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Unit Five - Conservatives Respond to Emancipation
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Conservatives Respond to Emancipation
As one belligerent South Carolina planter said to a Freedmen's Bureau agent in the early fall of 1865, "The war is not over." Despite the capitulation of Confederate armies in the spring, the collapse of the Confederate government, the garrisoning of the South with Union troops over the summer months, and the final destruction of slavery in this same period across the whole of the South, many conservatives could not or would not reconcile themselves to the new order of things. Accustomed to a world where their power over black workers was maintained by violence, many whites lashed out at blacks in the first year after Emancipation, often with tragic and lethal consequences. Some, like Wade Hampton, had a hard time admitting that they had lost on the battlefield, hoping perhaps that this might help hold off the results of that defeat and enable them to hold on to a lost world a little longer.
At best, they counseled minimal cooperation with federal authorities, even during the relatively easy period of Presidential Reconstruction. In fairness, it must be said that a few conservatives responded to the changes more constructively, looking toward new economic initiatives and making tentative, if often paternalistic, gestures towards the freedpeople. In general, however, it was a period of disorientation, disgust, and despair for most conservatives.
This recalcitrance backfired, however, and led to the passage of the Reconstruction Acts in March 1867. If conservatives had been reluctant to face up to the implications of the end of slavery, they were appalled by the prospect of their former slaves having political rights while they themselves were disfranchised. One solution was to make use of a loophole in the new law: if a majority of the registered voters did not vote in favor of a constitutional convention, it would not be held. Despite the fact that African American men were now eligible to register to vote, conservative whites believed they could convince enough voters, black and white, to stay away from the polls to insure the defeat of the conventions. They were wrong in every state where the attempt was made. As the conventions convened in January 1868, conservatives continued to rail against what they considered the unconstitutional oppression of the Republicans in Congress.
This set the stage for an interpretation of Reconstruction that would gain traction in the South in the early 1870s, be sold to the citizens of the rest of the country in the middle of that decade, and become the standard line of historians and textbooks for decades. Some conservatives, such as Plato Durham in North Carolina, continued their opposition after the 1868 constitutional conventions by joining the Ku Klux Klan. Significantly, though, the Ku Klux Klan soon found itself facing serious opposition from many conservatives who did not want the violence to get out of control and perhaps spark a more widespread social and political upheaval.
A White Texas Farmer Shoots a Freedman
It should never be forgotten that the first (and sometimes the last) response of many southern whites to Emancipation was violence. It could hardly have been otherwise for men and women raised in a society where violence against African Americans was condoned and even considered a salutary part of the slave system, coarsened and embittered by four years of war and destruction, and trying to deal with the shame of defeat in a culture governed by honor. This violence took all sorts of forms and was endemic in the first year after the war, particularly in the chaotic summer following the collapse of the Confederacy. It is rare that we have the opportunity to hear the voices of those committing and suffering this violence, and the document below, from Texas rather than the Carolinas, is nearly unique in that sense, though the situation it describes was all too typical.
Evidence taken at Liberty Tex- Apil 20 1866-
Charles W. Brown Freedman vs }
D. B. Whitesides- }
Statement of Brown- "That on the 13th of June 1865-Mr Whitesides a farmer, near West Liberty, Liberty Co. Tex. came into the field, where he was working, and accosted him as follows"- "Well Brown they say your free"-
"They tell me so Master" Said Brown- "Yes" Said Whiteside, "but d-d little good it will do you-as I intend to shoot you"-at the same time drawing a large revolving pistol- "Now" Said he W-"I want you to start for those woods, and when I count 10 I intend to Shoot you"- "Needless were my implorings for Mercy" Said B. "as he informed me he would not wait, but shoot me where I stood"- "I then Started to run, but before I made 6 steps, I fell shot through the breast"- He then rode up, "well Said he, I got you did I Brown"? "Yes" answerd Brown- "Have I got you good"? asked W. "Yes" answerd B-You've got me good"- "That's right" Said W-"It will learn you G-d niggers to put on airs because your free"- "He then left me lying in the broiling sun" Said Brown-"and as soon as able I crawled to a house of some Colord people-who assisted me and I got well." To the question if he sufferd any from the wound, he informed me that "he sufferd much"- The ball passed in near the Spine & out through the right breast- Brown is quite intelligent, and acted as Asst- teacher of the "Freedmens School" at Liberty by my appointment- As Mr Brown is poor and renderd unable to labor by the inhumanity of Mr Whiteside, I hope the latter may be made to support him Brown- Mr Browns residence is "Sour Lake" Jeff. Co Tex-
Source: "Statement of Charles W. Brown," April 20, 1866, enclosed in Capt. Frank Holsinger to Brvt. Maj. Genl. Kiddoo, Oct. 20, 1866, Letters Received, ser. 15, Washingto, D. C., Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Document 1 Questions
- Can you ascertain any particular reason why Whitesides decided to shoot Brown?
- How does Brown attempt to defuse the situation?
- What might account for the delay between the shooting and when the evidence was taken?
"The War is Not Over"
Agents of the Freedmen's Bureau found themselves in a difficult position, especially the ones posted out in the countryside. They were often caught between freedpeople, who expected much of their new freedom, and planters, who insisted that little, if anything, would change. This report encapsulates three of the Freedmen's Bureau's responsibilities that planters found particularly galling. Agents were responsible for supervising contracts between employers and freedpeople, and we can see here the optimistic hope that if the representative of the United States government simply told freedpeople to "go to work faithfully," that the freedpeople would curb their expectations and that planters would become content with emancipation. The Freedmen's Bureau also provided freedpeople (and white refugees) with transportation in order to reunite families and help them to take advantages of work opportunities. This enabled freedpeople to be more discriminating in what employment they accepted, which most planters found intolerable. Finally, the Freedmen's Bureau handled legal disputes involving freedpeople, though as we see here, their attitudes were sometimes no more lenient than those of the planters themselves.
