Constitutional Development in Alabama, 1798-1901: A Study in Politics, the Negro, and Sectionalism

By Malcolm Cook McMillan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
THE BOURBON CONVENTION AND CONSTITUTION
OF 1875

The convention met on the first Monday in September, 1875, as provided by the Enabling Act.1 There were numerous candidates for the presidency, the most important of whom were Leroy Pope Walker and William Calvin Oates.2 Since North Alabama had been given all important offices in 1874 in an effort to redeem the state from Radical rule, the Mobile Register contended that South Alabama should have the presidency of the convention. "South Alabama [wrote editor Joseph Hodgson ] can justly urge her claim for consideration. Today she enjoys no preferment in any of the offices of the State."3 In a caucus of the Democratic delegates, however, the final choice was between Walker and Stone, both delegates from North Alabama.4 Walker won over Stone by a vote of 49 to 28 in the caucus and was unanimously elected president by the convention.5 Walker's father, John Williams Walker, had been president of Alabama's first constitutional convention and Alabama's first United States Senator. Leroy Pope Walker had been speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, a delegate to the Charleston and Richmond conventions of the Democratic party in 1860, Alabama commissioner to the Tennessee secession convention, and Secretary of War in the Confederate Government.6 In his acceptance speech, Walker denounced the Constitution of 1868 as "a piece of unseemly mosaic, composed of shreds and patches gathered here and there, incongruous in design, inharmonious in action, discriminating and oppressive in the burthens it imposes, reckless in the license it confers on unjust and wicked legislation, and utterly lacking in every element to inspire popular confidence and the reverence and affection of the

____________________
1
Acts of Alabama ( 1874- 1875), 111.
2
Mobile Register, August 11, 24, September 8, 1875; Montgomery Alabama State Journal, September 7, 1875. Leroy Pope Walker, Lewis Maxwell Stone, Francis Winfield Sykes, and William Swearingen Mudd of North Alabama, and Francis Strother Lyon, Edward Hawthorne Moren, William Calvin Oates, and Thomas Hord Herndon of South Alabama, were all frequently mentioned.
3
Mobile Register, August 11, 1875. John Forsyth's health was failing and Joseph Hodgson, formerly editor of the Montgomery Mail was acting editor of the Mobile Register. Montgomery Alabama State Journal, June 4, 1875.
4
Mobile Register, September 8, 1875; Montgomery Alabama State Journal, September 7, 1875.
5
Journal of the Convention of 1875, 4; Mobile Register, September 8, 1875.
6
Owen, op. cit., IV, 1717.

-189-

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