The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 38, July 1934 - April, 1935 Page: 45
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Radical Disfranchisement in Texas, 1867-70 45
ity, yet Texas had twice as many whites as negroes. Ex-Governor
Throckmorton said this anomaly was due to a number of unfair
practices: delay in appointing registration boards; selection of
only radicals as registrars; appointment of incompetent negro reg-
istrars; and exclusion of sextons of cemeteries, auctioneers, police
jurors, managers and clerks of elections, police, under-wardens
of workhouses, school directors, ferrymen, overseers of roads, for-
eigners by birth, and many others who might have aided in the
rebellion.23 The number of disfranchised is uncertain, for Gen-
eral Buchanan, then in charge of Texas, reported: "Disfran-
their majority, and the enfranchisement of certain "rebels" by Congress.
In later revisions, more leniency was shown, so that many, refused in
the first registration, were able to convince the boards of their ability
to take the oath. An example of the directions sent out for one such
revision was Special Orders 51, of October 7, 1868, in which it was
provided that three facts must be established before a person could be
placed on the rejected list: that he had held office before the war;
that he had taken an oath to the Constitution upon qualifying for that
office; and that later he had aided the rebellion. Disfranchisement was
to apply to every State office, of whatever kind; the aid must have been
voluntary, and not compulsory; the boards could judge whether the ap-
plicant was lying by securing information from his neighbors; and no
Presidential pardon or amnesty could restore a rebel to the franchise.
The order ended with a list of Texas offices which were offices in the
eyes of the military laws, and which, therefore, disfranchised. Special
Orders Book, 1868, Fifth Military District.
At each of these revisions, new schedules of those disfranchised were
submitted to the registrars; often the lists were considerably changed,
as new Commanders, who interpreted the laws differently from the
manner in which their predecessors had, took office. An excellent ex-
ample of the way in which a radical Commander disfranchised cer-
tain persons who, under a Conservative Commander, were remanded to
the franchise, is Hancock's criticism of the rigid interpretations by
Sheridan, of May, 1867, mentioned above. In General Orders 3, of
January 11, 1868, Hancock said in part: "Grave differences of opinion
exist among the best informed and most conscientious citizens of the
United States, and the highest functionaries of the National Govern-
ment, as to the proper construction to be given to the acts of Congress
prescribing the qualifications entitling persons to be registered as vot-
ers. . . . Such differences of opinion are necessary incidents to the
imperfections of human language when employed in the work of legisla-
tion." He went on to say that he disagreed with Sheridan in regard to
the inclusion of certain officials of municipal charitable corporations
among those disfranchised. But his more liberal interpretation of the
laws did not add enough voters to change the registration totals very
much, one way or the other. "General Orders & Circulars," Vol. 40,
Fifth District Series. It is, however, not difficult to see why the radi-
cals disliked Hancock, even though his reversal of Shleridan's interpre-
tation affected only a few individuals. There were many appeals for his
dismissal. See Governor Pease to Schuyler Colfax, January 15, 1868,
in House Mis. Doe. 57 (40 Cong. 2 Sess.), Vol. 1.
"3National Intelligencer, October 22, 1867.
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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/m1/53/: accessed May 25, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.