[I] found upon my arrival at the Pine Land Village Pinevillea a strong desire among the planters that I should go upon each plantation and give the people a general talking to... [found] the planters very much dissatisfied throughout charging the US Government with having destroyed the country and that to use their expression "everything had gone to the Devil."
On my visit to a plantation named 'Mount Hope' JC Warley owner in speaking to the people I used these words, "Now the war is over you must go to work faithfully etc" when I was interrupted by Mr Warley who remarked in a loud tone "The war is not over." I stopped and asked for an explanation. He said "everyone had a right to an opinion and his was that this thing would never die out, and has taken the Oath by compulsion and not by 'choice'." I also saw on my way to the city yesterday the bags and bundles of the col'd peoples thrown from the cars by the conductor, and he told them, 'God damn your hearts. Take these things off and if you put them on again I'll break your d_d heads.' I saw sick colored people lying at Moncks Corner, who were not allowed to go away on the cars, and the conductor was very rough in all his intercourse with them.
The whole proceedings of the white people at Pineville towards the black race and the general spirit of hatred towards the negro, are of such a nature that I think that portion of the country will become deserted by the c'd people after this season, unless the white people act differently towards them...
[whites say negro should be treated as at Barnwell] In Barnwell a Mr Somebody [sic] had whipped two of his former negroes then took them to the military officer who told the white man to 'whip them again as they had not had half enough.'
aPineville lies roughly forty miles due north of Charleston near Lake Moultrie
Source: F. M. Montell, "Report of the Condition of Freedmen at Pineville," to Major A. D. Kinsman, September 1865, Records of the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands
Document 2 Questions
- What might Warley have meant by saying "The war is not over"? Why would he have said that in the presence of a Union officer?
- How does the possibility of mobility for freedpeople after emancipation change the power dynamic between blacks and whites? How did whites respond to this new mobility?
- Why might the officer at Barnwell have encouraged the former slaveholder to whip the freedpeople?
D. F. Caldwell's Ideas for Economic Development in North Carolina
Some southern whites saw the end of slavery as an opportunity to modernize many aspects of the South, from the economy to the structure of government. In the letter below, a Greensboro Whig politician and businessman advises Governor Jonathan Worth on a number of schemes for improvement of various sorts. One important issue Caldwell hopes to address is the lack of money in the South. With the collapse of the antebellum system of finance that linked planters to factors in southern port cities who sold their crop, the South after the war was desperately short of banking facilities. The lack of money in circulation slowed down economic recovery, not least because of changes in federal banking laws accomplished during the war. Caldwell had been very involved in building and financing the North Carolina Railroad in the 1850s, and he believes that connecting the South to markets and resources in the West would be the salvation of his region.
From D. F. Caldwell
Greensboro, Nov. 14th 1866.
You must pardon me for this hasty note. I have long been desirous to write you an article on state affairs, but have not been able to get all the data I desired, and have postponed, until I find it is now too late to effect anything.
This much for my troubling you-If there is one man in the state, who does earnestly desire to see you signalize your administration by doing something for the lasting benefit of ones people and state I am that man. I am sure the way is open and I believe you have the will and popularity. I see that all the enterprising portion of our population in this part of the state will soon leave us if something is not done to give our people hope. Over one thousand have gone and still this frightful exodus continues. I feel touch over conditions for I already see the beginning of the end if something is not done to give laboring men in this section of the state hope in the future if they remain among us.
Now as to what I think ought to be done-the F. and W. R. R. ought to be extended up Deep River to this place as speedy as possible and if the state does nothing more it should do all the late committee asked.
2. The county courts must be authorized to lay off all the counties in small townships and give the people the power to elect road school and agricultural commissioners with a constable for each whose duty it should be to take charge of the roads schools and Agricultural interests in each and in the city, etc., etc. Then we must have some sort of a currency-I had and still have faith in the scheme I proposed-but I will not again press it upon your attention. There is another plan that will work like a charm but will require some time, which I call to your attention and all the savants in whom you may have confidence.
It is this-let owners Railroads unite in asking the Legislature to so amend their respective charters so as to allow them to privilege of banking under the National Banking laws for a limited time if they fear a great mynopoly. If their prayer is answered then let them repair to Washington City and try and get Congress to pass a law authorizing the Postmaster General or some one else to enter into a contract with owners of Railroads for some 15 or 20 years to come to carry the U.S. mail for a certain and stipulated price per mile per annum. And then let the Government of the U.S. issue to these roads bonds of the Government to the amount that the mail pay received will pay the interest on. These bonds may be redeemed by the Government and as additional security the roads may give the state a lien on all their property to redeem them on their circulation. This would soon give us a currency strengthen the roads and enable them to encourage our manufactures milers farmers and mechanics. -by making them loans on land and produce...Then I hope to see what I declared ten years ago should be done the N.C. Rail Road extended to Paint Rock and also to Cleveland on our extreme western border there to connect with the R.Road to Memphis.
When we look at the amount N York has expended on the Roads and Canals to connect with the West What Baltimore has expended on her roads for the same purposes and what Virginia has, and now proposes to spend upon her canall and Road from Newport News, to the Ohio and contrast the annuity expended and yet required to effect these great lines and then contrast them any one of them, with the sum required to extend our road as we proposed we will be astonished that we have so miserably laged in this race. Our Route is the most direct and far the best and cheapest-to the Mississippi and equally so to Cincinnati and St. Louis-And via Arkansas and Texas a far Superior and nearer route to St. Francisco California and when N.C. completes the N.C. Rail Road a I have proposed Then the results will come in like sheaves of grain from a well reaped harvest field. Every effort ought to be made to accomplish forthwith this great work, if the state values it, and dedicate it and all its revenues to the cause of education-but I would not have you to recommend the state to embark another dollar in this or any other scheme of the kind when the individual stockholders had not the full power & control of the road and its management. This is a sine qua non.
Source: The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, collected and edited by J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1909, pp.836-839.
Document 3 Questions
- How does Caldwell think that railroads could be made to serve the economic interests of North Carolina? What obstacles would his plan have faced?
