in debt." * The sheriff, however, denied these 
allegations, and declared that during his term the bridges 
burned during the war had all been repaired, that sixty 
schoolhouses had been built, and a .$76,000 courthouse erected, 
and yet the increase of taxation had been slight.^ 

The situation in Warren County, so far as the conduct of 
county officials was concerned, will be dwelt upon in con- 
nection with the account of the Vicksburg riot. Of the 
members of the board of supervisors, the president and two 
others were alleged to have bt'cn illiterate. In Hinds County, 
the representatives and senators in the legislature and the 
sheriff were all negroes. Some of them were men of intelli- 
gence. Of the members of the board of supervisors, four 
were illiterate negroes, and the fifth was a Northern man, 
and at the time was one of the state printers.^ 

1 See his testimony, Boutwell Report, p. 1682. 

2 See liis letter in the Boutwell Report, Doc. Ev. p. 100. 

8 Testimony of J. M. Dickson (colored), Boutwell Report, p. 1684. 

* Testimony of Garnett Andrews, ibid. p. 1704. 

^ Testimony of A. T. Morgan. 

8 Senator Furlonsj charges that this member received $6300 for doing the 
county printing during the first nine months of his term. 'J'his amount ex- 
ceeded the average sum paid the state printer before the war. Only two 
members of the Hinds County board paid taxes on real estate. Speech in the 
Senate, Dec. 1874, p. 10. 



LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE 311 

Claiborne County was represented in the legislature by a 
negro boy whose occupation was that of a hotel waiter and 
boot-black.^ The sheriff and circuit clerk were both colored, 
and the same was true of most of the local officials. 

Washington County was the scene of many stirring politi- 
cal events during this period. It is one of the large " black " 
counties situated on the Mississippi River, and produces more 
cotton than any other county of equal area in the United 
States. During the period of Republican rule, the politics of 
the county were controlled chiefly by two negro preachers 
William Gray and J. Allen Ross. Gray was a state senator 
from 1870 to 1876, and was a strong personal friend of 
Governor Ames, who honored him with an appointment 
as brigadier general of state militia in 1875. In the Senate 
he was chairman of the committee on corporations, and 
seems to have taken a leading part in the proceedings of 
that body. The whites allege that he was insolent in his 
behavior, and was the terror of the community in which he 
lived."'^ 

Ross was a more intelligent man, and was an eloquent 
speaker. He had held the office of chancery clerk, and had 
been elected to the office of sheriff, but was unable to give 
the requisite bond. The rivalry between him and Gray now 
and then created unusual excitement in the town of Green- 
ville. Gray's alleged threat in 1875 that he intended to be 
sheriff at all hazards ^ led Ross to publish a letter advising 
his race to vote the Democratic ticket. 

Nearly every officer in the county was colored. The 
sheriff's office, which yielded legitimately an income of 
$15,000 annually, was held by a negro. Another negro was 
superintendent of education. There was the usual complaint on 
account of the high rate of taxes. In addition to the regular 
state and county assessments, there was a levee tax of one cent 
per pound on cotton and fifteen cents per acre on land in cul- 
tivation. General Ferguson, the most prominent citizen of 
the county, told Senator Boutwell that the tax assessment on 
his land was $1.15 per acre, or about one-half its value, and 
that nearly the entire land of the county had been sold for 
taxes. ^ 

The increase of the state levy from 1 mill on the dol- 
lar to 14 was accompanied by a similar increase in the county 
levy. The law allowed the county boards of supervisors to 

1 Testimony of J. D. Vertner, Boutwell Report, p. 19L 

3 Testimony of S. W. Ferguson, ihid. p. 1470. 

8 Ibid. p. l"468. * Ihid. p. 1472. 



312 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

levy a tax exclusively for county purposes, which, together 
with the state assessment, should not exceed 25 mills on the 
dollar. In every county, with half a dozen exceptions, the 
limit was reached, and it appears to have been exceeded in 
more than thirty instances. This violation of the law does 
not seem to have been confined to those counties under 
Republican rule, nor does the average county levy appear 
to have been much higher in the Republican centres than 
in the Democratic centres. 

According to the report of the state auditor, thirty-four of 
the seventy-three counties of Mississippi had Republican 
administrations in 1874, and thirty-nine had Democratic 
administrations. From the table on the following page ^ 
it will be seen that the highest levy was that of Colfax 
(now Clay) County, the rate being 23.2 mills. This, with 
the state tax of 14 mills, made the amount nearly 4 per cent. 
Those who lived in the villages of that county had to pay, 
in addition, a municipal tax. In Warren, the county levy 
was only 14 mills, but the municipal levy of 21^ mills in 
Vicksburg made the total contributed by the unhappy 
citizens of that town equivalent to about 5 per cent. The 
showing in the Democratic counties, according to the audi- 
tor's report, does not seem to have been much better than in 
the Republican counties. If the report of the auditor is a 
truthful statement of the situation, the Democratic charge 
of Republican extravagance does not seem to have been well 
founded. 

It will not be seriously denied that a tax levy, ranging from 
2| to 5 per cent on property which had decreased largely in 
valuation, was a grievous burden upon a people who had by no 
means recovered from the impoverishment of the war, and 
who had experienced a succession of droughts, floods, and 
bad crops almost unprecedented in the history of the state. 
The result was wholesale confiscation of property. The 
sheets that were fortunate enough to secure the public print- 
ing, contained whole pages of delinquent tax lists. In some 
communities, the tax payers decided that it was better to 
allow their property to be confiscated, and take the chances 
of being able to redeem it in after years.^ Over six million 

1 This table is from a certified report of the state auditor, and is printed as 
a part of tiie documentary evidence in tlie Vicksburg Report, p. 583. I have 
no means of ascertaining its correctness. Tlie total state and county levies, 
as given in the table, are smaller than tlie corresponding levies for the year 
previous. 1 iind in the rejjort of a special connnittee, House Journal, p. 1444, 
that the rate in Adams County was 4.';^ mills, Claiborne County, 33^, etc. 

'^ See testimony of General S. W. Ferguson, Boutwell Report, p. 1470. 



LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNDER REPUBLICAN RULE 313 

acres of land — one-fifth of the area of the state — were for- 
feited during this period, on account of the inability of owners 
to pay the taxes. ^ 



DEMOflRATIO 


State 


ConNTY 


TnT A T 


Kbpitblican 


State 


County 


Tati t 


COUNTIES. 


TAX. 


TAX. 


Lxf k&Li, 


COUNTIES. 


TAX. 


TAX. 


1 UI AL. 


Alcorn 


14 


9 


23 


Adams 


14 


17.7 


31.7 


Attala 


14 


11 


25 


Amite 


14 


11 


25 


Benton 


14 


18^ 


32^ 


Bolivar 


14 


16 


30 


Calhoun 


14 


12 


26 


Carroll 


14 


11 


25 


Chickasaw 


14 


20.3 


34.3 


Claiborne 


14 


10.5 


24.5 


Choctaw 


14 


17 


31 


Coahoma 


14 


15 


29 


Clark 


14 


16 


30 


Copiah 


14 


11 


25 


Covington 


14 


11 


25 


Co fax 


14 


23.2 


37.2 


Franklin 


14 


14 


28 


De Soto 


14 


5.3 


19.3 


Greene 


14 


11 


25 


Grenada 


14 


181 


32^ 


Hancock 


14 


l^ 


m 


Hinds 


14 


11.4 


25.4 


Harrison 


14 


8.6 


22.0 


Holmes 


14 


11 


25 


Itawamba 


14 


11 


25 


Issaquena 


14 


16 


30 


Jackson 


14 


16^ 


30i 


Jefferson 


14 


\1\ 


3U 


Jasper 


14 


7i 


21| 


Kemper 


14 


18 


32 


Jones 


14 


I'i 


3H 


Lowndes 


14 


15 


29 


Lafayette 


14 


10 


24 


Le Flore 


14 


11 


25 


Lauderdale 


14 


11 


25 


Madison 


14 


11 


25 


Lawrence 


14 


10 


24 


Marshall 


14 


14 


28 


Leake 


14 


12i 


261 


Monroe 


14 


lU 


25^ 


Lee 


14 


15 


29 


Noxubee 


14 


14 


28 


Lincoln 


14 


10.7 


24.7 


Oktibbeha 


14 


13 


27 


Marion 


14 


11 


25 


Panola 


14 


10 


24 


Montgomery 


14 


10.8 


24.8 


Pike 


14 


11.8 


25.8 


Neshoba 


14 


18 


32 


Rankin 


14 


10 


24 


Newton 


14 


10 


24 


Sumner 


14 


11 


25 


Perry 


14 


10 


24 


Sunflower 


14 


11 


25 


Pontotoc 


14 


6.2 


20.2 


Tallahatchee 


14 


13i 


27i 


Prentiss 


14 


8i 


22| 


Tunica 


14 


10 


24 


Pearl 


14 


7^ 


2n 


Tate 


14 


7 


21 


Scott 


14 


10 


24 


Warren 


14 


14 


28 


Simpson 


14 


Hi 


25^ 


Washington 


14 


13i 


27i 


Smith 


14 


9 


23 


Wilkinson 


14 


19 


33 


Tippah 


14 
14 
14 


11 
11 


3H 

25 

25 


Yazoo 
Average 


14 


10 


24 


Tishomingo 
Union 






13tV 


Wayne 


14 


15i 


29i 










Winston 


14 


16 


30 










Yallobusha 


14 


8 


22 










Average 






12iV 





1 Testimony of W. H. Gibbs, state auditor, in report of Vicksburg inves- 
tigation committee, 2d Ses. 4;!d Cong. No. 265, p. 530, The following is the 
testimony of the auditor on this point : — 



314 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

It was a special grievance of the whites that the great 
majority of those who enjoyed the honor and emoluments of 
office, as well as those who participated iu the choice of the 
official class, had little share in the burdens of the tax payers. 
This was to a considerable extent true. In 1874, out of 140,000 
voters, 75,000 were on the delinquent tax list. Warren 
County had 5000 colored voters, and 4G86 delinquents. Hinds, 
with nearly 6000 voters, had 4972 delinquents. Washington 
had 4313; Yazoo, 2937, etc. The majority of the delinquents 
were, of course, colored voters. A comparatively small pro- 
portion of them owned real estate at this time. There were 
many counties in which the blacks did not pay ilOOO in 
taxes, yet they held the majority of the offices and adminis- 
tered the government. 

IV. STATE EXPENDITURES 

During the period of Republican rule in Mississippi, there 
were no great railroad swindles as in Louisiana and Arkan- 
sas, and no such wholesale plundering of the treasury as in 
South Carolina. The reconstruction constitution wisely 
prohibited the loan of the credit of the state. It was true, 
however, as charged by the whites, that tlie number of 
offices and agencies with high salaries was needlessly multi- 
plied, so that nearly the entire Republican party was in the 
pay of the state.^ In communities where there were not 
enough competent Republicans to go around, one man some- 
times held several offices, or the offices were distributed 
among the members of a family.^ As an illustration of the 

Q. Can you inform us what proportion of the lands of Mississippi have 
been forfeited to the state for taxes ? 

A. About one-fifth. 

Q. You are correct in the statement that it is one-fifth ? 

A. Yes. The entire area is about 30,000,000 acres. There are owned by 
the state and the levy boards about 6,000,000 acres. This exceeded by 2000 
square miles the states of Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. The 
lists of lauds advertised for sale iu Hinds County in 1875 covered two full 
pages of the Jackson Pilot. 

1 There were only twelve white Republicans in Noxubee County in 1875. 
The offices were distributed among them as follows : one sheriff, two deputies, 
one chancery clerk, one treasurer, one superintendent of education, one asses- 
sor, two magistrates, and one editor of a Republican paper. The others were 
members of the county board or of the legislature. Testimony J. W. Rob- 
bins, Bout well Report, p. 12(55. 

2 William Price, a Methodist preacher from the North, was state senator from 
Grenada County, was publi<; printer of his district, and was postmaster until 
the President's order prohibiting jiosLmasters from holding other offices, when 
he turned the office over to his wife. At the same time his nephew was super- 



STATE EXPENDITURES 315 

complaint that the increase in the number of public offices 
was unnecessary, the Democrats cited the organization of 
the judiciary. When the reconstructiouists took charge, ten 
circuit judges performed all the duties which now required 
twenty chancellors and thirteen circuit judges. To this 
charge, the Republicans replied that the abolition of the 
office of county probate judge in 1870, and the transfer of 
most of the duties of that office to the chancery courts, 
made an increase in the number of chancellors necessary. 
Moreover, they said, the citizenship of the state had been 
doubled by the adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment, a 
fact which added vastly to the business of the courts. The 
Democrats met these assertions by saying that many of the 
duties hitherto performed by the probate judges had been 
transferred to the chancery clerks, of whom there was one 
in each county ; that the recent constitutional amendment 
by which the jurisdiction of justices of the peace had been 
made to include all civil cases not exceeding in amount $150, 
and the general poverty of the people by which business 
transactions were very much limited in value, had taken away 
one-third of the civil business of the circuit and chancery 
courts.^ There can be little doubt that the need for such an 
elaborate judicial machinery was more apparent than real. 
It is difficult to believe that there was sufficient chancery 
business in Mississippi in 1874 to require a term of the 
chancery court in each county at least four times a year.^ 
Governor Ames in 1875 recommended a reduction in the 
number of chancellors from twenty to ten, but it was left to 
the Democrats to make the reduction in 1876. 

There was one feature of the Ames administration which 
Charles Nordhoff characterized as " robbery pure and simple." 
It was the matter of the state printing, the cost of which was 

intendent of education and deputy collector of internal revenue, his son-in-law 
was a chancery clerk, and he himself was an applicant for the office of sheriff 
and tax collector. Nordhoff, Cotton States, 1875: article, Mississippi. Also 
Trice's testimony, Boutwell Report. The Jackson Clarion of Nov. 8, 1870, 
tells of a Smith family in Madison County who were thus favored. One was 
postmaster, one was public printer, one was a member of the county board, 
one was a member of the city council, one a city weigher, one a candidate for 
the legi.slature, and one a candidate for school director. The Senate Journal 
of 1873 contains a Democratic protest that Senators Morgan, Gibbs, Abbott, 
Campbell, and Bowles were at the same time holding other offices. C. W. 
Clarke, -a member of the legislature in 1870, was also at the same time district 
attorney. There were other instances of this kind. 

1 Report Senate sub-committee, p. 398. 

2 This was the requirement of the constitution, Art. VI. Sec. 17. The 
provision was amended in 1875, so as to require the court to be held but 
twice a year in each county. 



316 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

out of all proportion to the other expenses of the govern- 
ment. For the five years immediately preceding 1861, the 
average annual cost did not exceed 88000 ; for the five years 
commencing with 1870, it was $73,000, making an average 
annual excess of $65,000. In one year the amount reached 
nearly $128,000. The Democracy cut the amount down to 
$22,000 in 1876. The journals of the legislature contained 
a vast amount of matter utterly worthless to the public ; 
they were bulky in size, and contained large appendices. 
Examples may be cited in illustration. In 1856, the journals 
of the two Houses contained 1163 pages ; in 1873, 4363 pages, 
or nearly four times as many. The statutes were no less 
voluminous. For the five years preceding reconstruction, 
the total number of pages amounted to 2113, while for the 
five years of Republican rule it amounted to 3789 pages. 

The official printer was accused of being notoriously cor- 
rupt, and was charged with having secured his appointment 
from the legislature by means of bribery,^ and what was 
incomprehensible to many, he was one of the confidential 
advisers of the governor, and for a time a member of his 
household.2 j^g turned his printing office over to another 
person and took a clerkship in the state treasurer's office at 
a salary of $1500 a year in state warrants worth seventy or 
eighty cents on the dollar. He was thus able to cash at par the 
warrants which he had received as state printer, amounting 
to $75,000 or $100,000 a year. 

The subject of another complaint was the marked increase 
in the cost of administering the different departments of the 
state government. Frequent sessions of the legislature long 

1 G. E. Harris's letter to President Grant, Boutwell Report, p. 597. 

2 Nov. 24, 1875, the Attorney General wrote concerning him : " His office 
as state printer is about to expire, and he wants to be postmaster at Vicks- 
burg. I regret to say that he is so degraded that the charge of corruption 
and bribery is no offence to him, and it comes from various sources." Ibid. 
p. fiO. Another prominent Republican declared that the state printer was 
receiving $100,000 a year, that liis "atrocities on the state treasury for tlie 
last two years would till a volume," that he specidated in state warrants, that 
he collected four or five times as much on every printing bill as the law allowed 
him, and that Governor Ames knewtliis and yet used all his influence actively 
and persistently to keep him in the place. J. S. Morris to W. W. Hunt- 
ingdon, Nciv York Herald, Jan. 7, 1876. The following table compiled from 
the auditor's reports shows the cost of public printing before and after the 
war: — 

1861 $8,028 1873 $74,702 

1866-1867 6,228 1874 78,806 

1867-1808 8,675 1875 50,803 

1870 52,876 1876 22,295 

1871 127,848 1890 13,500 



STATE EXPENDITURES 



317 



drawn out, the large per diem of members, and the employ- 
ment of a larger corps of clerks, doorkeepers, sergeants-at- 
arms, porters, pages, etc., increased the expenditures on 
account of the legislature far beyond those of ante- 
bellum days. A Democratic proposition to reduce the per 
diem of members was opposed almost unanimously by the 
Republicans. Similarly, a resolution to limit the amount of 
stationery allowed members met the same fate.^ Before the 
war, the cost of clerical service for the legislature rarely 
exceeded -foO or |40 per day. In 1875, it was costing $160 
per day. There were twenty-six attaches receiving from 83 
to $Q per day. A number of these were committee clerks, 
a luxury which the ante-bellum legislator never enjoyed. ^ 

A proposition that no committee clerks be employed except 
at the expense of the committees employing them was voted 
down.^ 

The expenditures on account of the judiciary show the 
same proportional increase. The disbursements under this 
head were .1144,565 in 1861. In 1870, they were 1320,399, in 
1871,1389,922, and in 1872, $434,973, which was the maximum 
amount reached. The Democrats reduced the expenditures to 
195,185 in 1876. 

The expenditures on account of the executive department 
show the same results. This was due to the large emolu- 
ments of the state officers and the misapplication of the 
executive contingent fund. Piior to the war, the compensa- 
tion of the governor was $3500 per year and the use of the 
executive mansion, while the salaries of other state offi- 
cers ranged from $1500 to $2000 per year. In 1865, the 

1 A committee of investigation reported, Feb. 26, 1875, that tlie fifty-five 
colored members who were entitled to $165 worth of stationery at state 
expense had drawn $258.95 worth, whereupon the Jackson Clarion demanded 
to know why the correspondence of the colored members was so large. The 
stationery account for the first two months of the session of 1875 was $2281. 

2 The following comparative exhibit compiled from the auditors' reports 
shows the nicrease in the cost of the several items under consideration : — 





Per diem of 

MEMBERS. 


Mileage. 


Cleeical 

SERVICE. 


1865-1866 
1870 
1873 
1878 


46,362 
166,632 
105,244 

79,100 


22,128 

29,664 

16,552 

9,230 


5,861 

28,201 

32,634 

5,816 



8 House Journal, 1873, p. 15. 



318 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

salary of the governor was raised to $6000 by a Democratic 
legislature. At the same time, the per diem of members of 
the legislature was increased from Si to $8, and the salaries 
of other state officers increased to $2500 or $3500 per year. 
This was one piece of Democratic legislation which the re- 
constructionists showed no disposition to repeal, although 
they were memorialized to do so. It matters little which 
party was responsible for this legislation, the complaint of 
the tax payers was well founded. New York and Louisiana 
were the only states in which the chief executive received as 
much compensation for his services as the governor of Mis- 
sissippi did. With one-fifth of the population of Ohio and 
one-tenth of the taxable property, Mississippi paid her gov- 
ernor one-third more salary. With one-tenth of the taxable 
property of Massachusetts, she paid her governor nearly twice 
as much. With one-third as much property as Connecticut, 
and one-fourth as much as New Jersey, she paid six times as 
much.i In addition to the large salary of the governor, he 
was provided with a house, for the repair and furnishing 
of which liberal appropriations were made by the legisla- 
ture.^ Both Governors Powers and Ames used the executive 
contingent fund for household purposes, so that their per- 
sonal expenses could not have been great.^ The law did not 
specify in detail the purposes for which this fund was to be 
used, although it was intended to be devoted chiefly to the 
apprehension of fugitives from justice. It had never been 
used to defray the household expenses of the governor, or 
to provide furniture for the executive mansion. The com- 
pensation of the state superintendent of education and the 

1 The following were the salaries of the governors of several states at this 
time : Illinois, 1^4000 ; Iowa, $.'3000 ; Indiana, $:>000 ; Maine, f 2500 ; Massa- 
chusetts, $8500 ; Ohio, $4000 ; Wisconsin, i^l-iSO ; Nebraska, Connecticut, 
Vermont, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Michigan, 81000 ; 
Mississippi, f (5000 ; Virginia, $5000; Alabama, $4000; Louisiana, $6000; 
Georgia, $4000. 

