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Since the Reconstruction came about twelve years before Quitman County was organized, it had to do with those counties from which Quitman was formed, these being Panola, Tunica, Tallhatchie, and Coahoma; conditions throughout the state were practically the same and the history of the period has been handed down by our ancestors.

Due to the fact that some of the most intelligent citizens had been leaders in the Confederate cause, they were denied any part in the Reconstruction program.  There was much dissatisfaction about this, as the ignorant, the vicious, and the foolish could obtain office and hold it in spite of incompetence.

When the state was admitted back into the Union in February, 1870, carpetbaggers, scalawags, and negroes were chosen as representatives in the legislation, and to fill most of the other state offices.  After Quitman County was organized in 1877, and before the adoption of our constitution, Jiles Smith, negro,  was representative of this county, and some of its first officials were negroes, namely:  Levi Pickle was a member of the Board of Supervisors; Marshall Fisher was tax assessor; R.A. Cooper was justice of the peace; and Henry Richardson was deputy sheriff.1

The few farms established in the early beginning of Quitman County, consisted of a small acreage of cultivated land, and after the slaves were freed, it was difficult to get them to contract for farm labor.  The negro himself leaned on the new friends from the North, and the break between the blacks and whites, who, even in the darkest days of the war, lived harmoniously side by side, came to be antagonistic and united in opposition to each other.  However, those slaves who remained loyal after the Emancipation Proclamation worked faithfully with their masters.  The task of building up the land was not an easy one.  Our present-day method of farm management has, no doubt, existed in a measure since that following the War Between the States–that is, of the owner of the land assigning a portion of the farm land to a negro family, furnishing horses, mules, tools, and supplies, and the crop being equally divided.  Greenwood Leflore, chief of the Choctaw Indians, was among the first land-holders in this county.

The people found themselves subjected to social changes which they could not approve, and were thrust into a controversy more bitter than the first.  They believed sincerely in the inferiority of the negro, and thought it quite enough to admit him to the elementary phases of citizenship.  They could not understand clearly the demand that he have equal status with the whites, and it took them a long time to realize that the North would really make the demand.  As the months passed, the negro became continually less willing to trust his former masters and more inclined to follow new friends; though back 1867, when he was allowed to vote, he was as clay in the hands of the latter.

The war itself reduced the southerners living to a dependence on the simple products of his farm, and he became accustomed to do without the comforts of prosperity.

In order to protect themselves without the aid of the sheriff, the white citizens organized a secret organization known as the Ku Klux Klan.  The members dressed in white robes with hoods over their faces, rode about the country at night, and probably whipped some of the leading carpet-baggers and negroes.  The Klan was dissolved after the government gave the people more protection.

A bill, the Enforcement Act, was passed to suppress the Ku Klux Klan.  Anyone suspected of being implicated in a Ku Klux outrage was called before a Federal Court, and United States troops made arrests of many young men at different times in nearly all communities.  These were taken before the Federal Court at Oxford or Jackson for trial, and a great number of witnesses were summoned, mostly negroes, and always of the Radical party.

It took several weeks for these trials, the expenditures being taken from taxes imposed upon the people of the community involved, however, the Ku Klux Klan did its work effectively and well.  One after another unfit and corrupt person was removed from office; not only the negroes, but also the carpet-baggers and scalawags, were visited, and little by little these people became afraid to use their influence, or even to vote.  After unscrupulous men who were not members of the Klan began making raids upon the homes of people they did not like, the true members resigned and brought the society to an end.2 [The first KKK began in the late 1860’s and died out by the early 1870’s.]

The Klan had served its purpose.  In the election of 1874 so few people dared to vote, that the white men of the South were able to elect their own candidates to office; soon the southern whites had largely regained control of the political situation.

The appalling destruction of property and the loss of life during the four years of war would have made the reorganization of the South a highly difficult matter under most favorable circumstances.  Without a supply of steady labor, the old plantation system of agriculture could not survive–an entirely new system had to be devised.  Large holdings were divided into small tracts and offered for sale or lease; more reliable negroes became tenant farmers.  It was several years, however, before the production of the great southern staple reached the proportion attained before the war.

