The following are excerpts from Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants by J. Mason Brewer.  These concern issues that are concerned with the events from an African American perspective.  They also reveal what was happening in the struggle for political hegemony between white and black southerners.

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“FACTORS MAKING NEGRO LEGIS'LATORS POSSIBLE

Congressional Legislation. . . . One of the matters which had been settled beyond further dispute when the armies of the Union and of the Confederacy had been disbanded in 1865 was that the Negro was to be free. His status, however, at the close of the war was not that of slave, serf, or citizen. The government .realized this immediately and set about enacting new legislation which would meet some of the many needs of the emancipated blacks. Some of these needs were the regulation of conduct and the protection of person and property. Congress lost little time in enacting these new laws. The Thirteenth Amendment to the constitution abolishing slavery and the Fourteenth Amendment making the Negro freedmen citizens were passed immediately. All of the states that had joined the Confederacy were forced to ratify these amend­ments in their Constitutional Conventions before they could be readmitted to the Union. This procedure and requirement might be considered the first factor mak­ing Negro legislators possible.”  In addition, the “coming of the carpet­bagger to the South was another factor contributing to the Negro's becoming a legislator. The carpetbag­gers, knowing that the Negroes combined with them­selves and the scalawags were in the majority, sought their favor in order to feather their own political nests. The Negro had to line up with somebody; so he thought that this Republican ambassador from the North who belonged to the party that had freed him was the proper one to associate himself with in the exercise of his new privileges.”[1]

“An organization which was very active among the freedmen was the Loyal Union League". This organization was started by eleven men in Cleveland, Ohio, in November, 1862, when the out­look for the Union cause was gloomy. Some attribute the influence of the league over the Negro to the mysterious secrecy of the meetings, but whatever the secret of its power, the Union League helped the Negro to get to the Legislature.”

“The Intelligence of Negro Leaders. . . . The Negro could not have been successful in getting elected to office and in holding office, if he himself had not been able :to trade well. The Negroes in Texas who entered politics at this time were intelligent enough to match wits with their political associates as well 8S with their political rivals. Most of these first leaders who were elected delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1868-69 were men in their twenties, and men of some education.”[2]

 

Disfranchisement of the Negro in Texas. . . . As the Negro became more informed and better educated, and more accustomed to contending for his rights and get­ting some of them, and as he became more conscious of his power with the ballot, the white Texan became more and more alarmed and disturbed over the Negro vote, and its power in the hands of the colored -man. Realizing the power of the ballot and the influence it could wield the white Republicans and Democrats set about the task of disfranchising the Negro. The white Republicans after many unsuccessful attempts finally succeeded in defeating the Negroes in Texas led by Norris Wright Guney. The National Republican Convention was responsible for this victory of the "Lily Whites" of Texas over the delegates officially elected by the original Republican party of Texas. The National Convention of Republicans finally seated the "Lily White" delegation from Texas, and refused to seat the delegates elected in the original party setup. This prevented the Negro Republican from being elect­ed to office in his own ranks.[3]


 



[1] J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas and Their Descendants, (Austin, TX:  Jenkins Publishing Company, 1970) 35-36.

[2] J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas, 37.

[3] J. Mason Brewer, Negro Legislators of Texas, 113.