- What were the effects of a lack of currency in the South in the years immediately following the Civil War?
- Is it likely that the same correspondence would have occurred before the War? What had changed?
1865 North Carolina Constitutional Convention Responds to Freedpeople
As historians Steven Hahn and James Oakes have shown, despite their being denied formal political rights under slavery, African Americans did not emerge into freedom without any political experience. They had long been aware of the political debates over slavery and secession, and they realized that their actions influenced those debates. During the war itself, the experience of contraband camps and military service further developed their political skills and interests. As a result, when whites convened to put together new constitutions as part of President Andrew Johnson's plan for Reconstruction, freedpeople also gathered to decide what they thought and to convey this to the all-white constitutional conventions. In the document below, a statewide convention of freedmen meeting in Raleigh across town from the North Carolina constitutional convention of 1865 sent an address (note, not a "petition," which would be the appropriate term for a statement from an inferior body asking for a favor) to explain what they wanted out of the new constitution. The response was crafted by John Pool, a Whig from the eastern part of the state who had more concern than most for the welfare of African Americans, though still no intention of treating them as equals.
The Committee to which was referred the Address of the Freedmen's Convention, asks leave to submit the following report:
The subject-matter of the address and petition could be more appropriately acted on by the Legislature than by this Convention; but the importance of the subject, and the necessity for careful and considerate action, are so great that it may be proper for the Convention to take some initiatory steps towards its adjustment.
The former relations of master and slave having ceased in North Carolina, new and mutual rights and duties have supervened, which require corresponding legislation. A large class of the population, ignorant and poor, has been released from the stringent restraints of its late social and political position, and from its dependence upon the individual obligations of another class for its support, government, and protection; and it now becomes the duty of the State to assume their charge, and enact such laws as right and justice may require, and as may be most conducive to the general welfare.
The abolition of slavery has been adopted in good faith, and with full determination that it shall not again exist in the State, either in form or substance; but the consequences of its former existence will inevitably affect the state of society for years to come.
In consequence of his late condition as a slave, the freedman is ignorant of the operations of civil government, improvident of the future, careless of the restraints of public opinion, and without any real appreciation of the duties and obligations imposed by the change in his relations to society. It is the interest of the white race, if he is to reside among us, to improve and elevate him by the enactment of such laws, conceived in a spirit of fairness and liberality, as will encourage him to seek his true welfare in honest industry and the faithful discharge of the duties of his life. His intelligence and social condition must depend upon his industry and virtue.
Prejudices of a social character will probably forever exist. They are not confined to this State, nor to those States or countries where the institution of African slavery has been recognized, but have pervaded every society where the two races have been brought in contact. However unjust such prejudices may be deemed in theory, wisdom and prudence require that they should be so far recognized and respected by legislators as to avoid rash attempts at measures that might serve only to inflame and strengthen them. Although we cannot hope for the entire correction of many of the evils under which we now labor, yet time will materially modify them, and much may be safely trusted to its silent but effective operation. Hasty and inconsiderate action should be avoided; and above all things, should the delicate questions evolved from the new relations among, us be kept from the arena of party politics.
There are, at present, in North Carolina, some real bonds of attachment between the two races. Families have been brought up and nurtured together under our former domestic relations,- faithful servants have gained the esteem and confidence of their former masters, and possess and reciprocate tender feelings of affection from those whose infancy they have watched, and in the pleasures and sports of whose childhood they have participated. Their services and sympathy in affliction are remembered, and the dearest memories of the dead are associated and shared with them. From such ties, and from the common feelings of interest, justice, and humanity, more is to be hoped for their improvement and welfare than from the assertion of impracticable claims for social and political rights or from the aid of those whose interference is likely to be regarded with jealousy and met with resentment. We deplore the premature introduction of any schemes that may disturb the operations of these kindly feelings, or inflame the inherent social prejudice that exists against the colored race. The necessary legislation should be conceived in a spirit of perfect fairness and justice, and in full and unreserved conformity to existing relations; but it should be suited to the actual condition of the parties, and be aimed rather to their material and moral welfare, and to the general peace and prosperity of the State, than to any theoretical scheme of social and political equality.
Those of our laws that are inapplicable to the changed relation of master and slave, and those that are in contravention of it, should be repealed.
Many new laws are now indispensably necessary to meet the present condition of things; and these should be drawn with great care and with the most mature consideration. "The committee therefore recommends that the Provisional Governor of the State be requested to appoint and constitute a commission of three gentlemen, eminent for legal ability, to propose and submit to the consideration of the Legislature at its next session a system of laws upon the subject of freedmen, and to designate such laws or parts of laws now in force as should be repealed in order to conform the statutes of the State to the ordinance of this Convention abolishing the institution of slavery.
For the committee,
JOHN POOL, Chairman.
Source: Sidney Andrews, The South since the War: as Shown by Fourteen Weeks of Travel and Observation in Georgia and the Carolinas (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866), 159-161.
Document 4 Questions
- Based on the attitudes expressed here, which political party would you think Pool would support?
- Would the arguments Pool makes apply equally to poor whites?
- How hostile to black aspirations is Pool, and how does he compare in this regard to other southern whites?
Wade Hampton's Advice to Confederate Veterans
South Carolina's Wade Hampton III was one of the richest planters in the South when war broke out in 1861. With no previous military experience, he raised and equipped troops, known as Hampton's Legion, and began gaining military renown in the Battle of Manassas. By August 1864, he had become Robert E. Lee's commander of cavalry. As other generals were surrendering in spring 1865, Hampton wanted to fight on, taking his troops to Mexico if necessary, and he only reluctantly surrendered. As the beau ideal of the plantation aristocrat arising to defend the South, Hampton was tremendously popular in South Carolina in the early years of Reconstruction. Despite announcing that he was not interested in the position, the voters very nearly elected him governor in 1865. While he himself would later be the subject of much "Lost Cause" commemoration (as much for his role in overthrowing Reconstruction in 1876 as for anything he did during the Civil War itself), Hampton was also a contributor to that movement, as this unreconstructed speech to a Confederate veterans' group in Walhalla in 1866 demonstrates.
