The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 43
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Radical Disfranchisement in Texas, 1867-7,0
The appointment of suitable Registrars [he said] will be a
difficult and embarrassing duty requiring judgment and great
prudence; but upon these selections hinges the whole question.
My duties must be more arduous than those of any other District
Commander, resulting from the extent of territory, the want of
rapid communication, the irreclaimable character of many of the
leading men, who I believe will endeavor to thrown obstacles in
my way, in order that some advantage may be secured to the dis-
One of the snarls that had to be unraveled was the question of
who were and who were not disfranchised under the terms of the
military laws. Sherman and other radical statesmen were del-
uged with queries regarding the extent of the disfranchisement
desired by Congress.12 The registration officers were ever being
faced with some applicant whose case was uncertain. One of the
most common questions was who, within the meaning of the laws,
were executive and judicial officers. Griffin, in asking Forsyth,
Secretary of Civil Affairs, at New Orleans, said: "Webster dis-
tinctly Says that Sheriffs and Constables duties are executive."3
Finally in May, 1867, Sheridan issued a comprehensive General
Order, outlining his interpretation of who were disfranchised by
the laws of the previous March. The list included all those per-
sons, who, having taken oaths to the United States as office-hold-
ers, had then entered the rebellion. It began with Governors and
included all those down to "inspectors of tobacco, flour, beef and
pork, and weights and measures, managers of the asylums for the
deaf and dumb and blind, and sextons of cemeteries."4 Sheridan
was a good radical general and stretched his construction of the
law to the extreme limit in order to disfranchise as many appli-
cants as possible and, in that fashion, to prevent the conserva-
tives and Johnson men from defeating radical plans. Griffin, in
Texas, was a willing subordinate in executing Sheridan's decrees.
HTe ordered that "Boards cannot be too cautious";15 and reminded
1Griffin to Forsyth, March 28, 1867, in Johnson Papers. CXI, 14946-7.
"For instance, John A. Wilson, Grimes County, Texas, March 17, 1867,
to Sherman, in Sherman Papers, CXVIII, 27266.
""Letters Sent. Civil Bureau F. M. D. Vol. I," LIII, 5.
'"Quoted in House Ex. Doc. 291 (40 Cong. 2 Sess.) XVII, 37-9; also
printed in Annual Oyclopcedia, 1868, pp. 728-9. Hancock's disagreement
with some of these interpretations of Sheridan will be discussed later.
"Griffin to W. C. Philips, July 11, 1867, in "Letters Sent. Civil
Bureau F. M. D. Vol. I," LIII, 67.
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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/m1/51/: accessed October 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.