Appointment of the Reconstruction Convention’s special committee on revision, including former slave Charles W. Bryant

On January 13, 1869, the day after the Reconstruction Convention approved a resolution to appoint an 11-person committee to expedite work on the revised Texas constitution, the membership of the committee was announced to be:

Messrs. Gray, Whitmore, Carter, Buffington, Pedigo, Newcomb, Bryant of Grayson, Bryant of Harris, Kealy, Butler, Munroe.

The committee thus included the representative from Harris County, Charles W. Bryant, a former slave. The Handbook of Texas describes Bryant’s participation at the convention as follows:

Though he was a Radical Republican who supported Governor Edmund J. Davis in most instances, Bryant nevertheless opposed the ab initio proposal (see AB INITIO QUESTION), which would have invalidated all legislative enactments that occurred after the state’s secession from the Union. Bryant also favored the division of Texas into two or more states and supported constitutional provisions designed to prevent voter intimidation and fraud. He introduced resolutions that would have repealed railroad land grants and charters and prohibited convicted murderers from holding office in the state. He also secured a constitutional provision that legitimated black children born to slave parents. During the convention a mother accused Bryant of raping her eleven-year-old daughter. Although most Radicals supported Bryant’s denial, contending that moderate Republicans led by Andrew Jackson Hamilton fabricated the charges, the convention voted by a margin of three to expel Bryant. He was jailed briefly, but the child’s mother later dropped the charges against him.

Charles W Bryant


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