The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996

Book Reviews

notwithstanding, Ross's letters provide useful information about his service and
that of his brigade during the war.
Stephen F. Austin State University ARCHIE P. McDONALD
The Papers of Andrew Johnson: Volume xx, August i866-January 1867. Edited by
Paul H. Bergeron. (Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1994. Pp.
xxx+679. Introduction, acknowledgments, appendices, index. ISBN o-
87049-828-2. $49.50.)
Between August 1866 and January 1867, President Andrew Johnson's already
frail hopes of maintaining control of Reconstruction died. His Republican oppo-
nents, strengthened by a recent race riot in New Orleans that confirmed north-
ern suspicions about the South's lack of repentance and his own disastrous
"swing around the circle" campaign in August and September, swept the mid-
term congressional elections during the fall of 1866. The new congress could
not meet until the spring of 1867, but Republicans, who were increasingly will-
ing to follow Radical leadership, stood ready to take Reconstruction away from
the president.
Faced with thousands of documents from the six months covered in this vol-
ume, Paul Bergeron and his staff chose to publish approximately six hundred
letters, speeches, proclamations, and messages that were largely political in
nature. This decision was based, quite reasonably, on the belief that politics
dominated Johnson's world at the time.
Only a handful of the six hundred documents in this volume relate directly to
Texas. A few, however, are very revealing of conditions in the Lone Star state,
and many show the national context as Texans attempted to return to a fully
constitutional relationship with the Union. For example, in late October 1866,
when Governor James W. Throckmorton informed Johnson by telegram that
Texas had rejected the Fourteenth Amendment and sought advice on what he
might have the legislature do to facilitate the state's return to the Union, the
president responded with a letter advising the governor to have the legislature
pass laws extending "equal and exact justice to all persons without regard to
color" (p. 408). Only a man with what might be called "constitutional blinders"
(a belief that the rights of citizens were exclusively a matter of state rather than
federal concern) could have failed to see that rejection of the proposed amend-
ment was a virtual guarantee that the Texas legislature had no idea of providing
equal justice to freedmen.
A Texas document also provides an excellent example of the superb editorial
work in this volume. On December 6, 1866, Oran M. Roberts and David G.
Burnet, the would-be United States senators from the Presidential
Reconstruction government in Texas, sent Johnson a list of complaints about
the actions of occupying forces and Freedmen's Bureau agents in their state. For
this one-page letter, the editors provide three pages of notes to document each
of the complaints and identify the individuals involved. The necessary research is
truly impressive.

1995

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 99, July 1995 - April, 1996. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101217/. Accessed July 23, 2014.