Texas Almanac, 1992-1993 Page: 44
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44 TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
had also presided over the Constitutional Convention of
The 11th Legislature, the first elected under the new
constitution, passed legislation to allow blacks to testify
only in court cases involving other blacks; to segregate
blacks on public transportation; to prohibit blacks from
holding public office, serving on juries or voting; and to
prohibit blacks from marrying whites. Radical Republi-
cans gained control of Congress in the November 1866
election, and Reconstruction began to take a serious
Dissatisfied with the moderate provisions of presi-
dential Reconstruction, Congress imposed military rule
on the Southern states. Congress nullified all state gov-
ernments except Tennessee's and divided the former
Confederacy into five military districts, giving the com-
manding general of each district total power over state
laws and officials. Gen. Philip Sheridan was in charge
of the 5th Military District, which included Texas.
Seeking their political rights, blacks began to orga-
nize chapters of the Loyal Union League in major cities
in the spring of 1867 with the help of Republicans, who
saw the chance for a coalition to gain control of state
Gen. Charles Griffin, first military commander of
the subdistrict of Texas under Gen. Sheridan, tightened
the restrictions for jury service and voter qualifications
in a way that enfranchised thousands of blacks and dis-
enfranchised about 10,000 whites. Gov. Throckmorton
protested. On July 30, 1867, Gen. Sheridan replaced
Throckmorton with Elisah M. Pease. In the next four
months, the military commanders replaced 500 Demo-
cratic officeholders with Republicans.
An election was held in February 1868 on whether to
hold another constitutional convention. In Webberville,
near Austin, a black man carrying an American flag
and armed with a saber led the town's black voters to
the polls. Republicans in some county seats gave shelter
to blacks who came into town from surrounding farms
to vote. Statewide, only 32 percent of the whites voted;
82 percent of the blacks turned out to approve another
The 1868 convention was consumed by bickering.
Besides the differences between conservative Demo-
crats and Republicans, there was, within the Republi-
can party, an ever-deepening division between
moderates and radicals.
The convention produced no constitution, nor did a
second late in the year. In February 1869, a coalition of
moderate Republicans and Democrats gained control
of the convention, turned the incomplete constitution
over to military authorities and adjourned. The final
constitution was written by a three-man committee ap-
pointed by Gen. Joseph J. Reynolds, Griffin's successor
as commander of the subdistrict of Texas. It pleased no
one. Only half of the 90 delegates signed the Constitu-
tion of 1869.
The governor's race in the election held between
Nov. 30 and Dec. 3 pitted radical Republican E.J. Davis
against moderate Republican A.J. Hamilton. The vote
count was so close that the military impounded the bal-
lots and awarded the office to Davis.
After the Legislature ratified the 14th and 15th
amendments to the U.S. Constitution and elected two
radicals to the U.S. Senate, Texas was formally read-
mitted to the Union. Military rule ended on April 16,
The infamous Ku Klux Klan first appeared in Texas
about 1868. What began as an effort to frighten blacks,
so that they would leave town or would not vote, esca-
lated into mindless violence. The organization's name
became synonymous with arson, assassination and
lynching. In Bastrop, a group of masked white men
lynched two delegates to the state convention of the
Union League. In Burleson and Brazos counties, promi-
nent black politicians were assassinated. When a black
posse formed by a local minister attempted to arrest
Klan leaders in Brazos County, up to 100 blacks were
killed in a four-day battle before federal troops stepped
in to stop the massacre. Whites pursued the survivors
and hanged the minister.
The 12th Legislature convened on April 28, 1870, and
promptly postponed the next elections, thereby increas-
ing legislators' terms of office. In the senate, when a
group of Democrats and conservative Republicans
blocked some of their pet legislation, the radicals had
the dissenters arrested and temporarily removed.
Speaker of the House Ira H. Evans, was removed from
office in May 1871 for opposing certain measures.
