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Title: Civil War and Reconstruction in Alabama
Author: Fleming, Walter L.
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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  New York

  _All rights reserved_

  COPYRIGHT, 1905,

  Set up and electrotyped. Published October, 1905.

  Norwood Press
  J. S. Cushing & Co.--Berwick & Smith Co.
  Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.



This work was begun some five years ago as a study of Reconstruction in
Alabama. As the field opened it seemed to me that an account of
ante-bellum conditions, social, economic, and political, and of the effect
of the Civil War upon ante-bellum institutions would be indispensable to
any just and comprehensive treatment of the later period. Consequently I
have endeavored to describe briefly the society and the institutions that
went down during Civil War and Reconstruction. Internal conditions in
Alabama during the war period are discussed at length; they are important,
because they influenced seriously the course of Reconstruction. Throughout
the work I have sought to emphasize the social and economic problems in
the general situation, and accordingly in addition to a sketch of the
politics I have dwelt at some length upon the educational, religious, and
industrial aspects of the period. One point in particular has been
stressed throughout the whole work, viz. the fact of the segregation of
the races within the state--the blacks mainly in the central counties, and
the whites in the northern and the southern counties. This division of the
state into "white" counties and "black" counties has almost from the
beginning exercised the strongest influence upon the history of its
people. The problems of white and black in the Black Belt are not always
the problems of the whites and blacks of the white counties. It is hoped
that the maps inserted in the text will assist in making clear this point.
Perhaps it may be thought that undue space is devoted to the history of
the negro during War and Reconstruction, but after all the negro, whether
passive or active, was the central figure of the period.

Believing that the political problems of War and Reconstruction are of
less permanent importance than the forces which have shaped and are
shaping the social and industrial life of the people, I have confined the
discussion of politics to certain chapters chronologically arranged, while
for the remainder of the book the topical method of presentation has been
adopted. In describing the political events of Reconstruction I have in
most cases endeavored to show the relation between national affairs and
local conditions within the state. To such an extent has this been done
that in some parts it may perhaps be called a general history with
especial reference to local conditions in Alabama. Never before and never
since Reconstruction have there been closer practical relations between
the United States and the state, between Washington and Montgomery.

As to the authorities examined in the preparation of the work it may be
stated that practically all material now available--whether in print or in
manuscript--has been used. In working with newspapers an effort was made
to check up in two or more newspapers each fact used. Most of the
references to newspapers--practically all of those to the less reputable
papers--are to signed articles. I have had to reject much material as
unreliable, and it is not possible that I have been able to sift out all
the errors. Whatever remain will prove to be, as I hope and believe, of
only minor consequence.

Thanks for assistance given are due to friends too numerous to mention all
of them by name. For special favors I am indebted to Professor L. D.
Miller, Jacksonville, Alabama; Mr. W. O. Scroggs of Harvard University;
Professor G. W. Duncan, Auburn, Alabama; Major W. W. Screws of the
_Montgomery Advertiser_; Colonel John W. DuBose, Montgomery, Alabama; Mrs.
J. L. Dean, Opelika, Alabama; Major S. A. Cunningham of the _Confederate
Veteran_, Nashville, Tennessee; and Major James R. Crowe, of Sheffield,
Alabama. I am indebted to Mr. L. S. Boyd, Washington, D.C., for numerous
favors, among them, for calling my attention to the scrap-book collection
of Edward McPherson, then shelved in the Library of Congress along with
Fiction. On many points where documents were lacking, I was materially
assisted by the written reminiscences of people familiar with conditions
of the time, among them my mother and father, the late Professor O. D.
Smith of Auburn, Alabama, and the late Ryland Randolph, Esq., of
Birmingham. Many old negroes have related their experiences to me. Hon.
Junius M. Riggs of the Alabama Supreme Court Library, by the loan of
documents, assisted me materially in working up the financial history of
the Reconstruction; Dr. David Y. Thomas of the University of Florida read
and criticised the entire manuscript; Dr. Thomas M. Owen, Director of the
Alabama Department of Archives and History, has given me valuable
assistance from the beginning to the close of the work by reading the
manuscript, by making available to me not only the public archives, but
also his large private collection, and by securing illustrations. But
above all I have been aided by Professor William A. Dunning of Columbia
University, at whose instance the work was begun, who gave me many helpful
suggestions, read the manuscript, and saved me from numerous pitfalls, and
by my wife, who read and criticised both manuscript and proof, and made
the maps and the index and prepared some of the illustrations.


    August, 1905.





    Composition of the Population of Alabama                     3
    The Indians and Nullification                                8
    Slavery Controversy and Political Divisions                 10
      Emancipation Sentiment in North Alabama                   10
      Early Party Divisions                                     11
      William Lowndes Yancey                                    13
    Growth of Secession Sentiment                               14
      "Unionists" Successful in 1851-1852                       16
      Yancey-Pryor Debate, 1858                                 17
      The Charleston Convention of 1860                         18
      The Election of 1860                                      19
    Separation of the Churches, 1821-1861                       21
    Senator Clay's Farewell Speech in the Senate                25


    Secession Convention Called                                 27
      Parties in the Convention                                 28
    Reports on Secession                                        31
    Debate on Secession                                         31
    Political Theories of Members                               34
    Ordinance of Secession Passed                               36
    Confederate States Formed                                   39
    Self-denying Ordinance                                      41
    African Slave Trade                                         42
    Commissioners to Other States                               46
    Legislation by the Convention                               49
    North Alabama in the Convention                             53
    Incidents of the Session                                    56



    Military Operations                                         61
      The War in North Alabama                                  62
      The Streight Raid                                         67
      Rousseau's Raid                                           68
      The War in South Alabama                                  69
      Wilson's Raid and the End of the War                      71
      Destruction by the Armies                                 74
    Military Organization                                       78
      Alabama Soldiers: Number and Character                    78
      Negro Troops                                              86
      Union Troops from Alabama                                 87
      Militia System                                            88
    Conscription and Exemption                                  92
      Confederate Enrolment Laws                                92
      Policy of the State in Regard to Conscription             95
      Effect of the Enrolment Laws                              98
      Exemption from Service                                   100
    Tories and Deserters                                       108
      Conditions in North Alabama                              109
      Unionists, Tories, and Mossbacks                         112
      Growth of Disaffection                                   114
      Outrages by Tories and Deserters                         119
      Disaffection in South Alabama                            122
      Prominent Tories and Deserters                           124
      Numbers of the Disaffected                               127
    Party Politics and the Peace Movement                      131
      Political Conditions, 1861-1865                          131
      The Peace Society                                        137
      Reconstruction Sentiment                                 143


    Industrial Development during the War                      149
      Military Industries                                      149
      Manufacture of Arms                                      150
      Nitre Making                                             153
      Private Manufacturing Enterprises                        156
      Salt Making                                              157
    Confederate Finance in Alabama                             162
      Banks and Banking                                        162
      Issues of Bonds and Notes by the State                   164
      Special Appropriations and Salaries                      168
      Taxation                                                 169
      Impressment                                              174
      Debts, Stay Laws, Sequestration                          176
      Trade, Barter, Prices                                    178
    Blockade-running and Trade through the Lines               183
    Scarcity and Destitution, 1861-1865                        196
    The Negro during the War                                   205
      Military Uses of Negroes                                 205
      Negroes on the Farms                                     209
      Fidelity to Masters                                      210
    Schools and Colleges                                       212
      Confederate Text-books                                   217
    Newspapers                                                 218
    Publishing Houses                                          221
    The Churches during the War                                223
      Attitude on Public Questions                             223
      The Churches and the Negroes                             225
      Federal Army and the Southern Churches                   227
    Domestic Life                                              230
      Society in 1861                                          230
      Life on the Farm                                         232
      Home Industries; Makeshifts and Substitutes              234
      Clothes and Fashions                                     236
      Drugs and Medicines                                      239
      Social Life during the War                               241
      Negro Life                                               243
      Woman's Work for the Soldiers                            244



    Loss of Life in War                                        251
    Destruction of Property                                    253
      The Wreck of the Railways                                259
    The Interregnum: Lawlessness and Disorder                  262
    The Negro testing his Freedom                              269
      How to prove Freedom                                     270
      Suffering among the Negroes                              273
      Relations between Whites and Blacks                      275
    Destitution and Want, 1865-1866                            277


    Confiscation Frauds                                        284
      Restrictions on Trade in 1865                            284
      Federal Claims to Confederate Property                   285
      Cotton Frauds and Stealing                               290
      Cotton Agents Prosecuted                                 297
      Statistics of the Frauds                                 299
    The Cotton Tax                                             303


    After the Surrender                                        308
    "Condition of Affairs in the South"                        311
      General Grant's Report                                   311
      Carl Schurz's Report                                     312
      Truman's Report                                          312
      Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction          313
    The "Loyalists"                                            316
    Treatment of Northern Men                                  318
    Immigration to Alabama                                     321
    Troubles of the Episcopal Church                           324



    Theories of Reconstruction                                 333
    Presidential Plan in Operation                             341
      Early Attempts at "Restoration"                          341
      Amnesty Proclamation                                     349
      "Proscribing Proscription"                               356
    The "Restoration" Convention                               358
      Personnel and Parties                                    358
      Debates on Secession and Slavery                         360
      "A White Man's Government"                               364
      Legislation by the Convention                            366
    "Restoration" Completed                                    367


    Status of the Provisional Government                       376
    Legislation about Freedmen                                 378
    The Negro under the Provisional Government                 383
      Movement toward Negro Suffrage                           386
    New Conditions of Congress and Increasing Irritation       391
    Fourteenth Amendment Rejected                              394
    Political Conditions, 1866-1867; Formation of Parties      398


    The Military Occupation                                    408
    The Army and the Colored Population                        410
    Administration of Justice by the Army                      413
    The Army and the White People                              417


    The Freedmen's Bureau                                      421
      Department of Negro Affairs                              421
      Organization of the Bureau                               423
      The Bureau and the Civil Authorities                     427
      The Bureau supported by Confiscations                    431
      The Labor Problem                                        433
      Freedmen's Bureau Courts                                 437
      Care of the Sick                                         441
      Issue of Rations                                         442
      Demoralization caused by Bureau                          444
    The Freedmen's Savings-bank                                451
    The Freedmen's Bureau and Negro Education                  456
    The Failure of the Bureau System                           469



    Administration of General John Pope                        473
      Military Reconstruction Acts                             473
      Pope's Control of the Civil Government                   477
      Pope and the Newspapers                                  485
      Trials by Military Commissions                           487
      Registration and Disfranchisement                        488
      Elections and the Convention                             491
      Removal of Pope and Swayne                               492
    Administration of General George G. Meade                  493
      Registration and Elections                               493
      Administration of Civil Affairs                          495
      Trials by Military Commissions                           498
      The Soldiers and the Citizens                            500
      From Martial Law to Carpet-bag Rule                      501


    Attitude of the Whites                                     503
    Organization of the Radical Party in Alabama               505
    Conservative Opposition Aroused                            512
    The Negro's First Vote                                     514


    Character of the Convention                                517
    The Race Question                                          521
    Debates on Disfranchisement of Whites                      524
    Legislation by the Convention                              528


    "Convention" Candidates                                    531
    Campaign on the Constitution                               534
      Vote on the Constitution                                 538
      The Constitution fails of Adoption                       541
    The Alabama Question in Congress                           547
    Alabama readmitted to the Union                            550


    Origin of the Union League                                 553
    Its Extension to the South                                 556
    Ceremonies of the League                                   559
    Organization and Methods                                   561



    Taxation during Reconstruction                             571
    Administrative Expenses                                    574
    Effect on Property Values                                  578
    The Public Bonded Debt                                     580
    The Financial Settlement                                   583


    Federal and State Aid to Railroads before the War          587
    General Legislation in Aid of Railroads                    589
    The Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad                       591
    Other Indorsed Railroads                                   600
    County and Town Aid to Railroads                           604


    School System before Reconstruction                        607
    School System of Reconstruction                            609
    Reconstruction of the State University                     612
    Trouble in the Mobile Schools                              618
    Irregularities in School Administration                    621
    Objections to the Reconstruction Education                 624
    Negro Education                                            625
    Failure of the Educational System                          632


    "Disintegration and Absorption" Policy                     637
      The Methodists                                           637
      The Baptists                                             640
      The Presbyterians                                        641
    The Churches and the Negro during Reconstruction           642
      The Baptists and the Negroes                             643
      The Presbyterians and the Negroes                        646
      The Roman Catholics                                      647
      The Episcopalians                                        647
      The Methodists and the Negroes                           648


    Causes of the Ku Klux Movement                             654
    Secret Societies of Regulators before Ku Klux Klan         659
    Origin and Growth of Ku Klux Klan                          661
    The Knights of the White Camelia                           671
    The Work of the Secret Orders                              675
      Ku Klux Orders and Warnings                              680
      Ku Klux "Outrages"                                       686
      Success of the Ku Klux Movement                          690
    Spurious Ku Klux Organizations                             691
    Attempts to suppress the Ku Klux Movement                  694
      State Legislation                                        695
      Enforcement Acts                                         697
      Ku Klux Investigation                                    703
    Later Ku Klux Organizations                                709


    Break-up of the Ante-bellum System                         710
      The Freedmen's Bureau System                             717
    Northern and Foreign Immigration                           718
    Attempts to organize a New System                          721
    Development of the Share and Credit Systems                723
    Superiority of White Farmers                               727
    Decadence of the Black Belt                                731


    Politics and Political Methods                             733
      The First Reconstruction Administration                  733
      Reconstruction Judiciary                                 744
      Campaign of 1868                                         747
      The Administration of Governor Lindsay                   750
      The Administration of Governor Lewis                     754
      Election of Spencer to the United States Senate          755
    Social Conditions during Reconstruction                    761
      Statistics of Crime                                      762
      Social Relations of Negroes                              763
      Carpet-baggers and Scalawags                             765
      Social Effects of Reconstruction on the Whites           766
      Economic Conditions                                      769


    The Republican Party in 1874                               771
      Whites desert the Party                                  771
      The Demand of the Negro for Social Rights                772
      Disputes among Radical Editors                           773
      Demand of Negroes for Office                             773
      Factions within the Party                                774
    Negroes in 1874                                            775
      Promises made to them                                    775
      Negro Social and Political Clubs                         776
      Negro Democrats                                          777
    The Democratic and Conservative Party in 1874              778
      Attitude of the Whites toward the Blacks                 779
      The Color Line Drawn                                     780
      "Independent" Candidates                                 781
    The Campaign of 1874                                       782
      Platforms and Candidates                                 782
      "Political Bacon"                                        783
      "Hays-Hawley Letter"                                     786
      Intimidation by Federal Authorities                      789
      Intimidation by Democrats                                791
    The Election of 1874                                       793
      The Eufaula Riot                                         794
      Results of the Election                                  795
    Later Phases of State Politics                             798
      Whites make Secure their Control                         798
      The "Lily Whites" and the "Black and Tans"               799
      The Failure of the Populist Movement                     799
      The Primary Election System                              800
      The Negroes Disfranchised                                800



    Cotton Production in Alabama, 1860-1900                    804
    Registration of Voters under the New Constitution          806

  INDEX                                                        809



  Alabama Money                                      _Facing_  178
  Buckley, Rev. C. W.                                   "      552
  "Bully for Alabama"                                   "      738
  Callis, John B.                                       "      552
  Clanton, General James H.                             "      760
  Clemens, Jere                                         "       36
  Confederate Capitol, Montgomery                       "       96
  Confederate Monument, Montgomery                      "       96
  Confederate Postage Stamps                            "      178
  Crowe, Major James R.                                 "      760
  Curry, Dr. J. L. M.                                   "      626
  Davis, Jefferson                                      "       54
  Davis, Inauguration of                                "       96
  Davis, Residence of, Montgomery                       "       96
  Gaineswood, a Plantation Home                         "        8
  Hays, Charles                                         "      552
  "Hon. Mr. Carraway"                                   "      738
  Houston, Governor George S.                           "      760
  John Brown Extra                                      "       18
  Johnson, President Andrew                             "      336
  Ku Klux Costumes                                             675
  Ku Klux Hanging Pictures                                     612
  Ku Klux Warning                                              678
  Lewis, Governor D. P.                              _Facing_  600
  Lindsay, Governor R. B.                               "      760
  Meade, General George G.                              "      476
  Moore, Governor Andrew B.                             "      130
  Negro Members of the Convention of 1875               "      600
  "Nigger, Scalawag, Carpetbagger"                      "      738
  Parsons, Governor L. E.                               "      600
  Patton, Governor R. M.                                "      760
  Pope, General John                                    "      476
  Prescript (Original) of Ku Klux Klan, Facsimile
    of Page of                                          "      670
  Prescript (revised and amended) of Ku Klux Klan,
    Facsimile of Page of                                       665
  Private Money                                      _Facing_  178
  Rapier, J. T.                                         "      552
  Ritual of the Knights of the White Camelia,
    Facsimile of Page of                                "      670
  Shorter, Governor John Gill                           "      130
  Smith, Governor William H.                            "      600
  Smith, William R.                                     "       36
  Spencer, Senator George E.                            "      552
  Stephens, Alexander H.                                "       36
  Stevens, Thaddeus                                     "      336
  Sumner, Charles                                       "      336
  Swayne, General Wager                                 "      476
  "The Speaker cried out, 'Order!'"                     "      738
  Thomas, General George H.                             "      476
  Union League Constitution, Facsimile of Page of       "      566
  Walker, General L. P.                                 "       36
  Warner, Senator Willard                               "      552
  Watts, Governor Thomas H.                             "      130
  Wilmer, Bishop R. H.                                  "      130
  Yancey, William Lowndes                               "       36


   1. Population in 1860                                         4
   2. Nativity and Distribution of Public Men                    6
   3. Election for President, 1860                              20
   4. Parties in the Secession Convention                       29
   5. Disaffection toward the Confederacy, 1861-1865           110
   6. Industrial Development, 1861-1865                        150
   7. Devastation by Invading Armies                           256
   8. Parties in the Convention of 1865                        359
   9. Registration of Voters under the Reconstruction Acts     494
  10. Election for President, 1868                             747
  11. Election of 1870                                         750
  12. Election of 1872                                         755
  13. Election of 1874                                         795
  14. Election of 1876                                         796
  15. Election of 1880                                         798
  16. Election of 1890                                         799
  17. Election of 1902 under New Constitution                  800






When Alabama seceded in 1861, it had been in existence as a political
organization less than half a century, but in many respects its
institutions and customs were as old as European America. The white
population was almost purely Anglo-American. The early settlements had
been made on the coast near Mobile, and from thence had extended up the
Alabama, Tombigbee, and Warrior rivers. In the northern part the Tennessee
valley was early settled, and later, in the eastern part, the Coosa
valley. After the river valleys, the prairie lands in central Alabama were
peopled, and finally the poorer lands of the southeast and the hills south
of the Tennessee valley. The bulk of the population before 1861 was of
Georgian birth or descent, the settlers having come from middle Georgia,
which had been peopled from the hills of Virginia. Georgians came into the
Tennessee valley early in the nineteenth century. The Creek reservation
prevented immigration into eastern Alabama before the thirties, but the
Georgians went around and settled southeast Alabama along the line of the
old "Federal road." When the Creek Indians consented to migrate, it was
found that the Georgians were already in possession of the country,--more
than 20,000 strong, and a government was at once erected over the Indian
counties. People from Georgia also came down the Coosa valley to central
Alabama. The Virginians went to the western Black Belt, to the Tennessee
valley, and to central Alabama. North Carolina sent thousands of her
citizens down through the Tennessee valley and thence across country to
the Tombigbee valley and western Alabama; others came through Georgia and
followed the routes of Georgia migration. South Carolinians swarmed into
the southern, central, and western counties, and a goodly number settled
in the Tennessee valley. Tennessee furnished a large proportion of the
settlers to the Tennessee valley, to the hill counties south of the
Tennessee, and to the valleys in central and western Alabama. Among the
immigrants from Virginia, North and South Carolina, and Tennessee was a
large Scotch-Irish element, and with the Tennesseeans came a sprinkling of
Kentuckians. In western Alabama were a few thousand Mississippians, and
into southeast Alabama a few hundred settlers came from Florida. From the
northern states came several thousand, principally New England business
men. The foreign element was insignificant--the Irish being most numerous,
with a few hundred each of Germans, English, French, and Scotch. In Mobile
and Marengo counties there was a slight admixture of French blood in the

[Illustration: POPULATION IN 1860.]

In regard to the character of the settlers it has been said that the
Virginians were the least practical and the Georgians the most so, while
the North Carolinians were a happy medium. The Georgians were noted for
their stubborn persistence, and they usually succeeded in whatever they
undertook. The Virginians liked a leisurely planter's life with abundant
social pleasures. The Tennesseeans and Kentuckians were hardly
distinguishable from the Virginians and Carolinians, to whom they were
closely related. The northern professional and business men exercised an
influence more than commensurate with their numbers, being, in a way,
picked men. Neither the Georgians nor the Virginians were assertive
office-seekers, but the Carolinians liked to hold office, and the politics
of the state were moulded by the South Carolinians and Georgians. All were
naturally inclined to favor a weak federal administration and a strong
state government with much liberty of the individual. The theories of
Patrick Henry, Jefferson, and Calhoun, not those of Washington and John
Marshall, formed the political creed of the Alabamians.


Each figure represents some person who became prominent before 1865, and
indicates his native state. The location of the figure on the map
indicates his place of residence. Note the segregation along the rivers
and the Black Belt.]

The wealthy people were found in the Tennessee valley, in the Black Belt
extending across the centre of the state, and in Mobile, the one large
town. They were (except a few of the Mobilians) all slaveholders. The
poorer white people went to the less fertile districts of north and
southeast Alabama, where land was cheap, preferring to work their own poor
farms rather than to work for some one else on better land. But nearly
every slave county had its colony of poorer whites, who were invariably
settled on the least fertile soils. Among these settlers there was a
certain dislike of slavery, because they believed that, were it not for
the negro, the whites might themselves live on the fertile lands. Yet they
were not in favor of emancipation in any form, unless the negro could be
gotten entirely out of the way--a free negro being to them an abomination.
If the negro must stay, then they preferred slavery to continue.

Over the greater part of Alabama there were no class distinctions before
1860; the state was too young. In the wilderness classes had fused and the
successful men were often those never heard of in the older states. A
candidate of "the plain people" was always elected, because all were
frontier people. This does not mean that in Huntsville, Montgomery,
Greensboro, and Mobile there were not the beginnings of an aristocracy
based on education, wealth, and family descent. But these were very small
spots on the map of Alabama, and there were no heartburnings over social

Such was the composition of the white population of Alabama before 1860.
No matter what might be their political affiliations, in practice nearly
all were Democrats of the Jeffersonian school, believing in the largest
possible liberty for the individual and in local management of all local
affairs, and to the frontier Democrat nearly all questions that concerned
him were local. The political leaders excepted, the majority of the
population knew little and cared less about the Federal government except
when it endeavored to restrain or check them in their course of conquest
and expansion in the wilderness. The relations of the people of Alabama
with the Federal government were such as to confirm and strengthen them in
their local attachments and sectional politics. The controversies that
arose in regard to the removal of the Indians, and over the public lands,
nullification, slavery, and western expansion, prevented the growth of
attachment to the Federal government, and tended to develop a southern
rather than a "continental" nationality. The state came into the Union
when the sections were engaged in angry debate over the Missouri
Compromise measures, and its attitude in Federal politics was determined
from the beginning. The next most serious controversy with the Federal
government and with the North was in regard to the removal of the Indians
from the southern states. The southwestern frontiersmen, like all other
Anglo-Americans, had no place in their economy for the Indian, and they
were determined that he should not stand in their way.

Indians and Nullification

For half a century, throughout the Gulf states, the struggle with the
Indian tribes for the possession of the fertile lands continued, and in
this struggle the Federal government was always against the settlers.
Before the removal of the Indians, in 1836, the settlers of Alabama were
in almost continual dispute with the Washington administration on this
subject.[3] The trouble began in Georgia, and thousands of Georgians
brought to Alabama a spirit of jealousy and hostility to the United States
government, and a growing dislike of New England and the North on account
of their stand in regard to the Indians. For when troubles, legal and
otherwise, arose with the Indians, their advisers were found to be
missionaries and land agents from New England. The United States wanted
the Indians to remain as states within states; the Georgia and Alabama
settlers felt that the Indians must go. The attitude of the Federal
government drove the settlers into extreme assertions of state rights. In
Georgia it came almost to war between the state and United States troops
during the administration of John Quincy Adams, a New Englander, who was
disliked by the settlers for his support of the Indian cause; and the
whole South was made jealous by the decisions of the Supreme Court in the
Indian cases. Had Adams been elected to a second term, there would
probably have been armed resistance to the policy of the United States.
Jackson, a southern and western man, had the feeling of a frontiersman
toward the Indians; and his attitude gained him the support of the
frontier southern states in the trouble with South Carolina over

[Illustration: GAINESWOOD. A Marengo County Plantation Home. Abandoned
since the War.]

Immediately after the nullification troubles, the general government
attempted to remove the white settlers from the Indian lands in east
Alabama. The lands had been ceded by the Indians in 1832, and the
legislature of Alabama at once extended the state administration over the
territory. Settlers rushed in; some were already there. But by the treaty
the Indians were entitled to remain on their land until they chose to
move; and now the United States marshals, supported by the army, were
ordered to remove the 30,000 whites who had settled in the nine Indian
counties. Governor Gayle, who had been elected as an opponent of
nullification, informed the Secretary of War that the proposed action of
the central government meant nothing less than the destruction of the
state administration, and declared that he would, at all costs, sustain
the jurisdiction of the state government. The troops killed a citizen who
resisted removal, and the Federal authorities refused to allow the slayers
to be tried by state courts. There was great excitement in the state, and
public meetings were everywhere held to organize resistance. The
legislature authorized the governor to persist in maintaining the state
administration in the nine Indian counties. A collision with the United
States troops was expected, and offers of volunteers were made to the
governor,--even from New York. Finally the United States government
yielded, the whites remained on the Indian lands, the state authority was
upheld in the Indian counties, the soldiers were tried before state
courts, and the Indians were removed to the West. The governor proclaimed
a victory for the state, and the 30,000 angry Alabamians rejoiced over
what they considered the defeat of the unjust Federal government.[4]

Thus in Alabama nullification of Federal law was successfully carried out.
And it was done by a state administration and a people that a year before
had refused to approve the course of South Carolina. But South Carolina
was regarded in Alabama, as in the rest of the South, somewhat as an
erratic member that ought to be disciplined once in a while. A strong and
able minority in Alabama accepted the basis of the nullification doctrine,
_i.e._ the sovereignty of the states, and after this time this political
element was usually known as the State Rights party. They had no separate
organization, but voted with Whigs or Democrats, as best served their
purpose. Secession was little talked of, for affairs might yet go well,
they thought, within the Union. A majority of the Democrats, for several
years after 1832, were probably opposed in theory to nullification and
secession when South Carolina was an actor, but in practice they acted as
they had done in the Indian disputes which concerned them more closely.

The Slavery Controversy and Political Divisions

It was at the height of the irritation of the Indian controversy that the
agitation by the abolitionists of the North began. The question which more
than any other alienated the southern people from the Union was that
concerning negro slavery. From 1819 to 1860 the majority of the white
people of Alabama were not friendly to slavery as an institution. This was
not from any special liking for the negro or belief that slavery was bad
for him, but because it was believed that the presence of the negro, slave
or free, was not good for the white race. To most of the people slavery
was merely a device for making the best of a bad state of affairs. The
constitution of 1819 was liberal in its slavery provisions, and the
legislature soon enacted (1827) a law prohibiting the importation, for
sale, hire, or barter, of slaves from other states. For a decade there was
strong influence at each session of the state legislature in favor of
gradual emancipation; agents of the Quakers worked in the state, buying
and paying a higher price for cotton that was not produced by slave labor;
and in north Alabama, during the twenties and early thirties, there was a
number of emancipation societies.[5] An emancipation newspaper, _The
Huntsville Democrat_, was published in Huntsville, and edited by James G.
Birney, afterwards a noted abolitionist. The northern section of the
state, embracing the strong Democratic white counties, was distinctly
unfriendly to slavery, or rather to the negro, and controlled the politics
of the state.[6] The effect of the abolition movement in the North was the
destruction of the emancipation organizations in the South, and both
friends and foes of the institution united on the defensive. The
non-slaveholders were not deluded followers of the slave owners. After the
slavery question became an issue in politics, the non-slaveholders in
Alabama were rather more aggressive, and were even more firmly determined
to maintain negro slavery than were the slaveholders. To the rich
hereditary slaveholders, who were relatively few in number, it was more or
less a question of property, and that was enough to fight about at any
time. But to the average white man who owned no negroes and who worked for
his living at manual labor, the question was a vital social one. The negro
slave was bad enough; but he thought that the negro freed by outside
interference and turned loose on society was much more to be feared.[7]
The large majorities for extreme measures came from the white counties;
the secession vote in 1860 was largely a white county vote. But when
secession came, the Whiggish Black Belt which had been opposed to
secession was astonished not to receive, in the war that followed, the
hearty support of the Democratic white counties.

