No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment

By James E. Bond | Go to book overview

Jim Crow. One required segregated schools, and the other prohibited mixed marriages. 90 Only four years after ratifying an amendment that embodied the philosophy of the Declaration of Independence, Tennessee enthusiastically embraced racial apartheid. Doubtless most of its white citizens considered the state redeemed.

In the wake of these decisions, Congress was asked to consider imposing a "new" reconstruction on Tennessee, like it had on Georgia. A black delegation from the state called on President Grant to explain their perilous condition, and they testified before the Reconstruction Committee. 91 There were rumors that Brownlow's successor, Governor DeWitt Senter, might resign to protest the actions of the legislature and the constitutional convention, or that he planned to request federal troops. 92 Congress declined to intervene, and the governor took no action to help those black Tennesseans whose votes had put him in office. Thus did their congressional protectors and state allies abandon black Tennesseans to the tender mercies of those who despised them.


NOTES
1.
The subcommittee report is quoted in Alrutheus A. Taylor, The Negro in Tennessee, 1865-1880 ( Spartanburg, S.C.: Associated Publishers, 1941), 11.
2.
Unlike the loyal government of Virginia, Tennessee's government controlled a substantial portion of the state, and its legislature had representatives from most areas of the state. It was nevertheless wholly dependent for its survival on the presence of Union troops, who had overrun much of the state in 1862. See generally Stanley J. Folmsbee, Tennessee: A Short History ( Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 1969), 329-49.
3.
See generally Thomas B. Alexander, Political Reconstruction in Tennessee ( New York: Russell & Russell, 1968), 45-48.
4.
Thomas B. Alexander, "Whiggery and Reconstruction in Tennessee," Journal of Southern History 16 ( 1950): 291, 294.
5.
Brownlow's vitriolic condemnations of rebels were savage. Cooper, "Parson Brownlow: A Study of Reconstruction in Tennessee," Southwestern Bulletin 19 ( 1908): 3, 6 ("He could express more vituperativeness and scorching hate than any half a dozen men that ever appeared in American politics."). See also Eugene G. Feistman, "Radical Disfranchisement and the Restoration of Tennessee, 1865-1866," Tennessee Historical Quarterly 12 ( 1953): 135, 151 ( Brownlow was "The first great vindictive of this era"). An example of the Brownlow style is his description of former Governor Harris, on whose head Brownlow had placed a bounty soon after assuming office:

His complexion is sallow, his eyes are dark and penetrating--a perfect index to the heart of a traitor--with the scowl and frown of a demon resting upon his brow. The study of mischief and the practice of crime have brought upon him premature baldness and a gray beard. With brazen faced impudence, he talks loudly and boastingly about the overthrow of the Yankee army and entertains no doubt but that the South will achieve her independence. He chews tobacco rapidly and is inordinately fond of liquor. In his moral structure he is an unscrupulous man, steeped to the chin in personal and political profligacy--now about lost to all sense of shame, honor, with a heart reckless of social duty and fatally bent

-26-

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No Easy Walk to Freedom: Reconstruction and the Ratification of the Fourteenth Amendment
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1 - The Remembered Past of the Fourteenth Amendment 1
  • Notes 10
  • 2 - Ratification in Tennessee 15
  • Notes 26
  • 3 - Ratification in Mississippi 33
  • Notes 47
  • 4 - Ratification in North Carolina 53
  • Notes 65
  • 5 - Ratification in Louisiana 75
  • Notes 95
  • 6 - Ratification in Alabama 101
  • Notes 114
  • 7 - Ratification in South Carolina 121
  • Notes 137
  • 8 - Ratification in Virginia 143
  • Notes 158
  • 9 - Ratification in Florida 169
  • Notes 183
  • 10 - Ratification in Arkansas 189
  • Notes 205
  • 11 - Ratification in Texas 211
  • Notes 225
  • 12 - Ratification in Georgia 231
  • Notes 245
  • 13 - The Imagined Future of the Fourteenth Amendment 251
  • Notes 272
  • Selected Bibliography 275
  • Index 289
  • About the Author 297
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