The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 42
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Southwestern Historical Quarterly
decree, said one protestant to Johnson, "if enforced must destroy
the courts of the State."' The Houston Telegraph said:
The truth is, trial by jury in this State, either in civil or
criminal cases, is now in the hands of the blacks almost entirely.
There are hardly enough white men in the State who can hon-
estly take the test oath to make a Grand Jury for a Circuit
Court. More than half of the blacks cannot honestly take it.
Not only will most of our jurymen be blacks, but many of the
blacks themselves are shut out.7
I am Satisfied that there are not twelve white men in Cherokee
County who can take the prescribed oath as jurors--without be-
ing guilty of the crime of perjury-I speake advisedly having
lived in this County 18. years. Then if the jurors are to be
made up of the freedmen, formidable difficulties arise.8
Fifteen practicing attorneys protested that jurors could not be
found, yet their jails were full of criminals awaiting trial.' Gov-
ernor Throckmorton sent the order to all local officials but said
it would stop the administration of justice. Judges soon closed
their courts for they could not find men to qualify, and refused
negroes. It resulted in an increase of lawlessness which the re-
construction acts were supposed to end.10
Meanwhile registration was going on, although the obstacles
were often well-nigh insurmountable. Griffin, who had already
predicted trouble, was not surprised:
'M. F. Hunson to Johnson, Houston, April 30, 1867, in Johnson Papers,
'Quoted by Charleston .Mercury, May 8, 1867.
sA. H. Shanks, of Rusk, Texas, to Johnson, May 8, 1867, in Johnson
Papers, CXII, 15338.
'Their words are significant: "Hence it is believed that no county in
the State can furnish the requisite number of jurors possessing the
qualifications required by Gen. Griffin's order, unless we resort to the
colored population, and that we are not willing to do in consequence of
their want of intelligence. We are prosecuting many suits in the civil
courts in favor of citizens of the Northern States, and other portions of
the Union, and we are not willing to risk the causes of our clients in
the hands of such jurors. Our jails are full of criminals, white and
black, and they will have to continue in confinement at enormous ex-
pense to the public, unless this order of Gen. Griffin can be modified
so as to give the Courts the benefit of intelligent jurors." Johnson
Papers, CXIII, 15355.
"oRamsdell, Reconstruction in Texas, pp. 158-60.
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935, periodical, 1935; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth117143/m1/50/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.