Before the nullification troubles in 1832 there was no distinct political
division among the people of Alabama; all were Democrats. Those of the
white counties were of the Jacksonian type, those of the black counties
were rather of the Jeffersonian faith; but all were strict
constructionists, especially on questions concerning the tariff, the
Indians, the central government, and slavery. The question of
nullification caused a division in the ranks of the Democratic party--one
wing supporting Jackson, the other accepting Calhoun as leader. For
several years later, however, the Democratic candidates had no opposition
in the elections, though within the party there were contests between the
Jacksonians and the growing State Rights (Calhoun) wing. But with the
settling of the country, the growth of the power of the Black Belt, and
the differentiation of interests within the state, there appeared a second
party, the Whigs. Its strength lay among the large planters and
slaveholders of the central Black Belt, though it often took its leaders
from the black counties of the Tennessee valley. This party was able to
elect a governor but once, and then only because of a division in the
Democratic ranks. After 1835 it secured one-third of the representation in
Congress and the same proportion in the legislature. It was the
"broadcloth" party, of the wealthier and more cultivated people. It did
not appeal to the "plain people" with much success; but it was always a
respectable party, and there was no jealousy of it then, and now "there
are no bitter memories against it."[8]

Numerically, the Whigs were about as strong as the anti-nullification wing
of the Democratic party, so that the balance of power was held by the
constantly increasing State Rights (Calhoun) element. When Van Buren
became leader of the national Democracy, the State Rights people in
Alabama united with the regular Democrats and voted with them for about
ten years. The State Rights men were devoted followers of Calhoun, but in
political theories they soon went beyond him. For a while they were
believers in nullification as a constitutional right, but soon began to
talk of secession as a sovereign right. They were in favor of no
compromise where the rights of the South were concerned. They were
logical, extreme, doctrinaire; they demanded absolute right, and viewed
every action of the central government with suspicion. A single idea
firmly held through many years gave to them a power not justified by their
numerical strength.

The Whigs did not stand still on political questions; as the Democrats and
the State Rights men abandoned one position for another more advanced, the
Whigs moved up to the one abandoned. Thus they were always only about one
election behind. It was the constant agitation of the slavery question
that drove the Whigs along in the wake of the more advanced party. Both
parties were in favor of expansion in the Southwest. They were indignant
at the New England position on the Texas question, and talked much of
disunion if such a policy of obstruction was persisted in. Again, after
the Mexican War all parties were furious at the opposition shown to the
annexation of the territory from Mexico. It was now the spirit of
expansion, the lust for territory, that rose in opposition to the
obstructive policy of northern leaders; and a new element was added when
an attempt was made to shut out southerners from the territory won mainly
by the South by forbidding the entrance of slavery.

The number of those in favor of resisting at every point the growing
desire of the North to restrict slavery was increasing steadily. The
leader of the State Rights men was William L. Yancey. He opposed all
compromises, for, as he said, compromise meant that the system was evil
and was an acknowledgment of wrong, and no right, however abstract, must
be denied to the South. He was a firm believer in slavery as the only
method of solving the race question, and saw clearly the dangers that
would result from the abolition programme if the North and South remained
united. So to prevent worse calamities he was in favor of disunion. He was
the greatest orator ever heard in the South. He was in no sense a
demagogue; he had none of the arts of the popular politician. Sent to
Congress in the heat of the fight between the sections, he resigned
because he thought the battle was to be fought elsewhere. For twenty years
he stood before the people of Alabama, telling them that slavery could not
be preserved within the Union; that before any effective settlement of
controversies could be made, Alabama and the other southern states must
withdraw and make terms from the outside, or stay out of the Union and
have done with agitation and interference. Secession was
self-preservation, he told a people who believed that the destruction of
slavery meant the destruction of society. For twenty years he and his
followers, heralds of the storm, were ostracized by all political parties,
which accepted his theories, but denied the necessity for putting them
into practice. When at last the people came to follow him, he told them
that they had probably waited too late, and that they were seceding on a
weaker cause than any of those he had presented for twenty years.

Yancey was a leader of State Rights men but never a leader in the
Democratic party. Once, in 1848, when all were angry on account of the
opposition on the Mexican question, Yancey was called to the front in the
Democratic state convention. He offered resolutions, which were
adopted,[9] to the effect (1) that the people of a territory could not
prevent the holding of slaves before the formation of a state
constitution, and that Congress had no power whatever to restrict slavery
in the territories; (2) that those who held the opposite opinion were not
Democrats, and that the Democratic party of Alabama would not support for
President any candidate who held such views. The delegates to the National
Democratic Convention at Baltimore were instructed to withdraw if the
Alabama resolutions were rejected. By a vote of two hundred and sixteen to
thirty-six they were rejected; yet none of the delegates except Yancey
withdrew. Refusing to support Cass for the presidency because he believed
in "squatter sovereignty," Yancey was again ostracized by the Democratic
leaders.[10] Now the State Rights men became more aggressive, for they
said this was the time to settle the slavery question, before it was too
late. The North, it was thought, would not be averse to separation from
the South. The Whigs began to advance non-intervention theories, and but
for the death of President Taylor, who adhered to the free-soil Whigs,
political parties in Alabama would probably have broken up in 1850 and
fused into one on the slavery question.

Growth of Secession Sentiment

The compromise measures of 1850 pleased few people in Alabama, and there
was talk of resistance and of assisting Texas by force, if necessary,
against the appropriation of her territory by the central government. The
moderates condemned the Compromise and said they would not yield again.
The more advanced demanded a repeal of the Compromise or immediate
secession. Yancey said there was no hope of a settlement and that it was
time to set the house in order. In 1850-1851 there was a widespread
movement toward a rejection of the Compromise and a secession of the lower
South, but the political leaders were disposed to give the Compromise a
trial. To the Nashville convention, held in June, 1850, to discuss
measures to secure redress of grievances, the Alabama legislature at an
unofficial meeting chose the following delegates: Benjamin Fitzpatrick,
William Cooper, John A. Campbell, Thomas J. Judge, John A. Winston, Leroy
P. Walker, William M. Murphy, Nicholas Davis, R. C. Shorter, Thomas A.
Walker, Reuben Chapman, James Abercrombie, and William M. Byrd--all Whigs
or Conservative Democrats. The resolutions passed by the convention were
cautious and prudent, and were generally supported by the Whigs and
opposed by the Democrats. In Montgomery, upon the return of the Alabama
delegation, a public meeting, held to ratify the action of the Nashville
convention, condemned it instead, and approved the programme of Yancey who
again declared that it was "time to set the house in order." The contest
in Alabama was simply between the Compromise, with maintenance of the
Union, and rejection of the Compromise to be followed by secession. It
was not a campaign between Whig and Democrat, but between Union and
Secession. The old party lines were not drawn. Associations were formed
all over the state to oppose the Compromise and to advocate secession. The
Unionists drew together, but less heartily. The compact State Rights
element lost influence on account of a division that now showed in its
ranks. One section, led by William L. Yancey, was for separate and
unconditional secession; another, led by J. J. Seibels, favored
coöperation of the southern states within the Union and united
deliberation before secession.[11] The State Rights Convention met in
Montgomery, February 10, 1851, and recommended a southern congress to
decide the questions at issue and declared that if any other state would
secede, Alabama should go also.[12] The action of the convention pleased
few and was repudiated by the "separate secessionist" element. The
candidates of the State Rights--now called the "Southern Rights"--party
were supported by a majority of the Democrats. They demanded the repeal of
the Compromise, and resistance to future encroachments; they demanded
southern ministers and southern churches, southern books and papers, and
southern pleasure resorts.

The "Union" leaders were Judge Benajah S. Bibb, James Abercrombie, Thomas
J. Judge, Henry W. Hilliard, Thomas H. Watts, Senator William R.
King,--nearly all Virginians or North Carolinians by birth or descent. At
the State "Union" Convention held in Montgomery, January 19, 1851, among
the more prominent delegates were: Thomas B. Cooper, R. M. Patton, W. M.
Byrd, B. S. Bibb, J. M. Tarleton, W. B. Moss, James H. Clanton, L. E.
Parsons, Robert J. Jamison, Henry W. Hilliard, R. W. Walker, Thomas H.
Watts, Nicholas Davis, Jr., and C. M. Wilcox,--all were Whigs, and were
Virginians, North Carolinians, and men of northern birth. This meeting
denied the "constitutional" right of secession. The Union candidates for
Congress were C. C. Langdon, James Abercrombie, Judge Mudd, William R.
Smith, W. R. W. Cobb, George S. Houston, and Alexander White,--each of
whom denied the "constitutional" right of secession, but said nothing
about it as a "sovereign" right.

The "Unionists"--the old Whigs and the Jacksonian Democrats--were
successful in the elections, but by accepting, though disapproving, the
Compromise measures, and by repudiating the doctrine of secession as a
"constitutional" right,[13] they had advanced beyond the position held by
Yancey in 1848.

After the success of the "Union" party in 1851-1852, the Southern Rights
Associations resolved to suspend for a time the debate on secession.
Thereupon the "Union" Democrats resumed their old party allegiance and the
"Union" party was left to consist of old Whigs alone. The Whigs wished to
continue the "Union" organization, for they no longer found it possible to
act with the northern Whigs, and in 1852 several of their prominent
leaders in Alabama refused to support the Whig presidential ticket. On the
other hand, the extreme "Southern Rights" men broke away from the
Democrats in 1852 and declared for immediate secession. They supported
Troup and Quitman, who polled, however, only 2174 votes in the state; but
the Whigs and the Democrats each lost about 15,000, who refused to vote.

And now came the break-up of old parties. The slavery question was always
before the people and was becoming more and more irritating. Compromises
had failed to quiet the controversy. The position of the "Union" Whigs in
the black counties became intolerable. They had to combat secession at
home, and they had to guard against trouble among their slaves caused by
the abolitionist propaganda. By 1855 almost all the Alabama Whigs had
become "Americans," at the same time searching for a new issue and
repudiating the principles upon which the "American" party was founded.
Again they were left alone by the antislavery stand taken by the northern
wing of this party. Yet in spite of every possible discouragement they
held together and controlled the black counties. When the Kansas question
arose all the parties in Alabama were united in reference to it. The
doctrine of squatter sovereignty was not accepted, but there was an
opportunity, both parties thought, to win Kansas peaceably and stay the
threatened separation, but the northern methods of settling Kansas by
organized antislavery emigration from New England paralyzed the efforts of
the moderate "Union" southerners. Similar methods were attempted by the
South, and several colonies of emigrants were sent from Alabama;[14] but
by 1857 it was known that Kansas was lost.

The great debate between William L. Yancey and Roger A. Pryor in the
Southern Commercial Convention held in Montgomery in May, 1858, showed
that the people of Alabama were then in advance of their political leaders
and were coming to the position long held by Yancey and the secessionists.
Pryor's position in favor of compromise and delay had the support of
nearly all the party leaders of Alabama; Yancey, always in disfavor with
party leaders, captured the convention with his policy of secession in
case of failure of redress of grievances. Secession was no longer a
doctrine to be condemned unless on the ground of expediency. Whig leaders
were now becoming Southern Rights Democrats. Many Democrats thought it was
time to force an issue and come to a settlement; this Yancey proposed to
do by demanding a repeal of all the laws against the slave trade because
they expressed a disapproval of slavery. If slavery were not wrong, then
the slave trade should not be denounced as piracy. Yancey had not the
slightest desire to reopen the slave trade, and knew that the North would
not consent to a repeal of the laws against it, yet he said the demand
should be made. He believed the demand to be legitimate, though sure to be
rejected. The national Democratic party would thus be divided and the
issue forced.[15]

For any purpose of opposing the Yancey programme the Alabama "Union" men
were rendered helpless by the turn politics were taking in the North. The
formation out of the wreck of the old Whig party of the distinctly
sectional and radical Republican party, the attitude of the leaders of
that party, the talk about the "irrepressible conflict" and the "Union
cannot endure half slave and half free," the indorsement of the "Impending
Crisis" with its incendiary teachings, the effect of "Uncle Tom's Cabin"
on thousands who before had cared nothing about slavery, and finally the
raid of John Brown into Virginia,[16]--these were influences more powerful
toward uniting the people to resistance than all the speeches of State
Rights leaders on abstract constitutional questions. After 1856 the people
were in advance of their leaders.

On January 11, 1860, the Democratic state convention unanimously adopted
resolutions favoring the Dred Scott decision as a settlement of the
slavery question. The delegation to the national nominating convention at
Charleston was instructed to withdraw in case these resolutions were not
accepted in substance as a part of the platform. At Charleston the
majority report of the committee on the platform sustained the Alabama
position. When the report was laid before the convention, a proposition
was made to set it aside for the minority report, which vaguely said
nothing. Yancey in a great speech delivered the ultimatum of the South,
the adoption of the majority report. The vote was taken and the South
defeated. L. Pope Walker[17] announced the withdrawal of the Alabama
delegation and the delegations from the other southern states
followed.[18] Both sections of the convention then adjourned to meet in
Baltimore. Influences for and against compromise were working, and it is
probable that a majority of the seceders would have harmonized had not the
Douglas organization declared the seats of the seceders vacant and
admitted delegates irregularly elected by Douglas conventions in the
South. After the damage was done, Yancey was pressed to take the
vice-presidency on the Douglas ticket.[19] Douglas was known to be in bad
health and Yancey was told that he might expect to be President within a
few months, if he accepted. But it was too late for further compromise,
and Yancey toured the North, speaking for Breckenridge. A State Rights
convention in Alabama indorsed the candidates of the seceded convention; a
convention of Douglas Democrats in Montgomery declared for Douglas; the
"Constitutional Union" party (the old Whigs and "Americans" or
"Know-nothings"), for Bell and Everett and old-fashioned conservative
respectability. During the campaign Douglas visited the state and was well
received, but aroused no enthusiasm, while Yancey was tumultuously

[Illustration: A JOHN BROWN EXTRA.]

As far back as February 24, 1860, the legislature had passed almost
unanimously a resolution concurring with South Carolina in regard to the
right and necessity of secession, and declaring that Alabama would not
submit to the domination of a "foul sectional party." In case of the
election of a "Black" Republican President a convention was to be called,
and $200,000 was appropriated for its use.[20] A committee was appointed
to reorganize the militia system of the state, and so important was the
work deemed that the committee was excused from all other duties. The
Senate declared that it was expedient to establish an arsenal, a firearms
factory, and a powder mill. A bill was passed to encourage the manufacture
of firearms in Alabama.[21] At this session seventy-four military
companies were incorporated and provision made for military schools.[22]

[Illustration: ELECTION FOR PRESIDENT, 1860.]

Elections returns were anxiously awaited.[23] It was certain that the
election of Lincoln and Hamlin would result in secession.[24] When the
news came the old "Union" leaders declared for secession and by noon of
the next day the "Union" party had gone to pieces. The leaders who had
opposed secession to the last--Watts, Clanton, Goldthwaite, Judge, and
Hilliard--now took their stand by the side of Yancey and declared that
Alabama must withdraw from the Union. Governor Moore, a very moderate man,
in a public speech said that no course was left but for the state to
secede, and with the other southern states form a confederacy. Public
meetings were held in every town and village to declare that Alabama would
not submit to the rule of the "Black Republican." A typical meeting held
in Mobile, November 15, 1860, arraigned the Republican party because: (1)
it had declared for the abolition of slavery in all territories and
Federal districts and for the abolition of the interstate slave trade; (2)
it had denied the extradition of murderers, marauders, and other felons;
(3) it had concealed and shielded the murderers of masters who had sought
to recover fugitive slaves; (4) it advocated negro equality and made it
the basis of legislation hostile to the South; (5) it opposed protection
of slave property on the high seas and had justified piracy in the case of
the _Creole_; (6) it had invaded Virginia and shed the blood of her
citizens on her own soil; and (7) had announced a policy of total
abolition.[25] In December, 1860, the Federal grand jury at Montgomery
declared the Federal government "worthless, impotent, and a nuisance," as
it had failed to protect the interests of the people of Alabama. The
presentment was signed by C. C. Gunter, foreman, and nineteen others.[26]

Had the governor been willing to call a convention at once, secession
would have been almost unanimous; but delay caused the more cautious and
timid to reflect and gave the so-called "coöperationists" time to put
forth a platform. The leaders of the party of delay representing north
Alabama, the stronghold of radical democracy, were William R. Smith, M. J.
Bulger, Nicholas Davis, Jere Clemens, and Robert J. Jemison, all strong
men, but none of them possessing the ability of the secessionist leaders
or of the former "Union" leaders who had joined the secession party. But
secession was certain,--it was only a question as to how and when. By law
the governor was to call a convention in case the "Black Republican"
candidates were elected, and December 24, 1860, was fixed as the time for
election of delegates, and January 4, 1861, the time for assembly.

Separation of the Churches

Before the political division in 1861 the religious division had already
occurred in the larger and in several of the smaller denominations. At the
close of 1861 every religious body represented in the South, except the
Roman Catholic church,[27] had been divided into northern and southern
branches. The political rather than the moral aspects of slavery had
finally led to strife in the churches. The southern churches protested
against the action of the northern religious bodies in going into
politics on the slavery question and thus causing endless strife between
the sections as represented in the churches. The response of the northern
societies to such protests resulted in the gradual alienation of the
southern members and finally in separation. The first division in Alabama
came in 1821, when the Associate Reformed Presbyterian church excluded
slaveholders from communion and thereby lost its southern members.[28]
Next came the separation of the two strongest Protestant denominations,
the Baptists and the Methodists. The southern Baptists were, as
slaveholders, excluded from appointment as missionaries, agents, or
officers of the Board of Foreign Missions, although they contributed their
full share to missions. The Alabama Baptist Convention in 1844 led the way
to separation with a protest against this discrimination. The Board stated
in reply that under no circumstances would a slaveholder be appointed by
them to any position. The Board of the Home Mission Society made a similar
declaration. The formal withdrawal of the southern state conventions
followed in 1844, and in 1845 the Southern Baptist Convention was

In the Methodist Episcopal church the conflict over slavery had long been
smouldering, and in 1844 it broke out in regard to the ownership of slaves
by the wife of Bishop Andrew of Alabama. The hostile sections agreed to
separate into a northern and a southern church, and a Plan of Separation
was adopted. This was disregarded by the northern body and the question of
the division of property went to the courts. The United States Supreme
Court finally decided in favor of the southern church. From these troubles
angry feelings on both sides resulted. The southern church took the name
of the Methodist Episcopal Church South; the northern church retained the
old name.[30]

In 1858, the northern conferences of the Methodist Protestant Church,
having failed to change the constitution of the church in regard to
slavery, withdrew, and uniting with a number of Wesleyan Methodists,
formed the Methodist Church.[31]

The Southern Aid Society was formed in New York in 1854 for mission work
in the South because it was generally believed that the American Home
Mission Society was allied with the abolitionists, and because the latter
society refused to aid any minister or missionary who was a slaveholder.
In Alabama the Southern Aid Society worked principally among the
Presbyterians of north Alabama.[32]

The Presbyterians (N.S.) separated in 1858 "on account of politics," and
the southern branch formed the United Synod South.[33] The East Alabama
Presbytery (O.S.) in 1861 supported the Presbytery of Memphis in a protest
against the action of the General Assembly of the church in entering
politics. The Presbytery of South Alabama (O.S.) met at Selma in July,
1861, severed its connection with the General Assembly, and recommended a
meeting of a Confederate States Assembly. This Assembly was held at
Augusta and formed the Presbyterian Church in the Confederate States of
America. A long address was published, setting forth the causes of the
separation, the future policy of the church, and its attitude towards
slavery. It declared that the northern section of the church with its
radical policy was playing into the hands of both slaveholders and
abolitionists and thus weakening its influence with both. "We," the
address stated, "in our ecclesiastical capacity are neither the friends
nor foes of slavery." As long as they were connected with the radical
northern church the southern Presbyterians felt that they would be
excluded from useful work among the slaves by the suspicions of the
southern people concerning their real intentions.[34]

The Christian church was divided in 1854. During the war the southern
synods of the Evangelical Lutherans withdrew and formed the General Synod
South. There were few members of these churches in Alabama.[35]

The Cumberland Presbyterians, though separated by the war, seem not to
have formally established an independent organization in the Confederate
States. A convention was called to meet at Selma in 1864, but nothing

In May, 1861, the Protestant Episcopal Convention of Alabama declared null
and void that part of the constitution of the diocese relating to its
connection with the church in the United States. Instead of the President
of the United States, the Governor of Alabama, and later, the President of
the Confederate States, was prayed for in the formal prayer. Bishop Cobbs,
a strong opponent of secession, died one hour before the secession of the
state was announced. Rev. R. H. Wilmer, a Confederate sympathizer, was
elected to succeed him.[37] In July the bishops of the southern states met
in Montgomery to draft a new constitution and canons. A resolution was
passed stating that the secession of the southern states from the Union
and the formation of a new government rendered it expedient that the
dioceses within those states should form an independent organization. The
new constitution was adopted in November, 1861, by a general convention,
and the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Confederate States was
formed.[38] And thus the religious ties were broken.

       *       *       *       *       *

Business had also become sectionalized by 1861. The southern states felt
keenly their dependence upon the states of the North for manufactures,
water transportation, etc. For two decades before the war the southern
newspapers agitated the question and advocated measures that would tend to
secure economic independence of the North. As an instance of the feeling,
many of the educators of the state were in favor of using only those
text-books written by southern men and printed in the South. Professor A.
P. Barnard[39] of the University of Alabama was strenuously in favor of
such action. He declared that nothing ought to be bought from the North.
From 1845 to 1861, fifteen "Commercial Conventions" were held in the
South, largely attended by the most prominent business men and
politicians. The object of these conventions was to discuss means of
attaining economic independence.

When Alabama withdrew from the Union in 1861, no bonds were broken.
Practically the only bond of Union for most of the people had been in the
churches; to the Washington government and to the North they had never
become attached. The feelings of the great majority of the people of the
state are expressed in the last speech of Senator C. C. Clay of north
Alabama in the United States Senate. It had been forty-two years, he said,
since Alabama had entered the Union amidst scenes of excitement and
violence caused by the hostility of the North against the institution of
slavery in the South (referring to the conflict over Missouri). In the
churches, southern Christians were denied communion because of what the
North styled the "leprosy of slavery." In violation of Constitution and
laws southern people were refused permission to pass through the North
with their property. The South was refused a share in the lands acquired
mainly by her diplomacy, blood, and treasure. The South was robbed of her
property and restoration was refused. Criminals who fled North were
protected, and southern men who sought to recover their slaves were
murdered. Southern homes were burned and southern families murdered. This
had been endured for years, and there was no hope of better. The
Republican platform was a declaration of war against the South. It was
hostile to domestic peace, reproached the South as unchristian and
heathenish, and imputed sin and crime to that section. It was a strong
incitement to insurrection, arson, and murder among the negroes. The
southern whites were denied equality with northern whites or even with
free negroes, and were branded as an inferior race. The man nominated for
President disregarded the judgment of courts, the obligations of the
Constitution, and of his oath by declaring his approval of any measure to
prohibit slavery in the territories of the United States. The people of
the North branded the people of the South as outlaws, insulted them,
consigned them to the execration of posterity and to ultimate destruction.
"Is it to be expected that we will or can exercise that Godlike virtue
that beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things,
endureth all things; which tells us to love our enemies, and bless them
that curse us? Are we expected to be denied the sensibilities, the
sentiments, the passions, the reason, the instincts of men?" Have we no
pride, no honor, no sense of shame, no reverence for ancestors and care
for posterity, no love of home, of family, of friends? Are we to confess
baseness, discredit the fame of our sires, dishonor ourselves and degrade
posterity, abandon our homes and flee the country--all--all--for the sake
of the Union? Shall we live under a government administered by those who
deny us justice and brand us as inferiors? whose avowed principles and
policy must destroy domestic tranquillity, imperil the lives of our wives
and children, and ultimately destroy the state? The freemen of Alabama
have proclaimed to the world that they will not.[40]



On November 12, 1860, a committee of prominent citizens, appointed by a
convention of the people of several counties, asked the governor whether
he intended to call the state convention immediately after the choice of
presidential electors or to wait until the electors should have chosen the
President. They also asked to be informed of the time he intended to order
an election of delegates to the convention.[41] Governor Moore replied
that a candidate for the presidency was not elected until the electors
cast their votes, and until that time he would not call a convention. The
electors would vote on December 5, and as he had no doubt that Lincoln
would be elected, he would then order an election for December 24, and the
convention would assemble in Montgomery on January 7, 1861. The date, he
said, was placed far ahead in order that the people might have time to
consider the subject. He summed up the situation as follows: Lincoln was
the head of a sectional party pledged to the destruction of slavery; the
non-slaveholding states had repeatedly resisted the execution of the
Fugitive Slave Law, even nullifying the statutes of the United States by
their laws intended to prevent the execution of the Fugitive Slave Law;
Virginia had been invaded by abolitionists and her citizens murdered;
emissaries had burned towns in Texas; and in some instances poison had
been given to slaves with which to destroy the whites. With Lincoln as
President the abolitionists would soon control the Supreme Court and then
slavery would be abolished in the Federal district and in the territories.
There would soon be a majority of free states large enough to alter the
Constitution and to destroy slavery in the states. The state of society,
with four million negroes turned loose, would be too horrible to
contemplate, and the only safety for Alabama lay in secession, which was
within her right as a sovereign state. The Federal government was
established for the protection and not the destruction of rights; it had
only the powers delegated by the states and hence had not the power of
coercion. Alabama was devoted to the Union, but could not consent to
become a degraded member of it. The state in seceding ought to consult the
other southern states; but first she must decide for herself, and
coöperate afterwards. The convention, the governor said, would not be a
place for the timid or the rash. Men of wisdom and experience were needed,
men who could determine what the honor of the state and the security of
the people demanded, and who had the moral courage to carry out the
dictates of their honest judgment.

The proclamation, ordering an election on Christmas Eve and the assembly
of the convention at Montgomery, on January 7, 1861, was issued on
December 6, the day after the choice of Lincoln by the electors. On
January 7, every one of the one hundred delegates was present. It was a
splendid body of men, the best the people could send.

There were the "secessionists," who wanted immediate and separate
secession of the state without regard to the action of the other southern
states; the "coöperationists," who were divided among themselves, some
wanting the coöperation of the southern states within the Union in order
to force their rights from the central government, and others wanting the
southern states to come to an agreement within the Union and then secede
and form a confederacy, while a third class wanted a clear understanding
among the cotton states before secession. It was said that there were a
few "submissionists," but the votes and speeches fail to show any.

At first both parties claimed a majority, but before the convention opened
it was known that the larger number were secessionists. A test vote on the
election of a presiding officer showed the relative strength of the
parties. William M. Brooks of Perry was elected over Robert Jemison of
Tuscaloosa by a vote of 54 to 46, north Alabama voting for Jemison,
central and south Alabama for Brooks. And thus the parties voted
throughout the convention.

It is probable that the majority of the delegates were formerly Whigs, and
a majority of them was still hostile to Yancey, who was the only prominent
agitator elected. His colleague, from Montgomery County, was Thomas H.
Watts, formerly a Whig. Other prominent secessionists were J. T. Dowdell,
John T. Morgan, Thomas H. Herndon, E. S. Dargan, William M. Brooks, and
Franklin K. Beck. The opposition leaders were William R. Smith, Robert
Jemison, M. J. Bulger, Nicholas Davis, Jeremiah Clemens, Thomas J.
McClellan, and David P. Lewis. Yancey, Morgan, and Watts excepted, the
opposition had the more able speakers and debaters and the more political
experience. The advantage of representation was with the white counties,
which sent 70 of the 100 delegates.


When the convention settled down to work, the grievances of the South had
no important place in the discussions. The little that was said on the
subject came from the coöperationists and that only incidentally. There
was a genuine fear of social revolution brought about by the Republican
programme, but the secessionists had been stating their grievances for
twenty years and were now silent.[42] All seemed to agree that the present
state of affairs was unbearable, and that secession was the only remedy.
The only question was, How to secede? To decide that question the leaders
of each party were placed on the Committee on Secession. A majority of the
convention was in favor of immediate, separate secession. They held the
logical state sovereignty view that the state, while a member of the
Union, should not combine with another against the government or the party
controlling it. Such a course would be contrary to the Constitution and
would be equivalent to breaking up the Union while planning to save it. As
a sovereign state, Alabama could withdraw from the Union, and hence
immediate, separate secession was the proper method. Then would follow
consultation and coöperation with the other seceded southern states in
forming a southern confederacy. From the first it was known that the
secessionists were strong enough to pass at once a simple ordinance of
withdrawal. They said but little because their position was already well
understood. The people were now more united than they would be after long
debates and outside influence. Yet, for policy's sake, and in deference to
the feelings of the minority, the latter were allowed to debate for four
days before the question at issue was brought to a vote. In that time they
had about argued themselves over to the other side. With the exception of
Yancey, the secessionists were silent until the ordinance was passed. The
first resolution declared that the people of Alabama would not submit to
the administration of Lincoln and Hamlin. Both parties voted unanimously
for this resolution.[43]

The coöperationists were determined to resist Republican rule, but did not
consider delay dangerous. Some doubtless thought that in some way Lincoln
could be held in check and the Union still be preserved, and a number of
them were doubtless willing to wait and make another trial. It was known
that an ordinance of secession would be passed as soon as the
secessionists cared to bring the question to a vote, but for four days the
Committee on Secession considered the matter while the coöperationists
made speeches.[44] On January 10 the committees made two reports. The
majority report, presented by Yancey, simply provided for the immediate
withdrawal of the state from the Union. The minority report, presented by
Clemens, was in substance as follows: We are unable to see in separate
state secession the most effectual mode of guarding our honor and securing
our rights. This great object can best be attained by concurrent and
concentrated action of all the states interested, and such an effort
should be made before deciding finally upon our own policy. All the
southern states should be requested to meet in convention at Nashville,
February 22, 1861, to consider wrongs and appropriate remedies. As a basis
of settlement such a convention should consider: (1) the faithful
execution of the Fugitive Slave Law and the repeal of all state laws
nullifying it; (2) more stringent and explicit provisions for the
surrender of criminals escaping into another state; (3) guarantees that
slavery should not be abolished in the Federal district or in any other
place under the exclusive jurisdiction of Congress; (4) non-interference
with the interstate slave trade; (5) protection of slavery in the
territories which, when admitted as states, should decide for themselves
the question of slavery; (6) right of transit through free states with
slave property; (7) the foregoing to be irrepealable amendments to the
Constitution. This basis of settlement was not to be regarded as absolute,
but simply as the opinion of the Alabama convention, to which its
delegates to the proposed convention were expected to conform as nearly as
possible. Secession should not be attempted except after the most thorough
investigation and discussion.[45]

The secessionists were of one mind in regard to secession and did not
debate the subject; the coöperationists--all from north Alabama--were
careful to explain their views at length in their speeches of opposition.
Bulger (c.)[46] of Tallapoosa thought that separate secession was unwise
and impolitic, but that an effort should be made to secure the
coöperation of the other southern states before seceding. To this end he
proposed a convention of the southern states to consider the grievances of
the South and to determine the mode of relief for the present and security
for the future, and, should its demands not be complied with, to determine
upon a remedy.

