Texas State Library and Archives Commission (6-24-03)


The 1860s: Rise of Radical Republicanism


In 1854, Yankee abolitionists, believing that slavery was a moral and social evil, formed the Republican political party. In response to the congressional edict to extend the right to vote to all men regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude, the Texas delegation was organized in 1867. The delegation split into two factions during the 1868-69 Constitutional Convention: the Conservatives and the Radicals. The Conservatives wanted to recognize all non-Civil-War-related local and state laws made after secession in 1861. The Radicals insisted that all such laws should be declared null and void. The resulting constitution of 1869—strongly influenced by the Radical Republicans—provided for increased powers of the governor, greater support of public education, and suffrage for adult male African Americans. In 1870, members of the Radical faction formed the Radical Republican Association, an organization of white and African-American Republicans. This group supported Governor Davis’s administration and worked to ensure that the legislative measures they favored were successful.