OTD 1866: J.W. Throckmorton elected president of constitutional convention

On February 8, 1866, the constitutional convention reconvened in Austin. Six additional delegates presented credentials to join the 63 who came to the first session on the previous day.

James Webb Throckmorton, a future governor, was chosen as president of the convention. He was one of only six delegates at the 1861 Secession Convention who had voted against secession. Upon taking the chair, Throckmorton addressed the convention:

Gentlemen of the Convention:

We have met together under peculiar circumstances. We have passed through a period in the history of our country, momentous in its character, and from which a new era will be inaugurated. As the representatives of the people of Texas, we have been intrusted, at a critical moment, with their most sacred interests. We should act with the purest patriotism, and, in my humble judgment, with a view alone to the future, uninfluenced by past predilections or opinions, and uncontaminated by passion or prejudice.

The period through which the country has passed has been one of extraordinary gloom. It has been a period which has made the stoutest hearts quail, and the purest patriots tremble. I recur to the past with no other purpose than to recall to mind our situation, and the responsibilities now devolving upon us.

Allow me to express he conviction already impressed upon my mind, that your deliberations will be harmonious, and marked with that spirit which should alone prevail where such great interests are at stake. Let us by our action strengthen the hands of the Executive of the Nation, and, by a ready and willing compliance with his suggestions, show to our national brethren that we are, in good faith, disposed to renew our allegiance the general government. Let us bury, upon the altar of our common country, all the recent past, with all its painful associations and recollections; and, upon that altar, hallowed by clustering reminiscences of three quarters of a century, renew our devotions to the Government of our Fathers—a government reared by sufferings, and consecrated by their blood, and in the glories of which we have an inheritance.

Let us kindle afresh, in our own bosoms, and in the bosoms our fellow-citizens throughout the length and breadth of our noble State, the fires of patriotism that once burned so brightly in behalf of the general government, but which have been well nigh extinguished by the blood of civil war. Let the future deliberations of the Convention show to the authorities of the government and to the American people, that, although Texas is the last of the Southern States seeking restoration, the delay was caused no fault of her people.

I thank you, gentlemen, for the honor you have conferred upon me, and am sensible of my incapacity to preside over your deliberations with the ability necessary for such an occasion. I know I shall receive, in the discharge of the duties assigned me, your cordial support. I cherish the hope that our labors will redound to the general good of our own State, and to the promotion of the great interests of the whole country. And, although it is true that sorrow and gloom have filled the whole land, and smoke of war gone up to the heavens from burning habitations and desolated districts, and every household been draped in mourning, yet I trust that our children and their children may look back to the hour of the assembling of this Convention, and bless it, as one of the happiest and most auspicious in the history of our country.

I hope that our labors will enable Texas to hold up her head once more, and take that proud position among the States of the American Union to which she is unquestionably entitled; that peace, prosperity and happiness, and a fraternal feeling, may be restored, not only to us, but throughout our common country

I thank you, gentlemen, for your kindness and attention.

The convention then proceeded to elect a secretary, sergeant-at-arms, and door-keeper before adjourning for the day.

JW Throckmorton_LG


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