In the name of law and order, the Legislature gave
the governor the power to declare martial law in any
county, and it authorized creation of a militia and a
state police force. Critics claimed the state police force
was poorly trained and poorly supervised. Some offi-
cers were accused of brutality and abuse of power.
Although some critics admitted that the force was effec-
tive, the fact that 40 percent of the 258-man force was
black was enough to provoke fear and hatred among
Even though the 12th Legislature provided the be-
ginnings of a public road system, enacted a homestead
law, supplemented frontier defense forces with state
troops, and established a compulsory, free public school
system, its program and its use of law enforcement per-
sonnel were bitterly resented.
The pendulum began its return swing when a spe-
cial election was held in October 1871 to fill four con-
gressional seats. Amid violence and voting
irregularities, the four seats were won by Democrats. In
the regular election in 1872, the Democrats won all con-
gressional seats and gained a majority in the Legis-
The conservative majority in the 13th Legislature
dismantled the structure of Reconstruction as quickly
as it could. The lawmakers did away with the state po-
lice, established one-day elections, and stripped the
governor of the power to declare martial law. But they
also threw out the radicals' attempts to create an effec-
tive public school system.
When Democrat Richard Coke was elected governor
in December 1873, Gov. Davis tried to have the election
invalidated. The state Supreme Court sided with Davis,
but the voters ignored the decisions. When Davis was
not supported by the federal government, he gave up.
Texas' finances were in ruins. The radicals'
programs had been expensive, and the public debt had
increased by more than $2 million. Land values were
down. Cotton had dropped to less than half its 1866
A sharecropping system started replacing slave la-
bor shortly after the war ended. A landowner supplied
his workers with houses and equipment in return for
half to two-thirds of the crop. In 1873, Texas produced
more cotton than it had before the war and went on to
become a leading cotton producer.
The first cattle drives from Texas on the legendary
Chisholm Trail headed north out of DeWitt County in
1866, crossing Central Texas toward the markets and
railheads in Kansas. The trail was named for Indian
trader Jesse Chisholm, who blazed a cattle trail in 1865
between the North Canadian and Arkansas rivers. That
initial trail was expanded north and south by other
drovers. The trail was not one fixed route. As one his-
torian remarked, "trails originated wherever a herd
was shaped up and ended wherever a market was
found. A thousand minor trails fed the main routes."
Roughly, the trail went from the Rio Grande near
Brownsville through Cameron, Willacy, Kleberg,
Nueces, San Patricio, Bee, Karnes, Wilson, Guadalupe,
Hays, Travis, Williamson, Bell, McLennan, Bosque, Hill,
Johnson, Tarrant, Wise and Montague counties. It
crossed the Red River and continued to Dodge City and
Abilene, Kans. Another popular route approximately
paralleled the main trail, but lay farther east. Fixed
points on the trail, which all the drives on the Chisholm
Trail used, were the crossing on the Colorado River
near Austin; Brushy Creek near Round Rock; Kimball's
Bend on the Brazos River; and the Trinity Ford in Fort
Worth below the junction of the Clear and West forks.
Peak year on the Chisholm Trail was 1871. After in-
terstate railroads came to Texas in the mid-1870s, trail-
ing cattle to the Midwest became unnecessary. The
Chisholm Trail was virtually shut down by the 1884 sea-
In Waco, politics and reconstruction were forgotten
for a few days as the first bridge over the Brazos River,
and the first suspension bridge in the state, was opened
with great fanfare. The first tolls were collected on Jan.
1, 1870, and a gala celebration was held on January 6
(see article, "The Waco Suspension Bridge").
Reconstruction had been nine years of confusion
and uncertainty, fear and hatred, economic disaster
and racial violence. The day that E.J. Davis left office,
Jan. 15, 1874, Reconstruction was over in the Lone Star
State. But the aftertaste lingered for a century.
TEXAS ALMANAC 1992-1993
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Kingston, Mike. Texas Almanac, 1992-1993, book, 1991; Dallas, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth279642/m1/48/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.