...For four years the South was the victim of a cruel and unnecessary war-a war marked on the side of her opponents by a barbarity never surpassed, if equaled, in the annals of civilized warfare.
The sword failed to conquer her, for on nearly every battle-field she was victorious, and her enemies were forced to resort to weapons more congenial to their nature-fire and famine. The torch was applied with an unsparing hand. The mansion of the rich; the cottage of the poor; peaceful villages; thriving cities; even the temples of the Most High God, fell before this ruthless destroyer, leaving to mark the spots where once they stood, but ashes and blackened ruins.
All the industrial resources of the South were wantonly destroyed or stolen, and gaunt famine followed in the footsteps of the invaders. The men who had borne without a murmur every privation, who had faced death in a thousand shapes without flinching, were not proof against the cries which came to them from homeless and starving wives and children. They laid down their arms, which they had crowned with eternal lustre, and they accepted the terms offered to them by the North. What were these terms? Throughout the whole war the North declared in the most solemn and authoritative manner that she fought solely to re-establish the Union: to bring back to one fold all the States, and to give to all equal rights and equal liberty. This was the constant declaration of Mr. LINCOLN. Mr. SEWARD not only announced the same principle, but he declared that whatever might be the result of the war not only would all the rights of the Southern States be preserved, but that all their institutions would be intact. The Congress of the United States in a resolution passed, I think unanimously, and never repealed, announced the object and the sole object of the war to be the restoration of he Union under the supremacy of the Constitution.
The very powers under which we laid down our arms promised the protection of the Government and gave the assurance that we should not be interfered with, so long as we obeyed the laws of the States wherein we resided. These declarations were made not only to the South, but to foreign nations; and the South was assured that she had but to acknowledge the supremacy of the National Government to be received into the Union, as equal members of the great family of States, with all her rights and all her privileges unimpaired.
. . .
I am aware that the North has given a new meaning to this word when applied to the South. For the South to be loyal in the eyes of the North, she must admit herself to be inferior in all points; she must declare that she has sinned, and, like a repentant child, she must humbly sue for forgiveness. She must pronounce State Rights and State Sovereignty fallacies, and she must forget the teachings of PATRICK HENRY, of JEFFERSON and of MADISON. You, men of Pickens, must forget the illustrious son you gave to our State, and you must brand CALHOUN as a traitor. The names of McDUFFIE, CHEVES, HAYNE, HAMILTON, HARPER, must no longer be held in reverence in their own State, as those of great statesmen and pure patriots, but the men who bore them, like their immortal compatriot, are to be called traitors, and their doctrines seditious. You will not be loyal until you import, along with everything else, your politics, your morality and your religion from the North.
. . .
For four years the North waged war upon us, only, as she solemnly declared, to bring us back into the Union. More than a year ago the South expressed her willingness to return, and yet she is now as effectually out of the Union as if she had never formed a part of it. The North professed to fight for the Constitution. As soon as she had the power to do so, she changed that Constitution, and she violated its sacred provisions. The North protested that she did not fight for conquest, or for plunder. The Southern States are at this moment practically conquered provinces, and more of their moveable property is now in the hands of Northern soldiers, who stole it, than in those of its rightful possessors. The parole which Southern soldiers received promised, as I have already said, that they should not be interfered with, so long as they obeyed the laws of their own States. And yet on their return to their States they were not allowed to exercise any right pertaining to free citizens, until they had, under oath, endorsed all the Acts of Congress and declared the abolition of slavery fixed, irrevocable and constitutional.
Amnesty for the past has been repeatedly promised to the South, yet how many of her citizens are still, in the brotherly language of the Radicals, only "unpardoned rebels," whilst her most honored and best beloved son languishes in a felon's cell, denied his sacred right guaranteed by the Constitution, of a "speedy trial by an impartial jury." The Southern States were to be recognized as equal members of the Union; and even in the imposition of taxes, there is no equality, for the cotton of the South has to bear a heavy discriminating tax for the benefit of the North.
All the rights of the South were to be held sacred. She has only the right to live, and to labor, perhaps to complain, though to do so may be treason.
. . .
Of all the inconsistencies of which the North has been guilty-and their name is legion-none is greater than that by which she forced the Southern States, while rigidly excluding them from the Union, to ratify the Constitutional Amendment abolishing slavery, which they could do legally only as States of that Union. But the deed has been done, and I for one, do honestly declare that I never wish to see it revoked. Nor do I believe that the people of the South would now remand the negro to slavery if they had the power to do so unquestioned. Under our paternal care, from a mere handful he grew to be a mighty host. He came to us a heathen, we made him a Christian. Idle, vicious, savage in his own country; in ours he became industrious, gentle, civilized. Let his history as a slave be compared hereafter with that which he will make for himself as a freeman, and by the result of that comparison we are willing to be judged. A great responsibility is lifted from our shoulders by this emancipation, and we willingly commit his destiny to his own hands, hoping that he may prove himself worthy of the new position in which he has been placed. As a slave he was faithful to us; as a freeman, let us treat him as a friend. Deal with him frankly, justly, kindly, and my word for it he will reciprocate your kindness, clinging to his old home, his own country and his former masters.
If you wish to see him contented, industrious, useful, aid him in his effort to elevate himself in the scale of civilization, and thus fit him not only to enjoy the blessings of freedom, but to appreciate its duties.
Source: New York Times, Oct. 17, 1866
Document 5 Questions
- What were the terms under which the Confederate armies surrendered? Does Hampton misunderstand these terms, and if so, why?
- How sincere do you think Hampton is when he claims the South would not re-establish slavery even if it could?
- How might Hampton's audience of Confederate veterans have influenced the tone and content of his speech?
- Why might a newspaper in New York have been interested in printing Hampton's speech?
