Beelingo.com

English Audio Books

Facts of Reconstruction, The

SPONSORED LINKS
<SPAN name="CHAPTER_III" id="CHAPTER_III"></SPAN>CHAPTER III</h2> <h3>THE REPUBLICAN COUNTY CONVENTION OF 1869</h3> <p>Although it was not charged nor even intimated that my acceptance of the office of Justice of the Peace was the result of bad faith on my part, still the appointment resulted in the creation for the time being of two factions in the Republican party in the county. One was known as the Lynch faction, the other as the Jacobs faction.</p> <p>When the Constitution was submitted to a popular vote in November, 1869, it was provided that officers should be elected at the same time to all offices created by the Constitution and that they, including members of the Legislature, were to be chosen by popular vote. The county of Adams (Natchez) was entitled to one member of the State Senate and three members of the House of Representatives. Jacobs was a candidate for the Republican nomination for State Senator. The Lynch faction, however, refused to support him for that position although it had no objection to his nomination for member of the House. Since Jacobs persisted in his candidacy for State Senator the Lynch faction brought out an opposing candidate in the person of a Baptist minister by the name of J.M.P. Williams. The contest between the two Republican candidates was interesting and exciting, though not bitter, and turned out to be very close.</p> <p>The convention was to be composed of thirty-three delegates, seventeen being necessary to nominate. The result at the primary election of delegates to the convention was so close that it was impossible to tell which one had a majority, since there were several delegates,&mdash;about whose attitude and preference there had been some doubt,&mdash;who refused to commit themselves either way. In the organization of the convention the Williams men gained the first advantage, one of their number having been made permanent chairman. But this was not important since there were no contests for seats, consequently the presiding officer would have no occasion to render a decision that could have any bearing upon the composition of the body over which he presided.</p> <p>Both sides agreed that the nomination for State Senator should be made first and that the vote should be by ballot, the ballots to be received and counted by two tellers, one to be selected by each faction. When the result of the first ballot was announced, Jacobs had sixteen votes, Williams, sixteen, and a third man had one. Several ballots were taken with the same result, when, with the consent of both sides, a recess was taken until 3 o'clock in the afternoon. The one delegate that refused to vote for either Jacobs or Williams made no effort to conceal his identity. To the contrary, he was outspoken in his determination and decision that he would not at any time or under any circumstances vote for either. Strange to say, this man was also a colored Baptist preacher, the Rev. Noah Buchanan, from the Washington district. Members of both factions approached him during the recess and pleaded with him, but their efforts and pleadings were all in vain. Nothing could move him or change him. He stated that he had given the matter his careful and serious consideration, and that he had come to the conclusion that neither Jacobs nor Williams was a fit man to represent the important county of Adams in the State Senate, hence neither could get his vote. At the afternoon session, after several ballots had been taken with the same result, an adjournment was ordered until 9 o'clock next morning.</p> <p>Soon after adjournment each side went into caucus. At the Jacobs meeting it was decided to stick to their man to the very last. At the Williams meeting Hon. H.C. Griffin, white leader of the Williams men, suggested the name of the Rev. H.R. Revels as a compromise candidate. Revels was comparatively a new man in the community. He had recently been stationed at Natchez as pastor in charge of the A.M.E. Church, and so far as known he had never voted, had never attended a political meeting, and of course, had never made a political speech. But he was a colored man, and presumed to be a Republican, and believed to be a man of ability and considerably above the average in point of intelligence; just the man, it was thought, the Rev. Noah Buchanan would be willing to vote for.</p> <p>After considerable discussion it was agreed that a committee should be appointed to wait on Mr. Williams in order to find out if he would be willing to withdraw in favor of Revels should his friends and supporters deem such a step necessary and wise. In the event of Williams' withdrawal, the committee was next to call on Revels to find out if he would consent to the use of his name. If Revels consented, the committee was next to call on Rev. Buchanan to find out whether or not he would vote for Revels. This committee was to report to the caucus at 8 o'clock next morning.</p> <p>At the appointed time the committee reported that Williams had stated that he was in the hands of his friends and that he would abide by any decision they might make. Revels, the report stated, who had been taken very much by surprise,&mdash;having had no idea that his name would ever be mentioned in connection with any office,&mdash;had asked to be allowed until 7 o'clock in the morning to consider the matter and to talk it over with his wife. At 7 o'clock he notified the chairman of the committee that he would accept the nomination if tendered.</p> <p>Buchanan had informed the committee that he had heard of Revels but did not know him personally. He too had asked to be allowed until 7 o'clock in the morning before giving a positive answer, so as to enable him to make the necessary inquiries to find out whether or not Revels was a suitable man for the position. At 7 o'clock he informed the chairman of the committee that if the name of Williams should be withdrawn in favor of Revels he would cast his vote for Revels. The caucus then decided by a unanimous vote that upon the assembling of the convention at 9 o'clock that morning Mr. Griffin should withdraw the name of Williams from before the convention as a candidate for State Senator, but that no other name should be placed in nomination. Every member of the caucus, however, was committed to vote for Revels. This decision was to be communicated to no one outside of the caucus except to Mr. Buchanan, who was to be privately informed of it by the chairman of the committee to whom he had communicated his own decision.