A great abundance of the land in Quitman County at that time was open for settlement, but the art of fertilizing and building up the soil was just beginning to be understood in the world.  Since the people were accustomed to cotton culture, it was natural that they should depend upon it.  But it was found to be a great mistake that this one industry should constitute so large a part of the economic effort of the whole people.3

Religion During Reconstruction

Through the changed conditions of the negro, a most violent reform occurred.  Out of desperation, grew a white “Solid South” and fierce contempt for every political ideal which was called “republican.”

During the Reconstruction of the county there was little of that contrast between the rich and the poor which makes class hatred.  It was often the case that men of wealth preferred to live on a level with their less fortunate neighbors.  The people were sociable and hospitable.

Preparation for church work was not very systematic  among the early settlers; different denominational leaders increased their efforts to spread their belief throughout the spiritual nature of the people.

Circuit riders came through the county at long intervals and preached in homes and stores, as there were no churches.  Educated and religious women taught Sunday School in their homes each Sunday, and as the years passed, religious denominations made substantial progress in the county.

Carpet-Baggers and Scalawags

Some of the northern men who had come to the state expecting to spend their lives here were greedy adventurers who cared only for their own pockets.  They were commonly called “carpet-baggers”; they promised the negroes that the property of the whites would be divided among the former slaves if they would vote for them.

Scalawags were southern men who joined the Republican party; carpet-baggers and scalawags kept the best offices for themselves and gave the negroes only enough power to hold their votes.  They taught the negroes to hate their former masters and to believe that the Republican Party was their friend.  They also spent much time teaching the negroes how to vote, but this was hard to do, for most of them could not read and were likely to vote for the wrong man.

The reasonable men in this section united in a part which would accept the issues of war and reconstruct the South.  These men forgot their grudges against the North, and fought side by side under the new name of “Conservatives”.

Near the close of the war, lands belonging to many Confederate soldiers were seized and leased to freed men who had flocked to the towns and who were destitute.  Agents, a majority of whom belonged to the worst class of adventurers, were stationed in the county, and caused much disturbance between the races.  After the slaves were freed, they were still attached to their former masters, until these agents of the Freedman’s Bureau made them believe that the people among whom they had lived so long were not their friends, and that their best interests lay in their attachment to the strangers from other section.

The Loyal League

The Loyal League was an organization to which almost all the negro men belonged.  They were frightened, and at the same time pleased with the initiation ceremonies in the league.  They were taught various things which their white leaders wanted them to know, and if they failed to keep their promises, severe punishment was administrated.

After the passage of the Reconstruction Act, the Republican party was organized in Mississippi by the northern men in the state and a few southern “loyalist.” Measures were taken  to enroll all the negroes which was readily done through the agency of the Loyal League. This party undertook to identify itself with loyalty to the United States government–notwithstanding the fact that half the people of the North were still Democrats, who had supported the war against the Confederacy no less arduously than had the Republicans, and that the Democrats of the South had manifested every intention of loyalty and abiding by the result of the war.4

The negroes readily believed that to vote the republican ticket was voting for United States Government, and to vote the Democratic ticket was voting for the South against their freedom.

A few genuine southern people advocated joining the Republican party, with the idea that by this means, confidence of the North would be regained, thereby giving the leadership of state affairs to proper men.4

State Conditions During Reconstruction

Local conditions in Mississippi cannot be even remotely comprehended without taking a view of the situation at Washington just after the War Between the States.  What happened in Mississippi was not due to the feelings and wishes of its own people, but was a result forced upon them against their will, and over every objection and resistance that they were able to make.

After Appomattox, it seems true from all accounts that President Lincoln wished to pursue a most conciliatory course.  He wanted the lately separated states to re-enter the Union with the least possible friction.  In this he was viciously opposed by leaders of his own party.

Immediately after his [President Lincoln] assassination, Radical leaders seemed to suppose that Andrew Johnson, the new president, would go along with them, but they soon discovered that he meant to pursue the milder line and carry out the policies of Lincoln.  Therefore, they were determined to destroy Johnson, and the history of this long fight to impeach Johnson and put Ben Wade in his place, is written with such vindictiveness that we can scarcely understand it at this time.

Following the War Between the States, this nation passed through a period of debauchery such as we all remember after the World War.  Politicians and people alike seemed to have gone money-mad.  Never was there a time in our history when public men were so corrupt and hypocritical.

Right or wrong, with a deadly fear our southern states dreaded the possibility of negro rule, while radical states were determined to force it upon them.