Clark (c.) of Lawrence denied the right of separate secession, which would
not be a remedy for existing evils. The slavery question would not be
settled but would still be a vital and ever present issue. Separate
secession would revolutionize the government but not the northern feeling,
would not hush the pulpits, nor calm the northern mind, nor purify Black
Republicanism. The states would be in a worse condition politically than
the colonies were before the Constitution was adopted. The border states
would sell their slaves south and become free states; separate secession
would be the decree of universal emancipation. A large majority of the
people were opposed to separate secession, and besides, the state alone
would be weak and at the mercy of foreign powers. The proper policy for
Alabama was to remain in a southern union, at least, with the border
states for allies. Would secession repeal "personal liberty" laws, return
a single fugitive slave, prevent abolition in the Federal district and
territories, or the suppression of interstate slave trade? By secession
Alabama would relinquish her interest in the Union and leave it in the
control of Black Republicans. It would be almost impossible to unite the
southern states after separate secession--as difficult as it was to form
the original Union. The only hope for peaceable secession was in a united
South, and now was the time for it, for southern sentiment, though opposed
to separate secession, was ripe for southern union. The "United South"
would possess all the requirements of a great nation--territory,
resources, wealth, population, and community of interests. Separate
secession would result in the deplorable disasters of civil war. He hoped
that even yet some policy of reconciliation might succeed, but if the
contrary happened, there should be no scruples about state sovereignty;
the United South would assert the God-given right of every community to
freedom and happiness. Jones (c.) of Lauderdale declared that it was a
great mistake to call his constituents submissionists, since time after
time they had declared that they would not submit to Black Republican
rule. They differed as to the time and manner of secession, believing
that hasty secession was not a proper remedy, that it was unwise,
impolitic, and discourteous to the border states.

Smith of Tuscaloosa, the leader of the coöperationists,[47] read the
platform upon which he was elected to the convention; which, in substance,
was to use all honorable exertions to secure rights in the Union, and
failing, to maintain them out of the Union. Allegiance, he went on to say,
was due first to the state, and support was due her in any course she
might adopt. If an ordinance of secession should be passed, it would be
the supreme law of the land. Kimball (c.) of Tallapoosa said that his
constituents were opposed to secession, but were more opposed to Black
Republicanism. Before taking action he desired a solid or united South. He
agreed with General Scott that with a certain unanimity of the southern
states it would be impolitic and improper to attempt coercion. To secure
the coöperation of the southern states and to justify themselves to the
world a southern convention should be called. However, rights should be
maintained even if Alabama had to withdraw from the Union.

Watkins (c.) of Franklin stated that he would vote against the ordinance
of secession in obedience to the will of the people he represented. He
believed that separate secession was wrong. Edwards (c.) of Blount said
that secession was unwise on the part of Alabama, while Beard (c.) of
Marshall thought the best, safest, and wisest course would be to consult
and coöperate with the other slave states. He favored resistance to Black
Republican rule, and his constituents, though desiring coöperation, would
abide by the action of the state.

Bulger (c.) of Tallapoosa stated that he had voted against every
proposition leading to immediate and separate secession. Yet he would give
to the state, when the ordinance was passed, his whole allegiance; and, if
any attempt were made to coerce the state, would join the army.[48]
Winston (c.) of De Kalb stated that his constituents were opposed to
immediate secession, yet they would, no doubt, acquiesce. He had written
to his son, a cadet at West Point, to resign and come home. A convention
of the slave states should be called to make an attempt to settle
difficulties. Davis (c.) of Madison, who had stoutly opposed separate
secession, now declared that since the meeting of the convention serious
changes had occurred. Several states had already seceded and others would
follow. Consequently Alabama would not be alone. Clemens (cs.) of Madison
said he would vote for secession, but would not do so if the result
depended upon his vote. He strongly preferred the plan proposed by the
minority of the committee on secession.

During the debates there was not a single strong appeal for the Union.
There was simply no Union feeling, but an intense dislike for the North as
represented by the Republican party. The coöperationists contemplated
ultimate secession. They wished to make an attempt at compromise, but they
felt sure that it would fail. Their plan of effecting a united South
within the Union was clearly unconstitutional and could only be regarded
as a proposition to break up the old Union and reconstruct a new one.[49]

Political Theories of the Members

The secessionists held clear, logical views on the question before them.
They clearly distinguished the "state" or "people" from "government." No
secessionist ever claimed that the right of secession was one derived from
or preserved by the Constitution; it was a sovereign right. Granted the
sovereignty of the state, the right to secede in any way at any time was,
of course, not to be questioned. Consequently, they said but little on
that point.

The coöperationists were vague-minded. Most of them were stanch believers
in state sovereignty and opposed secession merely on the ground of
expediency. A few held a confused theory that while the state was
sovereign it had no right to secede unless with the whole South. This view
was most strongly advocated by Clark of Lawrence. Separate secession was
not a right, he said, though he admitted the sovereignty of the state. To
secede alone would be rebellion; not so, if in company with other southern
states. Earnest (c.) of Jefferson said that the state was sovereign, and
that after secession any acts of the state or of its citizens to protect
their rights would not be treason. But unless the state acted in its
sovereign capacity, it could not withdraw from the Union, and her
citizens would be subject to the penalties of treason.[50] Sheffield (c.)
of Marshall believed in the right of "secession or revolution." Clemens of
Madison, elected as a coöperationist, said that in voting for secession he
did it with the full knowledge that in secession they were all about to
commit treason, and, if not successful, would suffer the pains and
penalties pronounced against the highest political crime. Acting "upon the
convictions of a lifetime" he "calmly and deliberately walked into

The coöperationists were generally disposed to deny the sovereignty of the
convention. Most of them were former Whigs, who had never worked out a
theory of government. Davis (c.) of Madison repeatedly denied that the
convention had sovereign powers; sovereignty, he said, was held by the
people. Clark (c.) of Lawrence complained that the convention was
encroaching upon the rights of the people whom it should protect, and
asserted it did not possess unlimited power, but that its power was
conferred by act of the legislature, which created only a general agency
for a special purpose; that the convention had no power to do more than
pass the ordinance of secession and acts necessary thereto. Smith (c.)
said that the convention was the creature of the legislature, not of the
people, and that the southern Congress was the creature of the convention.
Buford (s.) of Barbour[52] doubted whether the convention possessed
legislative powers. According to his views, political or sovereign power
was vested in the people; the convention was not above the constitution
which created the legislature. Watts (s.) of Montgomery believed that the
power of the convention to interfere with the constitution was confined to
such changes as were necessary to the perfect accomplishment of secession.
Yelverton (s.) of Coffee summed up the theory of the majority: the
convention had full power and control over the legislative, executive, and
judiciary; the people were present in convention in the persons of their
representatives and in them was the sovereignty, the power, and the will
of the state. This was the theory upon which the convention acted.

Passage of the Ordinance of Secession

On January 11, 1861, Yancey spoke at length, closing the debate on the
question of secession. Referring to the spirit of fraternity that
prevailed, he stated that irritation and suspicion had, in great degree,
subsided. The majority had yielded to the minority all the time wanted for
deliberation, and every one had been given an opportunity to record his
sentiments. The question had not been pressed to a vote before all were
ready. Though preferring a simple ordinance of secession, the majority
had, for the sake of harmony and fraternal feeling, yielded to amendment
by the minority. All, he said, were for resistance to Republican rule, and
differed only as to the manner of resistance. Some believed in secession,
others in revolution. The ordinance might mean disunion, secession, or
revolution, as the members preferred. The mode was organized coöperation,
not of states, but of the people of Alabama, in resistance to wrong. Yet
the ordinance provided for coöperation with other states upon the basis of
the Federal Constitution. Every effort, he said, had been made to find
common ground upon which the advocates of resistance might meet, and all
parties had been satisfied. This was not a movement of the politicians,
but a great popular movement, based upon the widespread, deep-seated
conviction that the government had fallen into the hands of a sectional
majority who were determined to use it for the destruction of the rights
of the South. All were driven by an irresistible tide; the minority had
been unable to repress the movement, the majority had not been able to add
one particle to its momentum; in northern, not in southern, hands was held
the rod that smote the rock from which flowed this flood.

Some, he said, concluded that by dissolving the Union the rich inheritance
bequeathed by the fathers was hazarded. But liberties were one thing, the
power of government delegated to secure them was another. Liberties were
inalienable, and the state governments were formed to secure them; the
Federal government was the common agent, and its powers should be
withdrawn when it abused them to destroy the rights of the people. This
movement was not hostile to liberty nor to the Federal Constitution, but
was merely a dismissal of an unfaithful agent. The state now resumed the
duties formerly delegated to that agent. The ordinance of secession was a
declaration of this fact and also a proposition to form a new
government similar to the old. All were urged to sign the ordinance, not
to express approval, but to give notice to their enemies that the people
were not divided. "I now ask that the vote may be taken," he said.

[Illustration: CIVIL WAR LEADERS.



GENERAL L. P. WALKER, First Confederate Secretary of War. President of
Convention of 1875.

WILLIAM R. SMITH, Leader of Coöperationists in 1861.


The ordinance was called up. It was styled "An Ordinance to dissolve the
Union between Alabama and other States united under the Compact styled
'The Constitution of the United States of America.'" The preamble stated
that the election of Lincoln and Hamlin by a sectional party avowedly
hostile to the domestic institutions, peace, and security of Alabama,
preceded by many dangerous infractions of the Constitution by the states
and people of the North, was a political wrong of so insulting and
menacing a character as to justify the people of Alabama in the adoption
of prompt and decided measures for their future peace and security. The
ordinance simply stated that Alabama withdrew from the Union and that her
people resumed the powers delegated by the Constitution to the Federal
government. A coöperationist amendment expressed the desire of the people
to form with the other southern states a permanent government, and invited
a convention of the states to meet in Montgomery on February 4, 1861, for
consultation in regard to the common safety. The ordinance was passed by a
vote of 69 to 31, every delegate voting. Fifteen coöperationists voted for
secession and 22 signed the ordinance.

In the convention opinions varied as to whether peace or war would follow
secession. The great majority of the members, and of the people also,
believed that peaceful relations would continue. All truly wished for
peace. A number of the coöperationists expressed themselves as fearing
war, but this was when opposing secession, and they probably said more
than they really believed. Yet in nearly all the speeches made in the
convention there seemed to be distinguishable a feeling of fear and dread
lest war should follow. However, had war been a certainty, secession would
not have been delayed or checked.

There was warm discussion on the question of submitting the ordinance to
the people for ratification or rejection. The coöperationists, both before
and after the passage of the ordinance, favored its reference to the
people in the hope that the measure would be delayed or defeated. No one
expected that it would be referred to the people, but this was a good
question for obstructive purposes. The minority report on secession
declared that, in a matter of such vital importance, involving the lives
and liberties of a whole people, the ordinance should be submitted to them
for their discussion, and that secession should be attempted only after
ratification by a direct vote of the people on that single issue.

Posey (c.) of Lauderdale said that his constituents expected the question
of secession to be referred to the people, and that they would submit more
willingly to a decision made by popular vote; that the ordinance was
objectionable to them unless they were allowed to vote on it. He further
stated that when the convention had refused to submit the ordinance to the
popular vote, the first impulse of some of the coöperationists had been to
"bolt the convention." However, not being responsible, they preferred to
remain and aid in providing for the emergencies of the future. Kimbal (c.)
of Tallapoosa said that the people were the interested parties, that
sovereignty was in the people, and that they ought to decide the question.
Edwards (c.) of Blount said that his constituents expected the ordinance
to be referred to them and had instructed him to use his best exertions to
secure reference to the people. Bulger (c.) of Tallapoosa voted against
all propositions looking toward secession without reference to the people.
Davis (c.) of Madison denied the sovereignty of the convention. He said
that the vote of the people might be one way and that of the convention
another. He believed that the majority in convention represented a
minority of the people.

In closing the debate on this subject, Yancey (s.) of Montgomery said
that, as a measure of policy, to submit the ordinance to a vote of the
people was wrong. The convention was clothed with all the powers of the
people; it was the people acting in their sovereign capacity; the
government was not a pure democracy, but a government of the people,
though not by the people. Historically the convention was the supreme
power in American political theory, and submission to the people was a new
doctrine. If the ordinance should be submitted to the people, the friends
of secession would triumph, but irritation and prejudice would be aroused.
Yancey's views prevailed.

Establishing the Confederacy

A number of the coöperationists professed to believe that secession would
result in disintegration and anarchy in the South. The secessionists were
accused of desiring to tear down, not to build up. These assertions were,
in fact, unfounded, since, during the entire debate, those favoring
immediate secession stated plainly that they expected to reunite with the
other southern states after secession. Williamson (s.) of Lowndes said
that to declare to the world that they were not ready to unite with the
other slave states in a permanent government would be to act in bad faith
and subject themselves to contempt and scorn; united action was necessary;
financial and commercial affairs were in a deplorable condition;
confidence was lost, and in the business world all was gloom and
despair--this could be remedied only by a permanent government. Whatley
(s.) of Calhoun was unwilling for it to be said by posterity that they
tore down the old government and failed to reconstruct a new; the cotton
states should establish a government modelled on the Federal Union.

In accordance with these views the ordinance of secession proposed a
convention of southern states, and a few days later a resolution was
passed approving the suggestion of South Carolina to form a provisional
government upon the plan of the old Union and to prepare for a permanent
government. Each state was to send as many delegates to the convention on
February 4 as it had had senators and representatives in Congress. The
Alabama convention (January 16) elected one deputy from each congressional
district and two from the state at large, most of them being
coöperationists or moderate secessionists.

Yancey, on January 16, read a unanimous report from the Committee on
Secession in favor of forming a provisional confederate government at
once. The report also stated that the people of Alabama had never been
dissatisfied with the Constitution of the United States; that their
dissatisfaction had been with the conduct of the northern people in
violating the Constitution and in dangerous misinterpretation of it,
causing the belief that, while acting through the forms of government,
they intended to destroy the rights of the South. The Federal
Constitution, the report declared, represented a complete scheme of
government, capable of being put into speedy operation, and was so
familiar to the people that when properly interpreted they would feel safe
under it. A speedy confederation of the seceded states was desirable, and
there was no better basis than the United States Constitution. The report
recommended the formation, first, of a provisional, and later, of a
permanent, government. The secessionists warmly advocated the speedy
formation of a new confederacy. The coöperationists renewed their policy
of obstruction. Jemison (c.) of Tuscaloosa proposed to strike out the part
of the resolution relating to the formation of a permanent government.
Another coöperationist wanted delay in order that the border states might
have time to take part in forming the proposed government. Others wanted
the people to elect a new convention to act on the question. Yancey
replied that delay was dangerous, if coercion was intended by the North;
that the issue had been before the people and that they had invested their
delegates with full power; that the convention then in session had ample
authority to settle all questions concerning a provisional or a permanent
government; that another election would only cause irritation; that delay,
waiting for the secession of the border states, would be suicidal. The
proposition for a new convention was lost by a vote of 53 to 36.

The convention decided to continue the work until the end. After choosing
delegates (January 16) to the southern convention, which was to meet in
Montgomery on February 4, the state convention adjourned until the
Confederate provisional government was planned and the permanent
constitution written. Then the state convention met again on March 4 to
ratify them. The coöperationists now proposed that the new plan of
government be submitted to the people. It was right and expedient, they
said, to let the people decide. Morgan[53] (s.) of Dallas said that the
proposition for ratification by direct vote of the people was absurd. The
people would never ratify, for too many unrelated questions would be
brought in. Dargan (s.) of Mobile said that the people had conferred upon
the convention full powers to act, and that a new election would harass
the candidates with new issues such as the slave trade, reconstruction,
etc., introduced by the opponents of secession. Stone (s.) of Pickens
thought that a new election would cause angry and bitter discussions,
wrangling, distrust, and division among the people; that the proposed
constitution was very like the United States Constitution, to which the
people were so devoted that they had given up the Union rather than the
Constitution; that Lincoln's inaugural address was a declaration of war,
and a permanent government was necessary to raise money for armies and
fleets. Still the coöperationists obstructed, saying that not to refer to
the people was unfair and illiberal; that the convention was usurping the
powers of the people, who desired to be heard in the matter; that
government by a few was like a house built on the sand; that there was no
danger in waiting, for the people would be sure to ratify and then would
be better satisfied, etc. Finally most of the coöperationists agreed that
it would be better not to refer the question to the people and the
permanent Confederate constitution was ratified on March 12 by the vote of
87 to 5.[54]

For the first time Yancey stood at the head of the people of the state.
They were ready to give him any office. But the coöperationists and a few
secessionist politicians in the convention were jealous of his rising
strength and desired to stay his progress. So Earnest (c.) of Jefferson
introduced a self-denying resolution making ineligible to election to
Congress the members of the state legislature and of the convention. It
was a direct attack by the dissatisfied politicians upon the prominent men
in the convention, and especially upon Yancey. The measure was supported
by Jemison (c.) who said that it was a practice never to elect a member of
a legislative body to an office created by the legislature. Clemens (cs.)
thought such a measure unnecessary, as the majority necessary to pass it
could defeat any undesirable candidate. Stone (s.) said that such a
resolution would cost the state the services of some of her best men when
most needed; that the best men were in the convention; and that the
southern Confederacy should be intrusted to the friends, not to the
enemies, of secession. Morgan (s.) of Dallas thought that, as a matter of
policy, the congressmen would be chosen from outside of the convention.
Bragg (s.) of Mobile wanted the best men regardless of place; this was no
ordinary work and the best men were needed; the people had already made a
choice of the members once and would approve them again. Yancey said that
in principle he was opposed to such a measure. He declared that he would
not be a candidate. But he believed that the people had a right to a
choice from their entire number, and that the convention had no right to
violate the equality of citizenship by disfranchising the 223 members of
the convention and the legislature. Yelverton (s.) of Coffee at first
favored the resolution, but upon discovering that it was aimed at a few
leaders and especially at Yancey, he opposed it. He did not wish the
leaders of secession to be proscribed.

The resolution was lost by a vote of 46 to 50, but the delegates sent to
the Provisional Congress were, with one exception, taken from outside the
convention. A few politicians among the secessionists united with the
coöperationists and, passing by the most experienced and able leaders,
chose an inexperienced Whiggish delegation.[55]

The African Slave Trade

The Committee on Foreign Relations reported that the power of regulating
the slave trade would properly be conferred upon the Confederate
government, but, meanwhile, believing that the slave trade should be
prohibited until the Confederacy was formed, the committee reported an
ordinance forbidding it. Morgan (s.) of Dallas opposed the ordinance
because it was silent as to the cause of the prohibition. He was opposed
to the slave trade on the ground of public policy. If at liberty to carry
out Christian convictions, he would have Africans brought over to be made
Christian slaves, the highest condition attainable by the negro. In
holding slaves, the South was charged with sin and crime, but the southern
people were unable to perceive the wrong and unwilling to cease to do what
the North considered evil. The present movement rested, in great measure,
upon their assertion of the right to hold the African in slavery. The laws
of Congress denouncing the slave trade as piracy had been a shelter to
those who assailed the South, and had affected the standing of the South
among nations. If the slave trade were wrong, then it was much worse to
bring Christian and enlightened negroes from Virginia to Alabama than a
heathen savage from Africa to Alabama. Slavery was the only force which
had ever been able to elevate the negro. He believed that on grounds of
public policy the traffic should be condemned, but it was a question
better left to the Confederate government, because the various states
would not make uniform laws. There were slaves enough for twenty years
and, when needed, more could be had. Reopening of the African slave trade
should be forbidden by the Confederate government expressly for reasons of
public policy.

Smith (c.) of Tuscaloosa said that the question of morality did not arise;
the slave trade was not wrong. The heathen African was greatly benefited
by the change to Christian Alabama. But no more negroes were needed; they
were already increasing too fast and there was no territory for extension.
Crowded together, the white and black might degenerate like the Spaniards
and natives in Mexico. He supported the ordinance as a measure to disarm
foes who charged that one of the reasons for secession was a desire to
reopen the African slave trade, which should be denied to the world. The
slave trade would lead to war, and "If Cotton is King, his throne is
peace," war would destroy him. Jones (c.) of Lauderdale did not want
another negro on the soil of Alabama. The people of the border states were
afraid that the cotton states would reopen the slave trade, but for the
sake of uniformity the question should be left to the Confederate
government. Posey (c.) of Lauderdale also thought the border states should
be reassured, and said that on the grounds of expediency alone he would
vote against the slave trade. There were already too many negroes; already
more land was needed, and that for whites. The slave trade should be
prohibited as a great evil to the South. Potter (c.) of Cherokee was
astonished that the slave trade and slavery were treated as if identical
in point of morality. It was a duty to support and perpetuate slavery; the
slave trade was immoral in its tendency and effects; the question,
however, should be settled on the grounds of policy alone.

Yelverton (s.) of Coffee[56] said that the slave trade should not now be
reopened nor forever closed, but that the regulation of it should be left
to the legislature. It was said that the world was against the South on
the slavery question; then the South should either own all the slaves, or
set them all free in deference to unholy prejudice. As the southern people
were not ready to surrender the negroes, they should be at liberty to buy
them in any market, subject simply to the laws of trade. Slavery was the
cause of secession and should not be left in doubt. A slave in Alabama
cost eight times as much as one imported from Africa. If the border states
entered the Confederacy, they could furnish slaves; if they remained in
the Union and thus became foreign country, the South should not be forced
to buy from them alone. Slavery was a social, moral, and political
blessing. The Bible sanctioned it, and had nothing to say in favor of it
in one country and against it in another. To restrict the slave market to
the United States would be a blow at states rights and free trade, and
with slavery stricken, King Cotton would become a petty tyrant. Slavery
had built up the Yankees, socially, politically, and commercially. The
English were a calculating people and would not hesitate, on account of
slavery, to recognize southern independence, and other nations would do
likewise. Expansion of territory would come and would cause an increased
demand for slaves. The arguments against the slave trade, he said, were
that fanaticism might be angered, that there were too many negroes
already, and that those who had slaves to sell might suffer from reduced
prices. But the larger part of the people would prefer to purchase in a
cheaper market, and non-slaveholders, as they grew wealthier, could become
slave owners. The argument against the slave trade, he added, was usually
the one of dollars and cents. The great moral effect was lost sight of,
and it seemed from some arguments that Christianity did not require the
Bible to be taught to the poor slave unless profit followed. The time was
not far distant when the reopening of the slave trade would be considered
essential to the industrial prosperity of the cotton states.

Stone (s.) of Pickens said that he would not hesitate, from moral reasons,
to purchase a slave anywhere. Slavery was sanctioned by the divine law; it
was a blessing to the negro. But on grounds of policy he would insist upon
the prohibition of the slave trade. Too many slaves would make too much
cotton; prices would then fall and weaken the institution. Keep the prices
high, and the institution would be strengthened; reduce the value of the
slaves, and the interest of the owners in the institution would be
reduced, and the border states would listen to plans for general
emancipation. There was no territory in which slavery could expand.

Yancey (s.) explained his course in the Southern Commercial Conventions in
preceding years when he had advocated the repeal of the laws against the
slave trade. He thought that the laws of Congress defining the slave
trade as piracy placed a stigma on the institution, condemned it from the
point of view of the government, and thus violated the spirit of the
Constitution by discriminating against the South. He did not then advocate
the reopening of the slave trade, nor would he do so at this time. For two
reasons he insisted that the Confederate Congress should prohibit the
slave trade: (1) already there were as many slaves as were needed; (2) to
induce the border states to enter the Confederacy.

Dowdell (s.) of Chambers proposed an amendment to the ordinance of
prohibition, declaring that slavery was a moral, social, and political
blessing, and that any attempt to hinder its expansion should be opposed.
He opposed reopening the slave trade, though he considered that there was
no moral distinction between slavery and the slave trade. The border
states, he said, need not be encouraged by declarations of policy; they
would join the Confederacy anyway. Slavery might be regulated by Congress,
but should not be prohibited by organic law. He expressed a wish that he
might never see the day when white immigration would drive out slave labor
and take its place, nor did he want social or political inequality among
white people whom he believed should be kept free, independent, and equal,
recognizing no subordinate except those made as such by God. The
legislature, he thought, should be left to deal with the evil of white
immigration from the North, so that the southern people might be kept a
slaveholding people. But, he asked, can that be done with slaves at $1000
a head? And must the hands of the people be tied because a fantastical
outside world says that slavery and the slave trade are morally wrong?

Watts (s.) of Montgomery proposed that the Confederacy be given power to
prohibit the importation of slaves from any place. Smith (c.) of
Tuscaloosa said that the proposal of Watts was a threat against the border
states, which would lose their slave market unless they joined the
Confederacy; that the border states must be kept friendly, a bulwark
against the North.

A resolution was finally passed to the effect that the people of Alabama
were opposed, for reasons of public policy, to reopening the slave trade,
and the state's delegates in Congress were instructed to insist on the

The debates show clearly the feeling of the delegates that, on the
slavery question, the rest of the world was against them, and hence, as a
measure of expediency, they were in favor of prohibiting the trade. Some
wished to have all the whites finally become slaveholders; others believed
that the negroes were the economic and social enemies of the whites, and
they wanted no more of them. But all agreed that slavery was a good thing
for the negro.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yancey (s.) introduced a resolution favoring the free navigation of the
Mississippi. The North, he said, was uncertain as to the policy of the
South and must be assured that the South wished no restrictions upon
trade. "Free trade" was its motto. Dowdell (s.) proposed that the
navigation should be free only to those states and territories lying on
the river and its tributaries, while Smith (c.) thought that all
navigation should remain as unrestricted and open to all as before
secession. Yancey thought that absolutely unrestricted navigation would
tend to undermine secession, for it would tend to reconstruct the late
political union into a commercial union. Such a policy would discriminate
against European friends in favor of New England enemies. As passed, the
resolution expressed the sense of the convention that the navigation of
the Mississippi should be free to all the people of those states and
territories which were situated on that river or its tributaries.

Commissioners to Other States

As soon as the governor issued writs of election for a convention, fearing
that the legislatures of other states then in session might adjourn before
calling conventions, he sent a commissioner to each southern state to
consult and advise with the governor and legislature in regard to the
question of secession and later confederation. These commissioners made
frequent reports to the governor and convention and did much to secure the
prompt organization of a permanent government.[57]

After the ordinance of secession was passed a resolution was adopted to
the effect that Alabama, being no longer a member of the Union, was not
entitled to representation at Washington and that her representatives
there should be instructed to withdraw. A second resolution, authorizing
the governor to send two commissioners to Washington to treat with that
government, caused some debate.

Clemens (cs.) said that there was no need of sending commissioners to
Washington, because they would not be received. Let Washington send
commissioners to Alabama; South Carolina was differently situated; Alabama
held her own forts, South Carolina did not. Smith (c.) proposed that only
one commissioner be sent. One would do more efficient work and the expense
would be less. Watts (s.) said that Alabama as a former member of the
Union should inform the old government of her withdrawal and of her policy
for the future; that there were many grave and delicate matters to be
settled between the two governments; and that commissioners should be sent
to propose terms of adjustment and to demand a recognition of the new

Webb (s.) of Greene said that Alabama stood in the same attitude toward
the United States as toward France. And the fact that the commissioners of
South Carolina had been treated with contempt should not influence
Alabama. If one was to be in the wrong, let it be the Washington
government. To send commissioners would not detract from the dignity of
the state, but would show a desire for amicable relations. Whatley (s.)
took the same ground, and added that, having seized the forts to prevent
their being used against Alabama, the state, as retiring partner, would
hold them as assets until a final settlement, especially as its share had
not been received. Some members urged that only one commissioner be sent
in order to save expenses. All were getting to be very economical. And
practically all agreed that it was the duty of the state to show her
desire for amicable relations by making advances.

