Reconstruction in Civil War Texas

President Johnson’s reconstruction plan outlined these steps: the President to appoint a temporary governor for former Confederate states. The provisional governor would then call a convention to stop succession and slavery. The voters would elect a governor, state officials, and a legislature. The state would be fully restored to the Union when the legislature ratified the Thirteenth Amendment abolishing slavery.

The Texas legislature in 1866 refused to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment. Instead, it controlled the labor of freedmen through forced apprenticeships and labor contracts. In response, the Republicans in Washington refused the senators and representatives elected by Texas voters.

The Congressional Reconstruction Act (also known as Radical Reconstruction) of 1867 ended Presidential Reconstruction. Congress put the South under the command of the United States Army.

In the December 1869 general election, radical Republican Edmund J. Davis was elected as the fourteenth governor of Texas. The state legislature then adopted the Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments and selected the state’s two new United States senators. This completed the Presidential requirements for readmission, and on March 30, 1870, President Grant signed the act that let Texas rejoin the Union.

Both the administration of Governor Davis and the Constitution of 1869 were unpopular with most Texans, who were forced to abolish slavery and grant African Americans full citizenship and the right to hold public office.

The Constitution of 1869 called for a centralized government that gave more power to the role of governor. The governor could appoint and remove elected officials. Social welfare programs were introduced. African Americans would be integrated into the political system and could hold public office.

Governor Davis was unpopular. He created the State Militia and the State Police, which he could use to maintain law and order whenever local officials failed or refused to act. The State Police were a permanent force with the authority to overrule local law enforcement officials across Texas. The organization was hated by most Texans because the force consisted of former slaves who stopped demonstrations that opposed Reconstruction.

Congressional Reconstruction ended in late 1872, when the Democrats regained control of the legislature and repealed most of the Reconstruction laws. Governor Davis was removed from office in 1873. In 1876, Texans replaced the Constitution of 1869.

Source: Reconstruction in Civil War Texas
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