2 Down to 1872, $44,000 had been appropriated for this purpose since the 
war. 

8 The following are some of the " contingencies " of Powers and Ames : — 

Powers (for 4 months, 1872). Ames. 

Linen and tablecloths . . $89.10 Two mouse traps .... $.75 

Kitchen utensils (repairs) . 20.00 Two thermometers . . . 1.00 

Gas and coal 358.44 One wire line 1.75 

Si)oons and forks .... 4(5.75 One slop pail 2.50 

Repairing linen .... 20.00 Tablecloths 71.00 

Repairing silverware . . . 72.36 Freight on peaches . . . 1.50 

Wood 95.00 Freight on fruit .... .25 

One bed pan 1.75 



STATE EXPENDITURES 319 

attorney general were also unduly large. The salary of the 
former official was $3000 per year, and an allowance of 
$1500 for clerk hire. The pay of the attorney general was 
$3500 per year, and as reporter of the Supreme Court he 
received $7 per page for each volume of decisions reported. 
The Jackson Clarion charged that in 1872 he received $38,143 
on this account alone. Prior to the war the reporter received 
$3 per page, and the legislature in 1872 reduced the com- 
pensation to that amount. 

The office of lieutenant governor and commissioner of emi- 
gration were looked upon by tlie Democrats as sinecures 
created by the reconstructionists to reward their party ad- 
herents. Before the wai', the president p7'0 tern, of the Senate 
performed the duties of lieutenant governor at a salary double 
that of other members of the legislature. The lieutenant 
governor received $1500 per year. The department of immi- 
gration was established in obedience to a general feeling 
that something ought to be done to encourage capital and 
labor to flow into the state to aid in the work of restoration. 
This feeling was manifested in the organization of local immi- 
gration clubs, and the occasional despatch of a commissioner 
to the Northwest or to Europe. Had the department been 
placed under the supervision of an intelligent commissioner, 
identified with the state, familiar with its needs, and acquainted 
with its resources, it would no doubt have accomplished great 
good and met the approval of all parties. But instead of this, 
an unlettered colored member of the legislature was elected 
commissioner by the legislature in violation of the constitu- 
tion, which prohibited members from holding offices of their 
own creation.^ It was alleged that he employed five assist- 
ants in the office, three of whom were likewise members of 
the legislature. At the expiration of his term he was suc- 
ceeded by a colored minister, formerly a member of the legis- 
lature, from Natchez. Twelve thousand five hundred dollars 
were appropriated annually for the use of the department. 
The whites charged that none but colored immigrants were 
encouraged to come into the state.^ They refused to recog- 
nize the department, and at private expense sent Colonel 
Musgrove, a "carpet bagger," to the North to advertise the 



1 The Attorney General gave an opinion that the commissioner in ques- 
tion was ineligible, but iu a mandamus proceeding a circuit judge decided in 
his favor. Jackson Clarion, June 12, 1873. 

''' I find in the files of the Jackson Clarion occasional mention of the arrival 
of a number of carloads of colored iinmigrauts under the auspices of the Com- 
missioner of Immigration. Furlong, a Republican senator, said in a speech 



320 



RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



resources of the state and to encourage the immigration of 
white men of means and industry. The State Grange also 
maintained an immigraLion bureau at Meridian, and sent an 
agent to the North for the same purpose. 

The following comparative table shows the state expendi- 
tures from 1860 to 1876, omitting the four years of the war, 
the expenses of those years being abnormally large : ^ — 



Year. 


Democratic expenditures. 


Year. 


Republican expenditures. 




Amount. 




Auiouiil. 


1860 


$ 663,536.55 


1870 


$1,061,249.90 


1865 


1,410,250.13 


1871 


1,729,046.34 


1866 


1,860,809.89 


1872 


1,596,828.64 


1867 


625,817.80 


1873 


1,450,632.80 


1868 


525,678.80 


1874 


1,319,281.60 


1869 


463,219.71 


1875 


1,430,102.00 


1876 


518,709.00 







It should, however, be said that if the testimony of Gov- 
ernor Ames may be followed relative to the expenses of the 
state government during the two years in which he was at its 
head, his was the most economical administration since 1856, 
with the exception of two years, 1861 and 1869.^ 

Among the sins charged to the " carpet baggers " in Missis- 
sippi was that after five years of extravagance and plunder 
they turned over the government to the democracy with a 
debt aggregating •'f'20,000,000.3 According to the report of 
the auditor for 1875, the total state indebtedness on Jan- 



in the Senate, Dec. 18, 1874 : " Happily our first commissioner has not endan- 
gered us in any way, for it is not probable that he has induced or would 
induce, if he remained in office a century, one hundred immigrants, white or 
colored, to turn their faces in this direction." " 1 submit that our present 
immigration department is a needless, unprofitable, and most mischievous 
expenditure of a vast amount of money, and if it cannot be promptly and 
completely regenerated, ought to be abolished." 

1 These figures are taken from the reports of the state auditor ; see also 
Boutwell Report, Doc. Ev. p. 118, and Vicksburg Report, p. 524. 

2 In his last message to the legislature in 1876, he says: "The expenses 
of the state government for 1874 were $908,330 ; for 1875, .?618,2r)9. It is 
possible, as Governor Ames suggests, that the auditor included in his esti- 
mates some expenditures that should not properly have been charg'id to the 
administration, and that the apj^ai-ent discrepancy was the result of two dif- 
ferent systems of book-keeping. I have preferred to follow the ofidcial report 
of the auditor." 

8 A table giving the debts of the Southern states at the close of the recon- 
struction period, in which the debt of Mississippi is placed at $20,000,000, 
appeared first in a speech delivered by the Hon. St. George Tucker in the 
61st Congress (Record, 1st Ses. p. G560) ; later, in Hon. H. Herbert's " Why 



STATE EXPENDITURES 321 

uary 1 of that year was $3,750,385.^ It consisted of two 
forms — a debt, the whole of which was to be discharged, 
principal and interest, and a debt of which the interest 
only was to be discharged. The latter part of the debt 
was commonly known as the Chickasaw school fund, 
which, with the common school fund, constituted a trust held 
by the state for the benefit of the schools. The state paid 
interest annually on that part known as the Chickasaw fund, 
(8814,743), the beneficiaries being those counties originally 
constituting the Chickasaw cession. The principal is never 
to be paid. The common school fund amounted to $718,940.22. 
This was required to be invested in United States bonds, the 
interest going to the several counties for the benefit of their 
schools. As the Chickasaw debt was incurred before the 
war, it should not of course be charged to the " carpet bag- 
gers," and as the interest only was to be paid on the Chick- 
asaw and common school funds, they should be deducted 
from the total debt given above, in order to ascertain the real 
indebtedness. On January 1, 1876, two months before Ames 
surrendered the government, he sent a message to the legis- 
lature, in which he gave a statement of the condition of the 
finances of the state. From this statement it appears that 
the real state debt, that is, its outstanding obligations over 
and above its ability to pay at once with its currency and 
available funds, was but little more than $500,000.^ His 
statement agrees substantially with the report of the state 
treasurer for 1870,^ and does not differ greatly from the find- 
ings of a special committee of Democrats, who reported that 
the actual indebtedness of the state three months before 
Ames resigned was but little more than a million dollars.* 

the Solid South?" from which it was copied by Dr. J. L. M. Curry in the 
Southern States of the American Union, p. 231, and has more recently been 
used in President E. Benjamin Andrews' History of the United States dur- 
ing the last Quarter of a Century {Magazine edition, Scribners, May, 1895, p. 
569). Shortly after the publication of President Andrews' article, Ex-Gov- 
ernor Ames addressed a comnmiiication to him complaining that his authori- 
ties had led him into making a " ai9,500,000 error in a $20,000,000 statement," 
so far as the debt of Mississippi was concerned. President Andrews replied 
that he had been seriously misled, and after procuring the official reports, was 
pained to find that his statement as regarded Mississippi was without founda- 
tion. The table alluded to was omitted from the book form of his history. 

1 Vicksburg Report, p. 534. ^ Message, p. 3. ^ pp_ 19_21. 

* The Democratic legislature that impeached Governor Ames appointed a 
joint committee of the two Houses " to investigate and ascertain the indebt- 
edness of the state on Jan. 1, 1876." On the 12th of April, they reported 
that the total indebtedness was §2,631,704.24. If from this be deducted the 
school funds, there is left a remainder of about one million, which represents 
the real indebtedness. See Journal, House of Representatives, 1876, p. 623. 

Y 



322 KECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The state debt in 1870, when the Republicans took charge of 
the government was, according to one authority, $221,522.75^; 
according to another, it was $653,480, exclusive of the school 
fund.2 It is difficult to see how any system of book-keeping 
could stretch a debt of half a million or even a million into 
one of twenty million.^ It should also be said by way of ex- 
planation that the work of restoration which the govern- 
ment was obliged to undertake, made increased expenses 
necessary. During the period of the war, and for several 
years thereafter, public buildings and state institutions were 
permitted to fall into decay. The state house and grounds, 
the executive mansion, the penitentiary, the insane asylum, 
and the buildings for the blind, deaf, and dumb were in a 
dilapidated condition, and had to be extended and repaired. 
A new building for the blind was purchased and fitted up. 
The reconstructionists established a public school system and 
spent money to maintain and support it,* perhaps too freely, 
in view of the impoverishment of the people. When they took 
hold, warrants were worth but sixty or seventy cents on the 
dollar, a fact which made the price of building materials used 
in the work of construction correspondingly higher. So far as 
the conduct of state officials who were intrusted with the 
custody of public funds is concerned, it may be said that there 
w^ere no great embezzlements or other cases of misappropriation 
during the period of Republican rule. It was charged and 
Avas the official opinion of the Attorney General that the bond 
of the state treasurer in 1875 was insufficient and not in due 
form of law. On August 28, the Attorney General informed 
the governor that the treasurer's bond had no oath or verifi- 
cation on it, nor did it appear that any of the sureties were 
worth anything in "freehold estate," as required by law. He 
advised the governor to close the office and take possession 
of the ke3^s, safes, and vaults. The governor was charged by 
the legislature of 1876 with "unlawfully, knowingly, and 

1 Report of Democratic committee, Journal, House of Representatives, 
1876. Really, the amount was much larger than this. Tlie committee 
deducted from the real indebtedness, $520, UOO, being the amount lost to the 
state by the bad management of stock which it held in two railroads. 

2 Report lUth Census, Vol. VII. pp. 554-595. In 1880 the debt was 
#379,000. At present, 1900, it is $1,030,946.07. Report state treasurer, 
Oct. 1, 1899. 

2 Of course the indebtedness here spoken of is the state indebtedness. 
Almo.st every county and every municipality of any size had debts of their 
own. Vicksburg, as we shall see, had a larger debt than that of the whole 
state. 

■* The Republican defence is well set forth by Hon. George E. Harris, Bout- 
well Report, p. 114, Doc. Ev. 



STATE EXPENDITURES 



323 



corruptly " approving the treasurer's bond for " corrupt and 
partisan purposes," and for " unlawfully, knowingly, and cor- 
ruptly " permitting liim to remain in possession of the office.^ 
The governor affirmed that he did not at the time know there 
was any defect in the form of the bond, that he signed the 
bond without noticing the absence of the word " freehold," 
and that, moreover, the treasurer upon going out of office had 
settled in full with the state without any defalcation or loss 
whatever.2 The treasurer of the Natchez hospital seems to 
have been the only defaulting state official during the admin- 
istration of Governor Ames. He was a "carpet bagger," 
and the amount of the shortage was $7251. 81.^ The colored 
state librarian during Alcorn's administration was cliarged 
with stealing books from the library.^ The only large case 
of embezzlement among the state officers during the post- 
bellum period was that of the Democratic state treasurer in 
1866. The amount of the shortage was $61,962. 

The increase in the expenditures of the government was, 
of course, accompanied by an increase in the rate of taxation. 
The increase began in 1869, and reached a maximum in 1874. 
The following is a statement of the levies for state purposes 
alone from 1869 to 1878 : ^ — 





Tear. 


Amount on $1 of 


Year. 


Amount on $1 of 




ASSESSED VALUATION. 


ASSESSED VALUATION. 


1869 




1 mill 


1874 .... 


14 mills 


1870 




5 mills 


1875 .... 


91 " 


1871 




4 " 


1876 .... 


6^ " 


1872 




8i " 


1877 .... 


5 « 


1873 




12i " 


1878 .... 


H « 



1 Impeachment Testimony, pp. 24-25. 

2 Correspondence of Governor Ames, 1875, p. 22. 

8 Impeachment Testimony, p. 33. The Testimony in the Impeachment of 
Adelbert Ames is the title of a volume of 323 pages printed by authority by 
the legislature to meet the assertion of the President of the United States that 
Governor Ames was a refugee from the state, and to " furnish to the world a 
complete vindication of the motives and actions of the legislature in preferring 
articles of impeachment, and to place the testimony beyond the possibility of 
loss by fire or otherwise." Besides the oral testimony, it contains one hun- 
dred pages of documentary evidence. Five hundred copies were printed. The 
Impeachment Trial of Adelbert Ames is a pamphlet of sixty-two pages, 
printed also by authority of the legislature in 1876. It is a record of the pro- 
ceedings of the Senate sitting as a court of impeachment, and contains the 
answers of the governor to the charges preferred against him. 

* Jackson Clarion, Oct. 18, 1870. 

5 This statement, except the amounts from 187-') to 1878, is from a communi- 
cation of W. H. Gibbs, state auditor, to Hon. George S. Boutwejl, June 10, 



324 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

The one mill tax of 1869 represents the state levy at the 
time the democracy surrendered the government to the re- 
constructionists, while the six and one-half mills levy of 
1876 is the amount fixed by the Democrats in the first year 
of their restoration. It will be seen that in the second year 
of Governor Ames's administration there was a reduction of 
several mills in the state levy. This was due chiefly to an 
act transferring much of the cost of maintaining the judiciary 
from the state treasury to the several county treasuries. Of 
course the shifting of the expense to the counties was not a 
reduction of the amount. However, Ames is entitled to the 
credit of reducing to some extent the state levy. There is 
good reason to believe that he was more disposed to economy 
than many of those by whom he was surrounded. If one 
may judge from his professions, his highest ambition was to 
give the state an economical administration. ^ But unfortu- 
nately his actions did not always accord with his professions. 

V. UNPOPULAR LEGISLATION 

One of the chief complaints of the whites during the 
period of Republican rule was the overabundance of legisla- 
tion. Before the war, the legislature met biennially, and 
was seldom in session for a longer period than two months. 
As already pointed out, it was in session for a period of 
nearly six months in 1870, five months in 1871, nearly four 
months in 1872, and about four months in 1873. Besides, 
an extra session was held in the autumn of 1873, in conse- 
quence of the chaotic condition of the election laws. In 
1874, the legislature was again in session for a period of 
three or four months during the winter and spring, and again 
an extra session was held in the autumn, a result of the 

1876. Boutwell Report, p. 140, Doc. Ev. These figures are presumably 
correct. They are quoted as authority by both political parties, and I have 
never seen their correctness questioned. The auditor was a Republican and 
a Northern man. The rates for 1875-1878 are from the auditor's reports. 

1 For example, in his annual message to the legislature Jan. 5, 1876, he 
recommended the "most stringent economy in appropriations for the sup- 
port of the government, and that every possible step be taken in the direction 
of retrenchment and reform. " He recommended biennial se.ssions of the legis- 
lature, a reduction of the number of chancellors from twenty to ten, that 
the number of tax collectors in each county be reduced to one, that measures 
be adopted to .secure the better safe keeping of public moneys, that a special 
tax be imposed on litigants, that the appropriations for the state universities 
be reduced from $120,000 to $50,000, that the expenses of public printing be 
reduced, that all exemption laws be repealed, etc. For the Republican view 
of Governor Ames's policy of economy see testimony of United Stales District 
Attorney Walton, Boutwell Report. 



UNPOPULAR LEGISLATION 325 

Warren County troubles. In 1875, it was in session from 
January 5 to the middle of April, and again an extra 
session was held in the autumn, this time in consequence of 
the Clinton riots. Thus, in five years, there had been 
nine sessions of the legislature. The constitution of 1868 
left the question of annual or biennial sessions to the discre- 
tion of the legislature.^ The platform of the Republican 
party in 1873 contained a pledge that thereafter the legisla- 
ture should meet biennially, but instead of carrying out the 
promise, it almost reversed the process, and adopted the prac- 
tice of meeting semi-annually. Doubtless, the per diem 
mode of compensation was one of the reasons for the pro- 
tracted sessions, although it must be admitted that for sev- 
eral years after the war tlie necessities for legislation were 
much greater than before. ^ The taxpayers' convention urged 
a change to biennial sessions, and declared with truth that it 
would mean a saving of -$100,000 a year to the people of 
the state. A resolution providing for biennial sessions 
passed the House, but was defeated in the Senate through the 
influence of the governor, who, it is alleged, advised his 
friends to vote against it.^ 

Complaint was not confined to the amount of legislation, 
but was also directed quite as much against its general char- 
acter. One of its measures was the District Printing Bill, 
alleged to have been devised by Governor Ames to enable 
him to support a partisan press and control it in his interest. 
By the provisions of this act the several chancellors were 
authorized to designate certain newspapers in their respec- 
tive districts to do the official and legal advertising, such as 
publication of delinquent tax lists, notices of sheriffs' sales, 
proceedings of boards of supervisors, etc.* There were 

1 Article IV, Sec. 6. 

2 The compensation of members was fixed in 1870 at $7 per day and 80 cents 
per mile going and returning. Every effort to have the compensation of 
members reduced was steadily resisted by the colored members. Finally the 
pressure became so great that the Republicans passed an act fixing the com- 
pensation of members at 'J.^OO per year. A motion to fix the amount at $400 
was opposed by every colored member except one. At this time, the com- 
pensation of members of the legislature in New Hampshire, Connecticut, 
Delaware, New York, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Nebraska was $;] per day, 
and in some instances deductions were made for absences, and the sessions 
limited to forty days. In Illinois it was $-5 per day, and in Maine, !$150 per 
year. 

3 All the colored members, except ten, voted against biennial sessions. 
Of this course the Plaindealer (Republican) said: " It is a shame on the fair 
record of the colored members." 

* Act approved April 3, 1874. The distribution of the public printing in 
the Holly Springs district may be taken as an illustration of the way in which 



326 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

few Republican newspapers in the state at the time, but this 
measure caused a number of small sheets, all of which were 
short-lived, to spring into existence in order to get the pub- 
lic printing. Property was frequently advertised for sale 
under execution in a distant part of the judicial district, and 
at a point removed from the county in which the sale was to 
be made. Publication under such circumstances could, of 
course, be of no value, for not one property owner in a hun- 
dred ever saw the notice.^ With the repeal of the act which 
called these sheets into existence, they disappeared. Many 
of them in 1876, changed names and became Democratic 
papers. Not one continued permanently as a Republican 
paper. The following notice from the Jackson Clarion con- 
tains the history of a majority of them : " Died at Jack- 
son, Mississippi, on the morning of July 14, 1868, of too 
much constitution, the state journal, aged about six months. 
Its brief existence was sustained chiefly by convention war- 
rants, which having lost their nutritious properties are no 
longer healthy newspaper food. The funeral ceremonies 
were conducted at a late hour on Saturday evening last, its 
editor being chief mourner, and a few negro women and 
children putting in an occasional sob. May it rest in peace." 
One of the most notorious swindles which the legislature 
devised was the Pearl River Scheme, so called. Several 
members of the legislature organized the Pearl River Navi- 
gation Company, and induced the legislature to give them 

the law worked. After the passage of the printing bill, a certain Republican 
informed the governor of his desire to start a paper to sustain the administra- 
tion, and asli:ed him to require the judicial appointee for the district to desig- 
nate him as official printer. Tlie governor replied the following day and 
assured the applicant of his hearty cooperation in the enterprise which he 
had undertaken. The chancellor, upon receiving his appointment, wrote the 
applicant saying : " It is understood, as a matter of course, that tlie printing 
will go to you." He had no type, office, or subscribers. The paper was 
printed on one of the old presses in Holly Springs. Lawyers who had im- 
portant sales to advertise put them in some other paper at private expense. 
Boutwell Report, p. 989. 