Yancey thought the matter should be left to the Provisional Congress; the
United States had made agreements with South Carolina about the military
status of the forts and had violated the agreement; the other states also
had claims of public property, and negotiations should be carried on by
the common agent. Separate action by the state would only complicate

Finally, it was decided to send one commissioner, and the governor
appointed Thomas J. Judge, who proceeded to Washington, with authority to
negotiate regarding the forts, arsenals, and custom-houses in the state,
the state's share of the United States debt, and the future relations
between the United States and Alabama, and through C. C. Clay, late United
States senator from Alabama, applied for an interview with the President.
Buchanan refused to receive him in his official capacity, but wrote that
he would be glad to see him as a private gentleman. Judge declined to be
received except in his official capacity, and said that future
negotiations must begin at Washington.

       *       *       *       *       *

Foreseeing war, Watts (s.) proposed that the general assembly be given
power to confiscate the property of alien enemies, and also to suspend the
collection of debts due to alien enemies. Shortridge (s.) thought that the
measure was not sufficiently emphatic, since war had practically been
declared. He said the courts should be closed against the collection of
debts due persons in the northern states which had passed personal liberty
laws. He stated that Alabama owed New York several million dollars, and
that to pay this debt would drain from the country the currency, which
should be held to relieve the strain.

Jones (c.) was opposed to every description of robbery. The course
proposed, he said, would be a flagrant outrage upon just creditors, as the
greater wrong would be done the friends of the South, for
nineteen-twentieths of the debt was due to political friends--merchants
who had always defended the rights of the South. Those debts should be
paid and honor sustained. The legislature, he added, would pass a
stay-law, which he regretted, and that would suffice. Smith (c.) said that
confiscation was an act of war, and would provoke retaliation. Every
action should look toward the preservation of peace.

Clarke (s.) of Marengo saw nothing wrong in the measure. There was no wish
or intention of evading payment of the debt; payment would only be
suspended or delayed. It was a peace measure. Lewis (cs.) said that only
the war-making power would have authority to pass such a measure, and that
this power would be lodged in the Confederate Congress. Meanwhile, he
proposed to give the power temporarily to the legislature.

Early in the session the secessionists introduced a resolution pledging
the state to resist any attempt by the United States to coerce any of the
seceded states. Alabama could not stand aside, they said, and see the
seceded states coerced by the United States government, which had no
authority to use force. All southern states recognized secession as the
essence and test of state sovereignty, and would support each other.

Earnest (c.) of Jefferson was of the opinion that this resolution was
intended to cover acts of hostility already committed by individuals, such
as Governor Moore and other officials, before the state seceded, and to
vote for the resolution subjected the voter to the penalties of treason.
When a state acted in its sovereign capacity and withdrew from the Union,
then those individuals were relieved. But to vote for such a measure
before secession was treason.

Morgan (s.) of Dallas said that, whether Alabama were in or out of the
Union, she could see no state coerced; the question was not debatable. To
attack South Carolina was to attack Alabama. "We are one united people and
can never be dissevered." The North was pledging men and money to coerce
the southern states, and its action must be answered. Jemison (c.) thought
the war alarms were false and that there was no necessity for immediate
action, while Smith (c.), his colleague, heartily indorsed the measure.
Jones (c.) declared that before the state seceded he would not break the
laws of the United States; that he had sworn to support the Constitution,
and only the state could absolve him from that oath; that such a measure
was not lawful while the state was in the Union.

After secession the resolution was again called up, and all speakers
agreed that aid should be extended to seceded states in case of coercion.
Some wanted to promise aid to any one of the United States which might
take a stand against the other states in behalf of the South. Events moved
so rapidly that the measure did not come to a vote before the organization
of the Provisional Congress.

Legislation by the Convention

Not only was the old political structure to be torn down, but a new one
had to be erected. In organizing the new order the convention performed
many duties pertaining usually to the legislature. This was done in order
to save time and to prevent confusion in the administration.

Citizenship was defined to include free whites only, except such as were
citizens of the United States before January 11, 1861. A person born in a
northern state or in a foreign country before January 11, 1861, must take
the oath of allegiance to the state of Alabama, and the oath of
abjuration, renouncing allegiance to all other sovereignties. The state
constitution was amended by omitting all references to the United States;
the state officers were absolved from their oath to support the United
States Constitution; jurisdiction of the United States over waste and
unappropriated lands and navigable waters was rescinded; and navigation
was opened to all citizens of Alabama and other states that "may unite
with Alabama in a Southern Slaveholding Confederacy." A registration of
lands was ordered to be made; the United States land system was adopted, a
homestead law was provided for, and a new land office was established at
Greenville, in Butler County. The governor was authorized to revoke
contracts made under United States laws with commissioners appointed to
locate swamps and overflowed lands. The general assembly was authorized to
cede to the Confederacy exclusive jurisdiction over a district ten miles
square for a seat of government for the Confederate States of America.

Provision was made for the military defence of Alabama, and the United
States army regulations were adopted almost in their entirety. The militia
was reorganized; all commissions were vacated, and new elections ordered.
The governor was placed in charge of all measures for defence. He was
authorized to purchase supplies for the use of the state army, to borrow
money for the same, and to issue bonds to cover expenses. Later, the
convention decreed that all arms and munitions of war taken from the
United States should be turned over to the Confederacy; only the small
arms belonging to the state were retained. The governor was authorized to
transfer to the Confederate States, upon terms to be agreed upon between
the governor and the president, all troops raised for state defence. Thus
all volunteer companies could be transferred to the Confederate service if
the men were willing, otherwise they were discharged. A number of
ordinances were passed organizing the state military system, and
coöperating with the Confederate government. Jurisdiction over forts,
arsenals, and navy yards was conferred upon the Confederate States. This
ordinance could only be revoked by a convention of the people.

The port of Mobile was resumed by the state. The collector of the port and
his assistants were continued in office as state officials who were to act
in the name of the state of Alabama. With a view to future settlement the
collector was ordered to retain all funds in his hands belonging to the
United States, and the state of Alabama guaranteed his safety, as to oath,
bond, etc. As far as possible, the United States customs and port
regulations were adopted. Vessels built anywhere, provided that one-third
was owned by citizens of the southern states and commanded by southern
captains, were entitled to registry as vessels of Alabama. The collector
was authorized to take possession in the name of the state of all
government custom-houses, lighthouses, etc., and to reappoint the officers
in charge if they would accept office from the state. The weights and
measures of the United States were adopted as the standard; discriminating
duties imposed by the United States, and regulations on foreign vessels
and merchandise were abolished; Selma and Mobile were continued as ports
of entry, and all ordinances relating to Mobile were extended to Selma.

Thaddeus Sanford, the collector of Mobile, reported to the convention that
the United States Treasury Department had drawn on him for $26,000 on
January 7, 1861, and asked for instructions in regard to paying it. The
Committee on Imports reported that the draft was dated before secession
and before the ordinance directing the collector to retain all United
States funds, that it was drawn to pay parties for services rendered while
Alabama was a member of the Union. So it was ordered to be paid.

After the Confederacy was formed, the convention ordered that the
custom-houses, marine hospital, lighthouses, buoys, and the revenue
cutter, _Lewis Cass_, be turned over to the Confederate authorities; and
the collector was directed to transfer all money collected by him to the
Confederate authorities, who were to account for all moneys and settle
with the United States authorities. The collector was then released from
his bond to the state.

Postal contracts and regulations in force prior to January 11, 1861, were
permitted to remain for the present. The general assembly was empowered
to make postal arrangements until the Confederate government should be
established. Meanwhile, the old arrangements with the United States were
unchanged.[58] Other ordinances adopted the laws of the United States
relating to the value of foreign coins, and directed the division of the
state into nine congressional districts.

The judicial powers were resumed by the state and were henceforth to be
exercised by the state courts. The circuit and chancery courts and the
city court of Mobile were given original jurisdiction in cases formerly
arising within the jurisdiction of the Federal courts. Jurisdiction over
admiralty cases was vested in the circuit courts and the city court of
Mobile. The chancery courts had jurisdiction in all cases of equity. The
state supreme court was given original and exclusive jurisdiction over
cases concerning ambassadors and public ministers. All admiralty cases,
except where the United States was plaintiff, pending in the Federal
courts in Alabama were transferred with all records to the state circuit
courts; cases in equity in like manner to the state chancery courts; the
United States laws relating to admiralty and maritime cases, and to the
postal service were adopted temporarily; the forms of proceedings in state
courts were to be the same as in former Federal courts; the clerks of the
circuit courts were given the custody of all records transferred from
Federal courts and were empowered to issue process running into any part
of the state and to be executed by any sheriff; United States marshals in
whose hands processes were running were ordered to execute them and to
make returns to the state courts under penalty of being prosecuted as if
defaulting sheriffs; the right was asserted to prosecute marshals who were
guilty of misconduct before secession. The United States laws of May 26,
1796, and March 27, 1804, prescribing the method of authentication of
public acts, records, or judicial proceedings for use in other courts,
were adopted for Alabama. In cases appealed to the United States Supreme
Court from the Alabama supreme court, the latter was to act as if no
appeal had been taken and execute judgment; cases appealed from inferior
Federal courts to the United States Supreme Court, were to be considered
as appealed to the state supreme court which was to proceed as if the
cases had been appealed to it from its own lower courts. The United States
were not to be allowed to be a party to any suit in the state courts
against a citizen of Alabama unless ordered by the convention or by the
general assembly. Federal jurisdiction in general was to be resumed by
state courts until the Confederate government should act in the matter.

No law of Alabama in force January 11, 1861, consistent with the
Constitution and not inconsistent with the ordinances of the convention,
was to be affected by secession; no official of the state was to be
affected by secession; no offence against the state, and no penalty, no
obligation, and no duty to or of state, no process or proceeding in court,
no right, title, privilege, or obligation under the state or United States
Constitution and laws, was to be affected by the ordinance of secession
unless inconsistent with it. No change made by the convention in the
constitution of Alabama should have the effect to divest of any right,
title, or legal trust existing at the time of making the change. All
changes were to have a prospective, not a retrospective, effect unless
expressly declared in the change itself.

The general assembly was to have no power to repeal, alter, or amend any
ordinance of the convention incorporated in the revised constitution.
Other ordinances were to be considered as ordinary legislation and might
be amended or repealed by the legislature.[59]

North Alabama in the Convention

All the counties of north Alabama sent coöperation delegates to the
convention, and these spoke continually of a peculiar state of feeling on
the part of their constituents which required conciliation by the
convention. The people of that section, in regard to their grievances,
thought as the people of central and south Alabama, but they were not so
ready to act in resistance. Moreover, it would seem that they desired all
the important measures framed by the convention to be referred to them for
approval or disapproval. The coöperationists made much of this state of
feeling for purposes of obstruction. There was, and had always been, a
slight lack of sympathy between the people of the two sections; but on the
present question they were very nearly agreed, though still opposing from
habit. Had the coöperationists been in the majority, secession would have
been hardly delayed. Of course, among the mountains and sand-hills of
north Alabama was a small element of the population not concerned in any
way with the questions before the people, and who would oppose any measure
supported by southern Alabama. Sheets of Winston was probably the only
representative of this class in the convention. The members of the
convention referred to the fact of the local nature of the
dissatisfaction. Yancey, angered at the obstructive tactics of the
coöperationists, who had no definite policy and nothing to gain by
obstruction, made a speech in which he said it was useless to disguise the
fact that in some parts of the state there was dissatisfaction in regard
to the action of the convention, and warned the members from north
Alabama, whom he probably considered responsible for the dissatisfaction,
that as soon as passed the ordinance of secession became the supreme law
of the land, and it was the duty of all citizens to yield obedience. Those
who refused, he said, were traitors and public enemies, and the sovereign
state would deal with them as such. Opposition after secession was
unlawful and to even speak of it was wrong, and he predicted that the name
"tory" would be revived and applied to such people. Jemison of Tuscaloosa,
a leading coöperationist, made an angry reply, and said that Yancey would
inaugurate a second Reign of Terror and hang people by families, by towns,
counties, and districts.

Davis (c.) of Madison declared that the people of north Alabama would
stand by the expressed will of the people of the state, and intimated that
the action of the convention did not represent the will of the people. If,
he added, resistance to revolution gave the name of "tories," it was
possible that the people of north Alabama might yet bear the designation;
that any invasion of their rights or any attempt to force them to
obedience would result in armed resistance; that the invader would be met
at the foot of the mountains, and in armed conflict the question of the
sovereignty of the people would be settled. Clark (c.) of Lawrence said
that north Alabama was more closely connected with Tennessee, and that
many of the citizens were talking of secession from Alabama and annexation
to Tennessee. He begged for some concession to north Alabama, but did not
seem to know exactly what he wanted. He intimated that there would be
civil war in north Alabama. Jones (c.) of Lauderdale said that his
people were not "submissionists" and would share every toil and danger in
support of the state to which was their supreme allegiance. Edwards (c.)
of Blount was not prepared to say whether his people would acquiesce or
not. He promised to do nothing to excite them to rebellion! Davis of
Madison, who a few days before was ready to rebel, now said that he, and
perhaps all north Alabama, would cheerfully stand by the state in the
coming conflict.

[Illustration: JEFFERSON DAVIS.]

A majority of the coöperationists voted against the ordinance of
secession, at the same time stating that they intended to support it when
it became law. The ordinance was lithographed, and the delegates were
given an opportunity to sign their names to the official copy.
Thirty-three of the delegates from north Alabama, two of whom had voted
for the ordinance, refused to sign, because, as they said, it might appear
as if they approved all that had been done by the secessionists. Their
opposition to the policy of the majority was based on the following
principles: (1) the fundamental principle that representative bodies
should submit their acts for approval to the people; (2) the interests of
all demanded that all the southern states be consulted in regard to a plan
for united action. The members who refused to sign repeatedly acknowledged
the binding force of the ordinance and promised a cheerful obedience, but,
at the same time, published far and wide an address to the people,
justifying their opposition and refusal to sign, causing the impression
that they considered the action of the convention illegal. There was no
reason whatever why these men should pursue the policy of obstruction to
the very last, yet it was done. Nine of the thirty-three finally signed
the ordinance, but twenty-four never signed it, though they promised to
support it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The majority of the members and of the people contemplated secession as a
finality; reconstruction was not to be considered. A few of the
coöperationists, however, were in favor of secession as a means of
bringing the North to terms. Messrs. Pugh and Clay (members of Congress)
in a letter to the convention suggested that the border states considered
the secession of the cotton states as an indispensable basis for a
reconstruction of the Union. Smith of Tuscaloosa, the leading
coöperationist, stated his belief that the revolution would teach the
North her dependence upon the South, how much she owed that section, bring
her to a sense of her duty, and cause her to yield to the sensible demands
of the South. He looked forward with fondest hopes to the near future when
there would be a reconstruction of the Union with redress of grievances,
indemnity for the past, complete and unequivocal guarantees for the

Incidents of the Session

The proceedings were dignified, solemn, and at times even sad. During the
whole session, good feeling prevailed to a remarkable degree among the
individual members, and toward the last the utmost harmony existed between
the parties.[60] For this the credit is due the secessionists. At times
the coöperationists were suspicious, and pursued a policy of obstruction
when nothing was to be gained; but they were given every privilege and
shown every courtesy. During the early part of the session an enthusiastic
crowd filled the halls and galleries and manifested approval of the course
of the secessionist leaders by frequent applause. In order to secure
perfect freedom of debate to the minority, it was ordered that no applause
be permitted; and this order failing to keep the spectators silent, the
galleries were cleared, and thereafter secret sessions were the rule.

Affecting and exciting scenes followed the passage of the ordinance of
secession. One by one the strong members of the minority arose and, for
the sake of unity at home, surrendered the opinions of a lifetime and
forgot the prejudices of years. This was done with no feeling of
humiliation. To the last, they were treated with distinguished
consideration by their opponents. There was really no difference in the
principles of the two parties; the only differences were on local,
personal, sectional, and social questions. On the common ground of
resistance to a common enemy they were united.

On January 11, 1861, after seven days' debate, it became known that the
vote on secession would be taken, and an eager multitude crowded Capitol
Hill to hear the announcement of the result. The senate chamber, opposite
the convention hall, was crowded with the waiting people, who were
addressed by distinguished orators on the topics of the day. As many women
as men were present, and, if possible, were more eager for secession.
Their minds had long ago been made up. "With them," says the grave
historian of the convention, "the love songs of yesterday had swelled into
the political hosannas of to-day."

The momentous vote was taken, the doors were flung open, the result
announced, and in a moment the tumultuous crowd filled the galleries,
lobbies, and aisles of the convention hall. The ladies of Montgomery had
made a large state flag, and when the doors were opened this flag was
unfurled in the hall so that its folds extended almost across the chamber.
Members jumped on desks, chairs, and tables to shake out the floating
folds and display the design. There was a perfect frenzy of enthusiasm.
Yancey, the secessionist leader and splendid orator, in behalf of the
ladies presented the flag to the convention. Smith, the leader of the
coöperationists, replied in a speech of acceptance, paying an affecting
tribute to the flag that they were leaving--"the Star-Spangled Banner,
sacred to memory, baptized in the nation's best blood, consecrated in song
and history, and the herald of liberty's grandest victories on land and on
sea." In memory of the illustrious men who brought fame to the flag, he
said, "Let him who has tears prepare to shed them now as we lower this
glorious ensign of our once vaunted victories." Alpheus Baker of Barbour
in glowing words expressed to the ladies the thanks of the convention.

Amidst wild enthusiasm in hall and street the convention adjourned. One
hundred and one cannon shots announced the result. The flag of the
Republic of Alabama floated from windows, steeples, and towers. Party
lines were forgotten, and until late in the night every man who would
speak was surrounded by eager listeners. The people were united in common
sentiment in the face of common danger.

One hour before the signal cannon shot announced that the fateful step had
been taken and that Alabama was no longer one of the United States, there
died, within sight of the capitol, Bishop Cobb of the Episcopal Church,
the one man of character and influence who in all Alabama had opposed
secession in any way, at any time, or for any reason.[61]






On January 4, 1861, the Alabama troops, ordered by Governor Andrew B.
Moore, seized the forts which commanded the entrance to the harbor at
Mobile, and also the United States arsenal at Mount Vernon, thirty miles
distant. A few days later the governor, in a communication addressed to
President Buchanan, explained the reason for this step. He was convinced,
he said, that the convention would withdraw the state from the Union, and
he deemed it his duty to take every precaution to render the secession
peaceable. Information had been received which led him to believe that the
United States government would attempt to maintain its authority in
Alabama by force, even to bloodshed. The President must surely see, the
governor wrote, that coercion could not be effectual until capacity for
resistance had been exhausted, and it would have been unwise to have
permitted the United States government to make preparations which would be
resisted to the uttermost by the people. The purpose in taking possession
of the forts and arsenal was to avoid, not to provoke, hostilities.
Amicable relations with the United States were ardently desired by
Alabama; and every patriotic man in the state was praying for peaceful
secession. He had ordered an inventory to be taken of public property in
the forts and arsenal, which were held subject to the control of the
convention.[62] A month later, Governor Moore, in a communication
addressed to the Virginia commissioners for mediation, stated that
Alabama, in seceding, had no hostile intentions against the United States;
that the sole object was to protect her rights, interests, and honor,
without disturbing peaceful relations. This would continue to be the
policy of the state unless the Federal government authorized hostile
acts. Yet any attempt at coercion would be resisted. In conclusion, he
stated that he had no power to appoint delegates to the proposed
convention, but promised to refer the matter to the legislature. However,
he did not believe that there was the least hope that concessions would be
made affording such guarantees as the seceding states could accept.[63]

The War in North Alabama

For a year Alabama soil was free from invasion, though the coast was
blockaded in the summer of 1861. In February, 1862, Fort Henry, on the
Tennessee River, fell, and on the same day Commodore Phelps with four
gunboats sailed up the river to Florence. Several steamboats with supplies
for Johnston's army were destroyed to prevent capture by the Federals.
Phelps destroyed a partly finished gunboat, burned the Confederate
supplies in Florence, and then returned to Fort Henry.[64] The fall of
Fort Donelson (February 16) and the retreat of Johnston to Corinth left
the Tennessee valley open to the Federals. A few days after the battle of
Shiloh, General O. M. Mitchell entered Huntsville (April 11, 1862) and
captured nearly all the rolling stock belonging to the railroads running
into Huntsville. Decatur, Athens, Tuscumbia, and the other towns of the
Tennessee valley were occupied within a few days. To oppose this invasion
the Confederates had small bodies of troops widely scattered across north
Alabama. The fighting was almost entirely in the nature of skirmishes and
was continual. Philip D. Roddy, later known as the "Defender of North
Alabama," first appears during this summer as commander of a small body of
irregular troops, which served as the nucleus of a regiment and later a
brigade. Hostilities in north Alabama at an early date assumed the worst
aspects of guerilla warfare. The Federals were never opposed by large
commands of Confederates, and were disposed to regard the detachments who
fought them as guerillas and to treat them accordingly. In spite of the
strenuous efforts of General Buell to have his subordinates wage war in
civilized manner,[65] they were guilty of infamous conduct. General
Mitchell was charged by the people with brutal conduct toward
non-combatants and with being interested in the stealing of cotton and
shipping it North. He was finally removed by Buell.[66]

One of Mitchell's subordinates--John Basil Turchin, the Russian colonel of
the Nineteenth Illinois regiment--was too brutal even for Mitchell, and
the latter tried to keep him within bounds. His worst offence was at
Athens, in Limestone County, in May, 1862. Athens was a wealthy place,
intensely southern in feeling, and on that account was most heartily
disliked by the Federals. Here, for two hours, Turchin retired to his tent
and gave over the town to the soldiers to be sacked after the old European
custom. Revolting outrages were committed. Robberies were common where
Turchin commanded. His Russian ideas of the rules of war were probably
responsible for his conduct. Buell characterized it as "a case of
undisputed atrocity." For this Athens affair Turchin was court-martialled
and sentenced to be dismissed from the service. The facts were notorious
and well known at Washington, but the day before Buell ordered his
discharge, Turchin was made a brigadier-general.[67]

General Mitchell himself reported (May, 1862) that "the most terrible
outrages--robberies, rapes, arson, and plundering--are being committed by
lawless brigands and vagabonds connected with the army." He asked for
authority to hang them and wrote, "I hear the most deplorable accounts of
excesses committed by soldiers."[68] About fifty of the citizens of
Athens, at the suggestion of Mitchell, filed claims for damages. Thereupon
Mitchell informed them that they were laboring under a very serious
misapprehension if they expected pay from the United States government
unless they had proper vouchers.[69] Buell condemned his action in this
matter also. Mitchell asked the War Department for permission to send
prominent Confederate sympathizers at Huntsville to northern prisons. He
said that General Clemens and Judge Lane advised such a measure. He
reported that he held under arrest a few active rebels "who refused to
condemn the guerilla warfare." The War Department seems to have been
annoyed by the request, but after Mitchell had repeated it, permission was
given to send them to the fort in Boston Harbor.[70]

Mitchell was charged at Washington with having failed in his duty of
repressing plundering and pillaging. He replied that he had no great
sympathy with the citizens of Athens who hated the Union soldiers so

As the war continued the character of the warfare grew steadily worse.
Ex-Governor Chapman's family were turned out of their home to make room
for a negro regiment. A four-year-old child of the family wandered back to
the house and was cursed and abused by the soldiers. The house was finally
burned and the property laid waste. Governor Chapman was imprisoned and at
last expelled from the country. Mrs. Robert Patton they threatened to
strip in search of money and actually began to do so in the presence of
her husband, but she saved herself by giving up the money.[72] Such
experiences were common.

The provost marshal at Huntsville--Colonel Harmer--selected a number of
men to answer certain political questions, who, if their answers were not
satisfactory, were to be expelled from the country. Among these were,
George W. Hustoun, Luke Pryor, and ---- Malone of Athens, Dr. Fearn of
Huntsville, and two ministers--Ross and Banister. General Stanley
condemned the policy, but General Granger wanted the preachers expelled
anyway, although Stanley said they had never taken part in politics.[73]
The harsh treatment of non-combatants and Confederate soldiers by Federal
soldiers and by the tories resulted in the retaliation of the former when
opportunity occurred. Toward the end of the war prisoners were seldom
taken by either side. When a man was caught, he was often strung up to a
limb of the nearest tree, his captors waiting a few minutes for their
halters, and then passing on. The Confederate irregular cavalry became a
terror even to the loyal southern people. Stealing, robbery, and murder
were common in the debatable land of north Alabama.[74]

Naturally the "tory" element of the population suffered much from the same
class of Confederate troops. The Union element, it was said, suffered more
from the operation of the impressment law. The Confederate and state
governments strictly repressed the tendency of Confederate troops to
pillage the "Union" communities in north Alabama.[75]

General Mitchell and his subordinates were accustomed to hold the people
of a community responsible for damages in their vicinity to bridges,
trestles, and trains caused by the Confederate forces. In August, 1862,
General J. D. Morgan, in command at Tuscumbia, reported that he "sent out
fifty wagons this afternoon to the plantations near where the track was
torn up yesterday, for cotton. I want it to pay damages."[76] When Turchin
had to abandon Athens, on the advance of Bragg into Tennessee, he set fire
to and burned much of the town, but his conduct was denounced by his
fellow-officers.[77] Near Gunterville (1862) a Federal force was fired
upon by scouts, and the Federals, in retaliation, shelled the town. This
was done a second time during the war, and finally the town was burned. In
Jackson County four citizens were arrested (1862) because the pickets at
Woodville, several miles away, had been fired upon.[78]

In a skirmish in north Alabama, General R. L. McCook was shot by Captain
Gurley of Russell's Fourth Alabama Cavalry. The Federals spread the report
among the soldiers that he had been murdered, and as the Federal commander
reported, "Many of the soldiers spread themselves over the country and
burned all the property of the rebels in the vicinity, and shot a rebel
lieutenant who was on furlough." Even the house of the family who had
ministered to General McCook in his last moments was burned to the ground.
The old men and boys for miles around were arrested. The officer who was
shot was at home on furlough and sick. General Dodge's command committed
many depredations in retaliation for the death of McCook. A year later
Captain Gurley was captured and sentenced to be hanged. The Confederate
authorities threatened retaliation, and he was then treated as a prisoner
of war. After the close of the war he was again arrested and kept in jail
and in irons for many months at Nashville and Huntsville. At last he was

Later in the war (1864), General M. L. Smith ordered the arrest of "five
of the best rebels" in the vicinity of a Confederate attack on one of his
companies, and again five were arrested near the place where a Union man
had been attacked.[80] These are examples of what often happened. It
became a rule to hold a community responsible for all attacks made by the
Confederate soldiers.

The people suffered fearfully. Many of them had to leave the country in
order to live. John E. Moore wrote to the Confederate Secretary of War
from Florence, in December, 1862, that the people of north Alabama "have
been ground into the dust by the tyrants and thieves."[81] The citizens of
Florence (January, 1863) petitioned the Secretary of War for protection.
They said that they had been greatly oppressed by the Federal army in
1862. Property had been destroyed most wantonly and vindictively, the
privacy of the homes invaded, citizens carried off and ill treated, and
slaves carried off and refused the liberty of returning when they desired
to do so. The harshness of the Federals had made many people submissive
for fear of worse things. No men, except the aged and infirm, were left in
the country; the population was composed chiefly of women and
children.[82] It was in response to this appeal that Roddy's command was
raised to a brigade. But the retreat of Bragg left north Alabama to the
Federals until the close of the war, except for a short period during
Hood's invasion of Tennessee.

The Streight Raid

April 19, 1863, Colonel A. D. Streight of the Federal army, with 2000
picked troops, disembarked at Eastport and started on a daring raid
through the mountain region of north Alabama. The object of the raid was
to cut the railroads from Chattanooga to Atlanta and to Knoxville, which
supplied Bragg and to destroy the Confederate stores at Rome. To cover
Streight's movements General Dodge was making demonstrations in the
Tennessee valley and Forrest was sent to meet him. Hearing by accident of
Streight's movements, Forrest left a small force under Roddy to hold Dodge
in check and set out after the raider. The chase began on April 29.
Streight had sixteen miles the start with a force reduced to 1500 men,
mounted on mules. As his mounts were worn out, he seized fresh horses on
the route. The chase led through the counties of Morgan, Blount, St.
Clair, De Kalb, and Cherokee--counties in which there was a strong tory
element, and the Federals were guided by two companies of Union cavalry
raised in north Alabama. Streight had asked for permission to dress some
of his men "after the promiscuous southern style," but, fortunately for
them, was not allowed to do so.[83]

On May 1 occurred the famous crossing of Black Creek, where Miss Emma
Sansom guided the Confederates across in the face of a heavy fire. Forrest
now had less than 600 men, the others having been left behind exhausted or
with broken-down horses. The best men and horses were kept in front, and
Streight was not allowed a moment's rest. At last, tired out, the Federals
halted on the morning of May 3. Soon the men were asleep on their arms,
and when Forrest appeared, some of them could not be awakened. Men were
asleep in line of battle, under fire. Forrest placed his small force so as
to magnify his numbers, and Streight was persuaded by his officers to
surrender--1466 men to less than 600. The running fight had lasted four
days, over a distance of 150 miles, through rough and broken country
filled with unfriendly natives. Forrest could not get fresh mounts, the
Federals could; the Federals had been preparing for the raid a month;
Forrest had a few hours to prepare for the pursuit, and his whole force
with Roddy's did not equal half of the entire Federal force of 9500.[84]

During the summer and fall there were many small fights between the
cavalry scouts of Roddy and Wheeler and the Federal foraging parties. In
October General S. D. Lee from Mississippi entered the northwestern part
of the state, and for two or three weeks fought the Federals and tore up
the Memphis and Charleston Railroad. The First Alabama Union Cavalry
started on a raid for Selma, but was routed by the Second Alabama Cavalry.
The Tennessee valley was the highway along which passed and repassed the
Federal armies during the remainder of the war.