</p> <p>As soon as the convention was called to order Mr. Griffin was recognized by the chair. He stated that he had been authorized to withdraw the name of Rev. J.M.P. Williams from before the convention as candidate for State Senator. This announcement was received by the Jacobs men with great applause. The withdrawal of the name of Williams without placing any other in nomination they accepted as evidence that further opposition to the nomination of their candidate had been abandoned and that his nomination was a foregone conclusion. But they were not allowed to labor under that impression very long. The roll-call was immediately ordered by the chair and the tellers took their places. When the ballots had been counted and tabulated, the result was seventeen votes for Revels and sixteen votes for Jacobs. The announcement was received by the Williams men with great applause. The result was a victory for them because it was their sixteen votes together with the vote of Rev. Noah Buchanan that had nominated Revels. The Jacobs men accepted their defeat gracefully. A motion was offered by their leader to make the nomination unanimous and it was adopted without a dissenting vote. In anticipation of his nomination Revels was present as one of the interested spectators and upon being called upon for a brief address he delivered it with telling effect, thereby making a most favorable impression. This address convinced Rev. Noah Buchanan that he had made no mistake in voting for Revels. Jacobs was then nominated for member of the House of Representatives without opposition, his associates being John R. Lynch and Capt. O.C. French, a white Republican. The ticket as completed was elected by a majority of from fifteen hundred to two thousand, a Republican nomination in Adams County at that time being equivalent to an election.</p> <p>When the Legislature convened at Jackson the first Monday in January, 1870, it was suggested to Lieutenant-Governor Powers, presiding officer of the Senate, that he invite the Rev. Dr. Revels to open the Senate with prayer. The suggestion was favorably acted upon. That prayer,&mdash;one of the most impressive and eloquent prayers that had ever been delivered in the Senate Chamber,&mdash;made Revels a United States Senator. He made a profound impression upon all who heard him. It impressed those who heard it that Revels was not only a man of great natural ability but that he was also a man of superior attainments.</p> <p>The duty devolved upon that Legislature to fill three vacancies in the United States Senate: one, a fractional term of about one year,&mdash;the remainder of the six year term to which Jefferson Davis had been elected before the breaking out of the Rebellion,&mdash;another fractional term of about five years, and the third, the full term of six years, beginning with the expiration of the fractional term of one year. The colored members of the Legislature constituted a very small minority not only of the total membership of that body but also of the Republican members. Of the thirty-three members of which the Senate was composed four of them were colored men: H.R. Revels, of Adams; Charles Caldwell, of Hinds; Robert Gleed, of Lowndes, and T.W. Stringer, of Warren. Of the one hundred and seven members of which the House was composed about thirty of them were colored men. It will thus be seen that out of the one hundred forty members of which the two Houses were composed only about thirty-four of them were colored men. But the colored members insisted that one of the three United States Senators to be elected should be a colored man. The white Republicans were willing that the colored men be given the fractional term of one year, since it was understood that Governor Alcorn was to be elected to the full term of six years and that Governor Ames was to be elected to the fractional term of five years.</p> <p>In this connection it may not be out of place to say that, ever since the organization of the Republican party in Mississippi, the white Republicans of that State, unlike some in a few of the other Southern States, have never attempted to draw the color line against their colored allies. In this they have proved themselves to be genuine and not sham Republicans,&mdash;that is to say, Republicans from principle and conviction and not for plunder and spoils. They have never failed to recognize the fact that the fundamental principle of the Republican party,&mdash;the one that gave the party its strongest claim upon the confidence and support of the public,&mdash;is its advocacy of equal civil and political rights. If that party should ever come to the conclusion that this principle should be abandoned, that moment it will merit, and I am sure it will receive, the condemnation and repudiation of the public.</p> <p>It was not, therefore, a surprise to any one when the white Republican members of the Mississippi Legislature gave expression to their entire willingness to vote for a suitable colored man to represent the state of Mississippi in the highest and most dignified legislative tribunal in the world. The next step was to find the man. The name of the Rev. James Lynch was first suggested. That he was a suitable and fit man for the position could not be denied. But he had just been elected Secretary of State for a term of four years, and his election to the Senate would have created a vacancy in the former office which would have necessitated the holding of another State election and another election was what all wanted to avoid. For that reason his name was not seriously considered for the Senatorship.</p> <p class="center"><ANTIMG src="images/gs0331.jpg" width='497' height='700' alt="HON. HIRAM R. REVELS. The first colored man that occupied a seat in the U.S. Senate. From a photograph taken by Maj. Lynch at Natchez, Miss., in 1868." /></p> <p>The next name suggested was that of the Rev. H.R. Revels and those who had been so fortunate as to hear the impressive prayer that he had delivered on the opening of the Senate were outspoken in their advocacy of his selection. The white Republicans assured the colored members that if they would unite upon Revels, they were satisfied he would receive the vote of every white Republican member of the Legislature. Governor Alcorn also gave the movement his cordial and active support, thus insuring for Revels the support of the State administration. The colored members then held an informal conference, at which it was unanimously decided to present the name of Rev. H.R. Revels to the Republican Legislative Caucus as a candidate for United States Senator to fill the fractional term of one year. The choice was ratified by the caucus without serious opposition. In the joint Legislative session, every Republican member, white and colored, voted for the three Republican caucus nominees for United States Senators,&mdash;Alcorn, Ames and Revels,&mdash;with one exception, Senator William M. Hancock, of Lauderdale, who stated in explanation of his vote against Revels that as a lawyer he did not believe that a colored man was eligible to a seat in the United States Senate. But Judge Hancock seems to have been the only lawyer in the Legislature,&mdash;or outside of it, as far as could be learned,&mdash;who entertained that opinion.</p> <hr /> <h2>
SPONSORED LINKS