RATIFICATION AND LIMITED SUFFRAGE
UNDER THE NEW CONSTITUTION
As already noted, the convention honored the pledge contained in the enabling act and provided for the submission of the new constitution to popular vote. The Virginia convention, meeting simultaneously with Alabama's, refused to honor the pledge for submission in that state and the new constitution was proclaimed.1 Since the Alabama constitution was the only Southern disfranchising constitution submitted for popular approval,2 the question arises as to why it was submitted. The answer is to be found in repeated pledges of submission made by the state Democratic party organization in order to secure a convention (including Governor William J. Samford's pledge) and the intense sectional feeling on the issue between North and South Alabama. Since 1861, when South Alabama refused the demand of North Alabama for a popular vote on secession and the Constitution of 1861, the issue of ratification of any new constitution by the people had become a major one in the state. South Alabama leaders, once discredited as a result of decisions made in 1861, dared not thwart popular demand for submission in 1901. After all, South Alabama's Black Belt had provided the necessary majority for victory on other occasions and might do so again. On August 22, 1901, the Montgomery Advertiser reported that the Black Belt "will roll up one of those old-time Democratic majorities for the new Constitution."
Much depended on whether those Democratic leaders in the convention who had opposed the suffrage article would give the new constitution their whole-hearted support. Some of the state's most influential leaders had not only voted against the grandfather clause but when that clause____________________