During the months of January, February, March, and April, 1864, scouting,
skirmishing, and fighting in north Alabama by Forrest, Roddy, Wheeler,
Johnson, Patterson, and Mead were almost continuous; and Federal raids
were frequent. The Federals called all Confederate soldiers in north
Alabama "guerillas," and treated prisoners as such. The Tennessee valley
had been stripped of troops to send to Johnston's army. In May, 1864, the
Federal General Blair marched through northeast Alabama to Rome, Georgia,
with 10,500 men. Federal gunboats patrolled the river, landing companies
for short raids and shelling the towns. In August there were many raids
and skirmishes in the Tennessee valley. On September 23, Forrest with 4000
men, on a raid to Pulaski, persuaded the Federal commander at Athens that
he had 10,000 men, and the latter surrendered, though in a strong fort
with a thousand men.

Rousseau's Raid

July 10, 1864, General Rousseau started from Decatur, Morgan County, with
2300 men on a raid toward southeast Alabama to destroy the Montgomery and
West Point Railway below Opelika, and thus cut off the supplies coming
from the Black Belt for Johnston's army. General Clanton, who opposed him
with a small force, was defeated at the crossing of the Coosa on July 14;
the iron works in Calhoun County were burned, and the Confederate stores
at Talladega were destroyed. The railroad was reached near Loachapoka in
what is now Lee County, and miles of the track there and above Opelika
were destroyed, and the depots at Opelika, Auburn, Loachapoka, and
Notasulga, all with quantities of supplies, were burned. This was the
first time that central Alabama had suffered from invasion.[85]

In October General Hood marched _via_ Cedartown, Georgia, into Alabama to
Gadsden, thence to Somerville and Decatur, crossing the river near
Tuscumbia on his way to the fatal fields of Franklin and Nashville. "Most
of the fields they passed were covered with briers and weeds, the fences
burned or broken down. The chimneys in every direction stood like quiet
sentinels and marked the site of once prosperous and happy homes, long
since reduced to heaps of ashes. No cattle, hogs, horses, mules, or
domestic fowls were in sight. Only the birds seemed unconscious of the
ruin and desolation which reigned supreme. No wonder that Hood pointed to
the devastation wrought by the invader to nerve his heroes for one more
desperate struggle against immense odds for southern independence."[86] A
few weeks later the wreck of Hood's army was straggling back into north
Alabama, which now swarmed with Federals. Bushwhackers, guerillas, tories,
deserters, "mossbacks," harried the defenceless people of north Alabama
until the end of the war and even after. A few scattered bands of
Confederates made a weak resistance.

The War in South Alabama

To return to south Alabama. During the years 1861 and 1862 the defences of
Mobile were made almost impregnable. They were commanded in turn by
Generals Withers, Bragg, Forney, Buckner, and Maury. The port was
blockaded in 1861, but no attacks were made on the defences until August,
1864, when 15,000 men were landed to besiege Fort Gaines. Eighteen war
vessels under Farragut passed the forts into the bay and there fought the
fiercest naval battle of the war. Admiral Buchanan commanded the
Confederate fleet of four vessels--the _Morgan_, the _Selma_, the
_Gaines_, and the _Tennessee_.[87] The _Tecumseh_ was sunk by a torpedo
in the bay, and Farragut had left 17 vessels, 199 guns, and 700 men
against the Confederates' 22 guns and 450 men. The three smaller
Confederate vessels, after desperate fighting, were riddled with shot; one
was captured, one beached, and one withdrew to the shelter of the forts.
The _Tennessee_ was left, 1 against 17, 6 guns against 200. After four
hours' cannonade from nearly 200 guns, her smoke-stack and steering gear
shot away, her commander (Admiral Buchanan) wounded, one hour after her
last gun had been disabled, the _Tennessee_ surrendered. The Federals lost
52 killed, and 17 wounded, besides 120 lost on the _Tecumseh_. The
_Tennessee_ lost only 2 killed and 9 wounded, the _Selma_ 8 killed and 17
wounded, the _Gaines_ about the same.[88] The fleet now turned its
attention to the forts. Fort Gaines surrendered at once; Fort Morgan held
out. A siege train of 41 guns was placed in position and on August 22
these and the 200 guns of the fleet opened fire. The fort was unable to
return the fire of the fleet, and the sharpshooters of the enemy soon
prevented the use of guns against the shore batteries of the Federals. The
firing was furious; every shell seemed to take effect; fire broke out, and
the garrison threw 90,000 pounds of powder into cisterns to prevent
explosion; the defending force was decimated; the interior of the fort was
a mass of smouldering ruins; there was not a place five feet square not
struck by shells; many of the guns were dismounted. For twenty-four hours
the bombardment continued, the garrison not being able to return the fire
of the besiegers, yet the enemy reported that the garrison was not "moved
by any weak fears." On the morning of August 23, 1864, the fort was
surrendered.[89] Though the outer defences had fallen, the city could not
be taken. The inner defences were strengthened, and were manned with
"reserves,"--boys and old men, fourteen to sixteen, and forty-five to
sixty years of age.

In March, 1865, General Steele advanced from Pensacola to Pollard with
15,000 men, while General Canby with 32,000 moved up the east side of
Mobile Bay and invested Spanish Fort. He sent 12,000 men to Steele, who
began the siege of Blakely on April 2. Spanish Fort was defended by 3400
men, later reduced to 2321, against Canby's 20,000. The Confederate lines
were two miles long. After a twelve days' siege a part of the Confederate
works was captured, and during the next night (April 8), the greater part
of the garrison escaped in boats or by wading through the marshes. Blakely
was defended by 3500 men against Steele's 25,000. After a siege of eight
days the Federal works were pushed near the Confederate lines, and a
charge along the whole three miles of line captured the works with the
garrison (April 9). Three days later batteries Huger and Tracy, defending
the river entrance, were evacuated, and on April 12 the city
surrendered.[90] The state was then overrun from all sides.[91]

Wilson's Raid and the End of the War

During the winter of 1864-1865, General J. H. Wilson gathered a picked
force of 13,500 cavalry, at Gravelly Springs in northwestern Alabama, in
preparation for a raid through central Alabama, the purpose of which was
to destroy the Confederate stores, the factories, mines, and iron works in
that section, and also to create a diversion in favor of Canby at
Mobile.[92] On March 22 he left for the South. There was not a Confederate
soldier within 120 miles; the country was stripped of its defenders. The
Federal army under Wilson foraged for provisions in north Alabama when
they themselves reported people to be starving.[93] To confuse the
Confederates, Wilson moved his corps in three divisions along different
routes. On March 29, near Elyton, the divisions united, and General
Croxton was again detached and sent to burn the University and public
buildings at Tuscaloosa. Driving Roddy before him, Wilson, on March 31,
burned five iron works near Elyton. Forrest collected a motley force to
oppose Wilson. The latter sent a brigade which decoyed one of Forrest's
brigades away into the country toward Mississippi,[94] so that this force
was not present to assist in the defence when, on April 2, Wilson arrived
before Selma with 9000 men. This place, with works three miles long, was
defended by Forrest with 3000 men, half of whom were reserves who had
never been under fire. They made a gallant fight, but the Federals rushed
over the thinly defended works. Forrest and two or three hundred men
escaped; the remainder surrendered. When the Federals entered the city,
night had fallen, and the soldiers plundered without restraint until
morning. Forrest had ordered that all the government whiskey in the city
be destroyed, but after the barrels were rolled into the street the
Confederates had no time to knock in the heads before the city was
captured. The Federals were soon drunk. All the houses in the city were
entered and plundered. A newspaper correspondent who was with Wilson's
army said that Selma was the worst-sacked town of the war. One woman saved
her house from the plunderers by pulling out all the drawers, tearing up
the beds, throwing clothes all over the floor along with dishes and
overturned tables, chairs, and other things. When the soldiers came to the
house, they concluded that others had been there before them and departed.
The outrages, robberies, and murders committed by Wilson's men,
notwithstanding his stringent order against plundering,[95] are almost
incredible. The half cannot be told. The destruction was fearful. The city
was wholly given up to the soldiers, the houses sacked, the women robbed
of their watches, earrings, rings, and other jewellery.[96] The negroes
were pressed into the work of destruction, and when they refused to burn
and destroy, they were threatened with death by the soldiers. Every one
was robbed who had anything worth taking about his person. Even negro men
on the streets and negro women in the houses were searched and their
little money and trinkets taken.[97]

The next day the public buildings and storehouses with three-fourths of
the business part of the town and 150 residences were burned. Three
rolling mills, a large naval foundry, and the navy yard,--where the
_Tennessee_ had been built,--the best arsenal in the Confederacy, powder
works, magazines, army stores, 35,000 bales of cotton, a large number of
cars, and the railroad bridges were destroyed. Before leaving, Wilson sent
men about the town to kill all the horses and mules in Selma, and had 800
of his own worn-out horses shot. The carcasses were left lying in the
roads, streets, and dooryards where they were shot. In a few days the
stench was fearful, and the citizens had to send to all the country around
for teams to drag away the dead animals, which were strewn along the roads
for miles.[98]

Nearly every man of Wilson's command had a canteen filled with jewellery
gathered on the long raid through the richest section of the state. The
valuables of the rich Cane Brake and Black Belt country had been deposited
in Selma for safe-keeping, and from Selma the soldiers took everything
valuable and profitable. Pianos were made into feeding troughs for horses.
The officers were supplied with silver plate stolen while on the raid. In
Russell County a general officer stopped at a house for dinner, and had
the table set with a splendid service of silver plate taken from Selma.
His escort broke open the smoke-house and, taking hams, cut a small piece
from each of them and threw the remainder away. Everything that could be
was destroyed. Soft soap and syrup were poured together in the cellars.
They took everything they could carry and destroyed the rest.

On April 10 Wilson's command started for Montgomery. A negro regiment of
800 men[99] was organized at Selma and accompanied the army, subsisting
on the country. Before reaching Georgia there were several such regiments.
On April 12 Montgomery was surrendered by the mayor. The Confederates had
burned 97,000[100] bales of cotton to prevent its falling into the hands
of the enemy. The captors burned five steamboats, two rolling mills, a
small-arms factory, two magazines of stores, all the rolling stock of the
railways, and the nitre works, the fire spreading also to the business
part of the town.[101] Here, as at Selma, horses, mules, and valuables
were taken by the raiders.

The force was then divided into two columns, one destined for West Point
and the other for Columbus. The last fights on Alabama soil occurred near
West Point on April 16, and at Girard, opposite Columbus, on the same day.
At the latter place immense quantities of stores, that had been carried
across the river from Alabama, were destroyed.[102]

Croxton's force reached Tuscaloosa April 3, and burned the University
buildings, the nitre works, a foundry, a shoe factory, and the Sipsey
cotton mills. After burning these he moved eastward across the state,
destroying iron works, nitre factories, depots, and cotton factories.
Before he reached Georgia, Croxton had destroyed nearly all the iron works
and cotton factories that had been missed by Rousseau and Wilson.[103]

Destruction by the Armies

For three years north Alabama was traversed by the contending armies. Each
burned and destroyed from military necessity and from malice. General
Wilson said that after two years of warfare the valley of the Tennessee
was absolutely destitute.[104] From the spring of 1862 to the close of the
war the Federals marched to and fro in the valley. There were few
Confederate troops for its defence, and the Federals held each community
responsible for all attacks made within its vicinity. It became the custom
to destroy property as a punishment of the people. Much of the
destruction was unnecessary from a military point of view.[105] Athens and
smaller towns were sacked and burned, Guntersville was shelled and burned;
but the worst destruction was in the country, by raiding parties of
Federals and "tories," or "bushwhackers" dressed as Union soldiers.
Huntsville, Florence, Decatur, Athens, Guntersville, and Courtland, all
suffered depredation, robbery, murder, arson, and rapine.[106] The tories
destroyed the railways, telegraph lines, and bridges, and as long as the
Confederates were in north Alabama they had to guard all of these.[107]

Along the Tennessee River the gunboats landed parties to ravage the
country in retaliation for Confederate attacks. In the counties of
Lauderdale, Franklin, Morgan, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, and Jackson
nearly all property was destroyed.[108]

In 1863, a member of Congress from north Alabama tried to get arms from
Bragg for the old men to defend the county against Federal raiders, but
failed, and wrote to Davis that all civilized usages were being
disregarded, women and children turned out and the houses burned, grain
and provisions destroyed, women insulted and outraged, their money,
jewellery, and clothing being stolen.

In December, 1863, General Sherman ordered that all the forage and
provisions in the country around Bridgeport and Bellefont "be collected
and stored, and no compensation be allowed rebel owners." In April, 1864,
General Clanton wrote to Governor Watts that the "Yankees spared neither
age, sex, nor condition." Tories and deserters from the hills made
frequent raids on the defenceless population.

General Dodge reported, May, 1863, that his army had destroyed or carried
off in one raid near Town Creek, "fifteen million bushels of corn, five
hundred thousand pounds of bacon, quantities of wheat, rye, oats, and
fodder, one thousand horses and mules, and an equal number of cattle,
sheep, and hogs, besides thousands that the army consumed in three weeks;
we also brought out fifteen hundred negroes, destroyed five tanyards and
six flouring mills, and we left the country in such a devastated condition
that no crop can be raised during the year;" and nothing was left that
would in the least aid the Confederates. On the night of his retreat Dodge
lit up the Tennessee valley from Town Creek to Tuscumbia with the flames
of burning dwellings, granaries, stables, and fences. In June Colonel
Cornyn reports that in a raid from Corinth to Florence he had destroyed
cotton factories, tanyards, all the corn-cribs in sight, searched every
house in Florence, burned several residences, and carried off 200 mules
and horses.[109] A few days later General Stanley raided from Tennessee to
Huntsville and carried off cattle and supplies, but did not lay waste the
country. General Buell did all that he could to restrain his subordinates,
but often to no avail. After Sherman took charge affairs grew steadily
worse. In a remarkable letter giving his views in the matter he says: "The
government of the United States has in north Alabama any and all rights
which they choose to enforce in war, to take their lives, their houses,
their lands, their everything, because they cannot deny that war exists
there, and war is simply power unrestrained by constitution or compact. If
they want eternal warfare, well and good. We will accept the issue and
dispossess them and put our friends in possession. To those who submit to
the rightful law and authority all gentleness and forbearance, but to the
petulant and persistent secessionists, why, death is mercy and the quicker
he or she is disposed of the better. Satan and the rebellious saint of
heaven were allowed a continuance of existence in hell merely to swell
their just punishment." He referred to the fact that in Europe, whence the
principles of war were derived, wars were between the armies, the people
remaining practically neutral, so that their property remained unmolested.
However, this present war was, he said, between peoples, and the invading
army was entitled to all it could get from the people. He cited as a like
instance the dispossessing of the people of north Ireland during the reign
of William and Mary.[110] After this no restraint on the plundering and
persecution of Confederate non-combatants was even attempted, and hundreds
of families from north Alabama "refugeed" to south Alabama.

General Sherman wrote to one of his generals, "You may send notice to
Florence that if Forrest invades Tennessee from that direction, the town
will be burned; and if it occurs, you will remove the inhabitants north of
the Ohio River and burn the town and Tuscumbia also."[111] All through
this section fences were gone, fields grew up in bushes, and weeds,
residences were destroyed, farm stock had disappeared. People who lived in
the Black Belt report that Wilson's raiders ate up all the cooked
provisions wherever they went, taking all the meat, meal, and flour to
their next camping-place, where they would often throw away wagon loads of
provisions. Frequently the meal and flour that could not be taken was
strewn along the road. The mills were burned, and some families for three
months after the close of the war lived on corn cracked in a mortar. All
the horses and mules were taken; and only a few oxen were left to work the

Governor Parsons said that Wilson's men were a week in destroying the
property around Selma. Three weeks after, as Parsons himself was a
witness, it was with difficulty that one could travel from Planterville to
Selma on account of the dead horses and mules. The night marches of the
enemy in the Black Belt were lighted by the flames of burning houses.
Until this raid only the counties of north Alabama had suffered.[112]

Wilson had destroyed during this raid 2 gunboats; 99,000 small arms and
much artillery; 10 iron works; 7 foundries; 8 machine shops; 5 rolling
mills; the University buildings; many county court-houses and public
buildings; 3 arsenals; a naval foundry and navy yard; 5 steamboats; a
powder magazine and mills; 35 locomotives and 565 cars; 3 large railroad
bridges and many smaller ones; 275,000 bales of cotton; much private
property along the line of march, many magazines of stores; and had
subsisted his army on the country.[113] Trowbridge, who passed through
Alabama in the fall of 1865, said that Wilson's route could be traced by
burnt gin-houses dotting the way.[114] Three other armies marched through
the state in 1865, burning and destroying.

The Federals took horses and mules, cattle and hogs, corn and meat, gold
and silver plate, jewellery, and other valuables. Aged citizens were
tortured by "bummers" to force them to tell of hidden treasure. Some were
swung up by the neck until nearly dead. Straggling bands of Federals
committed depredations over the country. Houses were searched, mattresses
were cut to pieces, trunks, bureaus, wardrobes, and chests were broken
open and their contents turned out. Much furniture was broken and ruined.
Families of women and children were left without a meal, and many homes
were burned. Cattle and stock were wantonly killed. What could not be
carried away was burned and destroyed.[115]

Though two-thirds of the state was untouched by the enemy two months
before the close of hostilities, yet when the surrender came. Alabama was
as thoroughly destroyed as Georgia or South Carolina in Sherman's track.


Alabama Soldiers: Numbers and Character

The exact number of Confederate soldiers enlisted in Alabama cannot be
ascertained. The original records were lost or destroyed, and duplicates
were never completed. There were on the rolls infantry regiments numbered
from 1 to 65, but the 52d and 64th were never organized. Of the 14 cavalry
regiments, numbered from 1 to 12, two organizations were numbered 9. There
was one battalion of artillery, afterwards transferred to the regular
service, and 18 batteries.

In Alabama, as in the other southern states, local pride has placed the
number of troops furnished at a very high figure. Colonel W. H. Fowler,
superintendent of army records, who worked mainly in the Army of Northern
Virginia, estimated the total number of men from Alabama at about 120,000.
Governor Parsons, in his inaugural proclamation, evidently following
Fowler's statistics, placed the number at 122,000,[116] while Colonel M.
V. Moore placed the number at 60,000 to 65,000.[117] General Samuel
Cooper, adjutant and inspector-general of the Confederate States Army,
estimated that not more than 600,000 men in the Confederacy actually bore
arms.[118] This estimate would make the share of Alabama even less than
Colonel Moore estimated. The highest estimates have placed the number at
128,000 and 135,000, but the correct figures are evidently somewhere
between these extremes.[119]

The Superintendent of the Confederate Bureau of Conscription estimated
that according to the census of 1860 there were in Alabama, from 1861 to
1864, 106,000 men between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, and of
these, more than 8000 had been regularly exempted during the year 1864,
all former exemptions having been revoked by act of Congress, February 17,
1864.[120] Livermore's estimate,[121] based on the census of 1860, was:
There were in Alabama (1861) between the ages of eighteen and forty-five,
99,967 men, and in the entire Confederacy there were 265,000 between the
ages of thirteen and sixteen. Of the latter, a rough estimate would place
Alabama's proportion about one-tenth of the whole, that is, about 26,500.
Those men over forty-five who later became liable to military duty he
estimates at 20,000, that is, about 2000 in Alabama. Thus there were in
Alabama, in 1861, not allowing for deaths, 127,467 persons who would
become subject to military service unless exempted. Livermore places the
number of boys from ten to twelve years of age and of men from forty-seven
to fifty, in the Confederacy in 1861, at 300,000, or about 30,000 in
Alabama. These would become liable to service in the state militia before
1865.[122] In 1861 the governor stated that by October 7 there had been
27,000 enlistments in the various organizations. Several of these commands
were enrolled for short terms of three months, six months, or one year.
Before November, 1862, there had been 60,000 enlistments. Included in this
number were several thousand reënlistments and transfers. At the end of
1863, when enlistment and reorganization had practically ceased, there
had been 90,857 enlistments of all kinds from Alabama.[123] For two years
troops were organized in Alabama much faster than they could be supplied
with arms. For months some of the new regiments waited for equipment. Four
thousand men at Huntsville were in service several months before arms
could be procured, and several infantry regiments were drilled as
artillery for a year before muskets were to be had.[124]

Before the close of 1863, Alabama had placed in the Confederate service
about all the men that could be sent. The organization of new regiments by
original enlistment practically ceased with the fall of 1862. In 1863,
only three regiments were thus organized, and two of these were composed
of conscripts and men attracted by the special privileges offered.[125]
The other regiments, formed after the summer of 1862, were made by
consolidating smaller commands that were already in service. The few small
regiments of reserves called out in 1864 and 1865 and given regular
designations saw little or no service. Those few who were made liable to
service by the conscript law and who entered the army at all, as a rule
went as volunteers and avoided the conscript camps. The strength of the
Alabama regiments came from central and south Alabama, for the full
military strength of north Alabama could not be utilized on account of
invasion by the enemy. At first there were many small commands--companies
and battalions--which were raised in a short time and sent at once to the
front before a regimental organization could be effected. Later these were
united to form regiments. Nearly all the higher numbered infantry
regiments and more than half of the cavalry regiments were formed in this
way. The first regiments raised and the strongest in numbers were sent to
Virginia. To these went also the largest number of the recruits secured by
the recruiting officers sent out by the regiments. On an average, about
350 recruits or transfers were secured by each Alabama regiment in
Virginia, though some had almost none. There were numbers of persons who
obtained authority to raise new commands for service near their homes, and
in order to fill the ranks of their regiments and companies they would
offer special inducements of furloughs and home stations. The cavalry and
artillery branches of the service were popular and secured many men needed
in the infantry regiments.[126] Each commander of a separate company or
battalion desired to raise his force to a regiment, and it was to the
interest of the state to have as many organizations as possible in the
field as its quota. A better show was thus made on paper. Such conditions
prevented the recruitment of old regiments, especially those in the armies
that surrendered under Johnston and Taylor. Consequently the regiments in
the Western Army were, as a rule, much smaller than the ones in the Army
of Northern Virginia, to which recruits were sent instead of new

In each infantry and cavalry regiment there were ten companies.[127] The
original strength of each company was from 64 to 100. Later the number was
fixed at 104 to the company for infantry, 72 for cavalry, and 70 in the
artillery. After the formation of new commands had practically ceased, the
number for each company of infantry was raised to 125 men, 150 in the
artillery, and 80 in the cavalry.[128] The original strength of each
infantry regiment was, therefore, from 640 to 1000, not including
officers; of cavalry, 600 to 720. A battery of artillery seems to have had
any number from 70 to 150, though usually the smaller number. The size of
the regiments varied greatly. Colonel Fowler reported that to February 1,
1865, 27,022 men had joined the 20 Alabama regiments in Virginia, an
average of 1351 men to the regiment. Brewer gives the total enrolment of
15 regiments in the Army of Northern Virginia as 21,694, an average of
1446 to the regiment.[129] Four of these regiments had an enrolment of
less than 1200;[130] so it is evident that the other 5, not given by
Brewer, must have averaged about 1265 to the regiment.[131] These numbers
include transfers, details, and reënlistments, the exact number of which
it is impossible to ascertain. Brewer lists the transfers and discharges
from 15 regiments at 4398, an average of 293 each, of which about
one-third seem to have been transfers.[132] There were also many
reënlistments from disbanded organizations.[133] Both Brewer and Fowler
count each enlistment as a different man and arrive at about the same

The enrolment of 8 Alabama regiments in Johnston's army, as given by
Brewer, amounted to 8300, an average to the regiment of 1037.[135] It was
the practice, in 1864 and 1865, to unite two or more weaker regiments into
one. No Alabama regiments in Virginia were so united, and of the 8 in the
Western Army, whose enrolment is given by Brewer, only 1 was afterward
united with another.[136] It would then seem that the enrolment of the
strongest regiments is known.[137] The total number of enlistments in the
Alabama commands in Virginia was, according to Fowler, about 30,000, and
these were in 20 infantry regiments, and a few smaller commands. In the
armies surrendered by Johnston and Taylor there were 38 Alabama infantry
regiments, and 13 of these had been consolidated on account of their small
numbers. Eight of them which remained separate and which must have been
stronger than the ones united had enrolled an average of 1037 (according
to Brewer). Thirty-eight regiments of this strength (which is probably too
large an estimate) would give a total enrolment of 39,406. This number,
added to Fowler's estimate of 27,022 in the Army of Northern Virginia,
will give 66,428 enlistments of all kinds, for the infantry arm of the
service. Add to this 3000 for the 3 regiments of reserves called out in
1864,[138] and the total is 69,428 enlistments in the infantry.

There were 14 cavalry regiments, 7 of which, and possibly more, were
formed by the consolidation of smaller commands already in service. The
cavalry regiments did not enter the service as early as the infantry, only
1 regiment being organized in 1861. The original strength of each
regiment, as has been said, was from 600 to 720. All these regiments
served in the commands surrendered by Johnston and Taylor, where recruits
were scarce, so 1000 to the regiment is a very large estimate of total
enrolment. However, this would give 14,000 in the cavalry regiments.

Of artillery, there were 19 batteries and 1 battalion of 6 batteries,
making 25 batteries in all, with an enrolment ranging from 70 to 150 in
each. A total enrolment of 3750, or 150 to each battery, would be a large

Fowler reported about 3000 enlistments in the various smaller commands
from Alabama in the Army of Northern Virginia.[139] An additional 2000
would more than account for all similar scattering commands in the other

The total enrolment may then be estimated:--

  Army of Northern Virginia (Fowler report)               27,022
  Army of Northern Virginia, scattering (Fowler report)    3,000
  Armies of the West--infantry (estimate)                 39,406
  Armies of the West--cavalry                             14,000
  Scattering                                               2,500
  Artillery                                                3,750

This total includes many transfers and reënlistments, which can be only
roughly estimated. In the Army of Northern Virginia 464 resigned, 245
were retired, 3639 were discharged, 1815 were transferred to other
commands, and 1666 deserted or were unaccounted for. Those who
resigned--as a rule to accept higher positions--reëntered the service.
Almost all of those who retired or were discharged had to enter the
reserves, and many of them again became liable to service. Numbers of
soldiers were accustomed to leave one command and go to another without
any formality of transfer. Deserters who were driven back to the army
nearly always chose to enter other regiments than their own. There were
numbers of transfers from the cavalry to the infantry, for each cavalryman
had to furnish his own horse, and, should it be killed or die and the
soldier be unable to secure another, he was sent to an infantry regiment.
There were also smaller infantry organizations, which were mounted and
merged into the cavalry regiments. Half of the enlistments in the
artillery came from the infantry. One regiment[141] at one time lost 100
men in this way, and it has been estimated that one-fifth of the Alabama
soldiers served in more than one command.[142] Counting each name on the
rolls as one man, as Brewer and Fowler do,[143] it is difficult to see how
more than 90,000 enlistments can be counted, and from this total must be
deducted several thousand for transfers and reënlistments. Miller's
estimate of a deduction of one-fifth for names counted twice would make
the total number of different men about 75,000, which is probably about
the correct number. Not only were the same names counted twice, and even
oftener in different commands, but sometimes in the same companies and
regiments they were counted more than once. It was to the interest of
local and state authorities to have each enlistment counted as a different
man, and this was invariably done.[144] Five of the early regiments were
reorganized and reënlisted, and thus 5000 at least were added to the total
enrolment without securing a single recruit. The three-year regiments
reënlisted in 1864,[145] and here again were extra thousands of
enlistments to be added to the former total. There were also 19 infantry
regiments[146] which were formed by the reorganization of former commands
that had already been counted, and upon reënlistment for the war they were
again counted. In this same way 7 regiments at least of cavalry were
formed.[147] this way it is possible to count up a total enlistment from
Alabama of about 120,000.[148] There is no method which will even
approximate correctness by which the total number of enlistments may be
reduced to enlistments for a certain term, as three years or four years.
The history of every enlistment must first be known.

