Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago Page: 9 of 58
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RECONSTRUCTION IN TEXAS. 9
around the people of Texas and the South. To the honor of President
Johnson each of these acts was passed over his veto.
These so-called reconstruction laws disfranchised a large number
of the people of each of the rebel States. Not only did this legislation
disfranchise many of the white people of the Confederate
States, but it put the ballot and the right to hold office into the
hands of the recently emancipated slave, and delivered the white
people of the rebel States absolutely into the power of the military.
The military was clothed with the legislative, executive and judicial
authority. The Confederate States presented the spectacle of
a free and intelligent people, in the twinkling of an eye deprived
of all political authority, and their newly freed and ignorant slaves
placed in power over them. These slaves to whom was given authority
over the lives and property of the whites, had no intelligence,
no experience, and no more capacity for the exercise of the
ballot and the powers of intelligent and just government than the
mules they drove for their former masters. This reconstruction
legislation, so drastic and unprecedented, came unexpected, and
fell with stunning force on the people of the Confederate States.
They, at the time, felt that it was cruel and unjust; that they did
not deserve such punishment. They had submitted their cause to
the arbitrament of the sword, and they had lost. They had surrendered
in good faith, and were then loyal to the Union. While
the Confederates felt keenly the injustice and harshness of this legislation,
they also felt that it had its origin partly in passion engendered
by the war, partly in the desire to capture political control
of the Confederate States, but mainly in the want of a correct
knowledge by the Northern people of the conditions prevailing at
the South, and of the feelings and sentiments of the Confederates
towards the Union, at that time.
The reconstruction legislation of the Federal Congress deprived
the great mass of the white people of the Confederate States, for
the time being, whether so designed or not, of all political control,
and transferred the same to the Federal military authorities, the
ignorant negro and the carpet-bagger.
The old Confederate met this legislation peaceably, patiently,
with a united effort, an intelligent diplomacy, and a determination
Here’s what’s next.
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Wood, William D. Reminiscences of reconstruction in Texas ; and, Reminiscences of Texas and Texans fifty years ago, book, 1902; (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth14387/m1/9/: accessed July 26, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .