President Davis reports an “obstacle” to progress at the Reconstruction Convention

Further reflecting the continuing inaction of the Reconstruction Convention on its primary task of revising the Texas Constitution, on this date in 1869 the president of the convention, Edmund J. Davis, directed that the following communication be read. The previous day he had sent it to General Edward R.S. Candy, the Union general who then commanded the Fifth Military District (by that time consisting of only Texas):

Austin, Texas, January 14, 1869.

GENERAL: I have to call your attention to an obstacle which has prevented the progress of business in this Reconstruction Convention.

Under the rules of the Convention fifteen or more members can sustain a “call of the Convention,” as it is termed. When this is done the business under consideration is suspended and absent members are sent for. All members who are on the roll of the Convention are considered as belonging to the body, though they may not have been here since the meeting on the seventh of December, and unless they have been excused on account of sickness or other good cause they must be brought in.

Four members (Messrs. W. W. Mills, of El Paso, Presidio county, H. H. Foster, of Colorado county, C. E. Coleman, of Harrison and Panola counties, and G. Yarborough, of Upshur and Wood counties,) have not been in attendance since the Convention met, on the seventh December.

With regard to the absence of Messrs. Coleman and Foster no explanation has been given, and they are believed to have left the State. I am informed that Mr. Yarborough (who is of advanced age) is at home in a distant county, and is quite infirm, and does not probably ever intend to return to the Convention.

Mr. Mills was said to have intended being present at this session, and I believe he has written here to that effect; but we are now in the sixth week of this session, and he is still absent. His residence (El Paso) is too distant for the possibility of getting him here within any reasonable time.

Two or three weeks of this session have been wasted and business blocked, under “call of the Convention,” to send for these and other members, and we are at this moment under a suspension of business for the same reason.

All other members absent have either resigned or been excused for cause. Therefore members cannot, in my opinion, be brought here, and the necessity of the case requires some prompt remedy.

There is some doubt whether the Convention would be authorized to declare these offices vacant and, accordingly, I think it my duty to submit to the General Commanding the consideration of some remedy that he may deem himself authorized to apply to the case, and thus enable us to bring our duties to a close.

President of the Convention.

To Major-General E. R. S. Canby, U. S. A.,
Commanding Fifth Military District,
Austin, Texas.

Edmund J. Davis 1989.16 01.04 General_Edward_Canby_525


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