As a further motive, money was to be made out of the South–money and political power.  Against such currents the South fought for its life more desperately than at Shiloh and Vicksburg.

The Confederate armies had surrendered, and a triumphant Union recognized no government as existing in the South since 1861, prior to the Ordinance of Succession.

Charles Clark, Governor of Mississippi, issued at once his proclamation from Meridian summoning the legislature to assemble on April 18th at Jackson, the first step taken toward Reconstruction.  This was at once met by a proclamation from the military authorities reminding the people that martial law existed.  They did come to Jackson on the date set, and Clark recommended that they call a convention to repeal the Ordinance of Secession, as well as recognize the other results of the war.  But he was promptly arrested and charged with treason.

Mississippi now had no Civil Government, and all affairs were in a state of anarchy.  Union troops were quartered everywhere.  Thousands of negro laborers had deserted the plantations.  Bands of guerrillas roved the country, plundering, and sometimes killing.

Words can give no idea of the condition of affairs at home when Ex-Chief Justice William L. Sharkey and Honorable William Yerger went to Washington, as commissioners appointed by Governor Clark.  They were not officially received by President Johnson, but he talked things over with them.

As a result, the president appointed Judge Sharkey to be Provisional Governor of Mississippi, and a better selection could not have been made.  He was a man of high character, a distinguished jurist, and possessed full confidence of all the people.  As an old line Whig, of Union sympathies, and a non-combatant during the War, he seemed the man for the place.

The Reconstruction Convention of 1865, first to assemble in pursuance of President Johnson’s Reconstruction Plan, met at Jackson, a majority of its members being old line Whigs who had fought secession and opposed the War Between the States–all white and men of standing.

It was earnestly desired by the president that they should extend a modified elective franchise to certain persons of color, who owned property, could read and write, therefore placing Mississippi on the same basis as the free states at the North, which, as Johnson thought, would disarm “the radicals who were wild about negro franchise”.

All the debates of the Mississippi Convention were public and printed, being now available for accurate information.  The amendment abolishing slavery was passed eighty-seven (87) to eleven (11).  Secession Ordinance declared null and void, but they did nothing towards granting any form of suffrage to the negro.  The convention adjourned with a telegram from President Johnson congratulating them upon “paving the way for re-admission to the Union”.  Their action was utterly unsatisfactory to radicals in the North.

Under this constitution an election was held October 2, 1865, and B. G. Humphreys chosen governor over Judge Fisher. [Candidates for Governor in the 1865 election were Ephraim S. Fisher, Benjamin G. Humphreys, and William S. Patton.]  Humphreys had been a brigadier-general in the Confederate service, and had never been restored to his civil rights.  So President Johnson pardoned him, and he was inaugurated governor of Mississippi on October 16, 1865, all of which was regarded most unfavorably at the North, and abuses were heaped upon President Johnson.

In spite of the election of Humphreys, Secretary Seward from Washington notified Governor Sharkey to continue his functions.  This caused a more or less equivocal situation, with some friction between the civil authority of Governor Humphreys and the military powers of Governor Sharkey.

After an unsettled period, during which both Sharkey and Humphreys served in a sort of divided governorship, on October 14, Sharkey was instructed to retire, and Humphreys continued as governor by sufferance of the military commander, General Irving McDowell, who was now the new military commander.

Throughout his administration Governor Humphreys was constantly trying to have negro troops removed from Mississippi, and the Reconstruction acts were passed by Congress in March, 1867.

Much discussion went on at this time as to exactly what rights would be extended to the freed men, for Congress was preparing its program of Reconstruction.  Three different observers were sent down here to report the conditions, and the feelings of the people.

The first of these was General Carl Schurz, who had served with some distinction in the Union Army.  He reported “an entire absence of National Spirit, which forms the basis of true loyalty”.

To break the force of this report, as they claimed, General U. S. Grant was sent on a tour of the South.  His report, dated December 1, 1865, is far more kindly.  A few of Grant’s statements are as follows:  “I am satisfied that the mass of the thinking people of the South accept the present situation of affairs in good faith.  White troops generally excite no opposition, and therefore, a small number of them can maintain order.  Citizens of the Southern states are anxious to return to self-government with the Union as soon as possible.”

