Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993 Page: 6
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elected during Presidential Reconstruction soon
played into the hands of the so-called Radical Republicans
in Congress and brought more stringent
measures to bear on the former Confederate states.
OHN J. GOOD WAS THIRTY-NINE years old in
October 1866 when he first held court in Dallas,
which had just been placed in the 5th Judicial District
with Kaufman, Ellis, Johnson, Tarrant, Hill,
Hood, Erath, Palo Pinto, and Parker counties by a
redistricting act of October 11, 1866. He had been
instrumental in the secessionist movement statewide
as well as in Dallas during 1860-1861 and then
become a captain of the Dallas Light Artillery or
"Good' s Battery." After fighting in the Battle of Pea
Ridge (Elkhorn Tavern) in Arkansas and at
Farmington in northern Mississippi during early
1862, Good's health failed, and he returned to Dallas.
Later that year, he was commissioned a colonel
of the cavalry and assigned duty as the presiding
judge of a military court in eastern Louisiana, Mississippi,
and Alabama, where he served until 1865.
Once the war ended, Good wanted a quick Reconstruction
that would allow Texans to get on with
economic expansion. Texas, he said, could become
the leading state of the South, "if only we are treated
half right by the accursed radicals." Judge Good's
first district court session in Dallas passed quietly in
the fall of 1866, but the spring of 1867 found him
engulfed in controversy.10
Good was only one of fourteen ex-Confederate
soldiers elected as district judges in 1866, and
within a few months Unionists across the state began
to bombard Federal military authorities with complaints
about the past and present conduct of these
veterans. For example, Benjamin F. Barkley of
Tarrant County implied that Judge Good, because
he had presided over a military court that tried men
for loyalty to the United States, would not treat
Unionists fairly, and Jesse A. Asberry of Dallas
claimed that local authorities were allowing murderers
to run at large.11 On April 27, 1867, in response
to such complaints, General Charles C. Griffin,
commander of the Department of Texas, issued
Circular Orders No. 13 requiring all jurors to swear
the Test Oath of 1862 that they had never voluntarily
supported the Confederacy. This "Jury Order" also
printed Section 2 of the Civil Rights Act of 1866,
which prohibited any action denying citizens equal
rights. Griffin insisted that he was not trying to force
the seating of Freedmen on juries, but his order,
which would disqualify most white men, in conjunction
with the civil rights provision suggested
just the opposite. The situation was complicated
further by the fact that state law prohibited blacks
from sitting on juries and that prospective jurors
were chosen in each county by the commissioners
court well in advance of district court sessions. In the
final analysis, interpretation of the Jury Order rested,
in General Griffin's words, "with the local authorities
whose duties it is to impanel juries."12 District
judges faced a difficult task.
Judge Good's reaction to the Jury Order
combined anger and at least a degree of acceptance.
In several letters to Governor James W.
Throckmorton, the conservative Unionist who had
been elected in June 1866, Good asked if the order
amounted to an additional qualification on the right
to serve on juries or had to be considered as the sole
qualification. "If intended as an additional qualification,"
he wrote, "then the object designed-Negro
jurors-cannot be attained because their names are
not on the jury lists required by law [those supplied
by the commissioners court]." He decided to treat
the order as an additional qualification; otherwise,
he said, women, children, and idiots, because they
could swear the Test Oath, could serve onjuries. The
order, he told Throckmorton, will "pollute the channels
of justice" and stir up feelings that should have
been buried with the war. "Governor," he concluded,
"God knows my heart and that I have no
higher ambition than to make this people an upright
and honest judge."13 Good was still angry when he
opened court in Dallas in early June, at least that was
the case according to William H. Horton, the local
Freedmen's Bureau agent, who was not exactly an
unbiased observer. The judge, Horton informed
bureau headquarters, was "insulting and intimidating"
to Union men, and his remarks on the jury order
were "unpleasant to hear."'4
District Court Minutes reveal, however, that
regardless of Good's anger or what he may have
said, he made every effort to impanel grand and petit
juries in Dallas County. When the first group of men
called had only one who qualified, Good had the
sheriff call more than 100 more prospective jurors
and after nearly a month succeeded in impaneling
the necessary men from what the Herald called "the
'loyal' white men of the county." Several of the
grand jurors, particularly S. S. Jones and Jesse A.
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Dallas County Heritage Society. Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, Volume 5, Number 2, Fall, 1993, periodical, 1993; (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth35115/m1/8/: accessed June 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Dallas Historical Society.