Judge A. P. Aldrich Removed from the Bench
After nearly two years of Presidential Reconstruction, during which federal commanders had been granted limited authority in the former Confederacy, many conservatives chafed under 'military rule' by 1867. Since North Carolina and South Carolina were both part of the same military department, the policies of a single commander affected both states. Conservatives rejoiced when General Daniel Sickles was replaced in September 1867 by General E. R. S. Canby, but they soon came to dislike him as well. Particularly unpopular was Canby's General Orders No. 89, issued on September 13, 1867, which ordered that "all citizens assessed for taxes, and who shall have paid taxes for the current year and who are qualified and have been or may be duly registered as voters, are hereby declared qualified to serve as jurors." After the registration of voters under the provisions of the Reconstruction Acts in the summer of 1867, this meant that freedpeople could sit on juries and judge whites. The question of what rights freedpeople would have in court was crucial, and in some ways even more fundamental than their right to vote. As a delegate to South Carolina's 1865 constitutional convention, Judge A. P. Aldrich was one of eight who refused to vote for the provision acknowledging the end of slavery.
Aldrich left the bench in the period when it was not yet certain whether the election to call a constitutional convention would be successful or not, and he clearly anticipated a time soon when military authority would be removed and his class would once again rule. He had to wait several more years for that, however.
We give below a copy of Gen. CANBY'S order suspending Judge ALDRICH, who recently declined to execute the jury order of Gen. CANBY, saying, "Believing, as I do, that the present Congress is an usurping body, and that its attacks on the coordinate departments of government, and the United States and State Constitutions, are fast reducing the country to the condition of party vassalage, I cannot retain my self-respect, conscientiously perform the obligations of my oath of office, and lend my aid to support perpetrate the tyranny of which we complain. I do not propose to argue the question. I simply announce my conviction."
The order suspending him is as follows:
HEADQUARTERS, SECOND MILITARY DISTRICT
Charleston, S.C., Oct. 19, 1867
SPECIAL ORDERS, No. 183.-
Hon. H. P. Aldrich is hereby suspended from the exercise of all functions appertaining to the office of Judge of the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions.
Authority is given to His Excellency the Governor of the State of South Carolina, to provide by an assignment of the Judges of the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions, for the holding of the terms of the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions to the Districts of Edgefield, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton and Orangeburgh, heretofore assigned to be held by Hon. A. P. Aldrich, suspended.
Whenever, at a term of the Court of Common Pleas and General Sessions in the Districts of Edgefield, Barnwell, Beaufort, Colleton and Orangeburgh, a Judge shall fail to attend, it shall be the duty of the clerk of such Court to adjourn the same from day to day until advised that the attendance of one of the Judges cannot be procured at such term; and before the first adjournment thereof it shall be the duty of the clerk and the Sheriff of the district to call in a magistrate and the said Court shall be deemed open and legally organized for the purpose of making jury lists and drawing jurors. Said Court, so organized, shall then and there proceed in the manner prescribed by law, and in conformity with General Orders Nos. 89 and 100, current series, from these headquarters, to draw grand and petit juries for the next term of said Court.
By command of
Brevet-Major-Gen. ED. R. S. CANBY
Louis V. CAZIARC, Aid-de-Camp, Acting Assistant Adjutant-General.
On the 21st inst. Judge ALDRICH was expected to preside at BARNWELL Court-House. The Clerk called over the grand and petty jurors, but was not directed to swear them. When the list was called the Judge proceeded to address them. he first alluded to the sad memories called up by the deaths of so many of the members of the Bar in the last thirty years; then adverted to the present condition of the country, and the single issue of the war-to restore the Union; then to his course at Edgefield, which had been noticed by the military. He then read the modification of Order No. 89, as communicated in a circular from Gov. ORR, and his reply thereto, in which he said the modification violated the Jury Law of the State quite as flagrantly as does the original order; and the same conscientious and constitutional reasons which compelled him not to enforce the one would compel him not to carry out the other. He then read the order which had been served on him that morning, suspending and not permitting him to hold any Courts in his circuit. The Judge then addressed the jurors on the Reconstruction Acts and the powers of the military commanders, which do not include his suspension. Rising from his seat he said:
GENTLEMEN: In forced obedience to the command of Brevet Major-Gen. ED. R. S. CANBY, I lay down my office for the present. Personally, I feel no mortification at this indignity, because it has been put upon me for the conscientious discharge of my constitutional duty.
I did not receive my office from him, or from any power which he represents, and he has no right to remove me. But it almost breaks my heart to witness the humiliation of this proud old State, we all love so well, in my poor person. Be of good cheer, it is only for a time. I see the dawn of a brighter day. The great heart of the American people beats true to constitutional liberty. The time is at hand when we will be relieved from the tyranny and insolence of military despotism.
Gentlemen of the juries, for the present farewell; but if God spares my life, I will yet preside in this Court, a South Carolina Judge, whose ermine is unstained. My brethren of the bar, be patient; be loyal to the Constitution; be true to yourselves.
Mr. Clerk, as I am not permitted to perform any judicial act, you and the Sheriff will issue to the jurors their pay certificates as if the Judge had not attended. Mr. Sheriff, let the Court stand adjourned while the voice of justice is stifled.
Source: "The Removal of Judge Aldrich," New York Times, Oct. 26, 1867
Document 6 Questions
- Where does Aldrich believe the authority for his court resides?
- # What difference does it make to allow African Americans to serve on juries?
- Why was this issue particularly significant in the autumn of 1867?
Wade Hampton's Advice to Freedpeople
Conservative whites such as Wade Hampton were accustomed to being listened to, especially by black people. When it became clear that President Andrew Johnson had lost control of Reconstruction policy and that Congress, controlled by Radical Republicans, would dictate the terms now, many like Hampton still confidently assumed they could stay in control by telling the less important people around them what to do as they had always done. In this case, Hampton accepts the inevitability that African Americans will be allowed to vote, but he hopes to be able to persuade them to throw their support behind men like him, trusting South Carolina's traditional leadership class rather than wanting to govern themselves. Interestingly, Hampton urges that suffrage be limited by education and property, even agreeing that poor whites might be disfranchised along with African Americans. Ultimately, of course, Hampton's hopes were dashed in the elections held in November 1867, when South Carolinians voted decisively in favor of the convention.