(References:  Members of Investigation Com. McNeily, P. G. 75; Radical feeling against the South and Johnson, Ibid. 7; Tragic Era 12: 55; Effects of Schurz Report, Ibid., 84; Schurz Reminiscences II 157.)

On September 16, 1867, General Ord called an election to be held on the first Tuesday of November to determine whether Mississippi would come back into the Union or would remain under military rule, without representation in Congress.  The election was carried in favor of a convention, the vote being 69,739 for, to 6,277 against it.  (See Garner, [James Wilford Garner, Ph.M.] page 186, McNeily, [Capt. John Seymour McNeily], P.G., page 31.)  (For Suffrage qualifications, the test of oath, etc., see Garner, 202.)

The effect of the new construction was to disfranchise practically every native white man of prominence or property, placing all political power in the hands of negro carpetbaggers and scalawags.

After a session of 115 days the convention adjourned, having cost a quarter of a million dollars, $28,518.75 of which was paid to four newly established newspapers to print proceedings.

The destructive constitution must be submitted to the people for ratification, and white men cast around to get a means to beat it.  But how?  (See Garner 231, 214, 215.  McNeily, P.G. 385 and 388)

To the great surprise of both parties, the constitution was defeated, 56,231 votes for; 63,860 against (Garner 216).  As the result was announced by General Gillem, who was now again the military commandant, four of the five men elected to congress were Democrats.  Humphreys, the lately deposed governor, had defeated Eggleston by a majority of over 8,000.  The Republicans charged fraud, claiming that the negroes were threatened with the vengeance of the Ku Klux Klan, and prevented from voting.  Possibly, it is a fact, that between two rival sets of bulldozers, the negro stayed safely at home.  Not more than half of them voted, and the constitution was defeated.  (Reports:  Secretary of War, page 590, 603; Garner 217, note)  (Historical Miscellaneous Documents.)

Defeat of the constitution left Mississippi under military rule, and General Grant had become president.  A committee of Democrats, including Ex-Governor Brown and Judge H. F. Simrall, went to Washington and laid the whole matter before him.  Grant heard both sides and agreed that some of the harsher proscriptive clauses should be struck out.  The amended document was adopted by the people, and the Constitution of 1869 went into effect.

General conditions when Ames took office:  Even if Mississippi politics had been in the hands of her wisest and best men, her problems were heart breaking.  The people were pauperized, property destroyed by war and raids, and the labor system completely disturbed.  Plantations were practically ruined, with few houses left and almost no work stock or domestic animals.  Cotton, the chief support of the state, had been burned by contending armies, and what little remained was confiscated by the United States Government.

When peace came, all cotton belonging to persons who had been in arms against the United States, together with their lands and other property, was considered abandoned and confiscated for the benefit of the government.  The country teemed with treasury agents, spies, and informers who took every bale that they could lay hands on.  The burden was upon the owner to prove his ownership, and proof was made so difficult that few claimants could establish their rights.  As these agents and spies were receiving one-quarter to one-half of what they found, an honest farmer had no chance to keep his cotton, and only a small portion of it actually reached the treasury.

Many prominent southerners at this time left their homes and emigrated to Mexico or South America, (Garner 134).  One-third of the breadwinners were killed or disabled in the war–the state was desolated.  Then Ames came into office.  We had bad crop years in 1866 and 1867.  The Mississippi River overflowed our western counties because of a ruined levee system; often, the embankments had been cut by Union troops.  Conditions were so bad that whites and blacks alike appealed to authorities for rations.

In 1868 an abundant crop at good prices, made things look better.  A few debts were paid off, and planters began to hope that free negro labor might be made profitable.

In such a state of chaos and distress, the native governor, Humphreys, had been deposed by military force.  General Adelbert Ames became governor, both civil and military, with almost unlimited powers.

(For “Southern Outrages,” see the following references:  Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XI, page 117; McNeily, P. G. Page 126, 61;  Mississippi Historical Society Vol. XII, page 412;  Vol. IX, page 156; Vol. VIII, page 199.  See County Histories of Reconstruction for details.  The L. Q. C. Lamar “Court Scene” at Oxford (part 2); Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XIII, page 205; Vol. IX, page 142. Mayes, Life of Lamar; The Hickory Riot, February, 1868; The Chapel Hill Riot; Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XI, page 205; Vol. XIII, page 288.  Clinton Riot, Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. IX, p. 94; Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XII, page 385; Vol. IX, page 94; Vol. VI, page 428, Clinton Riot, second; Negro mob at Starkville, Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XIII, page 277Meridian Riot, MHS, Vol. XIII, page 203.  Vicksburg Riot, Tragic Era, Vol. XIII, page 448.  Vicksburg Riot, MHS, Vol. XIII. Other further reference MHS, Vol. XII, page 418.  McNeilly W. and R., page 304.)

