The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990

The District Judges of Texas in i866- 867:
An Episode in the Failure of Presidential
Reconstruction
RANDOLPH B. CAMPBELL*
ON JUNE 25, 1866, SLIGHTLY MORE THAN ONE YEAR AFTER THE END OF
the Civil War, Texas voters went to the polls to complete the pro-
cess of Presidential Reconstruction in their state. Those who exercised
the franchise that day had, under the supervision of provisional gover-
nor A. J. Hamilton, met all the requirements established by Presidents
Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson for restoring the Lone Star
State to the Union. They had sworn oaths of future loyalty to the
United States and chosen a convention to revise the state constitution in
recognition of the most obvious results of the war, including the death
of slavery. The majority of Texans apparently believed that, once state
and local officers were elected and government under the new constitu-
tion became functional, only a few formalities stood in the way of re-
admission to the Union.'
In fact, however, Presidential Reconstruction in Texas (and across
the South) stood on the threshold of failure. Congress already had
demonstrated its ascendancy by overriding Johnson's veto of the Civil
Rights Bill in April 1866, and the Republican victory in the mid-term
elections that fall would assure the demise of the president's program.
Beginning in March 1867, Texas would undergo reconstruction again-
*Randolph B. Campbell is Regents Professor of History at the University of North Texas. He
is the author of An Empire for Slavery: The Peculiar Insttutzon mn Texas, 182 I- 1865 (1989) and is
currently working on the era of Reconstruction in Texas.
'Charles William Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas (New York: Columbia University, i91o),
55-141, though badly dated, contains the only published account of the two years of Presi-
dential Reconstruction. Major unpublished studies of the period include Nora Estelle Owens,
"Presidential Reconstruction in Texas: A Case Study" (Ph.D. diss., Auburn University, 1983);
John C. McGraw, "The Texas Constitution of 1866" (Ph.D. diss., Texas Tech University, 1959);
and John Pressley Carrier, "A Political History of Texas during the Reconstruction, 1865-
1874" (Ph.D. dlss., Vanderbilt University, 1971). Presidential Reconstruction across all the for-
mer Confederate states has been studied recently in Dan T. Carter, When the War Was Over: The
Failure of Self-Reconstruction in the South, 1865-1867 (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University
Press, 1985).

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed May 22, 2015.