1 Tiie first Republican newspaper in Mississippi wa-s established by General 
James Dugan of the Federal army at Vicksburg in 1867. In tlie same year 
('aptain H. T. P'islier and General E. Stafford establLshed the Miitsissippi 
Pilot at Jackson. For several years it was the most influential Republican 
journal in the state, and was tlie organ of tlie state administration. The 
following is a partial list of the short-lived Republican newspapers established 
during tliis period : the Jackson Pilot, Jackson Times, Natchez New Smith, 
h'isciusko licpnhlican, Vicksbury Colored Citizen, Vicksburg Pepultlican, 
Meridian Chronicle, Corinth liepuhlictn. Friars Point Delta, Austin Cuttun 
Plant, Oxonian, State liegisf.er, Urookhaven Citizen, Faijette Vindicator, 
Natchez Post, Seacoast Republican, Vicksbnrg Monitor, West Point J'imes, 
Grenada Bepuhlican, Aberdem Republican, Vicksbnrg Times, National 
Republican, Okolona News, Holly Springs Tribune, Brandon Argus, Missis- 



UNPOPULAR LEGISLATION 327 

certain lands granted by the United States for school pur- 
poses and for the improvement of the navigable streams of 
the state, in consideration of which the company obligated 
itself to remove all obstructions to navigation in Pearl River 
and otherwise improve its navigable condition. The gov- 
ernor approved the bill without taking the proper bonds and 
securities that the service would be faithfully performed. 
They sold about 105,000 acres of the land, and used the 
money without removing a snag from the river. ^ 

Still another measure which became the subject of much 
complaint was an act passed, at the instance of the governor 
it was alleged, conferring upon him the power to appoint a 
tax collector in each county. The collection of taxes had 
always been one of the functions of the sheriff, who was an 
elective officer, and the most influential one in the county. 
This duty was now to be transferred to another set of ol'li- 
cers, who would be equally as influential and independent 
of popular control. The governor made a number of ap- 
pointments under the act, but before it went into effect the 
Supreme Court declared the law unconstitutional. ^ 

Another measure authorized the governor to appoint a 
special revenue agent for each county, whose duty it was to 
investigate the accounts of sheriffs and treasurers, to enforce 
the collection of revenue improperly withheld from the state 
and county treasurers, and to hunt up frauds, defalcations, etc. 
These agents were to receive 50 per cent of all shortages dis- 
covered, or delinquent taxes collected, and were supposed 
to be electioneering agents for the governor, who was un- 
derstood to be a candidate for the Senate. Some of the 
appointees were members of the legislature. This was in 
violation of the constitution, which prohibited members from 
holding offices of their own creation.^ Another proposed 
measure was the Metropolitan Police Bill, by which a sort 

sippi Lender, Holmes County EepnbUcan, Senatohia Signet, Meridian Ga- 
zette, Holly Springs Star, Canton Citizen, Summit Times, Prairie Nexos, 
Vicksburg Plnindealer, Jackson Leader, Columbus Press, Macon Free Opin- 
ion, Mississippi State Journal, Pontotoc Equal Bights, Copiah Republican, 
American Citizen. 

1 Testimony of J. H. Estell, Boutwell Report, p. 325. 

- F'rench vs. Mississippi. George E. Harris says this law was passed after 
much caucusnig. and after pistols were presented to force the members to 
vote for it. Testimony before Senate sub-committee, p. 5f»2. 

2 Article IV. Sec. 38. Ex-Attorney General Morris (liepublican) said : 
" These offices were in many instances unknown to the constitution, and un- 
known to the history of the state or to the history of any other state, anrl 
wholly unnecessary to the public service. Idle vagabonds belonging to the 
legislature were appointed to fill them." Letter in New York Herald, Jan. 
7, 1870. Boutwell Report, p. 1082, 



328 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of standing army was to be maintained in the state. It was, 
however, defeated. ^ One of the "notorious jobs" of the 
legislature in 1875 was the lease of the state convicts, several 
hundred in number, to one of its own members, for a period 
of five years, without compensation to the state, although the 
lessee immediately transferred them to another person by way 
of sub-lease, for a large sum. The action of the governor in ap- 
proving the contract was one of the grounds of impeachment.^ 
Such were the more notable instances in which the legis- 
lature was charged with abusing its power. 

VI. THE VICKSBURG TROUBLES 

The first trial of the strength of the Ames administration 
as to its power to preserve the peace and maintain order, 
came in September, 1874, at the time of the troubles in Warren 
County known as the Vicksburg Riots. If we may believe 
the testimony of the whites, Warren County, and especially 
Vicksburg in 1874, had as corrupt and incompetent a govern- 
ment as ever afflicted an Anglo-Saxon community. The 
senators and representatives in the legislature were colored, 
the sheriff could not write a simple return, and he was 
believed to be dishonest; the chancery clerk was corrupt 
beyond doubt, and not intelligent enough to enter a plain con- 
tinuance on the records ; the circuit clerk and every member 
of the board of supervisors except one were colored, and 
scarcely one of them could read or write ; and four of the eight 
councilmen of Vicksburg were colored. In fact, there were 
only three white ofiicers in the county.^ The negroes, who 
were largely in the majority, had established the " color *' 
line, and openly declared that the whites should not hold 
any of the offices. The whites complained that they paid 
99 per cent of the taxes of the county, all of which were 
assessed, collected, and disbursed by colored officials. The 
town of Vicksburg, tlie chief seat of the troubles, had in 
1874 a population of 11,000, the majority of which was black. 

1 The act provided for commissioners at salaries of $3000 each, sergeants 
at $1500, captains at $1800, and patrolmen at §100, per month. The esti- 
mated cost was $200,000. Only one white man in the House voted for the 
measure. Every colored member voted for it. Only one colored member 
in the Senate voted a,2;ainst it. The Democrats presented him with a gold- 
headed cane for his stand against the measure. 

2 Imi)eachniont Testimony, pp. 2(i, '29. 

8 The AVk> York Nation,'Yo\. XIX. p. 412, gives some "shocking illustra- 
tions of incompetency and ignorance " among the officials of Warren County 
at this time. Its authority is " an ex-Federal soldier who lived in Vicksburg 
for ten years." 



THE VICKSBURG TROUBLES 329 

The county and city debts, which in 1869 amounted to 
!^13,000, had increased until the city debt alone aggregated 
$1,400,000.1 Large suras of money had been squandered by 
the city government in grants to railroad companies and in 
public improvements. 2 Early in 1874, the whites organized 
a tax-payer's league, the chief purpose of which was to carry 
the municipal election in the fall. The Republicans nomi- 
nated for mayor a white man then under indictment for 
twenty-three offences,^ and for aldermen, seven negroes of 
poor character and little intelligence, and one white man who 
could neither read nor write, and who was the keeper of a 
low grog shop.* The ticket was so objectionable that but 
three white men in the city voted for it.^ The tax payers 
nominated candidates under the name of the people's party. 
The ticket was supported by the better class of Republicans, 
among whom were Hon. George C. McKee, member of Con- 
gress, Judge Speed, General Furlong, and forty or fifty 
colored voters who had a substantial interest in the welfare 
of the city. For weeks before the election, white and colored 
militia companies paraded the streets, each trying to intimi- 
date the other, and threatening bloodshed. Nothing illus- 
trates better the imbecility of the state government than the 
fact that within three months after its inauguration it is 
found calling for United States troops to maintain the peace 
in a town of eleven thousand inhabitants. As early as April, 
acting governor Davis telegraphed Governor Ames, then in 
Massachusetts, that excitement was high in Vicksburg, and 
that they ought to have a company of United States 
troops, whereupon the governor applied to Major Allyn, 
commander of the post at Jackson, and being refused, tele- 
graphed General Emery, at New Orleans, to send the troops.^ 
Again, July 20, Davis wrote President Grant that serious dis- 
turbances were anticipated at Vicksburg, on account of the 
approaching election. " Immense armed bodies," said he, 
"•are parading the street both day and night, and the city 
authorities are unable to protect life and property. I feel 
constrained to ask for two companies of United States troops. 

' See on this point United States Census Report for 1870 ; testimony of 
Judge Speed (Republican) before tlie Vicksbiirg committee. 

2 Charles Nordhoff is authority for the statement that the Democrats re- 
ceived most of the money spent for public improvements in Vicksburg. He 
relates an instance in which a Democrat charged the city $500 for moving a 
safe from the wharf to the courthouse. Cotton States, p. 82. 

3 Ibid. 6 Cotton States, p. 82. 

* Testimony of Frederic Speed before Vicksburg Committee, p. 224. 
^ Correspondence of Governor Ames, 1874, p. 16. 



330 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

I consider them absolutely necessary to prevent riot and 
bloodshed." He declared that the executive was powerless 
to execute the laws and preserve the peace.^ Again, July 23, 
he wrote a long and doleful letter to the Secretary of War, 
imploring him to send troops.^ On the 29th of July, Gov- 
ernor Ames returned to the state and at once wrote the Presi- 
dent that a " serious and alarming condition of affairs exists 
in Vicksburg. Infantry and cavalry organizations exist, and 
a piece of artillery has been brought to the city." He 
declared that it was a political controversy between the 
Democrats on one side and the Republicans on tlie other, and 
that the former were masters of the situation, and were con- 
sequently opposed to the presence of troops. Again, he 
besought the President to send troops, adding almost pathet- 
ically^ that no harm could be done by sending them, as there 
were garrisons already in two cities of the state. ^ The gov- 
ernor was at once informed that the President declined to 
move the troops except under a call made strictly in accord- 
ance with the provisions of the Constitution. On August 1, 
his application was renewed, and the President was informed 
that " actual violence " existed. During all the time, there was 
no apparent effort on the part of the state government to bring 
about peace. During his administration as military governor, 
General Ames always had troops at his command to carry out 
his orders. To this method of government he was accus- 
tomed by habit and training. Upon the first breach of the 
peace, he turned almost instinctively to the militaiy, a sup- 
port without which his administration could hardly have 
stood. The election came off August 4, and the largest 
vote ever recorded in the city was polled. The reform ticket 
was elected, with the exception of two school trustees.* 

1 Correspondence of Governor Ames, 1874, p. 539. 

2 7Wd. p. 543. ^ Ibid. p. 5r)l. 

* Ibid. p. 599. Several other exciting municipal campaigns took place 
in Mississippi (luring 1874. One of these was in Columbus, in December. 
lAka the Viclisburg election, it may be said to have constituted one of the 
initial skirmishes in the "Revolution" of 1875. That town was likewise 
afflictctl with bad government, though not to the same extent as Vicksburg. 
(ieneral B. B. Eggleston, late president of the recon.struction convention, 
was candidate for mayor against Mr. Rillups, the Democratic candidate. 
A few days before the election there was circulated through the town a hand- 
bill, with large headlines, "This Means Business," and under it, in large 
letters, "Bread or no Bread." Then followed the announcement that at 
a meeting of citizens it had been decided that the negro who voted for Eggles- 
ton would, as certain as fate, vote bread and meat out of the mouths of his 
wife and children, tjiat the signers were pledged to emjilny no man who had 
been discharged l)y a member uf the club, unless he produced a recommenda- 
tion. They said, " You have driven the white man to the verge of ruin, 



THE VICKSBUMG TROUBLES 331 

After the overthrow of the municipal ring in Vicksburg, 
the whites turned their attention to county affairs, which 
were in a melancholy condition. The chief grievance was 
tlie high rate of taxation and tlie existence of wholesale fraud 
in the county government. The state levy was 14 mills,^ the 
county levy 14 mills,^ and the levy for municipal purposes 
in Vicksburg was 21:] mills,^ thus making the aggregate rate 
of taxation in the city of Vicksburg nearly 5 per cent. And 
what was worse, the tax payers had good reason to believe 
that the large sums of money thus collected were being stolen 
and otherwise misapplied. The sheriff, Peter Crosby, was, 
by virtue of his office, also tax collector. In December, he 
was to collect the state and county taxes aggregating -1100,000. 
His bond was notoriously insufficient. It was not dated, no 
penalty was prescribed, and the sureties were all colored ex- 
cept one, a married woman whose signature did not bind her. 
Their siscnatures were made with mai-ks and without wit- 
nesses, they lived in different parts of the state, and some 
were not worth one-tenth of the amount for which they were 
bound. The district attorney, a Republican, says there were 
men on Crosby's bond for ^5000 who were not worth five 
cents.* The judge of the criminal court, an ex-Union soldier, 
and an appointee of Governor Ames, gave his opinion that 
il2,000 was the greatest amount tliat could be realized from 
the bond which by law should have been $81,000.^ The dis- 
trict attorney advised the board of supervisors that the bond 
was insufficient. The whites petitioned and remonstrated 
with the board, urging it to require new bonds, but the board 
declined to act. Crosby published a card in one of the city 
papers, in which he declared that he would give no further 
bonds, nor would he vacate his office until ousted by a judg- 
ment of the Supreme Coint. In the meantime, the state 
auditor, a Republican, had discovered that fraudulent jury 
and witness certificates had been issued by the circuit clerk 

and he has determined to draw the color line, and if you can stand it, he can. 
Every negro who votes for BiUups will be protected in every sense of the 
term, and every proper assistance will be afforded him in the power of the 
white men of Columbus/' After the election, a private circular was sent 
around to the leading Democratic businessmen, headed: "(For Private 
Use.) Stand by Your Colors! Hew to the Line!" Then followed two 
lists of 69 names, one headed "Worthy," the other "Unworthy," and 
signed by "the Members of the Club." BiUups was elected. Cotton 
States, p. 83. 

1 Report State Auditor, 1874. 2 /^^v/. 

3 Testimony of Warren Cowan, Vicksburg Report, p. 332. 

* Testimony of Luke Lea, Vicksburg Report, p. 313. 

5 Testimony of Frederic Speed, ibid. p. 216. 



332 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

of the county, and that a large amount of county warrants 
had been forged by the cliancery clerk and were in circula- 
tion. Davenport, the colored chancery clerk, refused to al- 
low the tax-payer's committee to examine his books.^ At 
the November term of the court, the grand jury, consisting of 
ten freedmen and seven whites, found seven indictments 
against Cordoza, ex-circuit clerk, and at the time state super- 
intendent of education, for embezzlement of $!2000, and for 
forging witness certificates : five indictments against Daven- 
port for forging county warrants ; and two against Dorsey, 
the circuit clerk, for forgery and embezzlement. The district 
attorney testified that if the grand jury had thought neces- 
sary, it might have found one hundred indictments against 
Cordoza and Dorsey, and fifty against Davenport.^ After the 
indictments were found, records essential to their conviction 
were stolen from the sheriff's and chancery clerk's offices. 
These papers were afterward discovered buried under Daven- 
port's house. 

In this situation, a " tax-payers' convention," was called, in 
which Republicans as well as Democrats participated. It 
resolved to take heroic action, and on December 2, demanded 
the resignation of the sheriff, chancery clerk, and coroner.^ 
Crosby asked for time to consider the matter ; later he refused 
to resign. His refusal was reported to the convention, 
whereupon that body, five hundred strong, proceeded to the 
courthouse, repeated the request, and forcibly secured his 
resignation. Davenport also tendered his resignation, and 
left the state. Crosby notified the circuit judge that he had 
yielded to force, and resigned his office. The judge then tele- 
graphed Governor Ames that an armed mob was in possession 
of the courthouse and jail, having forced most of the officers 
to flee, and that he was powerless to execute the laws. The 
convention detailed one of its number, an ex-Union soldier, to 
take charge of the sheriff's office until another sheriff could 
be elected. Crosby proceeded to Jackson to confer with the 
governor, who advised him that his resignation was void, and 
that he had the power to call the posse comitatus to his aid, to 
hold his office, and to exercise its duties. The governor fur- 
thermore promised to cooperate with him in his efforts to 
regain the office.^ Crosby returned to Vicksburg accom- 
panied by Colonel Lee and General Packer of the governor's 

1 Vicksburg Report, p. 216. 

2 Testimony of Luke Lea, ibid. p. 302. 
8 Ibid. p. ;324. 

* Testimony of Adelbert Ames, Vicksburg Report, p. 639. 



THE VICKSBURG TROUBLES 333 

staff, and shortly afterward had a hand-bill printed and dis- 
tributed throughout the county by runners. He stated in this 
paper that he had been compelled by an armed mob to resign 
his office, and he appealed to all Republicans of the county, 
black and white, to "support him and fight the cause on its 
merits." ^ The card was read in all the colored churches 
throughout the county on Sunday, December 6, by ministers 
who impressed upon their congregations the duty of arming 
and marching to Crosby's aid. Meantime, Governor Ames 
had issued a proclamation reciting that riotous and disorderly 
persons had combined to deprive colored men in Vicksburg 
of their civil and political rights. All such persons were 
warned to disperse immediately. At the same time, he sent 
orders to the captain of a negro militia company to suppress 
the riot, and cooperate with Crosby in his attempt to regain 
possession of his office. This added fuel to the flame. There 
were two white militia companies in Vicksburg officered by 
white men, one of whom had been a brigadier general, and 
another a colonel in the Federal army. The governor did 
not communicate with either of these, and the negro captain 
was directed not to take orders from them. The reason 
assigned by the governor was his belief that neither of the 
white companies Avould treat his commands with the slightest 
respect, and that Captain Hall's color was an indication of 
his loyalty and patriotism.^ On Sunday afternoon, it was re- 
ported in Vicksburg that the whole available strength of the 
negro population was massing, with the intent of marching 
upon the town next morning. The report was doubtless 
exaggerated into alarming proportions. The dread of negro 
insurrection, which has at one time or another darkened every 
hearthstone in the South, took possession of the people, and 
they saw visions of slaughter, rape, arson, and robbery. 
Adjutant General Packer went out to stop the negroes, but 
without success. At daybreak Monday morning, the alarm 
was sounded by the watchman from the top of the court- 
house. It proved false, however, but was again struck later 
in the morning by the same watchman, who announced that a 
large body of negroes was approaching the city. The streets 
were soon filled with excited men, and weeping women and 
children. At eight o'clock a.m. the mayor published and 
circulated a manifesto declaring that the governor's proclama- 
tion was false, warned all armed bodies to disperse at once, 
and commanded all good citizens to hold themselves in readi- 

1 Majority Report, Vicksburg Report, p. 24. 

2 Testimony of Adalbert Ames, ibid. p. 545. 



334 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

ness to report at any call for the purpose of enforcing his 
orders. At twelve o'clock, he issued another proclamation 
closing the saloons, and advising the people to be " quiet and 
discreet, but firm." The city was then placed under martial 
law, and supreme command delegated to an ex-Confederate 
officer. With a force of one hundred men, he moved out to meet 
the approaching negro host. The two leaders had a conference, 
and the negroes agreed to withdraw. As they proceeded to 
do so, they were fired into, as they claim, with the result that 
seven were killed. While this was going on, another battle 
was taking place at the Pemberton monument. The testi- 
mony as to who began the firing is conflicting. The whites 
claim that the negroes fired upon them first. In the several 
conflicts which ensued, two whites and twenty-nine blacks 
were killed.^ Thirty prisoners were taken, but were soon 
released. All the whites, Republicans as well as Democrats, 
were found together in the conflict. An ex-Federal army 
officer testified that one hundred ex-Union soldiers took part in 
the fight — a more conspicuous part than that taken by the ex- 
Confederates.^ On December 21, two weeks after the riot, 
the President issued a proclamation commanding all ''turbu- 
lent and disorderly persons" to retire peaceably to their re- 
spective homes within five days.^ In a few days quiet was 
restored, although the governor continued to call upon the 
President for troops. 

The legislature met in extraordinary session on December 
17, at the call of the governor, who sent in a message in which 
he warmly denounced the whites as " insurgents," and de- 
clared that ample legal remedies existed for the wrongs com- 
plained of. He expressed sorrow that "a portion of the 
citizens could find it in their hearts to deprive by violence 
their neighbors and fellow-citizens of their political rights " -, 
declared tliat the officials and prominent men holding views 
different from those held by the " insurgents " had been com- 

' See Majority Report, Vicksburg Coiiiinittec. Mr. Mayes, in his Life and 
Times of L. Q. C. Lamar, p. 237, says the nuuiber killed was one white man 
and fifteen negroes. Andrews, in his History of the United States During 
tiie Last Quarter of a Century, put the number at fifty-nine. 