MY FRIENDS-You have requested me to give you a few words of advice to-day, and I accept the invitation in the same kind spirit in which it was given. There have been few incidents of a public character that have gratified me more than this mark of confidence from the colored people of this district, among whom my life has been passed.
And it gives me pleasure to say that by them I have always been treated with kindness and respect. Nor has their conduct toward me changed in the slightest degree since the change in our relative positions. I am, therefore, justified in calling you my friends, and I hope that as my past conduct to you has made you look upon me as your friend, so my advice and actions in the future will but confirm you in that belief. You may not know, perhaps, that I was the first Southern man who addressed a colored audience after the close of the war. This I did nearly two years ago, in the lower part of this district, and the advice I gave them I shall repeat now.
. . .
I regard the invitation you have extended to us to-day, to offer such advice, as honorable alike to us and to yourselves. It is a fit answer and a strong rebuke to those who so persistently misrepresent the feelings of the whites and the blacks of the South toward each other. It is honorable to us, as it shows you look upon us as your friends; friends with whom you wish to act and from whom you are willing to seek counsel. It is honorable to you as it proves that you cherish no ill-will toward your former masters, that you confide in their honesty and that you look upon them as your natural and life-long friends. Your own orator of the day, who has just addressed you, has spoken wisely and kindly on this topic, and the advice he has given you I approve of heartily. Why should we not be friends? Are you not Southern men, as we are?
Does not that glorious Southern sun above us shine alike for both of us? Did not this soil give birth to all of us? And will we not all alike, when our troubles and trials are over, sleep in that same soil in which we first drew breath? I see a banner before me, on which is inscribed "united we stand, divided we fall." The motto is full of significance and truth, for your welfare is inseparably linked with that of the whites of the South. If we are unjustly taxed, you will suffer; if we are ruined you will be destroyed. Your prosperity depends entirely on that of your country, and whatever fate awaits the white people of the South will be yours.
. . .
Now let us consider for a few moments the subject that has brought you together to-day, the Military Bill just passed by Congress. You must bear in mind that a great many persons, among them the President of the United States, think that this bill is unconstitutional; that Congress had no authority to pass it. Now the only way that question can be settled is by a decision of the Supreme Court of the United States. That Court will declare the bill either constitutional or unconstitutional. If constitutional you will, by it, be allowed to vote. How will you vote? Whom will you select to make the new laws which are to govern the State? Will you choose men who are ignorant of all law-all science of Government, to make your laws and frame your Government? Will you place in office these strangers who have flocked here to plunder what little is left to us? Or will you trust the men among whom you have lived heretofore-amongst whom you must always live?
It seems to me that this latter course would be the wisest, for as it is to the interest of the Southern whites to make the blacks enlightened, prosperous and contented, they would surely do all in their power to secure these objects. I do not tell you to trust to professions of friendship alone, whether they come from the Southern man or the Northern. But what I ask you to do, what I have the right to ask of you is, that as we profess to be your friends, you will give us the opportunity of showing by our actions whether we are sincere or not.
If we deceive you, then turn to the North and see if you can find better friends there. I have no fears of the result; for with us not only does humanity dictate kind treatment, honest dealing, just laws for the colored population, but self-interest demands from us the same course.
. . .
But suppose the bill is pronounced unconstitutional, how then? You will be left in precisely the same position you held before its passage. The present State Governments will continue, and the present laws will prevail. It will then be for us to prove that our professions of friendship were not idle, and while I cannot speak for others, I tell you what I am willing to see done. I am willing to give the right of suffrage to all who can read and who pay a certain amount of taxes, and I agree that all, white as well as black, who do not possess these qualifications, should be excluded.
I would not take this right from any who have hitherto exercised it, but I wish to see an educational and property qualification for voters adopted for the future. Let this qualification bear on white and black alike, and while it will cut off from voting some of both races, it will be a strong inducement to all to seek education and to obtain for themselves a real and tangible interest in the State. It will serve to elevate all classes, and contribute not only to the material prosperity of the State, but to the increase of virtue and education among her people.
Source: New York Times, March 27, 1867
Document 7 Questions
- For Hampton, does friendship imply equality?
- What would Hampton and the freedpeople he was addressing have had in common?
- Do you think Hampton, in 1867, could envision a South where white men of his class were not in charge?
- How would Reconstruction have worked out differently had Hampton's plans for voting been adopted?
A Conservative Realizes the Mistakes of Earlier Policies
Some conservatives saw what was happening in 1867 and realized that their earlier intransigence had caused them to miss opportunities to shape the situation more to their liking. In the excerpt below James Hemphill of Chester, South Carolina, explains to his brother in Alabama that as the Reconstruction Acts are being implemented and freedmen registered to vote and organized into the Republican party, he and men like him feel powerless and confused.
... A convention of the republican party has been held in Columbia to establish a platform which was quite radical... A few white persons were present but it was principally composed of negroes. They are organizing in the state, having lectures among them to disseminate the views of the party. One meeting has bene held here, and there is to be a ... one tomorrow when I suppose speeches will be made. I have been invited out, but I do not know that I will attend. Nothing will be acceptable to them except perfect equality as to suffrage, office holding etc... If the colored people choose to support their own race they can elect them if they please, and adopt any measures, that they may deem best. Our affairs have been sadly mismanaged by the President and our own people.
We ought to have adopted the Constitutional amendment but deluded by the President, the DP, and our Editors and politicians, it was rejected, and for now has befallen us. If our people had gone into the measure unassumingly and resolutely determined to carry them out in good faith, it would have been far better for us... [now] the people are apathetic, uncertain what to do... I am disfranchised myself, but if I had a vote it would certainly be exercised in an effort to restore Government.
