History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896 - Vol. 7

By James Ford Rhodes | Go to book overview

Congressional reconstruction were Republican; twenty- seven negroes sat in the legislature.1 On the recommendation of the governor, W. H. Smith, the legislature speedily passed acts removing all disabilities from those disfranchised from voting by the State constitution of 1867;2 every white man thereafter could vote and it is gratifying to record that these laws were favoured by the negro members.3 But this good feeling was not accompanied by decorum and honesty. The Rev. Mr. Leigh, an English clergyman, who paid a visit to the Montgomery State House in the early part of 1870, was struck with the uncouth postures and nauseous habits exhibited by the negroes in the legislative chamber. He listened to a debate, which would have been ludicrous had it not been sad, on the proposition for an increased grant to the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad, and he got the idea that all the negro members had been bribed to vote for the bill.4 Negroes in judicial and administrative offices would have been in any event a source of irritation to the white people and this irritation was increased by the illiteracy of the coloured officeholders. Herbert mentions two county commissioners, three constables and one justice of the peace who signed with their cross-marks necessary official papers. In Alabama a justice of the peace has important judicial authority and this office was held by a number of negroes who had little education or intelligence. Roderick Thomas, a former slave who had picked up a little knowledge since he became free, was first the clerk and afterwards the judge of the criminal court of the city of Selma which had "jurisdiction extending even to capital cases."5 The corruption in

____________________
1
Herbert, Solid South, p. 50. Appleton and Brown say 26; New York Tribune about 30; Fleming 27, one in Senate, 26 in House, p. 738.
2
Acts of Aug. 11, Oct. 8, 1868.
3
Herbert, p. 50.
4
Ten Years on a Georgia Plantation, Leigh, p. 288.
5
Herbert, p. 53et seq.

-139-

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History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850 to the McKinley-Bryan Campaign of 1896 - Vol. 7
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents of the Seventh Volume v
  • Chapter Xxxix - History of the United States 1
  • Chapter XL 65
  • Chapter XLI 138
  • Chapter XLII 192
  • Chapter XLIII 239
  • Chapter XLIV 291
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