2 See testimony of General C. E. Furlong, Vicksburg Report, p. 100. 
General Furlong served through the Civil War, and was on Sherman's staff 
at the time of tiie surrender of Vicksburg. He controlled a squad of cavalry 
in the Vicksburg Riot, and otherwise championed the cause of the whites. 

•^ Richardson's Me.ssages and Papers of the Presidents, Vol. VII. p. 322. 
The Xeiv York Nation, commenting on this action of the President, said: " It 
is difficult to make out what the grounds for the proclamation are now, and 
if the state government is not strong enough to keep the peace in a single 
town, it must be so feeble that it needs permanent assistance. XIX. p. 412. 



THE VICKSBURG TROUBLES 335 

pelled to flee ; doubted whether there was any cause for com- 
plaint ; declared that the acts of the insurgents bore a strong 
resemblance to Mexican and South American insurrections ; 
and informed the legislature that he was without means to 
suppress the disorders.^ He recommended that the legisla- 
ture make provision for suppressing the " insurrection " in 
Warren County, and for suppressing similar outbreaks likely 
to occur elsewhere. The legislature responded by adopting a 
joint resolution calling upon the President for troops. Upon 
the passage of this resolution, forty-six membei's of the legis- 
lature publislied an appeal to the people of the United States, 
in which they charged the Republicans with attempting to 
introduce martial law in Mississippi, for political purposes. 
Tliey protested against the action of the governor, and the 
majority of the legislature, which, they said, was based on no 
evidence whatever. The legislature also appointed a com- 
mittee of investigation. January 4, 1875, the governor tele- 
graphed the President that " the majority of the legislative 
committee sent to Vicksburg, report to me that a great feel- 
ing of insecurity prevails there, that certain officers cannot 
safely discharge their duties, that armed defiance of all law 
and authority holds full sway at the courthouse, and conse- 
quently I am compelled to ask you to send troops there to 
uphold and protect the lawful authorities." ^ Meantime, the 
board of supervisors had ordered a special election to fill the 
vacancy occasioned by the resignation of Crosby. The legis- 
lature, by special act, extended the period of notice to be given 
for special elections, thus invalidating the order of the board. 
The election, however, was held, the colored voters refusing 
to take any part in it. A Mr. Flannagan was elected, took 
possession of the sheriff's office, and entered upon the dis- 
charge of his duties. On January 5, 1875, General P. H. 
Sheridan telegraphed the governor from New Orleans that he 
had tliat day assumed control of the Department of the Gulf, 
and that a company of troops would be sent to Vicksburg the 



1 Of this message, the Jackson Clarion of Dec. 10, 1874, said: "If his 
purpose is to urge the passage of laws prescribing severe penalties for delin- 
quent and thieving otficials, and affording relief to the tax payers, all will be 
well. But if it is to organize a military force of cutthroats and vagabonds to 
oven-un the state, and bully the people, we would earnestly advise him to 
desist. He must not misunderstand the temper of the people. He com- 
menced the conflagration by the issue of his ill-timed proclamation. He can 
extinguish it as readily, by taking care that lawless officials are brought to 
punishment, and not sustained in their crimes." 

^ Correspondence of Governor Ames, 1874. The Majority Report of the 
legishitive committee was signed by two white and three negro members. 



33G RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

following day.^ The order was carried out, and on Monday, 
January 18, Major George E. Head, U. S. A., with a squad 
of soldiers, entered the sheriff's office, ejected Flannagan and 
reinstated Crosby .^ 

The whole course of Governor Ames in regard to the 
Warren County troubles was disapproved by the whites, both 
republicans and Democrats. ^ They said that he showed a 
lack of personal interest in their grievances, that he should 
have had some word of condemnation for the delinquent and 
criminal officials, and that he should have visited Vicksburg 
in person and urged Crosby to give a satisfactory bond, 
instead of advising him to call out the posse comitatus and 
resist the whites.* The charge that it was the design and 
purpose of Ames to bring on a conflict between the whites 
and the blacks does not seem to be well founded. The 
utmost that he can be accused of was bad judgment and 
possibly indifference in the matter. If any one more than 
another can be held responsible for the unfortunate affair, it 
is Crosby. His influence over the negroes of the county was 
absolute. The poor deluded creatures were fooled into 
marching upon the city in a mole-like way under the orders 
of Crosby, with a vague impression that it was Republican to 
do so. In fact there was a story afloat at the time that Gen- 
eral Grant and Governor Ames were there in person, and de- 
sired them to attack the city. The negroes were fired into 
and dispersed as any mob would have been, Crosby, in the 
meantime, having deserted them. 

The Vicksburg affair was the subject of investigation by a 
committee of Congress. The Clarioti of December 17 de- 
clared that the investigation was courted, and asked that 
"the facts be allowed to go to the country." The members 
of the committee were Messrs. Hurlburt of Illinois, Conger of 



1 Correspondence. 1875. p. 238. On the same da.y, Sheridan sent his cele- 
brated despatch to the Secretary of War, recommending Congress to declare 
the "ringleaders" in the Vicksburg affair banditti, and leave hira to do the 
rest, remarlving that no further action by Congress would be necessary. The 
legislature votrd the general a resolution of thanks for this somewhat cruel 
threat. The Democrats, of course, protested against it. 

2 New York Nation, Jan. 21, 1875. 

' Justice Tarbell of the Supreme Court said : " I advised against any at- 
tempt to reinstate Crosby, because I regarded him as unworthy." Impeach- 
ment Testimony, p. 120. Charles Nordhoff says he was told by honest 
Republicans in Mississippi that the riot coulti have been prevented had the 
governor done his duty. Cotton States in 1875. 

* The Jackson Clarion of Dec. 10, 1874, in a long editorial, fi.xed the re- 
sponsibility for the riot ou Governor Ames, and declared that it was the 
beginning of the end. 



THE VICKSBURG TROUBLES 337 

Michigan, Williams of Wisconsin, Speer of Pennsylvania, and 
O'Brien of Maryland. They took testimony for two weeks 
at Vicksburg, examining in all 115 witnesses. As might 
have been expected, there was a majority and a minority 
report. The majority fixed the blame on the whites, bnt 
admitted that much misgovernmeut existed in the affairs of 
the county. 



CHAPTER NINTH 
The Kuklux Disturbances in Mississippi 

The so-called Kuklux Klan is said to have originated in 
Tennessee in 1866, during the administration of Governor 
Brownlow, and to have been at first an association of young 
men for mutual pleasure and amusement.^ The nocturnal 
perambulations of the freedmen, their habit of running away 
from labor contracts, the large amount of petit larceny 
among them at this time, the abandonment of their crops to 
attend political meetings, their participation in the loyal 
leagues, and their alleged insolence to former masters 
created a necessity for some kind of restraint, as the whites 
believed. The Kuklux organization was designed to accom- 
plish this purpose.^ In its beginnings, it was similar to the 
old slave patrol, and was intended simply to scare the super- 
stitious blacks into good behavior and obedience. The 
whites allege that it was to serve as a sort of offset to the 
Loyal Leagues.^ These were secret political organizations 
among the colored people, and were generally organized and 
presided over by their white allies. JNleetings were usually 
held at niglit in some out-of-the-way place, and were ha- 
rangued by white Republican speakers. These organizations 
solidified the black vote, for there was a league in every 
community, and every colored man was a member.* 

General N. B. Forest was reputed to have been at the 
head of tlie Kuklux organization in the South, and it was 
charged that he introduced it into Mississippi, while engaged 

1 D. L. Wilson, Centin-y Magazine, Vol. VI. p. ?m. 

* For the alleged neces.sity tor such an organization, see testimony of Gen- 
eral John B. Gordon, before the Kuklux coninaittee ; see also testimony of 
General Forest. 

8 The Jackson Clarion of March 21, 1871, said if the Kuklux Klan really 
existed, it would not recommend its disbandment during the existence of 
the Loyal Leagues, whose " conspiracies the Kuklux was intended to circum- 
vent." 

* The following is a part of the oath alleged to have been taken by mem- 
bers of the Lynch Council, No. .3:1, of the Jackson League : '> I will do all in 
my power to elect true and reliable Union men and supporters of the govern- 
ment to ail othces of prolit or trust, from the lowest to the highest, in ward, 
town, county, and genera,l goverimient." 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 389 

in railroad building in the eastern portion of the state.^ At 
first, the organization had among its members some of the 
most influential citizens of the state — distinguished leaders 
of the Confederate armies, but as soon as the original purpose 
of the organization was perverted, the better class of men 
abandoned it.^ The original purposes of the organization as 
set forth in the prescript were the protection of the weak, 
innocent, and defenceless from the outrages of lawless 
and brutal persons ; the relief of the injured and oppressed; 
the aiding of widows and orphans of Confederate soldiers ; 
and assistance in the execution of all " constitutional " laws.^ 
The mysterious organization, gruesome rites, and the 
strange language of the Klan were well calculated to strike 
terror into the minds of a superstitious race emasculated by- 
centuries of slavery. Its sphere of operations was styled the 
Invisible Empire ; the chief functionary was the Grand 
Wizard ; each state was a Realm ruled over by a Grand 
Dragon ; each congressional district was a Dominion, at the 
head of which was the Grand Titan ; each county was a 
Province under the rule of a Grand Giant; and each county 
was subdivided into Camps or Dens, each governed by a 
Grand Cyclops. The members of a Den were called Ghouls.* 
The mysterious constitution of the organization was not less 
terrifying than the manner in which the members disguised 
themselves when in active service. The prevailing costume 
was a long white robe reaching to the knees, and slashed up 
the sides for convenience in running. The covering for the 
face was a white mask containing holes for the eyes. The 
headgear was sometimes a high cardboard hat, but more fre- 
quently a sort of cap with long ears or horns attached. The 
fiont part of the dress was often disfigured with skulls and 
crossbones or other hideous designs. The horses ridden by 
the Kuklux were disguised quite as effectively as the riders.^ 
Meetings were presided over by the captain, and admission 
was by password only. Motions for " waiting upon " certain 
individuals could be made by any member and were put by 
llie captain. It was alleged that sometimes the Klan in one 
community would call upon the Klan in a neighboring com- 

1 Testimony of Governor I?. C. Powers, Kuklux Report, p. 586. 

2 Testimony of S. J. Golilson, pp. 854-800, and of J. F. Sessions, p. 216, 
ibid. 

3 What purports to be the prescript is printed in the Kuklux Keport, pp. 
12-14. 

* Lalor's Encyclop. of Pol. Sci. II. p. 680. 

^ For descriptions of disguises worn in Mississippi, see Kuklux Report, 
pp. 274, 327, 343, 467. 



340 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

munity to execute its decree. This was said to have been a 
common practice in the counties of Mississippi lying along 
the Alabama line.^ 

The most exaggerated tales were circulated among the freed- 
men in regard to the character and strength of the Kuklux. 
The mere rumor that they were " riding " in the neighbor- 
hood was sufficient to cause every black to retire to his cabin. 
It was common among them to magnify a band of a dozen 
into a hundred. They were never visited by less than fifty, 
and the number was usually reported to be two or three hun- 
dred. The idea was widespread among the negroes during the 
early days of reconstruction that the Kuklux were spirits of 
dead Confederate soldiers, and were possessed of supernatural 
powers, such as the ability to take themselves to pieces at 
will, rattle their bones, and drink whole pailfuls of water. 
The Kuklux practice of conversing in mysterious and unin- 
telligible language, the negroes called " mummicking." They 
told of a horrible monster who lived in the Yazoo swamps, 
and went about the land with a flesh bag in the shape of a 
heart " hollering for fried nigger meat," a delicacy for which 
it had an insatiable appetite. The " decree " of the camp was 
usually delivered to the person for whom it was intended by 
the captain, in a pompous manner, and was pronounced as an 
order of the Grand Cyclops registered in some corner of 
Hades. If the decree was simply a warning, the offender 
was informed tliat it was the practice of the Klan never to 
give its warnings but once. The notice was usually posted 
in some conspicuous place about the premises of the person 
for whom it was intended. The foUowino- notice found on 
the door-post of a Freedmen's Bureau Agent in Rankin 
County, in 1868, is typical of the manner in which the Kuklux 
delivered its warnings.^ 

K. K. K. Dismal Swamp 

2D, XI AT nth hour 

Mens, mene, tekel upharsin. The bloody dagger is 
drawn ; the trying hour is at hand ; beware ! Your steps are 
marked; the eye of the dark chief is upon you. First he 
warns ; then the avenging dagger flashes in the moonlight. 

By Order of the Grand Cylops : 

LIXTO 

^ Governor Alcorn in an interview in the New York Democrat of April 17, 
1871, is reported as saying : " I have no doubt that there is such a tiling as 
Kukluxism in the Southern states, but there is none in Mississippi unless the 
bands of desperadoes along the Alabama line can be called Kuklux." 

- Put in evidence before the reconstruction committee. H. Mis. Docs. 
3d Ses. 4Uth Cong. 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 341 

Here is another taken from the luka Gazette : — 

[X{lK: K: K: 

Bloody Month 

Skeleton Hollow, Dark Moon, Silent Hour 

In hoc signum. To the veiled brotherhood of subdivision No. 9. 

The Grand Cyclops never sleeps. His bony fingers have pointed 
to the " Bleeding Band" and his messenger will greet you in the 
24th revolution on the Spirit's Dial. Mortals have threatened the 
Band. The Bloody hand is raised to warn. Be cautious lest it 
fall. The Sword is unsheathed & red. Let Tyrants tremble. 

H. K. 3. 7. 
0. 
Sub. R. T. and Bearer of the Diadem. 

Here is another : ^ — 

(A picture of crossed swords, coffin, skull and crossbones, owl, 
bloody moon. Train of cars, each labelled K. K. K.) 

Dam your Soul ! The horrible sepulcher and bloody moon has 
at last arrived. Some live today, tomorrow "Die." We the un- 
dersigned understand through our Grand Cyclops that you have 
recommended a big Black Nigger for Male Agent on our nu rode; 
wel sir, Jest you understand in time if he gets on the rode you 
can make up your mind to pull roape. If you have anything to 
say in regard to the matter, meet the Grand Cyclops and Conclave 
at' Den No. 4, 12 o'clock midnight Oct 1, 1871. 

When you are in Calera we want you to hold your tongue and 
not speak so much with your mouth or otherwise you will be taken 
on supprize and led out by the Klan and learnt to stretch hemp. 

Beware ! Beware ! Beware ! Beware ! 

Phillip Isenbaum 

Grand Cyclops 

John Bankston 
EsoN Daves 
You know who and all Warren Thomas 

others of the Klan. Bloody Bones 

The Kuklux organization does not seem to have attracted 
any attention in Mississippi until 1868. It was charged by 
the Republicans that in the campaign of that year against 
the Constitution, tlie whites terrorized the negroes by the 
Kuklux method, and either kept them away from the polls or 
intimidated them into voting against the Constitution. Gen- 
eral Gillem, in his report for 1868-1869 said: "The great 

1 Put in evidence before the reconstruction committee. 



342 BECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

defect in the administration of justice is not in the courts ; 
after offenders are once in custody their trial and punish- 
ment usually follow. The difficulty lies in identifying and 
arresting criminals. In many instances crimes either of 
murder or aggravated assault and battery are committed at 
night by persons in disguise who cannot be recognized by 
their victims or witnesses." ^ The election of 18(39 for state 
officers and members of the legislature was the occasion for 
further alleged Kuklux raanceuvres. It was not, however, 
until after the readmission of the state to the Union that the 
Kuklux disturbances became alarming, and for a while threat- 
ened to subvert the peace and order of the state. The 
passing of the Freedmen's Bureau in 1869 with its officials 
in every community, and the withdrawal of a majority of the 
troops, removed a restraint, which had, to a great extent, 
curbed the lawless spirit. Offences against freedmen and 
Northern men now increased to such an extent as to em- 
barrass the civil authorities in the execution of the laws. 
Alcorn on November 10, 18(>9, while a candidate for gov- 
ernor, had published a card in which he declared that in the 
event of his election, " Society should no longer be governed 
by the pistol and the bowie knife." ^ He was elected, and 
shortly after the meeting of the legislature, sent in a mes- 
sage recommending the enactment of drastic measures to 
break up the Kuklux organizations. The legislature, in 
accordance with his recommendation, passed, on July 21, 
a stringent law for this purpose. It was made unlawful for 
any person to appear in a mask or disguise, or to prowl about 
the houses of other persons. The penalty for travelling 
about in disguise to the disturbance of the peace was fixed 
at not less than $100 and not moi'e than $500, and imprison- 
ment at the discretion of the court. The penalty for enter- 
ing or attempting to enter any house in disguise was declared 
to be a felony punishable by imprisonment in the penitentiary 
for a period not less than one year and not more than five. 
Tlie penalty for committing assault in disguise was fixed at 
imprisonment in the penitentiary for a period not less than 
five years and not more than ten. It was made the duty 
of peace officers to request all disguised persons whom they 
might discover, to unmask, and upon their refusal, to arrest 
them with or without warrant. They were empowered to 
call upon bystanders for aid in making arrests, and the pen- 

1 Report Secretary of War, 1808-1869, p. 1054. 
'^ Appendix to II. and S. Journal, 1871, p. 1214. 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 343 

alty for refusal to render aid in such cases was fixed at not 
more than 1500, and imprisonment not exceeding six months. 
Official neglect of duty was punishable by a fine not exceed- 
ing '11000, and imprisonment not exceeding one year. The 
governor was authorized to offer rewards not exceeding 
$5000 for the arrest of any person guilty of attempting to 
enter a house or attempting to commit assault in disguise, 
and the reward was to be paid out of the treasury of the 
county in which the offence was committed. It was made 
the duty of all judges of the criminal courts to give this act 
in their charges to the grand jury at each term of the court.^ 
In spite of the law, the disturbances increased. The gov- 
ernor offered large rewards without effect. He then asked 
the legislature to give him authority to offer rewards as 
high as $25,000 which amount he thought would "draw the 
cowardly assassins from their hiding-places." ^ The chief 
defence of persons charged with offences of this kind was the 
alihi. The governor attributed the failure to convict to the 
sympathy of the juries for persons thus accused, and alleged 
that witnesses were afraid to testify for fear of personal 
violence. 

On the 23d of March, 1871, President Grant sent a special 
message to Congress, in which he declared that life and prop- 
erty were insecure in some of the Southern states, and that 
carriers of the mail and collectors of the revenue were in 
danger of personal violence. That the power to correct the 
evil was be3^ond the conti'ol of the state authorities, he felt 
certain, and he recommended appropriate legislation to meet 
the case.^ Accordingly, what is known as the Enforcement 
Act was passed on April 20. Its most important pro- 
vision was the extension of the jurisdiction of the Federal 
courts to Kuklux cases. A heavy penalty was fixed for 
"conspiring to levy war against the government of the 
United States, delaying the execution of the Federal laws, 
or attempting to deter any person from voting, holding 
office, or acting as a witness or juror in the Federal courts. 
It authorized the President to employ the land or naval 
forces of the United States to suppress disorders in case the 
state authorities were unable or unwilling to do so, and to 
suspend the writ of habeas corpus during the continuance 
of the Kuklux troubles. The act also authorized Federal 



1 Laws of Miss. 1870, p. 89. 

2 Appendix to II. and S. Journal, 1871, p. 1213. 

3 Affairs iu the insurrectionary states, Vol. I. p. 1. 



844 RECONSTllDCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

judges to exclude from juries those who were deemed to be 
accomplices.^ 

The legislature of Mississippi memorialized the senators 
and representatives from the state to vote for the passage of 
the act, and they all complied with the request. The act 
seems to have accomplished the purpose for which it was 
designed, for by the end of the year 1872, the Kuklux 
troubles had practically ceased. An attempt to extend the 
provisions of the act passed the Senate, but failed in the 
Ho use. 2 

Before the passage of the Kuklux Act, a joint committee 
of twenty-one senators and representatives had been ap- 
pointed to inquire into the condition of affairs in the late 
insurrectionary states. Early in June, a sub-committee 
began taking testimony at Washington. On the 22d of Sep- 
tember, a sub-committee of five was appointed to visit Mis- 
sissippi and take further testimony. The committee went 
first to Macon, where it took testimony from November 6 to 
November 9, examining in all sixteen witnesses, of whom ten 
were white and six black. On the 9th, the committee went 
to Columbus, where it took testimony until the 17th, examin- 
ing in all forty-six witnesses, of whom thirty-six were white 
and ten were black. The testimony relating to ]\Iississippi 
embraces two large octavo volumes of twelve hundred closely 
printed pages, and contains a vast amount of material bearing 
upon the political and social condition of the state during 
this period. 