There were three lieutenant-generals who entered the service in command of
Alabama troops--John B. Gordon, Joseph Wheeler,[149] James
Longstreet[149]; seven major-generals--H. D. Clayton, Jones M.
Withers,[149] E. M. Law, C. M. Wilcox, John H. Forney,[149] W. W. Allen,
R. E. Rodes[147]; and thirty-six brigadier generals--Tennent Lomax,[150]
P. D. Bowles,[149] S. A. M. Wood, E. A. O'Neal, William H. Forney, J. C.
C. Sanders,[149, 150] I. W. Garrott,[150] Archibald Gracie,[149, 150] B.
D. Fry, James Cantey, J. T. Holtzclaw, E. D. Tracy,[150] E. W. Pettus, Z.
C. Deas, G. D. Johnston, C. M. Shelly, Y. M. Moody, Wm. F. Perry, John T.
Morgan, M. H. Hannon, Alpheus Baker, J. H. Clanton, James Hagan, P. D.
Roddy, John Gregg,[150] L. P. Walker, D. Leadbetter,[149, 150] J. H.
Kelley,[149, 150] J. Gorgas, C. A. Battle, John W. Frazer, Alex. W.
Campbell, Thomas M. Jones, M. J. Bulger, John C. Reid, James Deshler.[150]
Other Alabamians exercised commands in the troops of other states, and
several were staff officers of general rank. The naval commanders were
Semmes, Randolph, and Glassell, and a few subordinate officers.[151]

During the early months of 1865 a movement was started to enroll negroes
as Confederate soldiers, and a number of officers, among whom was John T.
Morgan, received permission to raise negro troops. The conference of
governors at Augusta in 1864 recommended the arming of slaves, but
Governor Watts asked the Alabama legislature to disapprove such a
movement.[152] An enthusiastic meeting of citizens, held in Mobile,
February 19, 1865, declared that the war must be prosecuted "to victory or
death," and that 100,000 negroes should be placed in the field.[153] It
was too late, however, for success. Wilson, on his raid, picked up the
Confederate negro troops at Selma, and took them with him.[154] In 1862,
the "Creoles" of Mobile applied for permission to enlist in a body. They
were mulattoes, but were free by the treaties with France in 1803 and with
Spain in 1819, were property holders, often owning slaves, and were an
orderly, respectable class, true to the South and anxious to fight for the
Confederacy. The Secretary of War was not friendly to the proposal, but in
November, 1862, the legislature of Alabama authorized their enlistment for
the defence of Mobile. A year later, at the urgent request of General
Maury, they were received into the Confederate service as heavy

The Alabama troops in the Confederate service made a notably good record.
The flower of the Alabama army served with Lee in Virginia, but nearly as
good were the Alabama troops in the western armies. Brewer says they moved
"high and haughty in the face of death." The regiments of reserves raised
late in the war and stationed within the state were not very good. Yet
there were instances of regiments, with bad reputation when stationed near
home, making splendid records when sent to the front. The spirit of the
troops at the front was high to the last. In 1864 an Alabama regiment
reënlisted for the war, with the oath that they would "live on bread and
go barefoot before they would leave the flag under which they had fought
for three years."[156] On the morning of April 9, 1865, the Sixtieth
Alabama (Hilliard's Legion), then about 165 strong, captured a Federal
battery.[157] Fowler, in his report in 1865, asserts that Alabama sent
more troops into the service than any other state; also that she sent more
troops in proportion to her population than any other state. "I am certain
too," he says, "that when General Lee surrendered his army, the
representation from Alabama on the field that day was inferior to no other
southern state in numbers, and surely not in gallantry."[158]

Union Troops from Alabama

To the Union army Alabama furnished about 3000 regular enlistments. Of
these 2000 were white men. It is not likely that there were many more,
since in 1900 there were in Alabama only 3649 persons, northerners,
negroes, and all, drawing pensions, and some of these on account of the
Indian and Mexican wars.[159] The white Union troops served in the First
Alabama Union Cavalry, in the First Alabama and Tennessee Cavalry (the
First Vedette), Kennamer's Scouts (Cavalry), and in northern
regiments--principally those from Indiana. The report of the Secretary of
War for 1864-1865 says that no white regiments were regularly enlisted in
Alabama for the Union army. But this is evidently not correct, since the
report for 1866 says that there were 2576 enlistments in Alabama for
various periods of service.[160]

Of negro regiments in the Union army, there were the First Alabama
Volunteers, afterward known as the Fifth United States Colored Infantry,
the Second Alabama Volunteers (negroes), and the First Alabama Colored
Artillery, afterward known as the Sixth United States Heavy Artillery,
which served at Fort Pillow. Late in 1864 General Lorenzo Thomas reported
that he had recently organized three regiments of colored infantry in
Alabama, and Wilson organized several other negro regiments in the state
in 1865. Many negroes from north Alabama went into various negro
organizations, and were credited to the northern states, the official
records showing only 4969 negro enlistments credited directly to Alabama.
A conservative estimate would be from 2000 to 2500 whites and 10,000
negroes enlisted in Alabama, not counting those who were enrolled in the
spring of 1865.[161] The white Union soldiers from Alabama were mostly
poor men from the mountain counties of north Alabama. The Union troops
from Alabama received no bounty.[162]

The Militia System

The militia system of Alabama in 1861 existed only in the statute books,
and in the persons of a few brigadiers and a major-general, whose entire
duty had consisted in wearing uniforms at the inauguration of a governor
and ever thereafter bearing military titles. A series of Arabic numbers,
something more than a hundred, was assigned to the militia regiments that
were unorganized, but which, under favorable circumstances, might be
enrolled and called out. The county was the unit. To each county was
assigned one regiment or more according to the white population. Several
counties formed a militia district under a brigadier-general, and over all
was a major-general. Bodies of trained volunteers were not connected with
the militia system at all, but these went at once, on the outbreak of war,
into the state army, which was soon merged into the Confederate army.

In theory the militia consisted of all the male citizens of Alabama of
military age. The enlistments for war service soon reduced the material
from which militia regiments could be formed, and the system broke down
before it was tried. A few regiments may have been enrolled in 1861 and
1862, but if so, they at once entered the Confederate service. The
Forty-eighth Alabama Militia regiment was ordered out to defend Mobile in
1861, and $6000 was appropriated to provide pikes and knives with which to
arm them, as it was impossible to get firearms. On March 1, 1862,
Governor Shorter appealed to the people to give their shotguns, rifles,
bowie-knives, pikes, powder, and lead to state agents, probate judges,
sheriffs, and other state officials for the use of the state militia.[163]
A few days later he ordered out, for the defence of Mobile and the coast,
the militia from the river counties and the southwestern
counties--eighteen counties in all. But the militia failed to appear. It
seems that the governor expected a hearty response from the people. He
asked for too much, and got nothing. On March 12, 1862, he again ordered
out the militia, this time specifying the regiments by number.[164] But
again the militia failed to respond. The fact was, there was no longer any
militia; the officers and men had gone, or were preparing to go, into the
Confederate service. Many of the militia regiments could not have mustered
a dozen men, and it is doubtful if there was a muster-roll of a militia
regiment in all Alabama.[165] In May, 1862, the governor, recognizing that
the militia system was worthless as a means of raising troops for home
defence, issued a proclamation asking the people to form volunteer
organizations. The response, as he said, "was not prompt." The legislature
of that year, not seeing the necessity, refused to reorganize the militia
so as to give the governor any effective control. The people seem not to
have been worried by any fear of invasion, and many thought that
organization into militia companies was merely preliminary to entering the
Confederate service. Some did not wish to go until they had to do so,
others preferred to go at once to the Confederate army. It appears that
all persons, for various reasons, disliked militia service.

December 22, 1862, the governor issued a proclamation, in which, after
mentioning the tardy response to his May proclamation and the failure of
the legislature to reorganize the system, he again asked the people to
volunteer in companies for home defence.[166] He begged the people to
drive those who were shirking service to their duty by the force of public
scorn. He requested that business houses be closed early in order to give
time for drill. The response to this was the same as to his previous
proclamation. There was no longer any material for a militia organization.
Early in 1863, and in some sections even before, the need began to be felt
for a militia force to execute the laws. Under the direction of the
governor, small commands were organized here and there of those who were
not likely to become subject to service in the Confederate army. These
were state and Confederate officials, young boys, and sometimes old men.
These organizations were later a source of constant conflict between the
state authorities and the Confederate enrolling officers, who wanted to
take such commands bodily into the Confederate service, and who usually
did so with the full consent of most of the men and to the great
indignation of the governor.[167] In August, 1863, the legislature finally
passed a law to reorganize the militia system, or rather to establish a
new system. By the law an official in each county, appointed by the
governor, was to enroll as first-class militia all males under seventeen
and over forty-five years of age, including all state and Confederate
civil officials, and those physically disqualified for service in the
Confederate army. The second class was to consist of those not in the
first class, that is, of men between seventeen and forty-five years of
age. But men of the second class were subject to enrolment by Confederate
conscript officers, and consisted of the few thousand who were specially
exempted by the Confederate authorities. Those of the first class who
wished to do so might enroll in the second class. The governor was given
the usual power over the militia, but it was ordered that the first-class
militia was not to go beyond the limits of the county to which it
belonged.[168] Presumably the second class might be ordered beyond the
county limits, but there were so few in their class that they were not
organized. The first-class militia in each county was under a commandant
of reserves, militia now being called reserves. He had the power to call
it out to repel invasion and execute the laws. Jealousy of Confederate
authority had caused the legislature to take legal means of making the
militia worthless to the Confederacy, and useful only for local defence
and for executing the state laws in particular localities.[169] Still,
the system seems to have been practically useless, and the governor
continued to organize small irregular commands to execute the laws and to
furnish military escorts to civil officials. As has been stated, such
commands were highly approved of by the Confederate enrolling officers,
who eagerly persuaded them to join the Confederate army, and thus called
forth strong remonstrances from Governor Watts. The War Department
reasoned that a state could keep troops of war which were not subject to
absorption in the Confederate service, but that the militia were subject
to the superior claims of the Confederacy.[170] February 6, 1864, Governor
Watts, in an address to the people, declared that a raid into the state
was threatened and called upon young and old to volunteer for the defence
of the state.[171] The reserve system was now worthless. Few of the
regiments had more than fifty men, many had none, and the governor was
powerless to use them beyond the limits of their respective counties. The
state was at the mercy of any invading force, and Rousseau's Raid, through
the heart of the state, showed the woful condition of affairs. On October
7, 1864, the legislature passed an act which prohibited Confederate army
officers from commanding the reserves. It was again ordered that the
first-class reserves should not serve beyond the limits of the county to
which they belonged. At the same time, permission was granted to the
harassed citizens of Dale and Henry counties to organize themselves to
protect their homes, provided they did so under the direction of the
commandant of the first-class militia. Perhaps the legislature was afraid
that, if left to themselves, they might cross the county line, or choose a
Confederate officer to lead them. In December, 1864, when north Alabama
was almost entirely overrun by tories, deserters, and Federals, the
citizens of Marion County were authorized to organize into squads and
protect themselves.[172] Still the legislature refused to make an
effective reorganization of the militia. When the spring campaign in 1865
began, Governor Watts appealed to the people to do what the legislature
had failed to do. The first-class militia could not, he said, be ordered
beyond the limits of their counties, and in three congressional districts
in north Alabama it had not been and, by law, could not be, organized. He
estimated that 30,000 men were enrolled in the first-class militia, of
whom 4000 were boys, and to the latter he made the appeal to defend the
state. Evidently the remaining 26,000 men were, in his estimation, not
worth much as soldiers. However, he called upon all first-class militia to
volunteer as second class.[173] A few hundred responded to this appeal,
and all of them who saw active service were with Forrest in front of

The various organizations mentioned in the War Records, the Junior
Reserves, Senior Reserves, Mobile Regiment, Home Guards, Local Defence
Corps,[174] and others, were, except the reserves, volunteer organizations
for local defence, and all that saw active service before 1865, except the
Home Guards, were absorbed into the Confederate organization.[175] The
stupid conduct of the legislature during the last two years of the war in
failing to provide for the defence of the state cannot be too strongly
condemned. The final result would have been the same, but a strong force
of militia would have enabled Governor Watts to execute the laws in all
parts of the state, and to protect the families of loyal citizens from
outrage by tories and deserters.


Confederate Enrolment Laws

In the spring of 1862, the Confederate Congress passed the Enrolment Act,
by which all white men between the ages of eighteen and thirty-five were
made liable to military service at the call of the President, and those
already in service were retained. The President was authorized to employ
state officials to enroll the men made subject to duty, provided the
governor of the state gave his consent; otherwise he was to employ
Confederate officials. The conscripts thus secured were to be assigned to
the state commands already in the field until these organizations were
recruited to their full strength. Substitutes were allowed under such
regulations as the Secretary of War might prescribe.[176] Five days
later, a law was passed exempting certain classes of persons from the
operations of the Enrolment Act. These were: Confederate and state
officials, mail-carriers, ferrymen on post-office routes, pilots,
telegraph operators, miners, printers, ministers, college professors,
teachers with twenty pupils or more, teachers of the deaf, dumb, and
blind, hospital attendants, one druggist to each drug store, and
superintendents and operatives in cotton and wool factories.[177] In the
fall of 1862, the Enrolment law was extended to include all white men from
thirty-five to forty-five years of age and all who lacked a few months of
being eighteen years of age. They were to be enrolled for three years, the
oldest, if not needed, being left until the last.[178]

At this time was begun the practice, which virtually amounted to
exemption, of making special details from the army to perform certain
kinds of skilled labor. The first details thus made were to manufacture
shoes for the army.[179] The list of those who might claim exemption, in
addition to those named in the act of April 21, 1862, was extended to
include the following: state militia officers, state and Confederate
clerks in the civil service, railway employees who were not common
laborers, steamboat employees, one editor and the necessary printers for
each newspaper, those morally opposed to war, provided they furnished a
substitute or paid $500 into the treasury, physicians, professors, and
teachers who had been engaged in the profession for two years or more,
government artisans, mechanics, and other employees, contractors and their
employees furnishing arms and supplies to the state or to the Confederacy,
factory owners, shoemakers, tanners, blacksmiths, wagon makers, millers,
and engineers. The artisans and manufacturers were granted exemption from
military service provided the products of their labor were sold at not
more than seventy-five per cent profit above the cost of production. On
every plantation where there were twenty or more negroes one white man was
entitled to exemption as overseer.[180]

In the spring of 1863 mail contractors and drivers of post-coaches were
exempted;[181] and it was ordered that those exempted under the so-called
"twenty-negro" law should pay $500 into the Confederate treasury; also,
that such state officials as were exempted by the governor might be also
exempted by the Confederate authorities. The law permitting the hiring of
substitutes by men liable to service was repealed on December 28, 1863,
and a few days later even those who had furnished substitutes were made
subject to military duty.[182]

A law of February 17, 1864,[183] provided that all soldiers between the
ages of eighteen and forty-five should be retained in service during the
war. Those between the ages of seventeen and eighteen, and forty-five and
fifty were called into service as a reserve force for the defence of the
state. All exemptions were repealed except the following: (1) the members
of Congress and of the state legislature, and such Confederate and state
officers as the President or the governors might certify to be necessary
for the proper administration of government; (2) ministers regularly
employed, superintendents, attendants, and physicians of asylums for the
deaf, dumb, and blind, insane, and other public hospitals, one editor for
each newspaper, public printers, one druggist for each drug store which
had been two years in existence, all physicians who had practised seven
years, teachers in colleges of at least two years' standing and in schools
which had twenty pupils to each teacher; (3) one overseer or agriculturist
to each farm upon which were fifteen or more negroes, in case there was no
other exempt on the plantation. The object was to leave one white man, and
no more, on each plantation, and the owner or overseer was preferred. In
return for such exemption, the exempt was bound by bond to deliver to the
Confederate authorities, for each slave on the plantation between the ages
of sixteen and fifty, one hundred pounds of bacon or its equivalent in
produce, which was paid for by the government at prices fixed by the
impressment commissioners. In addition, the exempt was to sell his surplus
produce at prices fixed by the commissioners. The Secretary of War was
authorized to make special details, under the above conditions, of
overseers, farmers, or planters, if the public good demanded it; also (4)
to exempt the higher officials of railroads and not more than one employee
for each mile of road; and (5) mail carriers and drivers. The President
was authorized to make details of old men for special service.[184] By an
act passed the same day free negroes from eighteen to fifty years of age
were made liable to service with the army as teamsters. These acts of
February 17, 1864, were the last Confederate legislation of importance in
regard to conscription and exemption. During the year 1864 the Confederate
authorities devoted their energies to construing away all exemptions
possible, and to absorbing the state reserve forces into the Confederate

Policy of the State in Regard to Conscription

To return to 1861. The state legislature, when providing for the state
army, authorized the governor to exempt from militia duty all railway,
express, steamboat, and telegraph employees, but even the fire companies
had to serve as militia.[185] The operation of the enrolment law stripped
the land of men of militia age, and on November 17, 1862, the legislature
ordered to duty on the public roads men from sixteen to eighteen years of
age, and forty-five to fifty-five, and later all from sixteen to fifty as
well as all male slaves and free negroes from fourteen to sixty years of
age.[186] Militia officers between the ages of eighteen and forty-five
were declared subject to the enrolment acts of Congress,[187] as were also
justices of the peace, notaries public, and constables.[188]

Yet, instead of making an effective organization of the militia, the
legislature in 1863 proceeded to frame a law of exemptions patterned after
that of the Confederacy. It released from militia duty all persons over
forty-five years of age, county treasurers, physicians of seven years'
practice or who were in the public service, ministers, teachers of three
years' standing, one blacksmith in each beat, the city police and fire
companies, penitentiary guards, general administrators who had been in
service five years, Confederate agents, millers, railroad employees,
steamboat officials, overseers, managers of foundries, salt makers who
made as much as ten bushels a day and who sold it for not more than $15
per bushel. Besides, the governor could make special exemptions.[189] In
1864 millers who charged not more than one-eighth for toll were
exempted.[190] It will be seen that in some respects the state laws go
farther in exemption than the Confederate laws, and thus were in conflict
with them. But it must be remembered that the Confederacy had already
stripped the country of nearly all the able-bodied men who did not evade
duty. To this time, however, there was no conflict between the state and
Confederate authorities in regard to conscription. An act was also passed
providing for the reorganization of the penitentiary guards, and only
those not subject to conscription were retained.[191] A joint resolution
of August 29, 1863, called upon Congress to decrease the list of
exemptions, as many clerks and laborers were doing work that could be done
by negroes. At the end of the year 1863 the legislature asked that the
conscript law be strictly enforced by Congress.[192]

On the part of the state rights people, there was much opposition to the
enrolment or conscription laws on the ground that they were
unconstitutional. Several cases were brought before the state supreme
court, and all were decided in favor of the constitutionality of the laws;
furthermore, it was decided that the courts and judicial officers of the
state had no jurisdiction on _habeas corpus_ to discharge from the custody
of a Confederate enrolling officer persons who had been conscripted under
the law of Congress.[193] A test case was carried to the state supreme
court, which decided that a person who had conscientious scruples against
bearing arms might pay for a substitute in the state militia and claim
exemption from state service, but if conscripted he was not exempted
from the Confederate service unless he belonged to the religious
denominations specially exempted by the act of Congress.[194] The court
also declared constitutional the Confederate law which provided that when
a substitute became subject to military duty his principal was thereby
rendered liable to service.[195] In 1864 the supreme court held that the
state had a right to subject to militia service persons exempted by the
Confederate authorities as bonded agriculturists under the acts of
February 17, 1864, and that only those overseers were granted exemption
from militia service under the act of Congress in 1863 who at the time
were not subject to militia duty, and not those exempted from Confederate
service by the later laws,[196] and that the clause in the act of Congress
passed February 17, 1864, repealing and revoking all exemptions, was
constitutional.[197] In other cases the court held that a person regularly
enrolled and sworn into the Confederate service could not raise any
question, on _habeas corpus_, of his assignment to any particular command
or duty,[198] but that the state courts could discharge on _habeas corpus_
from Confederate enrolling officers persons held as conscripts, who were
exempted under Confederate laws;[199] that the Confederacy might reassert
its rights to the military service of a citizen who was enrolled as a
conscript and, after producing a discharge for physical disability, had
enlisted in the state militia service;[200] and finally, that the right of
the Confederacy to the military service of a citizen was paramount to the
right of the state.[201]

[Illustration: THE FIRST CONFEDERATE CAPITOL. The State Capitol,




During the year 1864 Governor Watts had much trouble with the Confederate
enrolling officers who insisted upon conscripting his volunteer and
militia organizations, whether they were subject to duty under the laws or
not. The authorities at Richmond held that while a state might keep
"troops of war" over which the Confederacy could have no control, yet the
state militia was subject to all the laws of Congress. "Troops of war," as
the Secretary of War explained, would be troops in active and permanent
service,[202] and hence virtually Confederate troops. A state with troops
of that description would be very willing to give them up to the
Confederacy to save expense. Thus we find the legislature of Alabama
asking the President to receive and pay certain irregular organizations
which had been used to support the Conscript Bureau.[203] The legislature,
now somewhat disaffected, showed its interest in the operations of the
enrolling officers by an act providing that conscript officials who forced
exempts into the Confederate service should be liable to indictment and
punishment by a fine of $1000 to $6000 and imprisonment of from six months
to two years.[204] It went a step further and nullified the laws of
Congress by declaring that state officials, civil and military, were not
subject to conscription by the Confederate authorities.[205]

Effect of the Enrolment Laws

Few good soldiers were obtained by conscription,[206] and the system, as
it was organized in Alabama,[207] did more harm than good to the
Confederacy. The passage of the first law, however, had one good effect.
During the winter of 1861-1862, there had been a reaction from the
enthusiastic war feeling of the previous summer. Those who thought it
would be only a matter of weeks to overrun the North now saw their
mistake.[208] Many of the people still had no doubt that the North would
be glad to make peace and end the war if the government at Richmond were
willing. Numbers, therefore, saw no need of more fighting, and hence did
not volunteer. Thousands left the army and went home. A measure like the
enrolment act was necessary to make the people realize the actual
situation. Upon the passage of the law all the loyal population liable to
service made preparations to go to the front before being conscripted,
which was deemed a disgrace, and the close of the year 1862 saw
practically all of them in the army. Those who entered after 1862 were
boys and old men.[209] Many not subject to service volunteered, so that
when the age limit was extended but few more were secured.

Great dissatisfaction was expressed among the people at the enrolment law.
Some thought that it was an attack upon the rights of the states, and the
irritating manner in which it was enforced aroused, in some localities,
intense popular indignation. Conscription being considered disgraceful,
many who would have been glad for various good reasons to remain at home a
few months longer went at once into service to escape conscription. Yet
some loyal and honest citizens found it disastrous to leave their homes
and business without definite arrangements for the safety and support of
their families. Such men suffered much annoyance from the enrolling
officers, in spite of the fact that the law was intended for their
protection. The conscript officials, often men of bad character,
persecuted those who were easy to find, while neglecting the disloyal and
refractory who might make trouble for them. In some sections such weak
conduct came near resulting in local insurrections; this was especially
the case in Randolph County in 1862.[210] The effect of the law was rather
to stop volunteering in the state organizations and reporting to camps of
instructions, since all who did either were classed as conscripts. Not
wishing to bear the odium of being conscripted, many thousands in 1862 and
1863 went directly into the regular service.[211]

While the conscript law secured few, if any, good soldiers who would not
have joined the army without it, it certainly served as a reminder to the
people that all were needed, and as a stimulus to volunteering. Three
classes of people suffered from its operations: (1) those rightfully
exempted, who were constantly annoyed by the enrolling officers; (2) those
soon to become liable to service, who were not allowed to volunteer in
organizations of their own choice; and (3) "deadheads" and malcontents who
did not intend to fight at all if they could keep from it. It was this
last class that made nearly all the complaints about conscription, and it
was they whom the enrolling officers left alone because they were so

The defects in the working of conscription are well set forth in a letter
from a correspondent of President Davis in December, 1862. In this letter
it was asserted that the conscript law had proven a failure in Mississippi
and Alabama, since it had stopped the volunteering. Governor Shorter was
reported to have said that the enforcement of it had been "a humbug and a
farce." The writer declared that the enrolling officers chosen were
frequently of bad character; that inefficient men were making attempts to
secure "bomb-proof" offices in order to avoid service in the army; and
that the exemption of slave owners by the "twenty-negro law" had a bad
influence upon the poorer classes. He also declared that the system of
substitutes was bad, for many men were on the hunt for substitutes, and
others liable to duty were working to secure exemptions in order to serve
as substitutes, while large numbers of men connected with the army managed
in this way to keep away from the fighting. He was sure, he said, that
there were too many hangers-on about the officers of high rank, and that
it was believed that social position, wealth, and influence served to get
young men good staff positions.[212] Another evil complained of was that
"paroled" men scattered to their homes and never heard of their exchange.
To a conscript officer whose duty it was to look after them they said that
they were "paroled," and he passed them by. The officers were said to be
entirely too lenient with the worthless people and too rigorous with the
better classes.[213]

Exemption from Service

After the passage of the enrolment laws, every man with excessive regard
for the integrity of his person and for his comfort began to secure
exemption from service. In north Alabama men of little courage and
patriotism lost confidence after the invasions of the Federals, and
resorted to every expedient to escape conscription. Strange and terrible
diseases were developed, and in all sections of the state health began to
break down.[214] It was the day of certificates,--for old age, rheumatism,
fits, blindness, and various physical disabilities.[215] Various other
pretexts were given for staying away from the army, while some men hid
out in the woods. The governor asked the people to drive such persons to
their duty.[216] There was never so much skilled labor in the South as
now. Harness making, shoe making, charcoal burning, carpentering--all
these and numerous other occupations supposed to be in support of the
cause secured exemption. Running a tanyard was a favorite way of escaping
service. A pit was dug in the corner of the back yard, a few hides
secured, carefully preserved, and never finished,--for more hides might
not be available; then the tanner would be no longer exempt. There were
purchasing agents, sub-purchasing agents, and sub-sub-agents, cattle
drivers, tithe gatherers, agents of the Nitre Bureau, agents to examine
political prisoners,[217] and many other Confederate and state agents of
various kinds.[218] The class left at home for the enrolling officers to
contend with, especially after 1862, was a source of weakness, not of
strength, to the Confederate cause. The best men had gone to the army, and
these people formed the public. Their opinion was public opinion, and with
few exceptions the home stayers were a sorry lot. From them came the
complaint about the favoritism toward the rich. The talk of a "rich man's
war and a poor man's fight" originated with them, as well as the
criticism of the "twenty-negro law." In the minds of the soldiers at the
front there was no doubt that the slaveholder and the rich man were doing
their full share.[219]

Very few of the slaveholders and wealthy men tried to escape service; but
when one did, he attracted more attention and called forth sterner
denunciation than ten poor men in similar cases would have done. In fact,
few able-bodied men tried to secure exemption under the "twenty-negro
law." It would have been better for the Confederacy if more planters had
stayed at home to direct the production of supplies, and the fact was
recognized in 1864,[220] when a "fifteen-negro law" was passed by the
Congress, and other exemptions of planters and overseers were

There is no doubt that those who desired to remain quietly at home--to be
neutral, so to speak--found it hard to evade the conscript officers. One
of these declared that the enrolling officers "burned the woods and sifted
the ashes for conscripts." Another who had been caught in the sifting
process deserted to the enemy at Huntsville. He was asked, "Do they
conscript close over the river?" "Hell, stranger, I should think they do;
they take every man who has not been dead more than two days."[222] But
the "hill-billy" and "sand-mountain" conscripts were of no service when
captured; there were not enough soldiers in the state to keep them in
their regiments. The Third Alabama Regiment of Reserves ran away almost in
a body. There were fifteen or twenty old men in each county as a
supporting force to the Conscript Bureau, and they had old guns, some of
which would not shoot, and ammunition that did not fit.[223] Thus the best
men went into the army, many of them never to return, and a class of
people the country could well have spared survived to assist a second time
in the ruin of their country in the darker days of Reconstruction. Often
the "fire-eating, die-in-the-last-ditch" radical of 1861 who remained at
home "to take care of the ladies" became an exempt, a "bomb-proof" or a
conscript officer, and later a "scalawag."

Some escaped war service by joining the various small independent and
irregular commands formed for frontier service by those officers who found
field duty too irksome. Though these irregular bodies were, as we have
seen, gradually absorbed by the regular organizations, yet during their
day of strength they were most unpleasant defenders. The men sometimes
joined in order to have more opportunity for license and plunder, and such
were hated alike by friend and foe.

Another kind of irregular organization caused some trouble in another way.
Before the extension of the age limits to seventeen and fifty, the
governor raised small commands of young boys to assist in the execution of
the state laws, no other forces being available. Later, when the
Confederate Congress extended its laws to include these, the conscript
officers tried to enroll them, but the governor objected. The officers
complained that, in order to escape the odium of conscription, the young
boys who were subject by law to duty in the reserves evaded that law by
going at once into the army, or by joining some command for special duty.
They were of the opinion that these boys should be sent to camps of
instruction. The governor had ten companies of young men under eighteen
years of age raised near Talladega, and really mustered into the
Confederate service as irregular troops, before the law of February 17,
1864, was passed. After the passage of the law, the enrolling officers
wished to disband these companies and send the men to the reserves. Watts
was angered and sharply criticised the whole policy of conscription. He
said that much harm was done by the method of the conscript officers; that
it was nonsense to take men from the fields and put them in camps of
instruction when there were no arms for them, and no active service was
intended; they had better stay at home, drill once a week with volunteer
organizations, and work the rest of the time; to assemble the farmers in
camps for useless drill while the crops were being destroyed was "most
egregious folly." The governor also attacked the policy of the Bureau in
refusing to allow the enrolment in the same companies of boys under
eighteen and men over forty-five.[224] In regard to the attempts to
disband his small force of militia in active service, the governor used
strong language. To Seddon, the Secretary of War, he wrote in May, 1864:
"It must not be forgotten that the states have some rights left, and that
the right to troops in the time of war is guaranteed by the Constitution.
These rights, on the part of Alabama, I am determined shall be respected.
Unless you order the Commandant of Conscripts to stop interfering with
[certain volunteer companies] there will be a conflict between the
Confederate general [Withers] and the state authorities."[225] Watts
carried the day and the Confederate authorities yielded.

