OTD 1869: 22 delegates to the Reconstruction Convention recorded their protest

February 5, 1869 was the last day a quorum assembled to meet at the Reconstruction Convention. The first business of the day was a resolution for the convention to adjourn indefinitely—it failed, 20 yeas to 40 nays.

The convention voted (again, as it had the day before, by a 38-23 margin) to adopt the declaration submitting the constitution to the people, by a vote of 42 yeas to 15 nays.

A substantial minority of the convention then recorded the following protest:

HALL OF THE CONVENTION,
Austin, February 4, 1869.

Hon. E. J. DAVIS,
President of the Convention

SIR: We, the undersigned, delegates to the Constitutional Convention of the State of Texas, do hereby express disapproval of the proposed constitution adopted by a majority of this Convention.

We object to it, because it is based upon the unwarranted assumption that the constitution of the United States, with the treaties and laws made in pursuance thereof, and the accepted constitution of the State of Texas (of 1845), have not been continuously the supreme law of the land. Believing as we do, that all pretended laws and judicial decisions made within the national limits, and not authorized by and subordinate to the government of the United States, were from the beginning and must remain null and void, and the undersigned will never compromise this principle for any supposed policy.

We do most earnestly and solemnly protest against that provision in the proposed constitution which extends the right of suffrage to all those who voluntarily became the public enemy of the United States, feeling assured that it was the aim of Congress to enable the loyal people of the State of Texas; without regard to any distinction of race or color, to reorganize and maintain a government in the place of that overthrown by the rebellion, and we cannot forbear to express the conviction that the adoption by the majority of the Convention of the provision in regard to suffrage was obtained by virtue of a premeditated and deliberate deception, and by methods of intimidation, which deserve the gravest censure. The majority of the Convention have deliberately removed from the constitution every safeguard for the protection of the loyal voter, white and black. They have stricken from that instrument the whole system of registry; they have repudiated the oath of loyalty contained in the reconstruction laws; they have spurned the test of equal, civil and political rights, and we do most solemnly call upon the registered voters of Texas to vindicate the national honor, and the cause of right and of justice, by their votes.

M.C. HAMILTON, Delegate from Bastrop.
JAMES P. BUTLER, Delegate from Walker.
H.C. HUNT, Delegate representing Comal, Blanco and Hays counties.
GEO. H. SLAUGHTER, Delegate from Smith County.
JAMES BROWN, Kaufman, Van Zandt.
ANDREW DOWNING, Of Bosque County
JAMES P. NEWCOMB, Delegate from Bexar County.
JOHN H. LIPPARD, Freestone County.
S. MULLINS, McLennan County.

I subscribe to the foregoing, because I believe that many of the members were gulled, and did not understand what they were doing, and also because there were a great many absent when the vote was taken.

N. M. BOARD, Harrison county.
JACOB KUECHLER, Delegate from Gillespie, Kendall, Llano, Mason, Kimble, San Saba, Menard.
NATHAN PATTEN, McLennan County.
J. H. WILSON, Milam County.

I sign this protest for the above reasons, and because I firmly believe that the adoption of the Constitution will be the first step towards a general disfranchisement of the colored race.

E. DEGENER, Bexar County and District.
ROBERT K. SMITH, Galveston and Harris District.

I join in the above protest, except only that part which charges deception and intimidation on the part of members.

EDMUND J. DAVIS, Delegate from Nueces, etc.
RALPH LONG, Limestone County.

I sign this protest for all of the above reasons, believing that the right, not only of loyal blacks and whites are imperiled, but that the expressed will of Congress has been ignored.

G. T. RUBY, Galveston County.
W. JOHNSON, Of Marshall.

I was under the impression that I voted for a substitute that included the future, not the past. I protest against the past.

B. F. WILLIAMS.

I join the above protest, excepting the part which charges deception and intimidation on the part of the members.

A. P. H. JORDAN.

I join in this protest so far as it has reference to the suffrage question, and disclaiming any charge of fraud on the part of the mover of the substitute.

W. FRANK CARTER, Parker County.

In the evening session, a letter from Commanding General Canby was read, informing the convention that he would provide for the printing of the Constitution—the details of which had been disputed within the convention—should the convention not otherwise provide.

Two delegates resigned before the convention adjourned for the night.

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