The Ku Klux Klan

This famous organization, which became so notorious during Reconstruction Days, was apparently founded in a joke by six men of Pulaski, Tennessee.  To amuse themselves, Colonel John C. Lester, late C. S. A., suggested that they start a club on the night before Christmas, 1865.  Their first meeting was held in the home of Thomas Martin, and in selecting a name, they chose the Greek word–“Kuklina”, meaning a band or circle, which evolved into Ku Klux; the word Klan was added for Euphony.  (See Vol. Ku Klux Klan, “Fleming, New York, Tragic Era,” page 306. [The six men who founded the KKK were James R. Crowe, Grand Turk; J. Calvin Jones, Night Hawk; John Booker Kennedy, Grand Magi; John C. Lester, Night Hawk; Frank O. McCord, Grand Cyclops; and Richard R. Reed, Lictor.]

At first, these young men merely intended to have some fun riding around in disguise and mystifying their friends, but soon discovered their power to play upon the fear of superstitious negroes.

Through that idea the Ku Klux Klan grew and spread, and General Nathan Bedford Forrest, of Tennessee, became head of the entire organization. [Forrest was Grand Wizard from 1867 to 1869.]

Alabama, General James H. Clanton; then John T. Morgan, afterwards United States Senator.

Mississippi, General J. Z. George, afterwards U. S. Senator.

Arkansas, General Albert H. Pike, poet, scholar, soldier.

Texas, Roger Q. Mills, Famous congressman.

North Carolina, Zeb Vance, Governor and United States Senator.

Georgia, the Gallant General John B. Gordon.

The character of such leaders is proof that the klan was not a gang of murderers and outlaws.  Only the most conservative and dependable men were permitted to join.

(For activities of the Ku Klux Klan, see the following:  Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. IX, page 123; Authentic History, page 80, 81; Southern Exposure, pages 128, 129; Ku Klux Conspiracy, thirteen volumes published by Congress, Vol. II and Vol. XII; McNeily, W. R., pages 420, 421. 424; Tragic Era, page 311; Garner, page 334; Century Magazine, Vol. VI, page 398; Testimony, R. C. Powers, KKK report, page 586; Trials and court proceedings, Garner, p.338.)

Freedman’s Bureau

This organization was formed as a governmental agency to look after the newly freed negros, and see that they got their rights.  It was part of the Bureau’s duty to supervise all contracts made with negros and their employers, and every such contract must be approved by the Bureau officer.  This caused considerable friction, and sub-commissioners knew nothing of the economic conditions in the South.  In case dispute or collision between whites and blacks, the blacks appealed to the Bureau officials, who usually settled things in his favor.

Many of the better class Bureau officials tried earnestly to convinced the emancipated slaves that he was not to receive any money or property from the government, but must go to work.

The Freedmen’s Bureau, with branches in every community, wielded an enormous power, which many of its high officers tried to exercise for good purposes.  (See McNeily, W. R., pages 13 and 240; Order of Negro Cases, page 224; Slocum’s views, 341; General O. O. Howard, head of Bureau, 334; Garner, 249.)

(For the general situation of public schools in Mississippi prior to the War Between the States, see the article, “Did the Carpet-bagger give Mississippi her Public Schools? by Miss Elsie Timberlake, Mississippi Historical Society, Vol. XII, McNeily, Vol. XIII, page 258.  The Union League, McNeily, P. G., page 321.)

Military Commanders

Mississippi was far more fortunate than some other Southern States. Her military commanders, with headquarters at Vicksburg, were mostly high-minded, gentlemen, discharging with kindliness and forbearance a duty that must have been odious to any soldier.  They did not arrest Governor Clark and put him in prison, but co-operated with Governor Sharkey and interfered but little in civil affairs.  General T. J. Wood broke up the practice of his officers buying stolen cotton.  As a rule they helped the local court, reported fairly on conditions in the state, and gave excellent advice to vagrant blacks and used all means to keep them at work.

