excited no comment from any of the ministers, no notice was taken of it in any of the
congregations, save by a few men who, with glad and eager looks, left their pews, and a
few women who, with smiles gave each other knowing nods.
. . . [The Negroes were] slain in the broad open daylight of the Sabbath morning,
within the incorporate limits of the city of 20,000 inhabitants, and not an official raised
his hand to prevent it, or to arrest the perpetrators of the deed; not a citizen raised his
voice in protest.
Certainly no one invoked the Fourteenth Amendment as a remedy for this and
other violence; and the federal government, declining to exercise its power under Section 5, issued no rebuke. Conservative white Texans thus got what they
had demanded "from the first, namely the right of self-government, unfettered
and unwatched by the national authority; the right to deal with those among
them who were 'traitors' to the Confederacy, and with the slaves according to
the dictates of local public opinion."
90 Uttering this dire prophesy amidst the
senatorial debate on Georgia's readmission, Texas's then radical Senator Morgan Hamilton begged his colleagues not to abandon the freedmen "to the rage of
his long-chained and exasperated old master." It would be, he wept, "the most
cold-blooded and deliberate piece of cruelty which history will have to record."
B. Ledbetter, "White Texans' Attitudes toward the Political Equality of Negroes,
1865-1870," Phylon 40 ( September 1979): 253, 254. See also
Sneed, "A Historiography
of Reconstruction in Texas: Some Myths and Problems," Southwest Historical Quarterly 72 ( 1969): 435, 444 ("When federal troops first penetrated the interior of East Texas in September, 1865, they discovered most Negroes still bound in slavery. Masters had deceived their slaves by telling them that emancipation would not come until Christmas.").
Texas Republican, 2 March 1866.
Reagan to the People of Texas, 11 August 1865, John H. Reagan Papers, University
of Texas Archives, Austin, Texas. Reagan later changed his mind. In an 1868 address to
the people of Texas, signed by Reagan and several other prominent Texans, he opposed a
state constitutional convention, as required by the Reconstruction Acts of Congress,
which would, he believed, support Negro suffrage. Because the radicals would control it,
many white Texans would be disfranchised. To be unreconstructed was better than to
allow Negro suffrage. He believed that he voiced the opinion of the entire South when he
stated that white Southerners were unalterably opposed to Negro suffrage and that such a
thing could never be forced upon them. "Address to the People of Texas," 23 January
Galveston News, 30 September 1865, cited in
Carl H. Moneyhon, Republicanism in
Reconstruction Texas ( Austin: University of Texas Press, 1980), 27.
E. M. Pease to James H. Starr, 19 August 1865, J. H. Starr Papers, University of
Texas Archives, Austin, Texas.