One of the most prominent witnesses before the sub-com- 
mittee at Macon was (governor R. C. Powers, a Northern 
man, and at that time an extensive planter in the county. 
He told the committee that with the exception of a half- 
dozen counties adjoining Alabama, there had been no diffi- 
culty in enforcing the law in Mississippi, and that the only 
lawlessness worth mentioning was that committed by dis- 
guised bands who went about the countr}'^ at night."^ Gov- 
ernor Powers expressed the opinion that much of the crime 

1 Lalor's Encyclop. of Pol. Sci. Vol. II. p. 081. The Clarion of April 14, 
1871, said of this act : " It is predicated on no other foundation than the mal- 
ice and cowardly hatred of its authors for the white inhabitants of the South- 
ern states, and their desire to retain power at the cost of honor and principle 
will intensify the opposition to Repulilican rule and hasten its overthrow." 

2 The only speech of note made by Adelliert Ames while representing Mis- 
si.ssi[)pi in the United States Senate was in favor of tills measure. He gave a 
gloomy picture of afi'airs in the state. His colleague. Senator Alcorn, vigor- 
ously opi)os(-d the measure, and denied the allegations of Ames in regard to 
affairs in Mississippi. Globe, 42d Cong. 2d Scs. App. p. 39;j. 

8 Kuklux Testimony, p. 684. 



THE KTJKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 345 

in Noxubee County was committed by men from an adjacent 
county in Alabama. It was his further opinion that the man 
who took a bold and open stand against the Kuklux would 
be in danger of personal violence. With a few honorable 
exceptions, the most influential men did not take the lead in 
calling indignation meetings for the purpose of denouncing 
Kuklux outrages. That such a policy would have done much 
to discourage the lawless spirit there can be little doubt. 
Until the evidence became indisputable, the Democratic press 
denied the existence of such an organization as the Kuklux.^ 
Some of the papers assumed a sort of apologetic tone, and 
sought to excuse and palliate their acts. There were, how- 
ever, some papers that denounced them as assassins and 
midnight banditti. Such a paper was published in the town 
of Macon.2 

Some of the most sensational testimony before the general 
committee at Washington was that of one John R. Taliaferro 
of Noxubee County. Taliaferro was a Southern man, and 
claimed to be an ex-Confederate soldier and a Democrat in 
his politics. He alleged that, although not a member of the 
Kuklux organization, he had, upon invitation, gone along with 
them in sevei'al of their raids. The pass-words " Hail " and 
" Mount Nebo," he said, admitted to the camps of Winston, 
Lauderdale, Kemper, Lowndes, and Oktibbeha counties in 
Mississippi and in Pickens County, Alabama. The signal ■ 
for distress, he said, was generally " Kosciusko." In some 
communities the words "Avalanche" or "Bleecher" were 
the signals. In public places, the sign of recognition was the 
drawing of the hand across the chin, and the response was 
given by placing the hand on the lapel of the coat. Meet- 
ings were held regularly every two weeks at such time and 
place as was appointed by the captain. No written com- 
munication was permitted. Minor punishments, such as 

1 The Clarion of Dec. 13, 1870, said it did not believe that such an organi- 
zation existed in tlie state. In the issue of March 21, 1871, it admitted the 
existence of the Kuklux Klan, and said its origin was due to the " instinct of 
self-preservation. " 

2 This was tlie Macon Beacon, a Democratic journal, published by Ward and 
Ferris. In the issue of May 14, 1870, it was said ; "These midnight banditti 
are doing more to thwart the peace and prosperity of our country than a wise 
legislation of years can counteract. Our people should personally endeavor 
to remove these foul ulcers that now and then break out where bad blood 
exists, and apply remedies that will finally restore these diseased parts to 
healthy action. It can be done calmly and .soothingly, but it must be done 
firmly. It should be made disreputable to aid or countenance such outrages, 
and the very perpetrators will then pause and look back with horror on the 
deeds of darkness which they have blindly committed." 



346 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

whippings or warnings to leave, were usually attended to 
by the local Klan, but if life was to be taken, a Klan from 
another county or from Alabama was called upon to execute 
the decree.^ 

Mr. Baskerville, a merchant and planter of Noxubee County, 
and an ex-Confederate lieutenant colonel, testified that there 
was no such orc^anization as the Kuklux Klan in the state of 
Mississippi, although he admitted that occasionally disguised 
men committed deeds of violence here and there. He posi- 
tively denied Taliaferro's allegations in regard to the Kuklux 
organizations in Noxubee County .^ 

Winston, Lowndes, Monroe, Chickasaw, and Kemper 
counties were all the theatres of more or less disturbances, 
and each was the subject of special investigation by the Com- 
mittee of Congress. Kemper County for ten years after the 
war was the scene of animosities and feuds which finally 
culminated in the assassination of the most prominent figure 
in the troubles. This was the sheriff, W. W. Chisholm, an 
ex-Confederate soldier, but a radical of the most pronounced 
type. His friends allege that he was the subject of persecu- 
tion from the time of his conversion to radicalism until the 
time of his death in 1877. The Democrats, on the other 
hand, claim that he was a violent person, and an enemy to law 
and order. He testified at Washington on the condition of 
affairs in the county, and asserted that great lawlessness ex- 
isted the re .^ 

One of the most notable cases of kukluxing in Lowndes 
County was that of the Rev. Mr. Galloway, a Congregational 
minister, and the teacher of a negro school near Caledonia. 



1 Taliaferro's testimony is printed in Vol. I. of the Kuklux Report on Mis- 
sissippi, pp. 223-246. 

2 Kuklux Report, pp. 373-483. 

" The Kemper County troubles have been made the subject of two volumes 
written from very different standpoints. One of these volumes, entitled the 
Chishohn Massacre ; or a Picture of Home Rule in Mississippi, was written 
by J. M, Wells, an ex-Union soldier and a United States deputy revenue 
collector. The book gives a terrible and no doubt overdrawn picture of 
affairs u\ the county. The chief theme is the alleged massacre of Cliisbolm 
and liis daughter and son in 1877. The author gives a somewhat pathetic turn 
to the story, and it aroused considerable feeling in the North. It should be 
said that the killing of the children was purely accidental. Kemper County 
Vindicated — A Peep at Radical Hale in Mississippi, is the title of the other 
history of the Kemper County disturbances. The author is James Lynch of 
West Point, Mississippi, and the book is written as an answer to the charges 
made by Wells. He fixes the responsibility for the troubles on (Chisholm, 
and gives an interesting, but no doubt exaggerated, account of the abuses of 
radical government. Wells's book was published by the Cliicago Monumen- 
tal Association, 1880; Lyuch's, by E. J. Halo & Co., New York, 1879. 



THE KDKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 347 

He was called on by a band of "one hundred disguised 
men," who ordered him to stop teaching. They informed 
Mr. Galloway that they were the spirits of dead Confederate 
soldiers, and had come all the way from Manassas to see that 
poor widows were not imposed upon. He says they delivered 
their order to him in a " lordly manner," and endeavored to 
make him promise that he would stop teaching. In a few 
days, he closed his school. Shortly thereafter, he received an- 
other visit from the Kuklux, who ordered him to stop preach 
ing to the negroes. They accused him of preaching doctrines 
calculated to inflame the minds of his colored parishioners 
against the whites, and even with drilling the negroes at night 
for the purpose of making war upon the Kuklux. This Gallo- 
way positively denied. They plainly told him that there 
were preachers enough in Monroe County without him. He 
refused to make any promises, and they finally went away 
without doing him harm, but warned him of the consequences 
of his disobedience. He admits that he advised the negroes 
to shoot into the Kuklux, in order to frighten them, but 
steadily discountenanced every suggestion of armed resist- 
ance, in fact, used his personal influence to prevent them 
from attacking the Kuklux. He continued his preaching 
and was not again molested.^ 

Perhaps no case of kukluxing in the South was the sub- 
ject of more comment throughout the country than the whip- 
ping of Colonel A. P. Huggins in Monroe County. Huggins 
was an ex-Union soldier, born in Ohio, and reared in Michi- 
gan. At the close of the war, he became an agent of the 
Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi, which office he held for 
about eighteen months. He then became assistant assessor 
of internal revenue, and superintendent of public schools, 
both of which offices he held at the time of his whipping in 
March, 1870. He had made himself obnoxious to the whites 
of the county by his extravagant administration of the pub- 
lic school system. While making an official tour through 
the county, he stopped, upon invitation, to spend the night 
with a respectable white Democratic citizen, by the name of 
Ross. He had been Avarned during the day that the Kuklux 
were " riding " for him the night before, and would in all 
likelihood pay him a visit the following night. About ten 
o'clock, he was awakened by a loud call at the gate, and upon 
looking out of the window, he saw the premises covered with 
men dressed in white. They demanded that he come out ; 

1 His testimony is found in the Kuklux Report, pp. 662-675. 



848 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 



informed him that at a regular meeting of their camp, his 
case had been under consideration, and that they had certain 
warnings which it was necessary for them to deliver to him 
privately, as it was against their rules to deliver warnings in 
the presence of women and children. He at first refused to 
appear. Mr. Ross was then ordered to bring him out, or to 
place a light in his room. Upon his refusal to do so, they 
threatened to set fire to the house. Upon the solicitation 
of Mr. Ross, Colonel Huggins agreed to leave the house. 
Upon reaching the gate, he asked the chief to deliver his 
little bit of warning and allow him to go. The captain then 
pronounced the decree in a pompous manner, saying that it 
had been given in a certain den and registered in some cor- 
ner of hell, the exact location of the registrar's ofiBce having 
escaped his memory. The substance of the decree was that 
he should leave the county within ten days, and relieve the 
people from all taxes. The captain further informed him 
that the rule of the camp was, first to give the warning , 
second, to enforce obedience to their laws by whipping ; third, 
to kill by the Klan altogether , and fourth, if the offender 
still refused to obey, they were sworn to kill him "privately 
by assassination or otherwise." They told him that his chief 
offence was in collecting taxes to keep radicals in office. Not 
deterred by their threat, Huggins says he told them that he 
would leave Monroe County at his pleasure, whereupon a 
number of men sprang over the fence, seized him, and dis- 
armed him. They then carried him a quarter of a mile down 
the road, when they stopped and asked him if he had changed 
his mind. He replied that he had not. Both he and Mr. Ross, 
who had followed, attempted to reason with them, but they 
could not be moved, and insisted that he must leave the state. 
Presently, one of the crowd appeared with a stirrup strap of 
stout leather and proceeded to whip him. They gave him 
seventy-five lashes, and then went away, leaving him with 
Mr. Ross.i 

In Chickasaw County several persons were whipped by the 
Kuklux, the best known cases being the whipping of E. C. 
Echols and Cornelius McBride. Echols was a Southern man, 
but a Republican in politics. 

The only noteworthy Kuklux demonstration in Pontotoc 
County was a raid into the town of Pontotoc on the night of 

1 Colonel Husgins's testimony, as given at Washington, July 19, embraces 
thirty-three pages in the Kukhix Report, beginning with p. 265. He testified 
again before the sub-committee at Columbus, Mississippi, November 13. See 
pp. 820, 828. 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 349 

May 12, 1871. The purpose of the raid was to capture 
Mr. Flournoy, who enjoyed the distinction of being the most 
extreme and obnoxious radical in the state. ^ He was the 
editor of a sheet called Equal Ilijjhts, and held the office of 
county superintendent of education. Judge Austin Pollard, 
chancellor of the seventh judicial district, was holding court 
in the town, and upon being informed of the presence of the 
band, he and Colonel Flournoy went out to meet them. 
Judge Pollard held a parley with them, and demanded their 
surrender. He had no sooner repeated the demand than one 
of the Klan fired, presumably at the judge. The firing then 
became general on both sides, with the result that a young 
man was killed. The young man testified in his dying 
moments that there were about thirty men in the crowd, and 
that their purpose was to get hold of Colonel Flournoy.^ 
/ One of the subjects of investigation by the Kuklux com- 
mittee was the riot at Meridian on March 6, 1871. The 
affair grew out of the relations between the whites and 
blacks of the town, the immediate cause being the act of 
a Northern school-teacher with several negroes in assaulting 
a deputy sheriff who had come over from Alabama to make 
some arrests. The white man was arrested and bound over 
for his appearance at court, but upon the advice of his white 
friends he forfeited his recognizance and left for parts un- 
known. The officers of the town were all Northern white 
men or freedmen, and were all appointees of General Ames 
as military governor. They complained of the manifestation 
of public sentiment which made it advisable for one of their 
leaders to leave, and sent a committee of colored men to 
Jackson to represent to the governor the "true condition 
of affairs " in the town. 

On the 3d of March the colored committee returned from 
Jackson, accompanied by Mr. Moore, a colored minister and 
the representative of the county in the legislature. They 
called a mass meeting of Republicans for the following day 
at the courthouse, in order to make a report of their mission 
to Jackson. The meeting was largely attended by colored 
people, and addresses were made by Warren Tyler, a coloied 
school-teacher, William Dennis, a notorious negro, and the 
Rev. Mr. Moore. The whites charged that the speakers 
advised the colored people to " take things into their own 

1 See his own testimony on this point, Knkhix Report, p. 95. 

2 Flournoy \s testimony is in Vol. I. of the Kuklux Testimony, pp. 82-95 ; 
Judge Pollard's testimony is in Vol. II. of the Kuklux Testimony, pp. 1100- 
1110. 



350 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

hands." About an hour after the adjournment of the meet- 
ing, the store of the ma^'or was discovered to be on fire. The 
fire spread until a number of buildings had been consumed, 
the negroes refusing to help extinguish it, on the ground that 
it was a " white man's fire." During the following day great 
excitement prevailed in the town, and groups of excited men 
could be seen here and there holding street corner meetings 
and discussing the situation. A mass meeting was held 
Monday morning, at which resolutions were adopted con- 
demning the speeches of the colored men. A committee was 
appointed to wait on the governor and request him to remove 
the mayor. 

Shortly after the adjournment of the mass meeting, the 
trial of the three negro orators for " creating disorder " 
began before a Republican magistrate. The trial had pro- 
ceeded for some moments when a tremendous firing began in 
the courtroom. The magistrate fell at the first shot. Twenty 
or thirty shots rang out almost simultaneously. When the 
smoke cleared away several dead bodies were found. Den- 
nis, badly wounded, was carried to the sheriff's office and left 
on the floor. During the night he was killed. Tyler was 
found concealed in a barber shop and was quickly despatched. 
During the firing Moore feigned death by falling to the floor. 
He afterward escaped and made his way to Jackson, pursued 
by a body of armed citizens. He never returned to Meridian. 
After the expiration of his term as a member of the legis- 
lature he became a night watchman at the capitol. He is at 
present a blacksmith in Jackson. 

In the meantime three other negroes had been arrested, 
carried to the courthouse, and put in charge of a deputy 
sheriff for safe keeping. During the night, they were taken 
out and killed. The riot ended by the burning of Moore's 
dwelling house and the colored Baptist church near his resi- 
dence. In the meantime the mayor was informed that it was 
the desire of the white citizens that he should leave the town. 
He was accordingly escorted to the train by three or four 
hundred men, and left for the North. ^ The affair caused 
considerable excitement throughout the state, and the legis- 
lature called on the President for troops. Governor Alcorn 

^ My chief source of information for the facts relating to the Meridian 
troubles is the report of a special coniiuiltec, of investigation apj)c)inted by the 
legislature, and the report of the congressional connnittee on affairs in the 
insurrectionary states. Both committees took a large amount of testimony. 
The report of the state committee is printed as a part of the testimony of the 
congressional committee. See Vol. I. Affairs in the Insurrectionary States. 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 351 

telegraphed to Washington, March 17, that the " riot had been 
suppressed," that the affair was undergoing investigation, and 
that there was no need for troops. Except some " minor out- 
rages " in east Mississippi, he said the state presented an 
unbroken evidence of civil obedience and order.^ ' 

In this, as in most of the so-called riots which occurred in 
the state during this period, each race accused the other of 
responsibility for the affair. It happened in this, as in the 
others, that political conditions were the remote cause, and 
when once the explosion came, the negroes suffered most. 

In the meantime an effort was being made to enforce the 
act of Congress for the prevention of Kuklux outrages. Mr. 
Wells, the United States attorney for the northern district of 
Mississippi, told the congressional committee in November 
that he had under indictment between two and tliree hundred 
persons charged with violation of the Federal enforcement law. 
He stated that he commenced the prosecutions in the United 
States court about the 15th of May, 1871 — less than a month 
after the passage of the act, and that he had been engaged 
constantly in travelling or otherwise prosecuting his duties. ^ 

On Tuesday, the 28th of June, 1871, the first important 
tiial in the United States under the Kuklux Act began at 
Oxford before Hon. R. A. Hill, United States district judge.^ 
The case was entitled Ex parte Walton et al., and was a pro- 
ceeding by writ of habeas corpus upon application of twenty- 
eight persons charged with the killing of a negro in Monroe 
County on the night of March 29. Forty odd witnesses 
were examined, their testimony covering sixty-one pages of 
the printed record. Able counsel were employed on both 
sides, and rarely has a criminal trial in Mississippi been con- 
ducted with more ability.* The trial lasted eight days, and 
was attended with great interest and excitement. A com- 

1 Jackson Clarion, March 28, 1871. 

2 Testimony, p. 1148. 

8 My chief authority for the account of the trial is a pamphlet entitled : 
A Full Report of the Great Kuklux Trial in the United States District 
Court at Oxford, published privately. It contains the argument of the 
counsel, copies of the indictment and other processes, the testimony of all 
the witnesses, and the decision of the court, making a volume of one hundred 
pages. The pamphlet, except the argument of the counsel, was incorporated 
in the report of the Kuklux committee, and embraces sixty-one closely 
printed pages. See pp. 9.30-997. 

* The counsel for the United States were G. Wiley Wells, United States 
Attorney for the northern district ; E. P. Jacobson, United States Attorney for 
the southern district ; H. C. Blackman, H. W. Walter, Van H. Manning, and 
G. P. M. Turner. For the petitioners were W. F. Dowd, S. J. Gholson, 
Reuben O. Reynolds, Robert E. Houston, J. D. McCluskey, and E. O. 
Sykes. 



352 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

pany of United States infantry and one of cavalry Avere on 
hand to maintain order. 

The petitioners denied the allegation in the bill of indict- 
ment, and declared that the witnesses who swore to the facts 
therein, perjured themselves ; and that the district court of 
the United States had no jurisdiction, since the deceased and 
his alleged murderers were all citizens of the state of Mis- 
sissippi, whose courts alone could try offences between its 
citizens. The question thus involved the constitutionality 
of the Enforcement Act. The court decided that the act was 
a constitutional measure ; that Congress had the power, by 
virtue of the Fourteenth Amendment, to enact legislation for 
the protection of colored citizens and those who had supported 
the cause of the Union, even to the extent of depriving the 
state courts of jurisdiction over crimes committed against 
such persons ; that, consequently, the court had jurisdiction 
of the cases in question. The judge refused to discharge 
the petitioners from prosecution, but released sixteen of them 
upon their own recognizance in the sum of $500 each, condi- 
tioned upon their appearance at the next term of court. 
Eight others were released upon a recognizance of $5000. 

There was a general rejoicing among tlie whites at the release 
of the prisoners, for the belief seems to have been widespread 
among them that the prisoners had been wrongfully arrested 
and kept away from their families and crops. ^ Upon their 
arrival at Aberdeen, they were met by a large crowd of citizens, 
who offered their congratulations. There was cheering and 
firing of cannon, and other demonstrations of rejoicing.^ 

The first trial in tlie southern district began at Jackson, in 
February, 1872. It was the case of L. D. Belk, and grew out 
of the Meridian riot. 

On April 10, 1872, district attorney Wells reported to the 
Attorney General of the United States the names of 490 per- 
sons who had been indicted in the northern district of Missis- 
sippi in j)ursuanc.e of the Kuklux law; 172 who had been 
arrested and bound over; 28 who had pleaded guilty; and 
14 who had confessed and turned state's evidence.^ It ap- 
pears from his report that tlie twenty-eight persons charged 
with the murder of the negro in Monroe County, and who 
were released upon writ of habeas corpus by Judge Hill, 

1 See on this point the testimony of General Gholson, pp. 878-879, and of 
Colonel Reynolds, p. 910. 

* For account of this demonstration, see testimony of A. P. Huggias, 
p. 820 ; of S. J. Gholson, p. 878, and of U. O. Reynolds, p. 910. 

» Ex. Docs. 2d Sess. 42d Cong. No. 268, pp. 30-44. 



