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

By James E. Bond | Go to book overview

In one of history's ironic twists, events in Mississippi triggered a second Reconstruction. The state once again became the subject of intense Northern scrutiny when three civil rights workers were murdered there in the summer of 1964. In the wake of that widely publicized "Mississippi summer," Congress passed the Voting Rights Act and sent federal marshals into Mississippi and other Southern states to register black voters. In the decades that followed, Mississippi and her sister Southern states at last began to redeem the promises the "redeemers" had broken a century earlier. And in early 1995, Mississippi finally ratified the Thirteenth Amendment--unanimously.


NOTES
1.
James W. Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi ( New York: Macmillan, 1901), 84.
2.
James Alcorn, one of the wealthiest men in the state and the future leader of the state's Republican Party, also counseled acquiescence to the president's requests. Writing from Washington, D.C., in August 1865, he predicted that Congress would deny the Southern states readmission until they enfranchised Negroes.

I think it would be politic for the Southern States to meet this issue with an acceptance at once. We must make the negro our friend, and we can do this if we will. Should we make him our enemy under the promptings of the Yankee, whose aim is to force us to recognize an equality, then our path lies through a way red with blood, and damp with tears. To let the negro approach the witness stand and the ballot box by no means implies his social equality. ( James Alcorn to Amelia Alcorn, 26 August 1865, Alcorn Papers, Mississippi Department of Archives and History, Jackson, Mississippi)

3.
For the second time in as many months, Mississippi thus ignored the counsel of the president, who had telegraphed the governor: "The action of the Mississippi legislature is looked forward to with great interest at this time, and a failure to act will create the belief that the act of your convention abolishing slavery will hereafter be revoked. The argument is, If the convention abolished slavery in good faith, why then should the legislature hesitate to make it a part of the Constitution of the United States?" Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi, 112.
4.
See Laws of Mississippi, 1865, 272-74.
5.
Jackson Clarion, 8 November 1865. Cf. Vicksburg Daily Herald, 1 November 1865 (recommends that Mississippi not ratify Thirteenth Amendment because Section 2 would give Congress the power to legislate on behalf of the freedmen, thus depriving the state of power to control the Negro).
6.
Meridian Clarion, 22 October 1865.
7.
Jackson News, 14 November 1865. The status of the free Negro in antebellum Mississippi is described fully in Charles S. Sydnor, "The Free Negro in Mississippi before the Civil War," American Historical Review 32 ( 1927): 769.
8.
Jackson News, 14 November 1865.
9.
The Mississippian, 18 August 1865. Cf. Weekly Panola Star, 2 November 1867 (Negroes "have never developed capacity enough to administer any government than that of savage ferocity").
10.
Garner, Reconstruction in Mississippi, 263.
11.
See, e.g., Jackson Clarion, 19 November 1865.

-47-

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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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