"All the Vile Passions ": The Texas Black Code of
BARRY A. CROUCH*
SURVEYING THE STATE LITERATURE ON THE CIVIL WAR AND RECON-
struction, Randolph B. Campbell observed that "Texas's versions of
the infamous Black Codes of 1865-1866 have been defended as models
of discretion compared to those adopted in other states, but the very ex-
istence of such legislation indicates that Texans did not mean to accord
blacks equality before the law."' Although increasing attention has been
paid to Texas history during the post-Civil War years, little has focused
upon the passage of the black codes, what they portended for the Re-
construction status of the Lone Star State, and whether these enact-
ments really embodied a spirit of judiciousness as applied to the recently
Scholars of Texas history have alluded to and briefly mentioned the
substance of the 1866 black code, but they have not analyzed it in detail
or included the various other statutes that reinforced the code and addi-
tionally limited black rights and equality. Until the 198os, with few ex-
ceptions, writers of the Texas experience believed the Texas laws to be
rather mild and more favorably disposed toward blacks than those of
any other Southern state. Recently, Texas historians have revised previ-
ous interpretations of the code, but their discussions have tended to be
brief and to follow past ideas with a slightly different twist, blaming the
army and the Freedmen's Bureau.
* Barry A. Crouch is professor of history at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., and the
author of The Freedmen's Bureau and Black Texans (1992i). He has just completed a biography of
the East Texas desperado Cullen Montgomery Baker He would like to thank Randolph B.
Campbell and Carl M. Moneyhon for their ideas, consideration, and encouragement.
' Randolph B. Campbell, "Statehood, Civil War, and Reconstruction, 1846-76," in Texas
Through Time: Evolving Interpretations, ed. Walter L. Buenger and Robert A. Calvert (College Sta-
tion: Texas A&M University Press, 1991), 194 (quotation) For additional insights see Ralph A.
Wooster, "The Civil War and Reconstruction in Texas," in A Guide to the History of Texas, ed.
Light Townsend Cummins and Alvin R. Bailey, Jr. (New York: Greenwood Press, 1988), 37-50;
Barry A. Crouch, "'Unmanacling' Texas Reconstruction. A Twenty-Year Perspective," Southwestern
Histoncal Quarterly, XCIII (Jan., 1990), 275-302.
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 97, July 1993 - April, 1994. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117154/. Accessed January 27, 2015.