Southwestern Historical Quarterly
RADICAL DISFRANCHISEMENT IN TEXAS, 1867-70
WILLIAM A. Russ, Jn.
The Fourteenth Amendment received as little consideration in
Texas as it did in most of the other unrepresented States. Gov-
ernor Throckmorton advised against its ratification, but he need
not have bothered, for the legislature had no intention of pass-
ing it. The House committee said that it would mean wholesale
negro suffrage and practical white disfranchisement; further-
more, that it would require the legislature to be the instrument
of its own degradation. The report was sustained 70-5 and the
Senate treated the Amendment just as cavalierly.' The next
move was up to the radicals.
Congress, fresh from victory in the fall elections of 1866, leg-
islated the -disfranchisements of the reconstruction acts into be-
ing. Under this new policy, rebels were to be disfranchised
according to the third section of the Fourteenth Amendment,
and a radical government was to be established out of the new
electorate-whether the whites agreed or not. The problem of
reconstruction in Texas was difficult enough, considering the still
unreconstructed, unrepentant spirit of its people who had been
far distant from the theatre of the war; but the problem was
not lessened by the unfortunate choice of General Philip Sheridan
as Commander of the Fifth District. He in turn appointed
General Charles Griffin, seemingly of his own volatile and arbi-
trary temperament, to command in Texas. The same broils and
troubles which characterized Louisiana under the short adminis-
tration of Sheridan, occurred also in the sub-district of Texas,
commanded by his subordinate.
One of the first things Griffin desired for Texas was wholesale
removal of "rebel" officials, a desire which struck a responsive
chord with Sheridan who was demanding the same right in
Louisiana. In fact, Griffin had hardly arrived in Galveston be-
fore he wrote to General Forsyth, Secretary of Civil Affairs of
the Fifth District, at New Orleans, for permission to displace
'Charles William Ramsdell, Reconstruction in Texas in Studies in His-
tory, Economics and Public Law, Vol. 36, No. 1 (New York, 1910), pp.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/. Accessed March 15, 2014.