Source: James Hemphill [Chester] to Dear Brother [WR Hemphill, Camden, Alabama], August 2, 1867, Duke University Special Collections
Document 8 Questions
- What does Hemphill blame Andrew Johnson for?
- What mistakes does Hemphill believe "our people" made during Presidential Reconstruction?
- What is Hemphill's response to black political mobilization?
Governor Jonathan Worth Argues Against 1867 Call for a Constitutional Convention
Jonathan Worth was born in Guilford County, North Carolina, just after the nineteenth century began and practiced law. Unlike South Carolina, the state had a strong Whig party in the decades before the Civil War, and Worth was an important member of that party, serving several terms in the state legislature from the 1830s to the 1860s. Although he always opposed secession, Worth served as state treasurer during the Civil War. He was the first of the provisional governors appointed by Andrew Johnson after the war ended, largely because of his prominent role in North Carolina's peace movement in 1863 and 1864. Worth was elected as governor in 1866 and served almost another two years. When Congress passed the Reconstruction Acts, Worth strongly opposed the rewriting of the state's constitution, especially since in order for the new constitution to be valid, African American men had to be allowed to vote. In this letter to his son, a merchant in Wilmington, Worth explains his position and also the strategy many conservatives in the South adopted: if they could get a large enough proportion of registered voters to boycott the election, there would be no new constitution.
To D. G. Worth
Oct. 24, 1867
You ask me my opinion as to how the people of this State should vote on the calling or refusing to call a Convention under the military acts falsely called re-construction acts.
These acts require the Convention to amend the State Constitution so as to allow universal negro suffrage. They declare that we are to be allowed representation in Congress only after the disfranchising Howard amendment shall be adopted and that no member of Congress shall be recognized unless he can take this test oath.
This Convention is called by Congress-not by the State: Congress determines who shall vote and who shall not, in violation of the Constitution of the U.S., which leaves it to the State to determine who shall vote and who shall not vote-and allows each State to regulate internal affairs, not inconsistent with the United States.
As this Convention must establish negro suffrage, those only should vote for such Convention, who believe it is constitutionally called and that universal negro suffrage is expedient and that nobody should hold office save those who can take the teste oath. As I believe that the call of a Convention is in violation of the Constitution of the U.S., which I am bound by oath to support-that to establish universal negro suffrage is to base government upon ignorance instead of intelligence-even if there were no disfranchisement of white men-and as the acts of Congress submit the question to those who are allowed to vote, whether they want such a Convention or not, I think no honorable man in N.C. ought to vote for the call.
I think they should go to the polls and try to elect conservative delegates-and not vote at all for or against the Convention. The Convention fails is a majority of all the registered voters fail to vote for or against the Convention. According to the best information we now have 95000 whites and 65000 negroes have registered in this State. It will require something over 80000 votes cast for and against the Convention to call it. It is not probably that more than 55,000 negro votes will be cast, and if less than 25000 whites vote for or against a Convention, it must fail. I do not believe anything like 25000 whites will vote for such a Convention. If concert of action can be brought about among those who are opposed to the call, it may be defeated, by non voting on the part of the whites. I am confident a majority of the whole vote cast is unattainable-and my only hope of defeating the thing is this one indicated: and if this fail, in the refusal of the voters to ratify the Constitution which may be adopted.
"It is never expedient to do wrong," and hence it is inexpedient to change by our act, the fundamental laws of our State, under an unconstitutional act of Congress.
This is intended for your own eye. I deem it inexpedient to avow my views before the public.
I gave my views, confidentially, to Mr. Englehardt a week or two ago.
Source: : The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, collected and edited by J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton. Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton Printing Co., 1909, pp.1058-1059.
Document 9 Questions
- How does Worth believe the outcome of the Civil War has affected the relationship between the former Confederate states and the Union?
- Why might some whites vote in favor of the convention?
- What was the constitutional basis for the requirements Congress imposed? Have those powers been used subsequently?
- Worth's strategy failed; what might that tell us about the potential for biracial political coalitions during Reconstruction?
Plato Durham Argues Against the Reconstruction Acts in the 1868 Constitutional Convention
Once the elections of 1867 had determined that there would be new state constitutions written by conventions elected with the votes of whites and blacks, many conservative whites began to disengage with the political process, often because they were disenfranchised by the provisions of the Fourteenth Amendment. This removal, by necessity or by choice, from the normal processes of politics was beneficial to the extent that is made space for those previously excluded from politics-African Americans and poor whites-to enter and fashion constitutions, state governments, and legislation that promised real change. Yet, it also had an element of danger to it, since these conservatives were not going to yield quietly to radical change. Outside the political realm, they organized into violent paramilitary groups such as the Ku Klux Klan to achieve their ends. In this document, Plato Durham, a young, white attorney from Cleveland County and a delegate to the 1868 convention, announces his opposition to the entire project of Congressional Reconstruction. By the end of the year, he would be expressing this opposition as a leader of the Ku Klux Klan.
Mr. Durham offered the following resolutions:
Resolved, That it is the sincere desire of the people of North-Carolina to restore the State to her Constitutional relations with the Federal Government at the earliest day practicable, upon terms just and honorable, both to the Government of the United States and to the State.
Resolved, That, recognizing the helpless condition of North-Carolina and the power of the Federal Government to force the acceptance of the terms of reconstruction proposed by Congress, it is nevertheless the sense of this Convention that these measures known as the Reconstruction Acts are unconstitutional, unwise, unjust and oppressive; subversive of the rights and liberties of eight millions of people, and calculated to hasten and complete the destruction of that wise system of government, which, when faithfully adhered to, secured so much happiness and prosperity to the American people.
Resolved, That the white and black races are distinct by nature, and that any and all efforts to abolish or abridge such distinction, and to degrade the white to the level of the black race, are crimes against the civilization of the age and against God.
Resolved, That the Government of the United States and of the Southern States were instituted by white men, and that while the lives, liberty and property of the black race should be protected by just laws, these governments ought to be controlled by white men only.
