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