THE KUKLUX DISTURBANCES IN MISSISSIPPI 353 

in June, 1871, pleaded guilty at the December term of the 
court, and it also appears that the sentence was not car- 
ried into execution. The district attorney reported that no 
parties had been convicted except those who pleaded guilty, 
as the time of the court, up to the date of his reappointment, 
had been occupied in hearing petitions for writs of habeas 
corpus and motions to quash indictments, generally upon the 
ground of the unconstitutionality of the Kuklux law. In a 
subsequent report he gave the names of 678 persons who 
were indicted in the northern district. Three hundred and 
twenty -five of these cases were disposed of during the year 
1872, there being 262 convictions.^ During the year ending 
June 20, 1873, 268 cases were disposed of, 184 of which 
were convictions. On July 1, 1874, 171 cases were pending. 

Mr. Jacobson, the United States attorney for the southern 
district, reported February 17, 1872, the names of 152 persons 
who had been indicted for violation of the Kuklux Act, the 
majority of the cases being " conspiracies to injure citizens 
because of the exercise of the right of free speech." He gave 
the names of twelve persons who had confessed their guilt. 
It appears that there had been no convictions, up to the time 
of his report.'^ 

It remains to be said in conclusion that much of the re- 
sponsibility for these so-called Kuklux disorders must rest 
ultimately upon the authors of the congressional policy of 
reconstruction. The policy by which political power in the 
South was suddenly transferred from the hitherto dominant 
class to a race emerging from slavery was one of the most 
dangerous experiments ever undertaken by the law-makers of 
any country. That such a policy could have been carried 
through, unattended by social and political disorders, espe- 
cially in view of all the attendant circumstances, no intelligent 
man will for a moment expect. History abounds with illus- 
trations of the truth that the secret conclave, the league, and 
the conspiracy are tlie sequences of political proscription and 
disfranchisement. The Illumines in France, the Tugendbund 
in Germany, the Carbonari in Italy, and Nihilism in Russia, 
are notable examples. In the Southern states, opposition to 
the congressional policy of reconstruction did not take the 
form of armed and organized resistance, but of secret retalia- 
tion upon its agents, and especially favored beneficiaries, 
'regardless of race, color, or nativity. 

1 Ex. Docs. 42d Cong. 3d Ses. No. 32, p. 11. 

2 Ex. Docs. 42d Cong. 2d Ses. No. 268, pp. 30-44. 
2a 



\ 



CHAPTER TENTH 

Educational Reconstruction 

One of the schemes of the reconstructionists in Mississippi 
was the establishment of an elaborate system of public schools 
for the benefit of both races. Prior to tlie war, almost the 
only free schools in the state were those maintained out of 
the proceeds arising from the sale or lease of the so-called 
sixteenth section lands, granted to the state by Congress in 
the early part of the century. But as most of these lands 
had been lost by mismanagement, the number of such schools 
, was not very large. ^ They were open, of course, only to 
white children. 

The traditional preference for the private school, due 
largely to historical conditions in the South, had militated 
against the establishment of a uniform system of public edu- 
cation. However, a tendency in this direction had been in 
process of development at the outbreak of hostilities. 

With the occupation of the state by the Federal armies, 
the work of teaching the negroes began. The first schools 
established for this purpose were at Corinth shortly after 
the occupation of that town by the Union troops in 1862. 
The American Missionary Association, the Freedmen's Aid 
Society, and the Society of Friends had established schools 
about Vicksbvirg before the close of the war. Upon the 
organization of the Freedmen's Bureau, a more systematic 
and comprehensive plan of negro education was undertaken. 
Joseph Warren, chaplain of a negro regiment, was appointed 
superintendent of freedmen's schools for the state at large. 
These schools were under military supervision, and benevo- 
lent associations supplied them with books and, in many 
cases, furnished clothing to the students. The following 
exhibit from the report of Superintendent Warren shows 
tlie number of schools and the enrollment on March 31, 
1865 : — 

1 Joseph Bardwcll, state superintendent of education in 1870, says there 
were 1116 public scliools in Mississippi in 18(50, attended by 30,970 pupils. 
See his report for 1876. 

354 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRtJCTION 



a56 



Vicksburg .... 
Camps near Vicksburg 
Davis Bend Colony . 
Natchez 



Schools. 



11 
4 
4 

11 



Teachers. 



22 
9 
9 

20 



Enrollment. 



1854 
720 
739 

1080 



The teachers were, for the most part, supported by the 
Northwest Freedmeii's Commission, the Friend's Society, 
the United Brethren, the American Baptist Home Mission- 
ary Society, the National Freedmen's Relief Association, the 
American Missionary Association, and the Reformed Pres- 
byterian Board. 

The bureau officials reported, in 1867, that Vicksburg had 
a negro normal school attended by 450 pupils, while the 
common schools of the city had an enrollment of 1700. In 
1869, they reported that 81 negro schools, attended by 4344 
pupils, were in operation in the state with 105 teachers, 40 
of whom were colored. 

The reconstruction convention, many of whose members 
were freedmen or Northern white men, was thoroughly im- 
bued with the idea of education for the negro race. The 
constitution which they adopted made it the duty of the 
legislature to encourage by all suitable means the promotion 
of intellectual, scientific, moral, and agricultural improve- 
ment by establishing a uniform system of public schools for 
all children between the ages of five and twenty-one years. 
Constitutional provision was made for a permanent school 
fund, and the legislature was empowered to levy a poll tax 
not exceeding $2 per capita.^ 

Governor Alcorn in his inaugural announced emphatically 
that the government during his term would devote a large 
part of its energies and resources to the establishment of a 
system of common schools for the " poor white and colored 
children of the state who had been permitted in the past to 
grow up like wild flowers." ^ Some weeks later, he sent in 
a special message reminding the legislature of the constitu- 
tional obligation resting upon them in this matter, and urged 
immediate action upon the subject.^ On the Fourth of July, 
the legislature passed an elaborate act " to regulate the sup- 

1 Constitution of 18R8, Art. VIII. Sees. 6, 6, 7, 8. 

2 Senate Journal, 1870, p. 01. 

8 Appendix to Senate Journal, 1870, pp. 12-20. 



^y 



356 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

port, organization, and maintenance of a uniform system of 
public education for the state." Tlie act guaranteed to each 
child the advantages of a public school for at least four 
months of each year. A state board of education was cre- 
ated and vested with the power of general supervision of 
all public school interests. A state superintendent elected 
by the people was to be ex officio president of the board, and 
was charged with prescribing rules and regulations for the 
management of public schools. His salary was fixed by stat- 
ute at f 3000 per year, and he was allowed $1200 for clerk hire. 
County superintendents were to bo appointed by the state 
board, and were charged with examining applicants, granting 
certificates, and performing such other duties as the state 
superintendent might designate. There was to be a board 
of six directors in each school district of the county. They 
were charged with establishing schools, hiring teachers, 
selecting text-books, and estimating the cost of constructing 
or renting buildings. Their compensation was fixed at $3 
per day and mileage. Each board was also to have a secre- 
tary at a salary of i|3 per day. Boards of supervisors were 
authorized to levy a tax sufficient to defray the expenses as 
estimated by the directors, except that they were limited to 
a tax rate of fifteen mills on the dollar. It was made the 
duty of the directors to establish a school wherever the 
parents or guardians of twenty-five children of school age 
should make written application for it.^ Serious objections 
were at once urged against the law by Democrats and Repub- 
ans as well. In the first place, it provided for a system 
of education entirely too expensive, in view of the impover- 
ished condition of the people. The desolation of a long war, 
a succession of crop failures, a Federal tax on cotton equiva- 
lent to one-fourth of its value, the loss of the slaves, and the 
increased taxes necessary for rebuilding and repairing pub- 
lic institutions, bore heavily upon a people who had never 
been accustomed to heavy taxes, even in the days of their 
prosperity. Moreover, the additional expense of educating 
their former slaves was naturally not very popular. It does 
not appear, however, that there was any opposition by the 
more intelligent whites to an economical scheme of negro 
education, for they clearly foresaw that the higher interests 
of society required that freedmen, who were now their politi- 
cal and civil equals, should receive at least the rudiments of 

1 Laws of 1870, pp. 1-20. All the members of the House Committee on 
Educatiou were Northern men except two who were native freedmen. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 357 

an education. The chief source of objection was the need-^ 
lessly expensive machinery provided for the administration^ 
of the system.! 'pj^g provision for boards of sahiried school \ 
directors and secretaries was entirely unnecessar}'.^ Xhe \ 
county superintendents could easily have performed the ' 
duties assigned to these boards. The authors of the sys- 
tem soon discovered and admitted this fact. 

Another objection to the law was the requirement that 
county superintendents, who were to be paid from the local 
treasuries, should be appointed by the state board of educa- 
tion, thus depriving the people of the several counties of 
the privilege of clioosing competent residents to manage 
their educational affairs, and compelling them in some in- 
stances to accept non-residents — "carpet baggers" selected 
by the central authorities at Jackson. 

Moreover, the tax payers were not only denied the right 
of electing the county superintendents, but they were not 
permitted to choose the still more important officials, the 
directors who estimated the school taxes. These officials 
were appointed by the boards of supervisors, who were them- 
selves appointees of General Ames as military governor, foiVx 
it must be remembered that there was not until November, i 
1871, a general election for county and local officers. Thus / 
it happened that the entire management of the schools, fromi 
the assessment of the taxes to the employment of the teach- 
ers, was in the control of tlie non -tax-paying class. 4Cli£§e 
officials, some of whom were familiar with the excellent sys- 
tems of public education in the old states from which they 
came, sought to create a similar system in the South, without, 

1 Ex-Senator A. G. Brown, in an address to an audience of colored people 
in Copiah County, declared empliatically in favor of educating the freedmen. 
The Columbus Index of Dec. 19, 18(36, contains a long letter from the Bishop 
of Mississippi urging planters to establish schools for the instruction of col- 
ored children on their farms. A state teachers' convention held at Jackson, 
July 31, 1807, advised the establishment of a system of public schools for 
the freedmen. It is probable that this would have been done by the native 
whites had not the "carpet baggers " forestalled their action. The Jackson 
Clarion of Feb. 11, 18(iG, urged that provision be made for the education of 
the negro. It said : " The negro educated by the Yankee will be more dan- 
gerous than the Yankee himself. The negro educated by ourselves will douljle 
our strength. Let us encourage Southern men to educate the negro." The 
Hinds CounUj Gazette of July 18, 1806, stated that "organized plans for the 
intellectual improvement of the negro are being generally adopted througliout 
the state." It announced that a school for the benefit of colored children 
was in operation at Holly Springs, and was under the superintendence of 
Judge Watson, and that Hon. Kinloch Falkner, formerly secretary of state, 
was one of the teachers. There was also a school at Oxford, conducted by 
Chancellor Waddell and several professors of the state university. 

2 The amount expended as compensation for directors in 1874 was $70,000. 



358 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

apparently, taking into consideration the general impoverish- 
ment of the people and the traditional opposition to schools 
maintained by the state. Contributing little themselves to 
the public burdens, they were often unable to appreciate the 
real situation of those who did. They proceeded on a scale 
which would not have been considered burdensome in one 
of the Northern states, but it was unduly expensive for a 
Southern state in 1870. ^ It was alleged that the ordinary 
log schoolhouses used before the war were not good enough 
for the reconstructionists, but that they had to have substan- 
tial frame buildings, costing from -$500 to #1000 each, and 
supplied with furniture purchased by special agents in North- 
ern cities. Wherever twenty-five pickaninnies could be 
assembled, a schoolhouse had to be built and a high-salaried 
teacher employed. The Southern whites refused to teach 
negro children. Negro teachers were not to be had.^ North- 
ern men and women were willing to teach freedmen's schools, 
but a four months' term at ordinary wages did not afford 
a sufficient inducement to attract them to the South. It was 
necessary, therefore, to pay salaries out of all due proportion 
to the value of the service performed and the ability of the 
people to pay, or else have the schools go without teachers. 
During 1870 and 1871, teachers' salaries in Mississippi 
ranged from 840 to $150 per month, according to the grade 
of certificate, the average for the former year being $60.^ 

Examinations for teachers' licenses were not such as to 
ascertain the real fitness of applicants or conduce to a 



1 State Superintendent Pease said of the law : " It would operate success- 
fully in Ohio or Massachusetts, but not in Mississippi. The experience 
of the last twelve months shows that notwitlistanding we have succeeded 
in establishing a lai-ge number of schools, the work has been accomplished 
at the expense of an enormous and unnecessary outlay of labor and money." 
Report for 1871, p. 16. 

2 In Leflore County, in 1874, there were twenty-four schools and only nine 
teachers available. Tliis was the case in most of the river counties. Report 
of state superintendent for 1875. 

3 The following exhibit, compiled from the annual reports of the state 
superintendents, shows the average monthly salary of public school teachers 
in Mississippi from 1870 to 1877 : — 

1870 $00. 

1871 68.90 

1872 51.32 

1873 50. 

1874 56.47 

1875 56.47 

1876 39.87 

1877 29.191 

The highest average in any one county was $75.26 in Chickasaw in 1873. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 359 

high standard of scholarship. They were asked a few oral 
questions by the superintendent in his private office, and 
the certihcate was granted as a matter of course. The teach- 
ers from the North, it was alleged, became political emissa- 
ries among the negroes, organized them into "• loyal leagues," 
and impressed upon them the duty of voting the Republican 
ticket. This was particularly true of negro teachers who 
went from Oberlin and other abolitionist centres. 

Teachers of negro schools could not secure board in the 
homes of respectable white citizens, and consequently had to 
lodge with their colored patrons. Living upon terms of 
social equality with the negro was a grave offence in the 
mind of the Southern white, and was sure to cost the offender 
whatever respect the community might otherwise have en- 
tertained for him. It was too often taken as prima facie 
evidence of loose moral character, whereas, there can be little 
doubt that the great majority of the Northern white men 
and women who taught negro schools in the South were per- 
sons of high moral and intellectual character. However this 
may be, as time wore on, this prejudice disappeared to some 
extent, and a feeling of genuine admiration was cherished 
for the Northern teacher. It came to be a common remark 
that the " Yankee schoolmarm " with her twang, abominable 
pronunciation, and other faults, was par excelleiice the suc- 
cessful teacher and disciplinarian. 

In October, 1870, the new system of free schools went 
into operation. In several counties where the blacks largely 
outnumbered the whites, the attempt to collect a heavy school 
tax met with more or less opposition. In Monroe County, 
where the black population exceeded the white population 
in the proportion of three to one, there was great dissatisfac- 
tion at the manner in which the authorities were alleged to 
have appropriated money for the maintenance of the schools. 
The county superintendent of education was Colonel Hug- 
gins, a Union soldier, and a former agent of the Freedmen's 
Bureau, who held at the same time the office of United Slates 
assessor of Internal Revenue. It was alleged that his esti- 
mates for the support of the public schools were unneces- 
sarily large, and that he refused to make use of schoolhouses 
offered him without charge, but instead, erected new frame 
buildings throughout the county, and paid teachers unrea- 
sonably large salaries.^ The superintendent charged that the 

1 The salaries of teachers in Monroe County ranged from $50 to $150 per 
mouth, according to the grade of certificate, the average being .$70 in 1873. 



360 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

Kiiklux attempted to break up the schools, and that they 
notified two of the school directors, who had been particu- 
larly prominent in fixing the estimates, to resign their posi- 
tions within a certain time or they would be " dealt with " 
according to the well-known customs of the Klan. The 
directors promptly complied with the request. ^ Nearly all 
of the teachers in that part of the county east of the Tom- 
bigbee River, twenty-six in number, were notified to close 
their schools. One of these was a lady from Geneseo, Illi- 
nois. She had been sent to Mississippi by the American 
Missionary Society, and was engaged in teaching a small 
school at Cotton Gin Port at a salary of ^15 per month. 
She had endeavored to secure board with a white family, 
but being unsuccessful, had taken up her abode with a family 
of negroes. She was visited by the Kuklux in March, 1871, 
and was ordered to leave. She promptly obeyed the order. ^ 
Dr. Ebart, one of the school directors, a Southern man and 
the teacher of a white school in Aberdeen, received a similar 
notification. On account of opposition to the extravagances 
of the school authorities, tlie board of supervisors declined 
to levy the special tax of 10| mills.'^ 

In Lowndes County, there was also more or less opposition 
to the course of the school authorities.^ Lowndes, like Mon- 
roe, had a large negro population, there being four times as 
many colored children of school age as white children. Sixty 
public schools were opened and teachers employed at salaries 
ranging from -$50 to Il50 per month, the average being $18. 
A number of school buildings were erected, and the superin- 
tendent was authorized to proceed to St. Louis and purchase 
furniture and apparatus, his expenses being paid out of the 
county funds. The board of supervisors levied a s}>ecial 
tax of i95,000 in addition to the poll tax. The whites 
protested, called a meeting at Columbus, and appointed a 
committee to urge a reduction of the levy, and another to 

In addition to the poll tax, the school directors in that county levied a prop- 
erty tax of 10^ mills on tlio dollar. Tlie law allowed 15 mills. Colonel IIu.sc- 
gins testified before the Kuklux committee at Washini;loii that the whole 
amount expended for school furniture in Monroe County was §2100, and that 
the purchases were made in St. Louis. The average cost of the buildings 
erected was about $400 each. One was built in Aberdeen, at a cost of ^Gl'iO. 
Seventy-five schools were established and twenty-four buildings erected at an 
aggregate cost of $10,000. 

1 Testimony of A. P. ITuggins, Kuklux Report, p. 281, 

2 Kuklux lieport, p. 777. 

8 Testimony of F. H. Little, Kuklux Report, p. 307, 
■» The superintendent was Dr. J. N. Bishop, a Northern man, at present a 
physician of note in New York City. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 361 

investigate and report upon the financial condition of the 
county.^ The opposition became so strong that the board 
decided to reduce the assessment one-half. Several teachers 
were whipped, and a number of schools broken up by the 
Kuklux. One of the teachers who was thus dealt with was 
a Northern man, who boarded in a negro family and taught 
a negro school about seven miles from Columbus. He was 
visited by a band of disguised men, and told that he had no 
business teaching " nigger " schools, and that the whole sys- 
tem was a humbug and an imposition on the people.^ 

The Rev. Mr. Galloway, a Congregational minister from 
the North, and teacher of a negro free school at Caladonia, 
received a call of a similar character. ^ Two other teachers 
who received orders to close their schools were old citizens 
of the county, and one of them was a one-armed Confederate 
soldier.* It will thus be seen that the victims of these pro- 
ceedings were limited to no particular class of teachers, but 
included Southern as well as Northern teachers and ex-Con- 
federate as well as ex- Union soldiers. They all appear to 
have been honorable and well qualified. It is reasonable to 
conclude, therefore, that the opposition was not in any sense 
political, nor does it seem to have been directed against the 
public school system per se, but rather against its abuses. 

In Noxubee County, the only interference with the public 
school system was the burning of three or four schoolhouses.^ 
The county superintendent was notified by the " Grand Cy- 
clops" to resign his position.^ 

In the adjoining county of Winston, the opposition was 
more marked, and likewise took the form of schoolhouse 
burning. Governor R. C. Powers told the congressional com- 
mittee in March, 1871, that no one had been permitted to 
teach a negro school or a white public school in the county for 
seven or eight months, and that every house in the county 
where a school was being taught, except one, had been 
burned.'' On the 6th of April, a mass meeting of citizens 
was held at the county seat, and resolutions were adopted 



1 The report of the committee is printed in full in the Columbus Index of 
June 1, 1871. 

2 Testimony of Lewis Perkins, Kuklux Report, p. 899 ; also Testimony of 
H. B. Whitfield, p. 420. 

8 Testimony of J. F. Galloway, ibid. p. 663. 

* Testimony of H. B. Whitfield, ibid. p. 420. 
^ Testimony of A. K. Davis, ibid. p. 477. 

* Testimony of J. B. Allgood, ibid. p. 499. 
' Testimony of R. C. Powers, ibid. p. 588. 



362 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

condemning these acts, after which it appears that no more 
houses were burned. 

The most notable case of interference with the schools in 

Chickasaw County was the whipping of Cornelius McBride, 

a young Irishman from Cincinnati, who had previously 

taught a negro school in Oktibbeha County. With the 

consent of the whites he opened a school in Chickasaw 

County, and was kindly treated by his neighbors. On 

account of his popularity and intelligence he was asked by 

the whites to take charge of their Sunday school. For 

J a while, after the beginning of the Kuklux raids, he was not 

ij molested, but in the latter part of March, 1871, they went 

I to his house, took him out, and severely whipped him. Refus- 

I ing to be deterred by the threats of the Kuklux, he returned 

\ to his school the following morning, and taught it out with- 

\ out further molestation. According to McBride's testimony, 

two hundred free schools had been opened in the county, all 

being supplied with teachers at salaries ranging from $10 

to iilOO per month. 1 

Mr. Schneider, the teacher of a negro school in Warren 
County, received the following notice from the Kuklux : — 

Headquarters K.K.K. March 3, 1871. 