The enrolment law provided that state officials should be exempt from
enrolment upon presenting a certificate from the governor stating that
they were necessary to the proper administration of the government. In
November, 1864, Governor Watts complained to General Withers, who
commanded the Confederate reserve forces in Alabama, that the conscript
officers had been enrolling by force state officials who held certificates
from the governor and also from the commandant of conscripts, and, he
added: "This state of things cannot long last without a conflict between
the Confederate and state authorities. I shall be compelled to protect my
state officers with all the forces of the state at my command." The
enrolling officers referred him to a decision of the Secretary of War in
the case of a state official in Lowndes County,--that by the act of
February 17, 1864, all men between the ages of seventeen and fifty were
taken at once into the Confederate service, and that state officials
elected later could not claim exemption. Governor Watts then wrote to
Seddon, "Unless you interfere, there will be a conflict between the
Confederate and the state authorities." He denied the right of Confederate
officers to conscript state officials elected after February 17, 1864: "I
deny such right, and will resist it with all the forces of the
state."[226] The Secretary of War replied by commending the Confederate
officers for the way in which they had done their duty, insisting that it
was not a political nor a constitutional question, but one involving
private rights, and that it should be left to the courts. This was
receding from the confident ruling made in the case of the Lowndes County
man. There was no more dispute and it is to be presumed that the governor
retained his officials.[227] No wonder that Colonel Preston, the chief of
the Bureau of Conscription, wrote to the Secretary of War that, "from one
end of the Confederacy to the other every constituted authority, every
officer, every man, and woman was engaged in opposing the enrolling
officer in the execution of his duties."[228]

But these officers had only themselves to blame. They pursued a
short-sighted, nagging policy, worrying those who were exempt--the state
officials and the militia--because they were easy to reach, and neglecting
the real conscript material.[229] The work was known to be useless, and
the whole system was irritating to the last degree to all who came in
contact with it. It was useless because there was little good material for
conscription, except in the frontier country where no authority could be
exerted. During 1862 and 1863 practically nothing was done by the Bureau
in Alabama, and at the end of the latter year, Colonel E. D. Blake, the
Superintendent of Special Registration, reported that there were 13,000
men in the state between the ages of seventeen and forty-five, and of
these he estimated 4000 were under eighteen years of age, and hence, at
that time, beyond the reach of the enrolling officers. More than 8000[230]
were exempt under laws and orders. This left, he said, 1000 subject to
enrolment. Nowhere, in any of the estimates, are found allowances for
those physically and mentally disqualified. The number then exempted in
Alabama by medical boards is unknown. In other states this number was
sometimes more and sometimes less than the number exempted by law and by

A year later, after all exemptions had been revoked, the number
disqualified for physical disability by the examining boards amounted to
3933. Besides these there were the lame, the halt, the blind, and the
insane, who were so clearly unfit for service that no enrolling officer
ever brought them before the medical board. The 4000 between the ages of
seventeen and eighteen, and also the 4600 between sixteen and seventeen,
came under the enrolment law of February 17, 1864, as also several
thousand who were over forty-five. But it is certain that many of these,
especially the younger ones, were already in the general service as
volunteers. It is also certain that many hundreds of all ages who were
liable to service escaped conscription, especially in north Alabama. In a
way, their places in the ranks were filled by those who did not become
liable to enrolment until 1864, or even not at all, but who volunteered

From April, 1862, to February, 1865, there had been enrolled at the camps
in Alabama 14,875 men who had been classed in the reports as conscripts.
This included all men who volunteered at the camps, all of military age
that the officers could find or catch before they went into the volunteer
service, details made as soon as enrolled, irregular commands formed
before the men were liable to duty, and a few hundred genuine conscripts
who had to be guarded to keep them from running away. It was reported that
for two years not a recruit was sent by the Bureau from Alabama to the
army of Tennessee or to the Army of Northern Virginia, but that the men
were enrolled in the organizations of the state. This means that much of
the enrolment of 14,875 was only nominal, and that this number included
the regiments sent to the front from Alabama in 1862, after the passage of
the Enrolment Act in April. Eighteen regiments were organized in Alabama
after that date, in violation of the Enrolment Act, many of the men
evading conscription, as the Bureau reported, by going at once into the
general service. The number who left in these regiments was estimated at
more than 10,000.[231] There was not a single conscript regiment.

It is possible to ascertain the number exempted by law and by order before
1865. A report by Colonel Preston, dated April, 1864, gives the number of
exempts in Alabama as 8835 to January, 1864.[232] A month later, all
exemptions were revoked.[233] In February, 1865, a complete report places
the total number exempted by law and order in Alabama at 10,218, of whom
3933 were exempted by medical boards. The state officials exempted
numbered 1333,[234] and Confederate officials, 21; ministers, 726;
editors, 33, and their employees, 155; public printers, 3; druggists, 81;
physicians, 796; teachers, 352; overseers and agriculturists, 1447;
railway officials and employees, 1090; mail carriers and contractors, 60;
foreigners, 167; agriculture details, 38; pilots, telegraphers,
shoemakers, tanners, and blacksmiths, 86; government contractors, 44;
details of artisans and mechanics, 570; details for government service
(not specified), 218. There were 1046 men incapable of field service who
were assigned to duty in the above details, chiefly in the Conscript
Bureau, Quartermaster's Department, and Commissariat.[235] It is certain
that many others were exempted by being detailed from service in the army.
The list of those pardoned in 1865 and 1866 by President Johnson shows
many occupations not mentioned above.

It is interesting to notice the fate of the conscript officers when
captured by the Federals. Bradford Hambrick was tried by a military
commission in Nashville, Tennessee, in January, 1864, charged with being a
Confederate conscript officer and with forcing "peaceable citizens of the
United States" in Madison County, Alabama, to enter the Confederate army.
He was convicted and sentenced to imprisonment at hard labor for one year,
and to pay a fine of $2000 or serve an additional imprisonment of 1000

To sum up: The early enrolment laws served to stimulate enlistment; the
later ones probably had no effect at all except to give the Bureau
something to do, and the law officers something on which to exercise their
wits. The conscript service also served as an exemption board. It secured
few, if any, enlistments that the state could not have secured, and
certainly lost more than it gained by harassing the people. The laws were
constantly violated by the state; this is proved by the enlistment of
eighteen new regiments contrary to the law. It finally drove the state
authorities into an attitude of nullification by its construction of the
enrolment laws.

Neither the state nor the Confederate government had an efficient
machinery for securing enlistments. If there ever were laws regarded only
in the breaking, the Enrolment Acts were such laws. The conscripts and
exempts, like the deserters, tories, and Peace Society men, are important,
not only because they so weakened the Confederacy, but also because they
formed the party that would have carried out, or at least begun,
Reconstruction according to the plans of Lincoln and Johnson as first
proclaimed. Many of these people became "scalawags" later, probably
influenced to some extent by the scorn of their neighbors.


In Alabama opposition to the Confederate government took two forms. One
was the rebellious opposition of the so-called "unionists" or "tories,"
who later joined with the deserters from the army; the other was the legal
or constitutional opposition of the old coöperation or anti-secession
party, which maintained an unfriendly attitude toward the Confederate
administration, though the great majority of its members were loyal to the
southern cause. From this second class arose a so-called "Peace Party,"
which desired to end the war on terms favorable to the South; and from
this, in turn, when later it was known that such terms could not be
secured, sprang the semi-treasonable secret order--the "Peace Society." In
1864, the "tories" and the Peace Society began to work together. Peculiar
social and political conditions will in part account for the strength and
growth of the opposition in two sections of the state far removed from
each other--in north Alabama and in southeast Alabama.

Conditions in North Alabama

To the convention of 1861 forty-four members from north Alabama were
elected as coöperationists, that is, in favor of a union of the southern
states, within the old Union, for the purpose of securing their rights
under the Constitution or of securing safe secession. They professed to be
afraid of separate state secession as likely to lead to disintegration and
war. Thirty-one of these coöperationists voted against the ordinance of
secession, and twenty-four of them (mostly members from the northern hill
counties) refused to sign the ordinance, though all expressed the
intention to submit to the will of the majority, and to give the state
their heartiest support. When war came all espoused the Confederate
cause.[237] The coöperationist party as a whole supported the Confederacy
faithfully, though nearly always in a more or less disapproving spirit
toward the administration, both state and Confederate.

North Alabama differed from other portions of the state in many ways.
There was no railroad connecting the country north of the mountains with
the southern part of the state, and from the northern counties it was a
journey of several days to reach the towns in central and south Alabama.
Hence there was little intercourse between the people of the two sections,
though the seat of government was in the central part of the state; even
to-day the intimacy is not close. For years it had been a favorite scheme
of Alabama statesmen to build railroads and highways to connect more
closely the two sections.[238] Geographically, this northern section of
the state belonged to Tennessee. The people were felt to be slightly
different in character and sympathies from those of central and south
Alabama, and whatever one section favored in public matters was usually
opposed by the other. Even in the northern section the population was more
or less divided. The people of the valley more closely resembled the west
Tennesseeans, the great majority of them being planters, having little in
common with the small farmers of the hill and mountain country, who were
like the east Tennesseeans. Of the latter the extreme element was the
class commonly known as "mountain whites" or "sand-mountain" people. These
were the people who gave so much trouble during the war, as "tories," and
from whom the loyal southerners of north Alabama suffered greatly when the
country was stripped of its men for the armies. Yet it can hardly be said
that they exercised much influence on politics before the war. Their only
representative in the convention of 1861 was Charles Christopher Sheets,
who did not speak on the floor of the convention during the entire

[Illustration: DISAFFECTION, 1801-1865]

On the part of all in the northern counties there was a strong desire for
delay in secession, and they were angered at the action of the convention
in not submitting the ordinance to a popular vote for ratification or
rejection. Many thought the course taken indicated a suspicion of them or
fear of their action, and this they resented. Their leaders in the
convention expressed the belief that the ordinance would have easily
obtained a majority if submitted to the popular vote.[239] Much of the
opposition to the ordinance of secession was due to the vague sectional
dislike between the two parts of the state. It was felt that the ordinance
was a south Alabama measure, and this was sufficient reason for opposition
by the northern section. Throughout the entire session a local sectional
spirit dictated their course of obstruction.[240] In January and February
of 1861, there was some talk among the discontented people of seceding
from secession, of withdrawing the northern counties of Alabama and
uniting with the counties of east Tennessee to form a new state, which
should be called Nick-a-Jack, an Indian name common in East
Tennessee.[241] Geographically, this proceeding would have been correct,
since these two parts of the country are closely connected, the people
were alike in character and sentiment, and the means of intercourse were
better. The people of the valley and many others, however, had no sympathy
with this scheme. Lacking the support of the politicians and no leaders
appearing, the plan was abandoned after the proclamation of Lincoln, April
10, 1861. Had the war been deferred a few months, it is almost certain
that the discontented element of the population would have taken positive
steps to embarrass the administration; many believed that reconstruction
would take place. Only after four years of war was there after this any
appreciable number of the people willing to listen again to such a
proposition. In February, 1861, Jeremiah Clemens wrote that Yancey had
been burned in effigy in Limestone County (something that might have
happened at any time between 1845 and 1861); that some discontent still
existed among the people, but that this was daily growing weaker, and
unless something were done to excite it afresh, it would soon die
out.[242] Mr. John W. DuBose, a keen observer from the Cotton Belt,
travelled on horseback through the northern hill counties during the
winter of 1861 and 1862 as a Confederate recruiting officer. Thus he came
into close contact with all classes of people, eating at their tables,
sleeping in their beds, and in conversation learning their opinions and
sentiments on public matters. He saw no man, he says, who was not devoted
to the Confederacy. Several of the first and best volunteer regiments came
from this section of the state, and in these regiments there were whole
companies of men none of whom owned a slave. In order to preserve this
spirit of loyalty in those who had been opposed to the policy of
secession, Yancey and others, after the outbreak of the war, recommended a
prompt invasion of the North.[243]

Unionists, Tories, and Mossbacks

Before secession, the term "unionist" was applied to those who were
opposed to secession and who wished to give the Union a longer trial. They
were mostly the old Whigs, but many Democrats were among them. Then again
the coöperationists, who wanted delay and coöperation among the states
before secession, were called "unionists." In short, the term was applied
to any one opposed to immediate secession. This fact deceived the people
of the North, who believed that the opposition party in the South was
unconditionally for the Union, and that it would remain in allegiance to
the Union if secession were attempted. But after secession this "union"
party disappeared.

The "tories" were those who rebelled against the authority of the
Confederate States. Some of them were true "unionists" or "loyalists," as
they were called at the North. Most of them were not. The "mossback," who
according to popular belief hid himself in the woods until moss grew on
his back, might or might not be a "tory." If he were hostile to the
Confederacy, he was a "tory"; if he was simply keeping out of the way of
the enrolling officers, he was not a "tory," but a plain "mossback" or
"conscript." When too closely pressed he would either become a "tory" or
enter the Confederate army, though he did not usually remain in it. The
"deserter" was such from various reasons, and often became a "tory" as
well; that is, he became hostile to the Confederacy. Often he was not
hostile to the government, but was only hiding from service, and doing no
other harm. The true "unionists" always claimed great numbers, even after
the end of the war. The North listened to them and believed that old
Whigs, Know-nothings, Anti-secessionists, Douglas Democrats, Bell and
Everett men, coöperationists--all were at heart "Union" men. It was also
claimed that the only real disunion element was the Breckenridge
Democracy. Such, however, was not the case. Probably fewer of the old Whig
party than of any other were disloyal to the Confederacy. So far as the
"tory" or "loyalist" had any politics, he was probably a Democrat, and the
more prominent of them had been Douglas Democrats. The others were Douglas
and Breckenridge Democrats from the Democratic stronghold--north
Alabama.[244] Very few, if any, Bell and Everett men were among them. The
small lower class had no party affiliations worth mentioning. During the
war, the terms "unionist" and "tories" were very elastic and covered a
multitude of sins against the Union, against the Confederate States, and
against local communities. With the exception of those who entered the
Federal army the "tories" were, in a way, traitors to both sides. North
Alabama was not so strongly opposed to secession as was east
Tennessee,[245] nor were the Alabama "unionists" or "loyalists," as they
called themselves, "tories" as other people called them, of as good
character as the "loyalists" of Tennessee.

The Alabama tory was, as a rule, of the lowest class of the population,
chiefly the "mountain whites" and the "sand-mountain" people, who were
shut off from the world, a century behind the times, and who knew scarcely
anything of the Union or of the questions at issue. There was a certain
social antipathy felt by them toward the lowland and valley people,
whether in south or in north Alabama, and a blind antagonism to the
"nigger lord," as they called the slaveholder, wherever he was found. In
this feeling the women were more bitter than the men. Secluded and
ignorant, they did not feel it their duty to support a cause in which they
were not directly concerned, and most of them would have preferred to
remain neutral during the entire war, as there was little for them to gain
either way. As long as they did not have to leave their hills, they were
quiet, but when the enrolling officers went after them, they became
dangerous. To-day those people are represented by the makers of
"moonshine" whiskey and those who shoot revenue officers. They were
"moonshiners" then. Colonel S. A. M. Wood, who caught a band of thirty of
these "tories," reported to General Bragg, "They are the most miserable,
ignorant, poor, ragged devils I ever saw."[246] Many of the "tories"
became bushwhackers, preying impartially on friend and foe, and especially
on the people of the rich Tennessee valley.[247]

Growth of Disaffection

The invasion of the Tennessee valley had discouraging effects on the
weaker element of the population, and caused many to take a rather
degrading position in order to secure Federal protection for themselves
and their property. To call the tories and those who submitted and took
the oath "unionists" would be honoring them too highly. Little true
"Union" sentiment or true devotion to the United States existed except on
the part of those who enlisted in the Federal armies. In October, 1862, C.
C. Clay, Jr., wrote to the Secretary of War at Richmond that the Federal
invasion had resulted in open defiance of Confederate authority on the
part of some who believed that the Confederacy was too weak to protect or
punish. Even loyal southerners were afraid to be active for fear of a
return of the Union troops. Some had sold cotton to the Federals during
their occupation, bought it for them, acted as agents, spies, and
informers; and now these men openly declared for the Union and signed
calls for Union meetings. Huntsville, Mr. Clay stated, was the centre of
disaffection.[248] But in April, 1863, a northern cotton speculator
reported that there were but few "true Union men" at Huntsville or in the

Though not fully in sympathy with the secession movement, the majority of
the people in the northern counties acquiesced in the action of the state,
and many volunteers entered the army. Until late in the war this district
sent as many men in proportion to population as any other section, and the
men made good soldiers. But with the opening of the Tennessee and the
passage of the conscription laws the mountaineers and the hill people
became troublesome. To avoid conscription they hid themselves. Their
families, with their slender resources, were soon in want of the
necessaries of life, which they began to obtain by raids on their more
fortunate neighbors in the river valleys. A few entered the Federal army.
In July, 1862, small parties came to Decatur, in Morgan County, from the
mountains and joined the Federal forces under the command of Colonel
Streight. They told him of others who wished to enlist, so Streight made
an expedition to Davis Gap, in the mountains south of Decatur, and secured
150 recruits.

These formed the nucleus of the First Alabama Union Cavalry, of which
George E. Spencer of Ohio, afterward notorious in Alabama politics, was
colonel. At this time C. C. Sheets, who said that he had been in hiding,
appeared and made a speech encouraging all to enlist. Streight said that
the "unionists" were poor people, often destitute. There were, he
reported, about three "unionists" to one "secessionist" in parts of
Morgan, Blount, St. Clair, Winston, Walker, Marion, Taylor, and Jefferson
counties, and he thought two full regiments could be raised near Decatur.
Though so few in numbers, the "secessionists" seem to have made it lively
for the "unionists," for Streight reported that the "unionists" were much
persecuted by them and often had to hide themselves.[250] The Confederate
commander at Newberne, in Greene County, reported (January, 1862) that in
an adjoining county the "Union" men were secretly organizing, that 300 had
met, elected officers, and gone into camp.[251] A month later,
Lieutenant-Commander Phelps of the United States navy, after his river
raid to Florence (1862), reported that along the Tennessee the "Union"
sentiment was strong, and that men, women, and children in crowds welcomed
the boats. However, he adds that they were very guarded in their
conversation. It may be that he mistook curiosity for "Union" sentiment.
Another naval officer reported that the fall of Fort Donelson was
beneficial to the Union cause in north Alabama. Neither of these observers
landed, and their observations were limited to the river banks.[252] In
June, 1862, Governor Shorter said that much dissatisfaction existed in
several of the northern counties,[253] and in December, 1862, that
Randolph County was defying the enforcement of the conscript law, and
armed forces were releasing deserters from jail. Colonel Hannon was at
length sent with a regiment and suppressed for a time the disloyal
element.[254] September 21, 1862, General Pillow reported to Seddon that
there were 8000 to 10,000 deserters and tory conscripts in the mountains
of north Alabama, as "vicious as copperheads."[255] In April, 1863, a
civilian of influence and position wrote to General Beauregard that the
counties of north Alabama were full of tories. During 1862, he stated, a
convention had been held in the corner of Winston, Fayette, and Marion
counties, in which the people had resolved to remain neutral. He believed
that this meant that when the enemy appeared the so-called neutrals would
join them, for they openly carried United States flags.[256] A similar
convention was held in north Alabama (apparently in Winston County) in the
spring of 1863. A staff officer reported to General Beauregard (May, 1864)
that in the counties of Lawrence, Blount, and Winston, Federal recruiting
agents for mounted regiments carried on open correspondence with the
disaffected citizens,[257] apparently with little success, for although
disaffection and hostility to the Confederacy among the people of north
Alabama had continued for three years, and there was every opportunity for
entering the Federal army, yet the official statistics give the total
number of enlistments and reënlistments of whites from Alabama at

In 1862 deserters from the army began to gather in the more remote
districts of the state. Many of them had been enrolled under the conscript
law, and had become dissatisfied. As the war went on the number of these
deserters increased, until their presence in the state became a menace to
government. After the Confederate reverses in the summer of 1863, great
numbers of deserters and stragglers from all of the Confederate armies
east of the Mississippi River and from the Union armies collected among
the hills, mountains, and ravines of north Alabama. A large portion of
them became outlaws of the worst character. In August, 1863, the general
assembly passed a law directing the state officials and the militia
officers to assist the Confederate enrolling officers in enforcing the
conscript law, and in returning deserters to their commands. The state and
county jails were offered as places to confine the deserters until they
could be sent back to the army. To give food and shelter to deserters was
declared a felony, and civilians were authorized to arrest them.[259]

The deserters and stragglers of north Alabama were well armed and somewhat
organized, and kept the people in terror. General Pillow thought that the
temporary suspension of the conscript law had made them bolder. Eleven
counties were infested with them. No man was safe in travelling along the
roads, for murders, robberies, and burnings were common, and peaceable
citizens were shot while at work in the fields. It was estimated that in
July, 1863, there were 8000 to 10,000 tories and deserters in the
mountains of north Alabama, and these banded themselves together to kill
the officers sent to arrest them. It was impossible to keep a certain
class of men in the army when they were encamped near their homes.[260]
Even good soldiers, when so stationed, sometimes deserted. Had these same
men been in the Army of Northern Virginia, they would have done their duty
well. But here, near their home, many influences led them to desert. There
was little fighting, and they could see no reason why they should be kept
away from their suffering families.

General Pillow, in the fall of 1863, forced several thousand deserters and
stragglers from Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, who were in hiding in
north Alabama, to return to their commands. The legislature commended his
work and asked that his jurisdiction be extended over a larger area, even
over the whole Confederacy.[261] In April, 1864, the Ninth Texas Cavalry
was sent against the "unionists" in Marion County. The colonel reported
that the number of tories had been greatly exaggerated, though the woods
seemed to be swarming with deserters, and he learned that they had a
secret organization.[262] The deserters always infested the wildest and
most remote parts of the country, and were found wherever disaffection
toward the Confederacy had appeared. The Texans, who had no local
attachments to interfere with their duty, drove back into the army several
thousand "stragglers," as the better class of deserters were called.[263]
General Polk reported (April, 1864) that in north Alabama formidable bands
were being organized for resistance to the government, and that hostility
to the Confederacy was openly proclaimed by them. He sent out detachments
which forced more than a thousand men to leave the woods and hills and
return to the army.[264] When Alabama soldiers were captured or deserted
to the enemy, it was the custom of the Federals to send them north of the
Ohio River, and to offer to enlist as many as possible in regiments to
fight the Indians in the West. Some took advantage of the offer and thus
avoided prison life. Such men were called "galvanized Yankees" and were
hated by the loyal soldiers. Early in 1865, J. J. Giers, a prominent tory,
wrote General Grant that if Alabama deserters were permitted to remain
near home their numbers would increase.[265]

Outrages by Tories and Deserters

The tory and the deserter often led squads of Federal soldiers on
expeditions of destruction and pillage. When possible, they would burn the
county court-houses, jails, and other public buildings, with the books and
records of the counties. Sometimes disguised as Union troops, they
committed the worst outrages. On one occasion four men, dressed as
soldiers, went to the house of an old man named Wilson, three miles from
Florence, and searched it for money supposed to be hidden there. As the
old man would tell them nothing, they stripped him to the waist, tied him
face downward upon a table, tore leaves from a large Bible, and, piling
them on him, burned him to death. His nephew, unable to tell about the
money, was shot and killed. A grandson was shot and wounded, and left for
dead. The overseer, coming up, was shot and killed in spite of the appeals
of his wife. Senator R. M. Patton had the wounded boy taken to Florence,
where the same band came the next night and demanded him. Upon being
refused, they fired repeatedly into the house until they were driven away.
They then went to the house of a druggist, and, failing to find money,
burned him as they had Wilson. Though fearfully burned, he survived. Two
of the band, natives of Florence, were captured, court-martialled by the
Federal authorities, and hanged.[266]

Twenty Federals, or disguised tories, led by a tory from Madison County,
killed an old man, his son, a nephew and his son, and wounded a fifth
person, who was then thrown into the Tennessee River. When he caught the
bush on the bank, he was beaten and shot until he turned loose. An
enrolling officer was made to wade out into the river, and then was shot
from the bank. An overseer who had hidden some stock was hanged. A
Confederate officer was robbed of several thousand dollars and driven from
the country.[267]

The tories, who were often deserters from the armies, gathered in the hill
country and watched for an opportunity to descend into the valley to rob,
burn, and murder. One family had the following experience with Federal
troops or "unionists": On the first raid six mules, five horses, a wagon,
and fifty-two negroes were taken; on the second, the remainder of the
mules, a cart, the milch cows, some meat, and the cooking utensils. On the
third the wagons were loaded with the last of the meat, and all of the
sugar, coffee, molasses, flour, meal, and potatoes. The mother of the
family told the officer in charge that they were taking away their only
means of subsistence, and that the family would starve. "Starve and be
d--d," was the reply. Then the buggy and the carriage harness and cushions
were taken, and the carriage cut to pieces. The house was searched for
money. Closets and trunks were broken open, the offer of keys being
refused. Clothing and bedding, dishes, knives and forks were taken, and
whatever could not be carried was broken. The "Destroying Angels," as they
called themselves, then burned the gin-house and cotton press with one
hundred and twenty-five bales of cotton, seven cribs of corn, stables, and
stacks of fodder, a wagon, four negro cabins, the lumber room, $500 worth
of thread, axes, hoes, scythe-blades, and other plantation implements.
They started to burn the dwelling house, but the woman pleaded that it was
the only shelter for her children and herself. "You may thank your good
fortune, madam, that we have left you and your d--d brats with your heads
to be sheltered," answered one of the "Destroying Angels." Then an officer
galloped up, claimed to be much astonished, and ordered away the men.[268]

The tories or "unionists" of the mountains, instead of joining the Federal
army, formed bands of "Destroying Angels," "Prowling Brigades," etc., to
prey upon their lowland neighbors. All the able-bodied loyal men were in
the army, and there were no defenders. During the Federal occupation these
marauders harassed the country. When the Confederates temporarily
occupied the country, they tried to drive out the brigands, whence arose
the "persecution of unionists" that we read about. Thousands of
Confederate sympathizers were driven from their homes during the Federal
occupation in 1862. When the Union army retreated in 1862, attempts at
retaliation were made by those who had suffered, but this was strictly
suppressed by the state and Confederate authorities. An officer was
dismissed for cruelty to "unionists," and the state troops destroyed a
band of deserters and guerillas who were preying upon the "union" people
in the mountain districts. Marion, Walker, and Winston counties were
especially infested with tories.[269]

In 1864, when there were few Confederate troops in north Alabama, the
tories were very troublesome in De Kalb, Marshall, Marion, Winston,
Walker, Lawrence, and Fayette counties, and the poor people were largely
under their control. Among the hills were deserters from both armies, and
these, banded with the tory element, reduced the helpless poor whites to
submission. These men were few in comparison with the total population,
but most of the able-bodied loyal men were in the army, and the tories and
deserters were almost unchecked.[270] Sometimes the Confederate soldiers
from north Alabama would get furloughs, come home, and clear the country
of tories, who had been terrorizing the people. Short work was made of
them when the soldiers found them. Some were shot, others were hanged, and
the remainder driven out of the country for a time.[271]

After their occupation of north Alabama, the Federal commanders were
embarrassed by the violent clamorings of the "unionists" for revenge, and
for superior privileges over the non-unionist population. Material
advantage and personal dislikes were too often the basic principles of
their unionism. They were extremely vindictive, demanding that all
Confederate sympathizers be driven from the country. Thus they made
themselves a nuisance to the Federal officers, and especially was this
true of the small lowland tory element. Subjugation, banishment, hanging,
confiscation,--was the programme planned by the "loyalists." They wanted
the country "pacified" and then turned over to themselves. Though they
claimed to be numerous, no instance is found where they proposed to do
anything for themselves; they seemed to think that the sole duty of the
United States army in Alabama was to look after their interests. The
northerners who had dealings with the "loyalist" did not like him, as he
was a most unpleasant person, with a grievance which could not be righted
to his satisfaction without giving rise to numerous other grievances.