Upon several occasions in Vicksburg, the retiring commander was given a banquet or other testimonial of regard of the citizens.  One of these meetings was presided over by the Confederate General Wirt Adams. Altogether, General Wood, General Ord, and General Gillem are remembered in Vicksburg, as friends, not enemies.  (McNeily, P. G. pp. 294, 265.)

Negro Suffrage

This is a difficult problem and arouses controversy.  In a land primarily of white men, where white genius had founded a government, the white man believes in controlling the institutions that he had builded.  These feelings seem to be universal, and but for the fashions of war, might easily have been accepted as dogma throughout the United States.

(For further study, see:  W. R. McNeilly).

Election of November 30, 1869

On September 8, 1869, a convention of conservative Republicans at Jackson named Judge Lewis Dent for governor.  This was a sort of compromise and fusion of the Republicans with the white Democrats.  The Radical Republicans nominated James L. Alcorn for governor on a ticket composed of northerners, native white scalawags, and negroes.  Alcorn had come to Mississippi from Illinois sometime before the war, leased or bought plantations in Coahoma County, and became wealthy.  Formally he had been a large slave holder.  (McNeily, W. R. pp. 371, 381; Garner, 245.)

Alcorn was elected by a tremendous majority–78,186 against 38,097.  In addition to being elected by the people, General Ames appointed Alcorn by military proclamation, and called the new legislature to meet January 11, 1870.  This “appointment” Alcorn refused to accept, basing his rights upon election.

By military power, by votes of negroes, scalawags, and carpetbaggers, civil government was re-established in Mississippi.  The first Reconstruction Legislature sat in Jackson, with nearly forty-two members, most of whom had  been slaves.  (For a list, see:  Garner, 269.)

On February 10, 1870, Mississippi was re-admitted to the Union under the Reconstruction Act, with General Ames and Hiram R. Revels in the Senate.  The military district ceased to exist.

There were no congressional elections that year, for no machinery had been provided for them.  (For appointments by Governor Alcorn, see Garner 283.)  Most of the judges appointed by Governor Alcorn were southern men, who like himself, had affiliated with the Republican party.

On November 30, 1871, Alcorn resigned to take the senatorial seat vacated by Hiram R. Revels, who became president of the colored school, which was called Alcorn College, and still exists [Alcorn State University].  Governor R. C. Powers succeeded Alcorn, described as a “weak but well-meaning executive”.  (Garner, 277.)

Campaign of 1873

Ames and Alcorn were now colleagues in the United States Senate, but a feud had arisen between them, so they denounced one another.  (Garner 291, McNeily W. R., 456.)  Their hostility led them both to become rival candidates for Governor of Mississippi, when Ames secured the regular nomination of his party, and Alcorn bolted the ticket.  The Democrats made no nomination and they generally supported Alcorn.  Negroes stampeded for Ames, and elected him 69,870 against 50,490 for Alcorn.  So, after being military governor and United States Senator, Ames now became governor of Mississippi, constitutionally and duly-elected; his lieutenant governor being A. K. Davis, a negro from Noxubee County.  (See Tragic Era, 436.)

John R. Lynch, a mulatto from Adams County, about this time appeared in politics.  He was a man of real ability, had previously been speaker of the House, afterwards elected to Congress, and presided over the National Republican Convention in 1884.  Author of “Reconstruction Facts in Mississippi,” this man was well thought of by the whites.

The Legislature of 1873 was overwhelmingly Republican:  Twelve Democrats in the Senate, against twenty Republicans.  In the House, thirty-six (36) democrats, and seventy-seven (77) Republicans.  Nine negroes in the Senate, nine white carpet-baggers.  A negro man named Shadd was elected Speaker of the House.

Ames’ second administration began January 22, 1874, with the publicly expressed intention of giving Mississippi an honest and economical administration.  Governor Ames always went north to spend his summers, leaving Davis to handle the affairs of governorship, and he issued so many pardons that Ames wrote to him demanding the reason for each.  (See Garner 298, 299.)  These pardons subsequently constituted the basis of impeachment of Davis, and his removal from office by the Democratic legislature ion 1876.

(For details of local officers and negro administrators in various counties under Ames, see Garner, 305.)