Mr. S : — As it is customary for our order never to attack any 
one without just telling him the cause and giving him fair warning, 
M^e wish to say, that having had your case before the order at its 
last meeting, you were found guilty of certain misdemeanors by a 
unanimous vote. 

Charge 1. Associating with negroes in preference to the white 
race as God ordained. Guilty. 

Charge 2. For being instrumental in the removal of one of our 
fellow citizens from the office of justice of the peace in the county 
and beat where you reside and placing a carpet bagger, negro, and 
scallawag in his stead. Guilty. 

There was one other charge, but there being a few dissenting 
votes on this — not guilty. 

It is an established rule of the order never to give a man more 
than three days to leave the county, but taking it into careful con- 
sideration your situation and the size of your carpet bag, we 
have concluded to extend the time to five days ; at the expiration 
of said time, we will wait upon you if j^ou are in the countv. 
Hoping that you will view the subject in a sensible light and 

1 See Kuklux Report, pp. .325-342. He was doubtless in error as to the 
number of schools in the county. None of the counties, except Hinds and 
Warren, had as many as one hundred and fifty public schools at that time. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 363 

leave, as we always dislike to use harsh means, our object being 
to purify our state, and we comrDence our work on scallawags 
and carpet baggers first. 

Yours, etc. 

A wronged and outraged IMississippian 
and chief of the Kuklux Klan. ' 

In Pontotoc County, a number of the teachers were noti- 
fied by the Kuklux that unless they closed their schools, they 
would be " dealt with." In every instance they were teach- 
ers of negro schools, and oddl}' enough all except one were 
Democrats. Sixty-four free schools had been established, and 
all of the teachers except eleven were Democrats. An attempt 
to "Kuklux" i\Ir. Flournoy, the sui)erintendent, resulted 
disastrously for one of the members of the band. He proved 
to be a young man of respectability in the neighborhood.^ 

At first the belief was general that it was the purpose of 
the reconstructionists to force mixed schools upon the whites, 
and, to be sure, there was no express provision in the constitu- 
tion for separate schools, a proposition to incorporate such a 
provision having been voted down, ever}' colored member 
opposing the motion. On this subject, tlie Jackso7i Clarion ^ 
said : " Is^o intelligent and true friend of the negro, much less 
of the white race, can look upon the measure (the provision . 
in the constitution of 1868 relative to public schools) with / 
any other feeling than that of disgust and loathing. Its 
authors have sown the seeds of discord between the two 
races. They cannot and will not intermingle on terms of 
social equality as contemplated by this odious scheme." Again 
the Clarion declared that it would require a standing army 
to enforce such a pi'ovision.^ When it became evident, how- 
ever, that there was no intention of establishing mixed schools, ^ 
much of the opposition wore away, so that Superintendent 
Pease w^as able to report in 1871 that "a most marvellous 
revolution of sentiment " in legard to negro education had 
already taken place. As the sentiment in favor of negro ' 
schools increased,- State Superintendent Gathright, a native 
Southerner, advised the white teachers in a public address in 
1876, to lay aside their prejudices and teach negro schools. 
He argued that such a policy would keep in the state the 
large sums that went to pay Northern teachers. It would also 

1 Report state superintendent of education, 1871, p. G9. 

2 Testimony of K. W. Flournoy, Kuklux Report, pp. 82-96. 
8 Issue of Ffb. 21. 1808. 

* Issue of March 11, 18rt8. 



364 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

remove what was regarded as an objectionable element, 
namely, the class of teachers that organized and controlled 
the negroes politically. The address was widely commented 
on at the time. The Vicksburg Herald, under the caption 
'' Wheat vs. Chaff," said: " The recent pronunciamento of Pro- 
fessor Gathright, the head centre of the educational interests 
of the state, contains some sound wheat and more or less 
chaff. His advice to the teachers of the state now workins: 
under hira was good to a certain extent; but when he endeav- 
ors to persuade the daughters of our state to enter the field 
as teachers of negro schools, it would be strange if the propo- 
sition created much enthusiasm. A lady who is capable of 
teaching at all must be sore in need if she has to resort to a 
colored school to eke out a precarious existence, and we hope 
the time will never come when any true daughter of the South 
will ever be put to that necessity. . . . Professor Gathright 
no doubt means well, but that does not help his proposition."^ 
The results of the first year of free education in Mississippi 
were encouraging to the reconstructionists, notwithstand- 
ing the undoubted diffituilties which they had to confront. 
State Superintendent Pease reported that more than 3000 
free schools had been opened, with an attendance of 66,257 
pupils. Of the 3000 teachers employed, all except 399 
were white. Five hundred school sites had been donated 
and 200 buildings erected by private subscription. The 
total expenditures, on account of public education for the 
year, were 8809,766.76, an amount which exceeded the gov- 
ernment expenditures for all other purposes.^ This burden 

1 Issue of May 12, 1876. The Hinds County Gazette, as early as July 13, 
1806, lamented that "Cape Cod schoolmarins " were swarming into Missis- 
sippi, and to counteract the evil of which, the white citizens in every neigh- 
borhood where there was a colored schnol, were advised to select some " well- 
known, competent, and undbjcctionabKj" woman to teach tlie school, as a •' full 
and free indorsement of the community" would prevent ostracism of her. The 
eilitiir notierd a f^reat desire amoni; tlie ne,ii:roes for " Yankee " teachers. 

■■^ The Jivkson Clarion did not think the educational outlook afforded 
mucli cause for congratulation. It said: "The present system of common 
schools is a humbug. One million dollars was spent last year, with very little 
advancement in learnincc. The mndns operandi is a very few hours of in- 
struction each day — school closed eiglit months in the year: a greedy swarm 
of useless drones in the shape of S'.'houl ollieers doint; nothini^ and living liiiili 
on extra vauant salaries, squandering the vast school funds in thieving Ciunbi- 
nations and contracts for tine furniture and useless books, and for builtling 
fine schoolhonses. The whole thing is an abortion, a swindle, a carpet-bag 
fraud, (in the people." The same paper announced that the Democratic party 
proposed to reform all abuses, maintain good schools for ten months in the 
year, cut off ail lazy and usde.ss officers, get good teachers, reduce the luun- 
ber, and pay them well, build plain, cheap houses, and give all the children, 
black and white, a good education for half the money that was being spent. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 365 

niiglit have been much lighter, had it not been for the mis- 
management of the school funds prior to the war.^ More 
than a million dollars of sixteenth section funds, to say noth- 
ing of the Seminary and Chickasaw funds, were lost through 
poor management. Few things in the history of the state 
afford more cause for regret than the manner in which 
these munificent endowments were administered. Had they 
been judiciously managed, they would have yielded revenue 
enough in 1870 to defray the entire cost of the public school 
system. 

Governor Alcorn, in his annual message to the legislature 
in 1871, recommended that county superintendents be made 
elective by the local magistrates of the school districts, as, 
under the appointive system, men "absolutely unacquainted 
with the people of the counties to which they were sent " 
had been selected in many instances. In a special message 
': April 1, he charged that the school directors "presented 
.1 administration which threatened, by the wantonness of its 
extravagance, to impress the more restive of the population 
with a sense that they are being oppressed by taxation." 
" While the average pay of the teachers in the Northern 
schools," he said, " is less than $300 a year, salaries in Mis- 
sissippi range from $720 to $1920 a year." Relative to the 
extravagances of the school authorities in certain counties, 
he said : " With the purchase or erection of brick school- 
houses in some districts, and the furnishing of schoolhouses 
in others with elegant desks and oftice chairs, and the supply- 
ing in others of ap[)aratus better suited to the demands of 
the academy than of the common school, we may accept the 
conclusions that there is some foundation for the general 
outcry against the alleged plunder of the school funds. In a 
few short months of actual work in the county of Lafayette, 
the school board is charged, on very grave authority, with 
having expended $3500 in cash and $4000 in credit, with 
little or nothing to show for the money. In the interests, 
not only of the school funds, but of the peace and order of 
the state, I recommend to you earnestly to set some limit on 
the option of scliool boards as to their outlays." ^ 

B}^ an act of April 17, 1873, the public school system was 
reorganized and simplified. The boards of school directors 
were abolished, and trustees were made elective by the 
patrons. A general property tax of four mills on the dollar 

1 Nineteen of the sixty-four county superintendents in 1870 i-eporleil a 
loss of .$418,765 of tlie sixteenth section school funds. 

2 Appendix to H. and S. Journal, 1871, p. 1198. 



366 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

was levied for school purposes, and teachers' salaries were 
fixed at from -"fSS to '^15 per month. It was still thought, 
however, that the popular election of county superintendents 
would be " a disastrous blow " to public education in the state.^ 

After the restoration of the democracy in 1876, the system 
was still further changed, and expenditures largely reduced.^ 

The first reconstruction state suoerintendent of education 
was Henry R. Pease, a Northern man, an ex-Union soldier, 
and an agent of the Freedmen's I3ureau. In 1865, he became 
superintendent of education in Louisiana by military order. 
Later, he became superintendent of the educational depart- 
ment of the Freedmen's Bureau in Mississippi, and upon the 
readmission of the state to the Union, was elected superin- 
tendent under the new constitution. It devolved upon him 
to organize the system of free schools. His competency was 
never questioned, but the demand of the colored race for office, 
in 1873, caused him to be set aside for a negro named Cordoza. 
Cordoza, at the time of his election, was under indictment 
for malfeasance as circuit clerk of Warren County. Upon 
his impeachment and removal from office in 1876 for misap- 
propriation of school funds, Mr. Gatliright, a Southern man, 
became superintendent. 

It remains to notice briefly the condition of higher educa- 
tion in Mississippi, so far as it was directly or remotely 
affected by the Civil War and Reconstruction. Soon after 
tlie adoption of the ordinance of secession, most of the stu- 
dents of the university organized themselves into a military 
company and applied to the governor to muster them into 
the service. In spite of the appeal of President F. A. P. 
Barnard and Professor Lamar, the governor sent up a mus- 
tering officer, and the boys were enlisted. The president 
then addressed a circular letter to tlie parents of the young 
men, asking for authority to demand their discharge. Most 
of the replies assured the president that the enlistments were 
approved by the parents and guardians concerned. The 
company was shortly afterwards ordered to Richmond, and 
took part in the first great battle of the war. Soon after the 
outbreak of hostilities the university closed its doors, the 
members of the Faculty resigned, and most of them entered 

I 1 Report of state superintendent, 1874, p. 6. 
^ '^ Thus the expenditures on account of tlie state superintendent's office in 
1874 were $17,810 ; in 1877 they were $n7(')8. The cost of clerk hire was 
rtxluced from $2000 to nothing; the cost of printing was reduced from 
$13,000 in 1874 to $1000 in 1870. Tie aggrepnte salarios of county superin- 
tendents were reduced from 948,350 in 1875 to $9700 in 1876. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 367 

the service of the Confederacy. President Barnard, althongli 
a slaveholder, and although his sympathies were in some 
degree with the people of the South, among whom he had 
lived for twenty years, was a Union man, and declined to join 
the secession movement. He went North, and in 1864 be- 
came president of Columbia University, where he had a long 
and brilliant career.^ 

During the war, the buildings and university grounds were 
occupied iirst by the Confederate and then by the Union 
troops. No permanent injury seems to have been done the 
institution by either army, so that the work of reorganization 
was comparatively easy.^ Governor Sharkey, in the procla- 
mation announcing his appointment as provisional governor, 
directed the trustees to meet at Oxford, July 31, for the pur- 
pose of reopening the universitj^ The meeting was duly 
held, a Faculty appointed, and in September, the univer- 
sity opened its doors. The work of the university was not 
materially affected by the reconstruction policy. The dis- 
trict commanders did not interfere with its administration, 
but regularly issued the warrants for its support, and showed 
no disposition to impair its usefulness.^ The trustees ap- 

1 Professor Barnard was one of the many Northern men who were living 
in the South at the beginning of the war. He became president of the Uni- 
versity of Mississippi in 1856, and his administration was in the highest de- 
gree satisfactory to the board of trustees. An incident of his administration 
was the investigation of a charge that he was "unsound" on the slavery 
question and guilty of advocating the acceptance of negro testimony in a 
case of discipline in which one of the students was accused of assaulting a 
negro servant. Barnard, with two other Northern-born members of the 
Faculty, voted in favor of a motion to convict the student upon the testimony 
of the servant, while the Southern members voted against it. The matter 
seems to have excited a good deal of comment, and immediately after the 
publication of the charge concerning his "unsoundness," the president de- 
manded an investigation. The board of trustees made a full investigation, 
and reported that the charge was "wholly unsustained by the evidence." 
Professor Barnard testified before the board as follows: " I am a slave- 
holder, and if I know myself, I am sound on the slavery question." Jefferson 
Davis strenuously urged him to accept government service under the Confed- 
eracy, but he declined. His departure from the state was the cause of gi-eat 
regret among the University trustees. Judge Sharkey declaring it to be noth- 
ing less than a " public calamity." 

The testimony and proceedings in the "trial" of Dr. Barnard are pub- 
lished in the appendix to the House and Senate Journals of 1859. See also 
Fulton's Memoirs of F. A. P. Barnard, ch. x. 

2 On the 7th of December, 18G3, the legislature passed a resolution reciting 
that the university buildings had been occupied by state and Confederate troops 
who had done "great damage to the buildings, grounds, furniture, and books, 
and had destroyed the beautiful groves, much of it in apparent wantonness, 
reflecting no credit upon the officers, and calculated to add very little to the 
character of the army." Laws, p. 282. 

8 Mayes's Hist, of Education in Mississippi, p. 102. 



368 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

pointed by the district commanders were old and highly 
respected citizens of the state, and the appointments were 
approved by all parties. The reconstruction legislature, 
however, was not disposed to pursue a non-interference policy, 
and in May, 1870, it passed an act to "reconstruct" the uni- 
versity. A new board of trustees, among whom were several 
" carpet baggers " and a number of native Republicans, was 
appointed in pursuance of the act. The " radicalization " of 
the university was the subject of loud complaint, and some of 
the newspapers called upon Democratic members of the 
Faculty to resign, and Democratic citizens were advised not 
to patronize an institution where their sons were likely to 
have their political principles corrujpted.i This view was 
not favorably received, and it appears that but one or two 
members of the Faculty left the university in consequence 
of the reorganization of the board, The attendance, how- 
ever, fell off in a marked degree.^ 

It appears that no attempt was made to " radicalize " the 
faculty, and there is no evidence that more than one appoint- 
ment was influenced by purely political considerations.^ Dur- 
ing this period a good deal of nervousness existed among the 
whites, for fear that some colored student would demand 
admission to the university, for there appeared to be no legal 
ground on which he could be excluded. The constitution 
and laws had distinctly provided that all distinctions and dis- 
criminations founded on race or color should be proliibited, 
and the Supreme Court had upheld the Civil Rights Act in the 
case of a negro who refused to occupy a particular seat in a 
Jackson theatre.* The Republican party, in its platform of 
1873, declared that it recognized no distinctions in the rights 
of all children to equal privileges, and access to all public 
schools, colleges, and universities, and declared, moreover, 
that should any pf the said institutions deny admission to 
any child on account of color, the party was pledged to 
enforce this declaration by appropriate legislation. 

^ Mayes''s Hist, of Education in Mississippi, p. 164. 

2 The university opened in September, 1870, with only sixty students, nnd 
as Late as .January, there were only one hundred present. The Jackson 
Clarion of Oct. 11, 1870, said -. "The people have revolted at the thought of 
placing their sons under radical patronage, when the country abounds with 
schools uncorrupted by radical inlluences." 

8 Some of the Kepublicans arraigned the Faculty for permitting certain 
students in their commencement addresses to make use of " partisan lan- 
guage," and on one occasion, when a young man was discoursing on "Our 
Dead Heroes," a radical member of the board "insulted" him by leaving 
the hall. The affair was the subject of a good deal of newspaper comment at 
the time. Jackson Clarion, July 24, 1873. 

* Donnell vs. Mississippi, 48 Miss. 601. 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRUCTION 369 

The uncertainty as to what action the university authorities 
would take in the event the radicals should insist upon the 
admission of negro students led Judge Hudson of Yazoo 
City to address an open letter to the Faculty propounding 
this question : " Will the Faculty, as now composed, receive 
or reject an applicant for admission as a student on account 
of color?" The chancellor and seven professors, in Pj signed 
statement, replied that they would be " governed by consid- 
erations of race and color," and that sliould the applicant 
belong to the negro race, they would, without hesitation, 
reject him, and as the university was established exclusively 
for the white race, they would " instantly resign if the trustees 
should require them to receive negro students." " This," 
said the Jackson Okirion, " is a declaration of war against the 
fundamental principle of the Republican party, and we warmly 
endorse their stand." ^ Governor Alcorn denounced the let- 
ter of the professors as the " stuff of political tricksters," told 
them if they wished to resign they were perfectly welcome 
to do so at any time, and taunted them with being an " obse- 
quious faculty, acting under the fear of such men as Judge 
Hudson." 2 Shortly after the publication of the correspond- 
ence referred to, Mr. Flournoy, the radical editor of Equal 
Rights, published at Pontotoc, announced in his paper that 
he purposed bringing the matter before the United States 
courts under the Civil Rights Act. '' We shall," he said, 
" endeavor to find a colored boy competent to enter the uni- 
versity in a year or two at least, present him for admission, 
and test the question whether the professor or the Constitu- 
tion is supreme." ^ The board of trustees knew that to dis- 
miss the Faculty or open the doors to colored students would 
mean the breaking up of the university, consequently their 
insistence on these points was abandoned. No colored stu- 
dents ever applied for admission to the white university. This 
was probably on account of the liberal provision made for 
their race elsewhere ; namely, the establishment of several 
normal schools and a state university. The university was 
located at Rodney, and its first president was ex-United 
States Senator Revels. The same appropriations were made 
for its support as for the white university, and for several 
years it was in a flourishing condition. Governor Ames, 
however, in 1874, removed Revels, his policy being to retain 

1 The correspondence between Judge Hudson and the Faculty is printed 
in the Jackson Clarion of Oct. 11, 1870. 
^Jackson Clarion, July 31, 1871. 
8 Quoted in Jackson Clarion, Nov. 25, 1870. 



370 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

as few of Alcorn's appointees as possible.^ Revels's successor, 
unfortunately, did not command the respect of the students, 
and there were charges afi'ecling his personal integrity and 
private character. The students revolted at the removal of 
Revels, and about sixty of them withdrew. The president 
was unable to maintain discipline, the university was declared 
to be in "rebellion," and a joint committee of the legislature 
was appointed to investigate its condition. They reported 
that there was a president whose sole duty was to hold even- 
ing prayers and exercises on Sunday at a salary of $2500 a 
year; that the charges of drunkenness, profanity, and lewd- 
ness against several officials of the university were found to be 
true ; that the president should be lequired to teach at least one 
class ; that the offices of superintendent and treasurer should 
be abolished; and the annual appropriations for its support 
reduced from $50,000 a year to $15,000.2 

One of the features of the educational system of the 
reconstructionists was the establishment of a series of fel- 
lowships in the two universities, with stipends of $100 each 
in addition to free tuition. Each county was entitled to as 
many annual fellowships in each institution as it had repre- 
sentatives in the legislature. As the course embraced six 
years' work, it might easily have happened that some counties 
would have had as many as thirty fellows in each university. 
It does not appear, however, that more than $1200 was appro- 
priated by any county in one year on this account. 

Two state normal schools for the colored race were estab- 
lished at Holly Spring and Tougaloo, and were liberally sup- 
ported by the legislature. 

When the reconstructionists surrendered the government 
to the democracy, in 1876, the public school system which they 
had fathered had become firmly established, its efficiency 
increased, and its administration made somewhat less expen- 
sive than at first. There does not seem to have been any dis- 

1 Governor Ames wrote letters to the presidents of a number of Northern 
colleges and universities, asking them to recouiinend a suitable person for the 
head of the university. One of these was directed to a gentleman in Wash- 
ington who was requested to ascertain if Frederick Douglas would accept the 
position, and if he was a supporter of Alcorn. Correspondence of Governor 
Ames, May 25, 1874. 

- The report of the committee is signed by three colored and two white 
members. Senate Journal, 187n, p. 321. 

