True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young. Page: 12
12 TRUE STORIES OF OLD
their honor and glory, they did their duty as voters and citizens,
and that too under difficulties that were at times almost insurmountable.
In order to reach the voting place each voter had to get in
line and keep his place, too. If he stepped aside even for a
moment, unless he were a negro he forfeited his place and was
forced to take a new one at the end of the line and begin all
over again. Long before the polls opened there were hundreds
of negroes and as many white men as could get there in line.
This line was often one or two blocks long and two men abreast.
Only two men were admitted to the polls at once so the voting
was long drawn out and tedious. Extending from the court
house down to the room where the voting took place was a
double line of Federal soldiers with fixed bayonets, and every
free American citizen, black or white, had to pass between a
line of bayonets to express his will at the ballot box.
Republican strikers and henchmen were continually passing
along the line of voters and were swelling the Republican majority
by slipping belated negroes into the line ahead of the
white men. It was a great outrage but it worked all the same
and gave the Republican managers absolute control of everything.
Of course, the voting time was limited, which enabled
them to shut out the white vote in part if not in whole. The
negroes in the advance voted leisurely, consuming as much
time as possible, thus holding back the line. When a white
man showed up he was put through a sharp questioning; his
right to vote was contested and every obstacle possible was
placed in his way. Finally he was either allowed to vote or
was thrown out# and the negroes were allowed to vote rapidly
in order to make up lost time. I have known of old citizens,
holding their places in the line for hours and then losing their
votes by having the polls close on them promptly at 6 o'clock,
or just about the time the white voters would reach the polls.
Now, conditions such as these were enough to drive men cray
and irresponsible, but yet, strange to say, there was very little
rioting or bloodshed. Most of the lawlessness came from the
other side and Davis' state guard, all negroes, did more to
overthrow the Republicans and scalawags than all the other
causes combined. This was in two ways. The outrages committed
by the negro policemen enraged the whites and the
punishment meted out by the whites terrified the negroes and
their worthless backers, causing them to become less open and
aggressive in their diabolical work.
It is really hard to believe at this later day the outrages perpetrated
by the negro state guards, By the authority given
them by Governor Davis they were supreme and above all
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Young, Samuel Oliver. True stories of old Houston and Houstonians: historical and personal sketches / by S. O. Young., book, 1913; Galveston, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth24646/m1/12/ocr/: accessed October 23, 2016), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; .