Resolved, That we appeal to the sense of justice of the masses of the Northern people to remove from the intelligent American citizens of the Southern States the degradation now heaped upon them, and to consider the dire results to the whole country if the policy of depriving eight millions of people of the services of these statesmen, disfranchising intelligent whites and transferring political power to ignorant blacks should be continued.
After some discussion the House, on motion, adjourned.
Source: Journal of the Constitutional Convention of the State of North-Carolina, at Its Session 1868 (Raleigh: Joseph W. Holden, Convention Printer, 1868), pp. 32-33.
Document 10 Questions
- To what audience do these resolutions seem to be addressed and why?
- Why does Durham bring God into the discussion? What influence did religion have on attitudes toward Reconstruction?
- What does Durham's later leadership role in the Ku Klux Klan suggest about his views on the legitimate modes of political debate?
Dr. Pride Jones Agrees to Help Stop the Ku Klux Klan
One response to the political changes brought about by the Reconstruction Acts and the 1868 constitutions was organized violence in the form of the Ku Klux Klan. While the Klan was a multifaceted phenomenon, it was often used by Democrats to cripple the Republican party, especially at the local level. This function, and the Klan's use in enforcing labor discipline among freedpeople, worked to the advantage of conservatives. Some continued to support the Klan and used its support to gain and hold political office even while the Republicans still held a majority at the state level, especially in South Carolina. Other conservatives who were strongly opposed to black suffrage came to oppose the excesses of the Klan, whether from a genuine moral repugnance at the levels of violence used or out of concern that the Klan was yet another powerful political instrument that was slipping out of their control and that the violence might be a poor tactic in accomplishing their aims. In North Carolina, the worst Klan violence occurred in a group of Piedmont counties roughly contained in a triangle bounded by Oxford, Fayetteville, and Greensboro, peaking in the spring of 1870. Governor W. W. Holden eventually declared martial law and sent in Republican militia units from the western part of the state. Before that, though, Holden hoped that prominent conservative citizens such as Dr. Pride Jones of Hillsborough could convince their neighbors to end the violence.
HILLSBOROUGH, N. C., March 4, 1870.
SIR: On the 3d instant I had a long conversation with Mr. John W. Norwood in reference to an interview that he has recently had with your excellency. He urged me to accept of a commission from you, for the purpose of attempting to disband the secret organization in this county, known as the 'Ku-Klux,' and restoring the laws to their supremacy. This is a consummation heartily to be desired by all good citizens; and, though more averse than ever to any position in the service of the public, I feel constrained by a sense of duty to give my best exertions, however feeble they may be, in aiding the restoration of peace and order, and, should you deem me qualified for the position, I will accept it.
I feel certain that in this county I can further your views, and believe that if my commission is extended to Alamance I can exercise a considerable influence there also. But if, as is rumored here to-day, your excellency has, in obedience to the dictates of your duty, ordered troops to that county, you must pardon me for saying that I look with apprehension to the result, and my candid opinion is that the 'Ku-Klux' cannot be put down by force, without a dreadful amount of bloodshed and crime, and that the wise course adopted by you in Chatham would be much more effectual here also. If troops have gone there, of course they cannot be recalled at once; but I consider it of vital importance, should you consider it expedient to extend my commission to that county, for you to give me some authority in the premises, and. enable me to say that, upon such and such things being done, you will recall the troops.
I would further suggest that your instructions upon the subject of oblivion and pardon of the past be explicit and clear, or my labors may be unavailing.
It may be proper to add that I am not a member of the 'Ku-Klux,' or any other secret political organization whatever.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
His Excellency W. W. HOLDEN, Raleigh.
HILLSBOROUGH, March 5, 1870.
SIR: The undersigned citizens of Orange County respectfully recommend Dr. Pride Jones, of Hillsborough, as a suitable person to receive a captain's commission for Orange County. We believe his appointment would give entire satisfaction to our citizens, and would go far toward establishing on a firm basis good order throughout the county.
J. W. NORWOOD.
HENRY K. NASH.
HENRY N. BROWN.
His Excellency. W. W. HOLDEN, Governor of North Carolina.
STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA,
Executive Department, Raleigh, March 7, 1870.
SIR: Please find inclosed a captain's commission in the Forty-fifth regiment Orange Militia. You will observe by the papers that I have been constrained to declare the county of Alamance in a state of insurrection. I have done this with reluctance and regret. The civil law is silent and powerless in that county. Many of the people of the county feel that they are entirely insecure in their persons and property, and their only hope is in such protection as the military can afford them. Federal troops, commanded by discreet officers, will be employed. The innocent and the law-abiding will be in no danger; but it is indispensable to bring the guilty to punishment. I concur with you that the Klan of Ku-Klux is very formidable and war-like, but I fear it will grow with indulgence, and that if vigorous measures be postponed, it will ultimately occasion much strife and bloodshed. I am most anxious to preserve Orange, Chatham, and other counties surrounding Alamance from the infection of insurrection in the latter county. Captain Ramsey is doing a good work in Chatham. The civil officers of the county of Orange are the friends of law and order, and are performing their duty like patriots. I wish you, sir, to take command in Orange. I believe you can thus perform efficient and valuable service for your State.
If you should accept this position, I should rely in a great degree upon your firmness, moderation, and discretion, and therefore, at present, give no special instructions as to the manner in which you will discharge your duty. Your pay, while on duty, will be that of a captain of the regular Army of the United States. I would be glad to hear from you at an early day.
W. W. HOLDEN, Governor.
Source: Testimony taken by the Joint Select Committee appointed to inquire into the condition of affairs in the late insurrectionary states, North Carolina (Washington: GPO, 1872), pp. 5-6.
Document 11 Questions
- Why did Jones expect the use of troops to result in bloodshed?
- What might Jones's reasons have been for accepting the commission?
- What would be the difference in federal troops versus state militia in putting down the Ku Klux Klan?
This ends Unit Five.
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Unit Six - Pursuing Citizenship: Justice & Equality