The Jacksnn Clarion of June 30, 1875, said : " During tlie last four years 
Alcorn University has cost the state $240,000. It would have been more 
economical for the state to have boarded tlie students at the Fifth Avenue 
Hotel, New York, and sent them to Columbia University." 



EDUCATIONAL RECONSTRTJCTION ■ 371 

position upon the part of the Democrats to abolish it or 
impair its efficiency. On the other hand, they kept their 
promise to tlie negroes, made provisions for continuing the 
system, and guaranteed an annual five months' term instead 
of four, as formerly. Moreover, the cost of maintaining the 
schools was very largely reduced, and the administration 
decentralized and democratized, thereby removing what had 
been a strong obstacle to peace and good order. And thus 
the system of public education, unpopular at first, on account 
of the circumstances surrounding its establishment, has grown 
in favor with the people, until to-day it is the chief pride of 
the commonwealth, and is destined to be the chief means of 
solving the great problem which the Civil War left as a 
legacy to the white race. 



CHAPTER ELEVENTH 

The Revolution 

i. the election campaign of 1875 

The election campaign of 1875 was the most exciting in 
the history of the state, and in some respects it will compare 
favorably with any political struggle that ever occurred on 
American soil. The officers to be elected that year were the 
state treasurer, members of Congress, members of the legisla- 
ture, and all county and local officers. The Democrats resolved 
to make a supreme effort to carry the election. For the first 
time since 1868, they were strongly united, and with some 
hope of success, although a Republican majority of 30,000 
was to be overcome. Since 1868, they had made no effort to 
carry the election, with the exception of the feeble attempt to 
elect Judge Dent in 1869. In 1873, they virtually disbanded 
and declined to even nominate a ticket, gave up their party 
name, and supported Alcorn for governor, and Greeley for 
President. They were now encouraged by the schism in the 
Republican party, having reason to believe that they would 
secure the support of many of the white Republicans and 
negroes who were identified with the state. The result of 
the recent election in the North, by which the House of Repre- 
sentatives had become Democratic, also gave them hope. 
The initial movement in the campaign of 1875 began as early 
as the 3d of March, when a caucus of Democratic members of 
the legislature was held in the capitol. It appointed a com- 
mittee of 42, under the cliairmanship of John M. Stone, to 
effect the reorganization of the party. The committee met 
on the 17th of May, and set August 3 as the date for the 
state convention, and recommended the nomination of the 
ablest and best men for Congress, for the legislature, and for 
the state offices.^ The convention which met August 3 was 
a large and representative one. It was addressed by the 
Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar, fresh from his eulogy on Sumner, and 
at the time the idol of his party. He advised strongly against 

» Mayes's Lamar, pp. 249-260, 
372 



THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN OP 1875 373 

the "color line," and urged the whites to do nothing to 
abridge the rights of the colored race.^ The platform adopted 
recognized the civil and political equality of all men, favored 
public education, the selection of honest officials, economy in 
the administration of the government, biennial sessions of the 
legislature, an able and competent judiciary and the restric- 
tion of its duties to judicial functions only, the discontinuance 
of excessive local and special legislation, and the elevation of 
the standard of official character. The chief arraio-nment of 
the Ames government is found in plank number twelve. It 
reads as follows : " The building up of partisan newspapers by 
legislation, the arming of the militia in time of peace, the 
unconstitutional attempt to take from the people the election 
of tax collectors, the attempted passage of the Metropolitan 
Police Bill, the attempted corruption of the judiciary by the 
use of executive patronage, we denounce as great outrages 
upon constitutional liberty ; while, as evidence of the utter 
incapacity of our present rulers to administer the affairs of 
the state, we point to the mass of confusion in which the 
revenue and registration laws of the state has been placed, the 
necessity of extraoi'dinary sessions of the legislature to cure 
the blunders and follies of tlie regular sessions, and to the 
repeated executive and legislative acts which Iiave been by 
the Supreme Court declared unconstitutional and void." 

Another important duty of the convention was the selection 
of an executive committee to conduct the campaign. J. Z. 
George, a late brigadier general in the Confederate army, and 
at tliat time one of the leading attorneys of the state, was 
appointed chief manager of the campaign. 

The campaign was one of unprecedented vigor and enthu- 
siasm. The whites left their fields, shops, and stores to take 
part in the canvass, and for three months little else seems to 
have been done. Every man was pressed into service. " Mis- 
sissippi demands," said the Macon Beacon^ "that every man 
shall do his duty in the campaign." The Republicans were 
almost equally active and determined. They devoted them- 
selves to organizing and drilling the negroes, who were en- 
rolled in clubs, usually one in each community ; weekly 
meetings were lield, generally in out-of-the-way places and at 
night, at which the negroes were harangued by while leaders, 
who carefully instructed them how to register, how to ap- 
proach the polls, and how to vote. Judge Watson says he 

^ The Clarion of August 4 said that his speech was " the ablest made in 
the capitol since the war ; massive in argument, irresistible in logic, states- 
manlike in the policy it advocated, and eloquent." 



374 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

heard them on the stump advise the negroes never to follow 
their old masters in politics, but to watch them and be sure 
to take a different course, and they would certainly be right. ^ 
They were told that tlie Southern white man was their enemy, 
and that Democratic success meant the reinslavement of the 
colored race. This was the most effective argument of the 
Republicans — it was a scarecrow that had not entirely disap- 
peared as late as the presidential election of 1881. The 
negroes were also made to believe that the defeat of the Re- 
publican party would insure the disestablishment of the pub- 
lic school system, or the denial of its benefits to the colored 
race. They were told that General Grant wanted them to 
vote the Republican ticket. These, and many other repre- 
sentations of a similar character, were made by those inter- 
ested in securing the negro vote. Upon the advice of the 
state committee, the whites organized themselves into clubs, 
generally of a semi-military character, had parades, barbe- 
cues, mammoth torchlight processions with banners and 
transparencies, fired anvils and even used cannons in their 
demonstrations. 2 Many of their organizations were furnished 
with military equipments, for which purpose extensive impor- 
tations of arms were made, almost every town receiving a 
consignment. A Vicksburg hardware merchant testified that 
his business was larger in 1875 than at any time in its history, 
except the first year after the war. A well-known Mississip- 
pian who occupied a judicial position in Washington told the 
New York Times correspondent, October 22, that both parties 
in Mississip{)i were arming, each determined to carry the elec- 
tion, that 500 Spencer lifles had been brought to the small 
town in which he had formerly resided, and upward of 
10,000 had been brought into the state at large. Another 
judge testified that 'l<4000 had been spent for arms in his 
county.'"^ These preparations were the subject of much edi- 

1 Boutwell Report, p. 42. 

2 In Monroe, Lowndes, Hinds, Kemper, and other counties, cannon were 
purchased, furnished by the national committee, or borrowed from municipali- 
ties in other states. Constant calls were made upon Chairman Geor;i;e for 
cannon to be used in firing salutes on barbecue days and similar occasions. 
The cannon were dragged from point to point, and discharged along the pub- 
lic roads and in the neighborhood of Republican meetings. The commander 
of the United States post at Jackson loaned the Democrats a cannon, and 
on the occasion of a parade, they fired it so near the governor's lionst' as to 
break the window panes. The commander of the post was court-martialied 
for allowing the United States ordnance to be used for this purpose. The 
Republicans alleged that this kind of d( monstration terrilicd the negroes and 
kept them at home. The allegation was not without foundation. 

8 Boutwell Report, p. 1143. 



THE ELECTION CAMPAIGN OP 1876 375 

torial comment in the Republican press. The Clarion replied 
that it was not unusual for gentlemen of means to purchase 
improved firearms. 

Monster open-air meetings were held in almost every 
neighborhood of the state. The chairman of the executive 
committee was overwhelmed with requests for speakers.^ 
Orators of national repute were brought from other states to 
aid in arousing the people to a sense of the importance of 
the contest. The New York Tribune said the only campaign 
in the country that had any life in it was the one in Missis- 
sippi; that the Democrats were holding immense mass meet- 
ings throughout the state, and a notable feature of these 
gatherings was the attendance of large numbers of negroes. 



II. KIOTS AND DISTURBANCES IN 1875 

The peace and quiet of the state were disturbed several 
times during the progress of the campaign by conflicts be- 
tween the whites and blacks. The first of these occurred at 
Vicksburg on the occasion of a Fourth of July celebration. 
It resulted in the breaking up of the meeting and the death 
of several negroes. 

Another " riot " occurred at Yazoo City, September 1. On 
the occasion of a political meeting at which Colonel Morgan, 
the leading Republican politician of the county, was speak- 
ing, a disturbance was raised which resulted in the death of 
one wliite man and three negroes. The news soon spread 
that the negroes were " rising " and coming to sack the town. 
Great excitement prevailed, the city was put under martial 
law, and an ex-Union soldier deputed to assume control of 
affairs. He organized patrols, and picketed the roads leading 
into the town. Two military companies were hastily organ- 
ized for defence, and were joined by " Northern men and 
Southern men, Democrats and Republicans." ^ The expected 

' Hon. L. Q. C. Lamar was the most popular speaker in the campaign of 
1875. Every community wanted him. Editor Barksdale of the Clarion 
and Judge Wiley P. Harris came next in demand. During the two months 
preceding the election, General George sent and received more than five hun- 
dred telegrams, relating to the management of the campaign. They are 
printed in the Boutwoll Report as a part of the documentary evidence. 

'■^ See testimony of W. II. Foote, a colored member of the legislature. 
Boutwell Keport, p. TOGO; also the testimony of Garnett Andrews, the ex- 
Union soldier referred to, p. ir>99. It is utterly impossible for a Northern 
man, unacquainted witli conditions in the South, to understand correctly 
the terror which an apc'ehended negro insurrection creates in the minds of 
the whites. Colonel Andrews testified as follows, on this point : " From the 



376 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

invasion never took place. Colonel Morgan fled from the 
city, and went to Jackson to lay his case before the governor, 
who finally offered to send him back and reinstate him in his 
office by means of an escort of three hundred colored militia. 
The citizens of the county were " alarmed " at the proposed 
invasion of their county by negro troops, and accordingly 
organized to resist it. The borders of the county and the 
roads leading thereto were watched night and day, and the 
whites were kept informed by telegraph of every movement 
of the state authorities. The Jackson Clarion of October 
13 declared that " the invasion of Yazoo with an armed 
negro militia, fired with bloody intents," would justify what- 
ever measures the citizens might "see fit to adopt for the 
protection of their lives and sacred honor." The excite- 
ment became so intense that Colonel Morgan wisely de- 
clined to return under such circumstances. There is reason 
to believe that had the " invasion " been attempted, few 
colored militiamen would have escaped to tell the tale. 
The purpose of the whites in this respect was open and 
avowed.^ 

On October 9 occurred the Friars Point conflict in Coa- 
homa County. Coahoma, like most of the river counties, had 
colored officials. The sheriff was from Oberlin, Ohio. The 

time of this riot up to the time of the election, and a short time after, I have 
never suffered such an amount of anguisii and alarm in all my life. I had 
served through the whole war as a soldier in the army of northern Virginia, 
and saw all ot it ; but I never did experience such fear and alarm. And this 
was the universal feeling among the white people. It showed itself upon the 
countenances of the people. Men looked haggard and pale after undergomg 
this sort of thing for six weeks or a month, and I have felt, when I lay down 
to sleep, tliat neither myself nor my wife and children were m safety." 
Boutwell Testimony, II. pp. 1201-1255. 

' Colonel Morgan made a lengthy report to the governor, on affairs in 
Yazoo County. It fills ten columns in the Jackson Pilot. Subsequently, he 
published a volume of 512 pages, giving an account of his varied experiences 
in Mississippi. The work is entitled Yazoo, or the Picket Lme of Freedom 
(Rufus II. Darby, Washington, 1881). The career of the "carpet bagger" is 
well illustrated in the life of this man. He was a Union soldier from Wis 
cousin, settled in Mississippi at the close of the war, and engaged m cotton- 
planting and lumbering. Like many Northern men who went South after 
the war, he failed in the business of cotton-plantini:, and entered politics. He 
says he was received by the Southern people with the greatest kindness, 
when he first went among them, but lost his popularity on account of his 
championship of the Freedmen's Bureau and his association with the ne- 
groes. After the revolution, he went to Washington, where, like many other 
carpet baggers in a similar position, he secured employment in one of the 
executive departments. Here lie remained until ousted by Secretary Lamar 
in 1884. He then went West, where he now lives. Morgan's correspondence 
shows that he is a man of education and his political opponents testify that 
as an officer he was able and faithful. 



RIOTS AND DISTURBANCES IN 1875 377 

state senator was colored, and was also from Ohio. While 
holding the office of senator he was appointed receiver of 
public moneys, and within a year he defaulted with a large 
sura and ran away. Another Ohio negro was sent over to 
the county from Jackson to fill the senatorial vacancy, and 
was easily elected. While holding this office, he was appointed 
county superintendent of education, and special agent to col- 
lect taxes. The sheriff wanted him to be elected clerk of the 
county. A convention was held, the sheriff getting his ticket 
through, whereupon the dissatisfied Republicans, among whom 
were tJnited States Senator Alcorn, General Chalmers, Judge 
Reed, and other large property holders, issued a call for a mass 
meeting, at which Alcorn denounced the colored ring in severe 
terms. The sheriff announced his intention of replying to 
the speech on the following Monday, and sent runners through- 
out the county to bring in negroes to protect him in his right of 
speech. On Monday, a messenger came in and reported that 
an armed body of negroes was approaching the town with 
the intention of sacking and burning it. Alcorn and Chalm- 
ers hastily organized a force of whites and went to meet 
the invading host. The negroes were ordered to disperse ; 
a battle ensued in which eight men were killed, two being 
whites.* 

The riot at Rolling Fork in December was, like the others, 
a race conflict. Issaquena County, of which Rolling Fork is 
the county seat, is situated in the Mississippi "bottoms," and 
was made up of large plantations upon which, in some in- 
stances, as many as five hundred negroes lived, with perhaps 
but one or two white families. The owners of the land usually 
lived in the hilly portion of the state. The management of 
the county affairs was almost entirely in the hands of the 
negroes, there being at this time but two white officers in the 
county. The " massacre " grew out of a drunken brawl be- 
tween a young white man and a negro, in which the white 
man was stabbed and left for dead. The news spread through- 
out the county, the report being no doubt greatly exaggerated. 
Then again came the report that the negroes were arming 
and threatening to destroy the town and kill the whites from 
the cradle up. The whites formed a semi-military organiza- 
tion, and chose for their leader the Rev. Mr. Ball, a Baptist 
preacher, a Northern man and an ex-Union soldier, and 

1 Letter of James L. Alcorn in Xeio York Tribune, Oct. 11, 1875. Alcorn 
says the affair had its origin in tlie party schi.sin between his adherents 
and those of Ames. Ames charges Alcorn with being solely responsible 
for it. 



378 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

marched out to meet the negroes. In the fight that ensued, 
six of them were killed.^ 

The most noteworthy of the riots of 1875, and really the 
last race conflict in the state of Mississippi, was that which 
took place at the little seminary town of Clinton in Hinds 
County, September 4, the occasion being a Republican barbe- 
cue. It appears that twelve or fifteen hundred negroes and 
about one hundred white men were present. The Republi- 
cans consented to have a joint discussion with the Demo- 
crats, the Democratic speaker to have the first speech. After 
he had spoken, and the Republican speaker had ascended the 
stand, a tremendous firing commenced, and the negroes began to 
run. How the disturbance started is a question upon which 
the testimony is conflicting. The Republicans charge that 
it was brought about by four or five drunken young white 
men. The Democrats, on the other hand, claim that it was 
begun by the negroes. In the fight that ensued several ne- 
groes and three white men were killed, two of the latter 
being young men, who, it was alleged, were pursued across 
the field, overtaken, and horribly murdered and mutilated. 
The news spread rapidly, and the county was wild with ex- 
citement. Soon special trains with companies of armed men 
came from Jackson, Vicksburg, Bolton, and other places, to 
aid the whites, for it was believed that there was to be a 
general massacre. During the days following the riot, a sort 
of reign of terror existed in the community. Negroes sus- 
pected of being implicated in the killing of the white men at 
Clinton were killed, the number being variously estimated 
at from twenty to thirty." Many negroes in fear abandoned 

1 A few days after this, the whites of Rolling Fork entered into a treaty 
with the negroes, delegates from a dozen plantations being present and sign- 
ing the treaty. Several of the more desperate negroes were excluded from 
the benefits of the amnesty, and the colored signatories pledged themselves 
to be peaceable, and to deliver up certain of these offenders. The whites, in 
turn, pledged to protect the negroes in every way. The treaty is printed in 
Boutwell Report, p. G99, and is signed by seventeen whites and blacks. 

2 Judge Alderson thought the number was fifty. Boutwell Report, p. 295. 
Soon alter the rint, Chairman George, of the Democratic state executive com- 
mittee, appointed a connnittee of three persons to investigate the causes of 
the affair, and report the results to him. They took the sworn statements 
of three negroes and twenty white men, five being classified as Republicans. 
The committee reported that only fifteen took part in the "premeditated 
massacre" of the whites ; that the beginning of tlie quarrel was involved in 
obscurity ; that as soon as the firing began, tlie colored men made a rush with 
the cry : " Kill the white men "; that the whites retreated ; that two negroes 
were killed on the spot, and four or five wounded ; that young Sively and 
Thompson were murdered, and their bodies mutilated ; that Mr. Chilton, an 
innocent white man, was killed in his own yard ; and that Captain White was 



RIOTS AND DISTURBANCES IN 1876 379 

their homes and crops and fled to the swamps, or lay out in 
the woods, sleeping on the ground or in out-houses. Others 
fled to Jackson to seek the protection of the governor, and 
took up their abode about the United States courthouse, where 
they were left to the charity of the people for support. There 
they remained in large numbers for many days, while their 
cotton was spoiling in the fields. They besieged the gov- 
ernor for the state arms, demanding that they be given an op- 
portunity to defend themselves. The whites, fearing that the 
governor would yield to their entreaties, detailed thirty or 
forty of their number to guard the state house where the 
arms were stored. 

Three days after the riot, the governor issued a proclama- 
tion reciting that persons in various parts of the state had 
formed themselves into military companies without authority 
of law ; that they moved from point to point in support of 
each other without the appearance and consent of the peace 
oflicers, and without the knowledge or authority of the state 
government ; that these organizations had overthi'own civil 
government in Yazoo County, set it at defiance in Hinds, and 
created distrust and fear in Warren, causing loss of many 
lives, and compelling many persons to flee from their homes. 
The governor commanded all members of such organizations 
to disband forthwith, and required all citizens to render obe- 
dience to and assist the peace officers in the preservation of 
order and the enforcement of the law. The whites denied the 
existence of such a state of things as was set forth in this 
proclamation, denied that the law was being defied or peace 
disturbed, and, furthermore, offered to place at the disposal 
of the governor a number of military companies made up of 
white men, without respect to party affiliations, to maintain 
order should the occasion require it.^ But the governor had 
no faith in the white militia, and accordingly fell back upon 
his old resource, namely, an appeal to the President for 
Federal troops. He telegraphed the President, September 8, 

stabbed and left for dead. The report was published and circulated as 
Canijiaign Document, No. 2. It is printed in the Bontwell Report. The 
grand jury of Hinds County made a thorougli investigation, examining more 
than one hundred witnesses, and reported March 25, 1876, that while it was 
evident tiuit many persons, both white and colored, were killed, they were 
unable to find any single witness who saw any man kill another ; that no wit- 
ness was able to tell just how the affair began ; and that the riot was eiitirely 
unpremeditated. 

1 The citizens of Aberdeen telegraphed, offering one hundred good men ; 
Natchez offered to furnish one liundred and twenty-five ; Holly Springs, 
one hundred or more. 



380 RECONSTRUCTION IN MISSISSIPPI 

that " domestic violence in its most aggravated form pre- 
vails in various parts of the state beyond the power of the 
authorities to suppress." ^ The following day, Chairman 
George telegraphed Attorney General Edwards Pierrepont 
that there were no disturbances in the state and no obstruc- 
tion to the execution of the laws, and that " peace prevails 
throughout the state, and the employment of United States 
troops would but increase the distrust of the people in the 
good faith of the present state government." Two days later, 
he again telegraphed Pierrepont that offers of help were 
freely made to the governor of assistance to preserve the 
peace, and reassured him that there was no danger of disturb- 
ance unless initiated by the state authorities. Governor 
Ames first tried to get the troops under Grant's Vicksburg 
proclamation of December, 1874, but failing in this, he asked 
for them " because the legislature could not be convened in 
time to meet the emergency." Pierrepont, on September 10, 
asked the governor by wi