The best account of the “Vicksburg Riots” is in pamphlet form, published by the Vicksburg Herald Company immediately after the occurrence.  Mr. Harris Dickson knows of but one copy, now in possession of Mr. J. B. Cowen, Cherry Street, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

(For further information see the following:  Boutwell Report, 1015, 1019, 590, 108; Garner 400, 337; Nordhoff’s Cotton States in 1875.)

Revolution of 1875

The Vicksburg troubles, the Clinton riot, and other outbreaks, set the people of Mississippi on fire, and they determined to carry the election of 1875.  The psychology of these times is most illuminating,  Nordhoff, and old-time abolitionist, and special correspondent for “New York Times” said:  “It is a mistake to suppose that intimidation is wholly a democratic proceeding.  It has been practiced quite as much, or even more vigorously by Republicans.”

(For details see:  Boutwell Report, pp. 42, 1143, 1666, Vol. II, 1210, 1255, 1802, 1217.  Garner 372.  See testimony of General Parker.  Impeachment trial, Page 131.)

Governor Ames put the state on a war basis by the organization of two regiments of militia.  White men charged that Ames threw every obstacle in the way of their enlisting in his militia, because he believed that he could not rely upon their executing his orders.  Charged that Ames was organizing a war of races, called upon all whites to enlist in their own companies for defense.

In Hinds County, seven companies were organized, in which only two were whites.  (Reference:  “Impeachment Trial“, p. 144; Boutwell Report, p. 209.)

(See:  Reconstruction Articles in various counties; Testimony Senator Carradine, Boutwell Report, Houston Speech; Aberdeen Examiner, September 8, 1875.  Garner 392.)

(For election tricks, see reports on Reconstruction in various counties, and thousands of cases in the Boutwell Reports.)

On election day, every man was armed and ready to fight, for which reason it was one of the most peaceable days ever known in Mississippi.  The election passed off quite quietly, except in the counties of Claiborne, Kemper, Amite, Copiah, and Clay.  (Garner, 394.)

Democrats carried the state by a majority of 30,000, and swept most of their candidates into office.  The terror of carpet-bag rule was over.

After the carpet-bag rule was overthrown; came the question of how to deal with Governor Ames.  On February 15, 1876, Ames wrote to Senator James G. Blaine:  “I think they will go on with my impeachment.  A Republican and ex-union soldier cannot live in the South.”

(See also his letter to Charles Carlton, Garner, 402.)

In the next legislature which assembled January 4, 1876, twenty-six (26) senators were conservative and eleven (11) republicans, five of whom were African-American; ninety-seven (97) representatives were conservatives, all but two calling themselves Democrats; nineteen (19) representatives, of whom sixteen (16) were negroes.

This legislature was an extremely able body of men; General W. S. Featherstone, of Holly Springs, introduced a resolution for the impeachment of Ames.  Examined witnesses, five columns of testimony which is now available to historians.

In this connection see the illuminating letter that Governor Ames wrote to Mr. Garner (Garner 405).  By agreement of counsel, Ames was permitted to resign, and the charges withdrawn.

A. K. Davis, negro lieutenant governor, was immediately convicted of bribery and removed from office.  T. W. Cardoza, negro superintendent of education, was also removed.  Honorable John M. Stone, democratic president of the Senate, succeeded by the law to the governorship; a man whose name is still regarded in Mississippi as a synonym for rugged integrity and courage.

(NOTE:  The material for this chapter is taken from Report on Reconstruction in Mississippi, by Harris Dickson, C. W. A. Technician.)


1  County Records, Circuit Clerk’s Office
2  Blackmon, Mrs. Sarah, Jackson, Mississippi
3  Ingram, Mrs. Blanchard, Marks, Mississippi
Isabel Franks and Myrtle Hulbert, Marks, Mississippi

Dickson, Harris, C.W.A. Technician–Report on Reconstruction in Mississippi
County Records, Circuit Clerk’s Office, Marks, Mississippi

Works Progress Administration for Mississippi, Source Material for Mississippi History, Quitman County, Vol. LX, Compiled by State-Wide Historical Research Project, Susie V. Powell, State Supervisor, Illustrated, 1936-1938, Chapter VIII Reconstruction, pages 73-86.

Image of Beauvoir By Tim Burkitt (This image is from the FEMA Photo Library.) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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