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

By James E. Bond | Go to book overview

6
Ratification in Alabama

The great truths of the Declaration of Independence are for the first time to be made the governing principles of the land.

--A black newspaper editor from Mobile, inspired by Reconstruction developments in Alabama, 1867-68

The bloom had faded from the rose of secession in Alabama months before Lee's surrender. As early as 1862, north Alabamians had begun to join the Union army; and enlistments accelerated as the Confederacy's fortunes waned. 1 In the same year, former Whig "cooperationists" who had opposed secession formed a secret Peace Society. By the winter of 1865, William Smith, one of the society's founders, was planning to run for governor on a platform which called for Alabama to leave the Confederacy and return to the Union. 2 The "Dunning chronicler" of Alabama's Reconstruction conceded that the state might have chosen that course had the war not ended before the summer elections of 1865. 3

In any case, prewar Whigs rather than unrepentant secessionists dominated the provisional government, 4 the 1865 constitutional convention, 5 and the 1865-66 session of the state legislature. 6 Thoroughly Unionist in their sentiments and ardently desirous of restoration, these persons and bodies were more likely to give the Fourteenth Amendment a fair hearing than were most of their counterparts in the other Southern states. Though Alabama came closer to ratifying the amendment than did any of the other nine Southern states that initially refused, it too rejected it. 7

Governor Robert M. Patton's conduct reflected an ambivalence toward the amendment which many white Alabamians may have shared. Initially he advised the legislature to reject the amendment. 8 A month later he implored them to ratify it. 9 In his initial message, Governor Patton subjected the amendment, including Section 1, to a thorough analysis. Like most of its critics, he lambasted

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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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