Some qualifications of loyalty seem to have been: a certain mild
disapproval of secession, a refusal to enlist in the Confederate army or
desertion after enlisting, hiding in the woods to avoid conscript
officers. These qualifications, or any of them, the "loyalist" thought
entitled him to the everlasting gratitude and protection of the United
States. But a newspaper correspondent, who was on a sharp lookout for all
signs of weakness in the Confederacy, said: "You can tell the southern
loyalists as far as you can see them. They all have black or yellow skins
and kinky hair." Sometimes, he added, there was a white "unionist," but
this was rare, and the exceptions in any town in north Alabama could be
counted on the fingers of one hand.[272] As long as the war lasted the
lawless element fared well, and when peace should come they hoped for a
division of the spoils.[273]

Disaffection in South Alabama

So much for toryism in the northern part of the state. There were also
manifestations of a disloyal spirit in the extreme inaccessible corner of
the state next to Florida and Georgia, where the population of the
sparsely settled country was almost entirely non-slave-holding. Though
most of the people were Democrats, they were somewhat opposed to
secession. Delegates were elected, however, to the convention of 1861, who
voted for secession, and after the war began nearly or quite all of those
who had opposed secession heartily supported the Confederacy. If there
were any "union" men, they kept very quiet, and for two years there was
no trouble.[274] But during the winter of 1862-1863, numerous outrages
were committed by outlaws who were called, indiscriminately, tories and
deserters. Much trouble was given by an organization called the First
Florida Union Cavalry, which for two years committed various outrages
while on bushwhacking expeditions under the leadership of one Joseph
Sanders. After being soundly beaten one night by the citizens of Newton,
in Dale County, these marauders were less troublesome.[275] The country
near the Gulf coast was infested with tories, deserters, and runaway
slaves, concealed in caves, "tight-eyes,"[276] canebrakes, swamps, and the
thick woods of the sparsely settled country. In January, 1863, Governor
Shorter wrote to President Davis that nearly all the loyal population of
southeast Alabama was in the army, and that the country was suffering from
the outrages of tories and deserters. About the same time, Colonel Price
"suppressed unionism and treason in Henry County," though only one
prisoner was reported as being taken.[277]

In August of the same year (1863) conditions had grown worse. General
Howell Cobb reported that there was a disloyal feeling in southeast
Alabama, but that there was no way to reach the offenders, as they were
guilty of no overt act, and therefore the military courts could not try
them. To turn them over to the civil authorities in that district would
secure only a farcical trial, and the justices of the peace, though
assuming the highest jurisdiction, were ignorant, and there was little
chance of conviction. At this time, Governor Shorter said that affairs in
lower Henry County were in bad condition; that the deserter element was
strong and threatened the security of loyal people; and that the soldiers
were afraid to leave their families.[278] A judge could not hold court
unless he had a military escort.

During the next year matters grew worse in this section as well as in
north Alabama. Some of the best soldiers felt compelled to go home, even
without permission, to protect or to support their families; and in
October, 1864, the legislature recognized this condition of affairs, and
asked the Alabama soldiers, then absent without leave, to return to their
duty under promise of lenient treatment.[279]

The worst depredations were committed during the winter of 1864-1865, in
the counties of Dale, Henry, and Coffee. The loyal people in the thinly
settled country were terrorized. The legislature, unable to protect them,
authorized them to band themselves together in military form for
protection against the outlaws. These bands of self-constituted "Home
Guards," composed of boys and old men, captured numbers of the outlaws and
straightway hanged them.

Desertions from the regiments raised in the white counties were often
caused by denying to recruits or conscripts the privilege of choosing the
command in which they should serve. Others deserted because their families
were exposed to tory depredations and Federal raids, or were in want of
the necessaries of life. These would have returned to the army after
providing for their families had they been permitted to join other
organizations and not subjected to punishment. Assigned arbitrarily to
commands in need of recruits, some became dissatisfied, and deserted. A
deserter was an outlaw and found it impossible to remain neutral. Hence
many joined the bands of outlaws to pillage, and burn, and steal horses
and cattle. Others of better character joined the Federals or became
tories, that is, allied themselves with the original tories in order to
work against the Confederacy. Numbers of these disaffected people had once
been secessionists.[280]

Prominent Tories and Deserters

In view of the fact that the "unionists" were to play an important part in
Reconstruction, it will be of interest to examine the records of the most
prominent tories and deserters. A few prominent men joined the Federals
during the course of the war, though none did so before the Union army
occupied the Tennessee valley. Only one of these tried to assume any
leadership over the so-called unionists. This was William H. Smith, who
had come within a few votes of being elected to the Confederate Congress,
and was later the first Reconstruction governor. He went over to the enemy
in 1862, and did much toward securing the enlistment of the 2576 Union
soldiers from Alabama.

At the same time, a more important character, General Jeremiah
Clemens,[281] who had been in command of the militia of Alabama with the
rank of major-general, became disgruntled and went over to the enemy. In
the secession convention, Clemens had declared that he "walked
deliberately into rebellion" and was prepared for all its
consequences.[282] He first opposed, then voted for, the ordinance of
secession, and afterwards accepted the office of commander of the militia
under the "Republic of Alabama." For a year Clemens was loyal to the
"rebellion," but in 1862 he had seen the light and wished to go to
Washington as the representative of north Alabama to learn from President
Lincoln in what way the controversy might be ended. The Washington
administration, by that time, had little faith in any following he might
have, and when Clemens with John Bell started to Washington, Stanton
advised them to stay at home and use their influence for the Union.[283]

George W. Lane, also of Madison County, was a prominent man who cast his
lot with the Federals. Lane never recognized secession, and was an
outspoken Unionist from the beginning. He was appointed Federal judge by
Lincoln and died in 1864.[284] In April, 1861, Clemens wrote to the
Confederate Secretary of War that the acceptance of a United States
judgeship by Lane was treason, and that the "north Alabama men would
gladly hang him."[285] General O. M. Mitchell seemed to think that the
negroes were the only "truly loyal," but he recommended in May, 1862,
that, when a military government should be established in Alabama, George
W. Lane, the United States district judge appointed by Lincoln, be
appointed military governor. Lane's faded United States flag still flew
from the staff to which he had nailed it at the beginning of the war, and
his appointment as governor, Mitchell thought, would give the greatest
satisfaction to Huntsville and to all north Alabama.[286]

Two members of the convention of 1861, besides Clemens, deserted to the
Federals. These were C. C. Sheets and D. P. Lewis. Like Clemens, they were
elected as coöperationists and opposed immediate secession, though all
three voted for the resolution declaring that Alabama would not submit to
the rule of Lincoln. Sheets voted against secession and would not sign the
ordinance. For a while he remained quietly at home and refused to enter
the Confederate army. At length he reappeared from his place of hiding and
assisted in recruiting soldiers for the First Alabama Union Cavalry. He
was elected to the state legislature, but in 1862 was expelled for
disloyalty. After some time in hiding, he was arrested, and imprisoned for
treason. General Thomas retaliated by arresting and holding as a hostage
General McDowell. Sheets remained in prison until the end of the war.[287]

David P. Lewis of Madison County voted against secession but signed the
ordinance, and was elected to the Provisional Congress by the convention,
and in 1863 was appointed circuit judge by the governor. This position he
held for a few months, and then deserted to the Federals. During the
remainder of the war he lived quietly at Nashville.[288]

Another prominent citizen of Madison County, Judge D. C. Humphreys, joined
the Federals late in the war. Humphreys had been in the Confederate army
and had resigned. He was arrested by General Roddy on the charge of
disloyalty. It is not known that he was ever tried or put into prison, but
in January, 1865, Hon. C. C. Clay, Sr., and other prominent citizens of
Huntsville, of southern sympathies, all old men, were arrested and carried
to prison in Nashville as hostages for the safety of Humphreys, who had
been released by order of the Confederate War Department as soon as the
rumor of his arrest reached Richmond.[289] In April, 1864, General
Clanton, commanding in north Alabama, sent Governor Watts a Nashville
paper in which Jeremiah Clemens, "the arch traitor," and that "crazy man,"
Humphreys, figured as advisers to their fellow-citizens of Alabama in
recommending submission.[290] There are indications that several such
addresses were issued by Clemens, Humphreys, Lane, and others from the
safety of the Federal lines, but the text of none of them has been found
except those written and published when the war was nearly ended.

Of the men of position and influence who were found in the ranks of
opposition to the Confederate government after 1861, Judge Lane is the
only one whose course can command respect. He was faithful to the Union
from first to last, while the others were erratic persons who changed
sides because of personal spites and disappointments. They had little or
no influence over, and nothing in common with, the dissatisfied mountain
people and the tories and deserters.[291]

Numbers of the Disaffected

At the surrender the deserters came in in large numbers to be paroled. The
reports of the Federal generals who received the surrender of the
Confederate armies in the southwest show a surprisingly large number of
Confederates paroled. A large proportion of them were deserters,
"mossbacks," and tories, who, hated by the Confederate soldiers and
fearing that the latter would seek revenge for their misdeeds during the
war, felt that it would be some protection to take the oath, be paroled,
and secure the certificate. Then, they thought, the United States
government would see to their safety. At the surrender of a Confederate
command in their vicinity, they flocked in from their retreats and were
paroled as Confederate soldiers. To show how large this element in
Mississippi and Alabama was, when General Dick Taylor surrendered, May 4,
1865, at Meridian, Mississippi, he had not more than 8000 real soldiers,
or men under arms. It is possible, though not probable, that many were
absent with leave. Yet of the 42,293 soldiers paroled in the armies of the
Southwest[292] about 30,000 of them were at Meridian. Many of these had
never been in the army; some had served in both armies; none had been in
either for a long time. For weeks they kept coming in at all points where
a United States officer was stationed in order to be paroled. The soldiers
were furious. The statistics show[293] that strong Confederate armies were
surrendered in this section of the country, when, as a matter of fact, the
governor of Alabama had for two years been unable to secure sufficient
military support to enforce the laws over more than half of the

It is difficult to estimate the number of disaffected persons within the
limits of the state. Probably in southeast Alabama there were in all, of
tories and deserters, 1000 who at times were actively hostile to the
Confederate authorities, and who committed depredations on the loyal
people, and 1000 or 1500 more would include the "mossbacks" and
obstructionists, who were without the courage to do more than keep out of
the army and talk sedition. In addition to the 2576 enlistments in the
Federal army credited to Alabama, it is probable that several hundred more
were enlisted in northern regiments. Some of these were the Confederate
prisoners captured late in the war and enlisted as "Galvanized Yankees" in
the United States regiments sent West to fight the Indians.

Of deserters, tories, and "mossbacks" there could not have been less than
8000 or 10,000 in north Alabama. Of these, at least half were in active
depredation all over the section. There were several thousand deserters
from the Alabama troops, most of them from north Alabama and from commands
stationed near their homes. At the beginning of the war there were
probably no more than 2000 men who were wholly disaffected,[295] and
these only to the extent of desiring neutrality for themselves.

On November 30, 1864, the Confederate "Deserter Book" showed that since
April, 1864, 7994 Alabama soldiers had deserted or been absent without
leave from the armies of the West and of Northern Virginia. Of these 4323
were again in the ranks, leaving still to be accounted for 3671 men. There
were many deserters in the hills of Alabama from the commands from other
states. After the fall of Atlanta, the number of stragglers and deserters
greatly increased, and late in 1864 it was estimated that 6000 of them
were in the state, some in every county; there being no longer a force to
drive them back to the army. For a year or more the force for this purpose
had been very weak.[296]

Much of the toryism and of the trouble resulting from it was due to the
weak policy of the Confederate authorities in dealing with discontent and
in protecting the loyal people in exposed districts. Many a man had to
desert in order to protect his family from outlaws, and was then easily
driven into toryism.

There was a mild annoyance of the more peaceable tories by the Confederate
officials in the spasmodic attempts to enforce the conscription laws, but
it amounted to very little. The loyal southern people suffered more from
the depredations of the disaffected "union" people of north and southeast
Alabama than the latter suffered from all causes combined. The state and
Confederate authorities were very lenient--too much so--in their treatment
of these people. There was no great need of a strong Confederate force in
north Alabama, since only raids, not invasions in force, were to be
feared; yet the governments--both state and Confederate--were guilty of
neglect in leaving so many of the people at the mercy of the outlaws when,
as shown in several instances, two or three thousand good soldiers could
march through the country and scatter the bands that infested it. Assuming
that the state had a right to demand obedience and support from its
citizens, it was weak and reprehensible conduct on the part of the
authorities to allow three or four thousand malcontents and outlaws to
demoralize a third of the state. Often the families of tories and
"mossbacks" were supplied from the state and county stores for the
destitute families of soldiers, while the men of such families were in the
Federal service or were hiding in the woods, caves, and ravines, or were
plundering the families of loyal soldiers. Not enough arrests were made,
and too many were released. The majority of the troublesome class was of
the kind who preferred to take no stand that incurred the fulfilment of
obligations. In an emergency they would incline toward the stronger side.
Prompt and rigorous measures, similar to the policy of the United States
in the Middle West, stringently maintained, would have converted this
source of weakness into a source of strength, or at least would have
rendered it harmless. The military resources of that section of the state
could then have been better developed, the helpless people protected,
outlaws crushed, and there would have been peace after the war was
ended.[297] As it was, the animosities then aroused smouldered on until
they flamed again in one phase of the Ku Klux movement.[298]


Political Conditions, 1861-1865

When, by the passage of the ordinance of January 11, 1861, the advocates
of immediate secession had gained their end, the strong men of the
victorious party, for the sake of harmony, stood aside, and intrusted much
of the important work of organizing the new government to the defeated
coöperationist party, who, to say the least, disapproved of the whole
policy of the victors. The delegates chosen to the Provisional Congress
were: R. H. Walker of Huntsville, a Union Whig, who had supported Bell and
Everett and opposed secession; Robert H. Smith, a pronounced Whig, who had
supported Bell and Everett and opposed secession; Colin J. McRae of
Mobile, a commission merchant, a Whig; John Gill Shorter of Eufaula, who
had held judicial office for nine years; William P. Chilton of Montgomery,
for several years chief justice and before that an active Whig; Stephen F.
Hale of Eutaw, a Whig who supported Bell and Everett; David P. Lewis of
Lawrence, an "unconditional Unionist" who had opposed secession in the
convention of 1861, and who, in 1862, deserted to the Federals; Dr. Thomas
Fearn of Huntsville, an old man, a Union Whig; and J. L. M. Curry of
Talladega, the only consistent Democrat of the delegation, the only one
who had voted for Breckenridge, and the only one with practical experience
in public affairs. The delegation was strong in character, but weak in
political ability and not energetic.[299] The delegation elected to the
first regular Congress was more representative and more able.

[Illustration: CIVIL WAR LEADERS.





In August, 1861, John Gill Shorter, a State Rights Democrat, was elected
governor by a vote of 57,849 to 28,127 over Thomas Hill Watts, also a
State Rights Democrat, who had voted for secession, but who had formerly
been a Whig. Watts was not a regular candidate since he had forbidden the
use of his name in the canvass.[300] For a time the people
enthusiastically supported the administration. Governor Shorter's message
of October 28, 1861, to the legislature closed with the words: "We may
well congratulate ourselves and return thanks that a timely action on our
part has saved our liberties, preserved our independence, and given us, it
is hoped, a perpetual separation from such a government. May we in all
coming time stand separate from it, as if a wall of fire intervened."[301]
The legislature in 1861 declared that it was the imperative duty as well
as the patriotic privilege of every citizen, forgetting past differences,
to support the policy adopted and to maintain the independence assumed. To
this cause the members of the general assembly pledged their lives,
fortunes, and sacred honor.[302] A year later the same body declared that
Mobile, then threatened by the enemy, must never be desecrated by the
polluting tread of the abolitionist foe. It must never be surrendered, but
must be defended from street to street, from house to house, and at last
burned to the ground rather than surrendered.[303] The same legislature,
elected in 1861 when the war feeling was strong, stated in August, 1863,
that the war was unprovoked and unjust on the part of the United States
government, which was conducting it in utter disregard of the principles
which should control and regulate civilized warfare. They renewed the
pledge never to submit to abolitionist rule. The people were urged not to
be discouraged by the late reverses, nor to attribute their defeats to any
want of courage or heroic self-sacrifice on the part of the armies. All
the resources of the state were pledged to the cause of independence and
perpetual separation from the United States. It was the paramount duty,
the assembly declared, of every citizen to sustain and make effective the
armies by encouraging enlistments, by furnishing supplies at low prices to
the families of soldiers, and by upholding the credit of the Confederate
government. To enfeeble the springs of action by disheartening the people
and the soldiers was to strike the most fatal blow at the very life of the

This resolution was called forth partly by the constant criticism that the
"cross-roads" politicians and a few individuals of more importance were
directing against the civil and military policy of the administration. The
doughty warriors of the office and counter were sure that the "Yankees"
should have been whipped in ninety days. That the war was still going on
was proof to them that those at the head of affairs were incompetent.
These people had never before had so good an opportunity to talk and to be
listened to. Those to whom the people had been accustomed to look for
guidance were no longer present to advise. They had marched away with the
armies, and there were left at home as voters the old men, the exempts,
the lame, the halt, and the blind, teachers, preachers, officials,
"bomb-proofs," "feather beds"[305]--all, in short, who were most unlikely
to favor a vigorous war policy and who, if subject to service, wanted to
keep out of the army. Consequently, among the voting population at home,
the war spirit was not as high in 1863 as it had been before so many of
the best men enlisted in the army.[306] The occupation of north Alabama by
the enemy, short crops in 1862, and reverses in the field such as
Vicksburg and Gettysburg, had a chilling effect on the spirit of those
who had suffered or were likely to suffer. The conscription law was
unpopular among those forced into the service; it was much more disliked
by those who succeeded for a time in escaping conscription. These lived in
constant fear that the time would come when they would be forced to their

Further, the official class and the lawmakers were not up to the old
standard of force and ability. The men who had the success of the cause
most at heart usually felt it to be their duty to fight for it, if
possible, leaving lawmaking and administration to others of more peaceable
disposition. Some of the latter were able men, but few were filled with
the spirit that animated the soldier class. Many of these unwarlike
statesmen in the legislature and in Congress thought it to be their
especial duty to guard the liberties of the people against the
encroachments of the military power. They would talk by the hour about
state rights, but would allow a few thousand of the sovereign state's
disloyal citizens to demoralize a dozen counties rather than consent to
infringe the liberties of the people by making the militia system more
effective to repress disorder. They succeeded in weakening the efforts of
both state and Confederate governments, and their well-meant arguments
drawn from the works of Jefferson were never remembered to their credit.
One of the best of these men--Judge Dargan, a member of Congress from
Mobile--seems to have had a very unhappy disposition, and he spent much of
his time writing to the governor and to the President in regard to the
critical state of the country and suggesting numberless plans for its
salvation. Among many things that were visionary he advanced some original
schemes. In 1863 he proposed a plan for the gradual emancipation of
slaves, later a plan for arming them, and suggested that blockade running
be prohibited, as it was ruining the country.[308]

Even while the tide of war feeling was at the flood there occurred
instances of friction between the state and the Confederate governments.
In December, 1862, the legislature complained of the continued use of the
railroads by the Confederate government, to the exclusion of private
transportation. The railroads were built, it was stated, for free
intercourse between the states, and, since the blockade had become
effective, were more important than ever in the transportation of the
necessaries of life.[309] The legislature complained about the conduct of
the Confederate officers in the state, about impressment, taxation, and
redemption of state bonds, the state's quota of troops for the Confederate
service, about arms and supplies purchased by the state, and about trade
through the lines. Suits were brought again and again in the state courts
by the strict constructionists to test the constitutionality of the
conscript laws and the law forbidding the hiring of substitutes. But the
courts declared both laws constitutional.[310] The lawmakers of the state
were much more afraid of militarism than of the Federal invasion or
domestic disorder, and refused to organize the militia effectively.[311]

The military reverses in the summer of 1863 darkened the hopes of the
people and chilled their waning enthusiasm, and the effect was shown in
the elections of August. Thomas H. Watts, who had been defeated in 1861,
was elected governor by a vote of 22,223 to 6342 over John G. Shorter, who
had been governor for two years. Watts had a strong personal following,
which partly accounted for the large majority; but several thousand, at
least, were dissatisfied in some way with the state or the Confederate
administration. Jemison, a former coöperationist, took Yancey's place in
the Confederate Senate. J. L. M. Curry was defeated for Congress because
he had strongly supported the administration. The delegation elected to
the second Congress was of a decidedly different temper from the
delegation to the first Congress. A large number of hitherto unknown men
were elected to the legislature.[312]

At the close of the term of Governor Shorter, the new legislature passed
resolutions indorsing his policy in regard to the conduct of the war and
commending his wise and energetic administration.[313] Other resolutions
were passed which would seem to indicate that the war feeling ran as high
and strong as ever. In fact, it was only the voice of the majority, not of
all, as before. There was a strong minority of malcontents who pursued a
policy of obstruction and opposition to the measures of the administration
and thereby weakened the power of the government. It was believed by many
that Watts, who had been a Whig and a Bell and Everett elector, would be
more conservative in regard to the prosecution of the war than was his
predecessor. There were numbers of people in the state who believed or
professed to believe that it was possible to end the war whenever
President Davis might choose to make peace with the enemy. Others, who saw
that peace with independence was impossible, were in favor of
reconstruction, that is, of ending the war at once and returning to the
old Union, with no questions asked. They believed that the North would be
ready to make peace and welcome the southern states back into the Union on
the old terms. These constituted only a small part of the population, but
they had some influence in an obstructive way and were great talkers. Any
one who voted for Watts from the belief that he would try to bring about
peace was much mistaken in the man. It was reported that he was in favor
of reconstruction. This he emphatically denied in a message to the
legislature: "He who is now ... in favor of reconstruction with the states
under Lincoln's dominion, is a traitor in his heart to the state ... and
deserves a traitor's doom.... Rather than unite with such a people I would
see the Confederate states desolated with fire and sword.... Let us prefer
death to a life of cowardly shame."[314] Though Watts was elected somewhat
as a protest against the war party, he was in favor of a vigorous
prosecution of the war. However, at times, he had trouble with the
Confederate government, and we find him writing about "the tyranny of
Confederate officials," that "the state had some rights left," that "there
will be a conflict between the Confederate and state authorities unless
the conscript officials cease to interfere with state volunteers and state

The governor was in favor of supporting the war, and recommended the
repeal of some of the state laws obstructing Confederate enlistments; he
was willing for any state troops that were available to go to the aid of
another state, and he desired to aid in returning deserters to the army;
but he opposed the manner of execution of laws by the Confederate
government. He demanded for the state the right to engage in the blockade
trade in order to secure necessaries. He also protested against the
proposed policy of arming the slaves.[316]

During the year 1864 the legislature protested against the action of
Confederate conscript officers who insisted on enrolling certain state
officials. It was ordered that the reserves, when called out for service,
should not be put under the command of a Confederate officer. The
first-class reserves were not to leave their own counties. An act was
passed to protect the people from "oppression by the illegal execution of
the Confederate impressment laws."[317] Confederate enrolling officers who
forced exempt men into the army were made liable to punishment by heavy

An Alabama newspaper, in the fall of 1864, advocated a convention of the
states in order to settle the questions at issue, to bring about peace,
and to restore the Union. Such a proposition found supporters in the
legislature. A resolution was introduced favoring reconstruction on the
basis of the recent platform of the Democratic party and McClellan's
letter of acceptance.[319] The resolution was to this effect: if the
Democratic party is successful in 1864, we are willing to open
negotiations for peace on the basis indicated in the platform adopted by
the convention; provided that our sister states of the Confederacy are
willing. A lengthy and heated discussion followed. The governor sent in a
message asking "who would desire a political union with those who have
murdered our sons, outraged our women, with demoniac malice wantonly
destroyed our property, and now seek to make slaves of us!" It would cause
civil war, he said, if the people at home attempted such a course. After
the reading of the message and some further debate, both houses united in
a declaration that extermination was preferable to reconstruction
according to the _Lincoln_ plan. The proposed resolution, the extended
debate, the governor's message, all clearly indicate a strong desire on
the part of some to end the war and return to the Union.[320]

With the opening of 1865 conditions in Alabama were not favorable to the
war party: the old coöperationists, with other malcontents, were charging
the Davis administration with every political crime; the state
administration was disorganized in half the counties; deserters and
stragglers were scattered throughout the state; and many of the state and
county officials were disaffected. Those who were in favor of war were in
the armies. Had the war continued until the August election, there is no
doubt that an administration would have been elected which would have
refused further support to the Confederacy. Had it not been for fear of
the soldier element, the malcontents at home could have controlled affairs
in the fall of 1864. For a year there had been indications that the
discontented were thinking of a _coup d'état_ and an immediate close of
the war. The formation of secret societies pledged to bring about peace
was a sign of formidable discontent.

The Peace Society

It was after the reverses of 1863 that the enthusiasm of the people for
the war very perceptibly declined. For the first time, many felt that
perhaps after all their cause would not win, and that the horrors of war
might be brought home to them by hostile invasion of their country. Public
opinion was more or less despondent. There was a searching for scapegoats
and a more pronounced hostility to the administration. The "cross-roads"
statesmen were sure that a different policy under another leader would
have been crowned with success, though what this policy should have been,
perhaps no two would have agreed. This feeling was largely confined to the
less well informed, but it was also found in a number of the old-time
conservatives who would never believe that extreme measures were
justifiable in any event, and who could never get over a feeling of
horror at all that the Democrats might do. If left alone, they thought,
time would have brought all things right in the end. It was as painful to
them to think that Lincoln was marching armies over the fragments of the
United States Constitution, as that the Davis administration was
strangling state sovereignty in the Confederate States. Their minds never
rose above the narrow legalism of their books. But they were few in
numbers as compared with the more ignorant people (who were conscious only
of dissatisfaction and suffering) who had willingly plunged into the war
"to whip the Yankees in ninety days," and who now thought that all that
had to be done to bring peace was to signify to the North a willingness to
stop fighting. This course, many thought, need not result in a loss of
their independence. Later they were minded to come back into the Union on
the old terms, and later still they were ready to make peace without
conditions and return to the Union. It seems never to have occurred to
them that northern opinion had changed since 1861, and that severe terms
of readmission would be exacted. The hardest condition likely to be
imposed, they thought, would be the gradual emancipation of the slaves. As
a rule, they owned few slaves, but such a condition would probably have
been considered harder by them than by the larger slaveholders who felt
that slavery had come to an end, no matter how the struggle might result.

This dissatisfaction culminated in the formation of numerous secret or
semi-secret political organizations which sprang up over the state, and
which together became generally known as the "Peace Society," though there
were other designations. Often these organizations were formed for
purposes bordering on treason; often not so, but only for constitutional
opposition to the administration. The extremes grew farther apart as the
war progressed, until the constitutional wing withdrew or ceased to exist,
and the other became, from the point of view of the government, wholly
treasonable in its purposes. These organizations had several thousand
members, at least half the active males left in the state.

The work of the peace party was first felt in the August elections of
1863. The governor, though a true and loyal man, was elected with the help
of a disaffected party, and a disaffected element was elected to the
legislature and to Congress. Six members of Congress from Alabama were
said to be "unionists," that is, in favor of ending the war at once and
returning to the Union.[321] A Confederate official who had wide
opportunities for observation reported that the district (Talladega) in
which he was stationed had been carried by the peace party under
circumstances that indicated treasonable influence. Unknown men were
elected to the legislature and to other offices by a secret order which,
he stated, had for its object the encouragement of desertion, the
protection of deserters, and resistance to the conscription laws. Some men
of influence and position belonged to it, and the leaders were believed to
be in communication with the enemy. The entire organization was not
disloyal, but he feared that the controlling element was faithless. The
election had been determined largely by the votes of stragglers and
deserters and of paroled Vicksburg soldiers who, it was found later, had
been "contaminated" by contact with the western soldiers of Grant's
army.[322] By this he evidently meant that the soldiers had been initiated
into the "Peace Society."

A few months later the "Peace Society" appeared among the soldiers of
General Clanton's brigade stationed at Pollard, in Conecuh County. Some of
the soldiers had served in the army of Tennessee, and had there been
initiated into this secret society. Clanton, who was strongly disliked by
General Bragg and not loved by General Polk, had much trouble with them
because he asserted that the order appeared first in Bragg's army and
spread from thence. Later developments showed that he was correct.[323]
It was in December, 1863, that the operations of the order among the
soldiers were exposed. A number of soldiers at Pollard determined to lay
down their arms on Christmas Day, as the only means of ending the war.
These troops, for the most part, were lately recruited from the poorer
classes of southwest Alabama by a popular leader and had never seen active
service. They were stationed near their homes and were exposed to home
influences. Upon them and their families the pressure of the war had been
heavy.[324] Many of them were exempt from service but had joined because
of Clanton's personal popularity, because they feared that later they
might become liable to service, and because they were promised special
privileges in the way of furloughs and stations near their homes. To this
unpromising material had been added conscripts and substitutes in whom the
fires of patriotism burned low, and who entered the service very
reluctantly. With them were a few veteran soldiers, and in command were
veteran officers. A secret society was formed among the discontented, with
all the usual accompaniment of signs, passwords, grips, oaths, and
obligations. Some bound themselves by solemn oaths never to fight the
enemy, to desert, and to encourage desertion--all this in order to break
down the Confederacy. General Maury, in command at Mobile, concluded after
investigation that the society had originated with the enemy and had
entered the southern army at Cumberland Gap.[325]

In regard to the discontent among the soldiers, Colonel Swanson of the
Fifty-ninth and Sixty-first Alabama[326] regiments (consolidated) stated
that there was a general disposition on the part of the poorer classes,
substitutes, and foreigners to accept terms and stop the war. They had
nothing anyway, so there was nothing to fight for, they said. There was no
general matured plan, and no leader, Colonel Swanson thought.[327] Major
Cunningham of the Fifty-seventh Alabama Regiment[328] reported that there
had been considerable manifestation of revolutionary spirit on account of
the tax-in-kind law and the impressment system, and that there was much
reckless talk, even among good men, of protecting their families from the
injustice of the government, even if they had to lay down their arms and
go home.[329] General Clanton said that the society had existed in
Hilliard's Legion and Gracie's brigade, and that few men, he was sure,
joined it for treasonable purposes.[330] Before the appointed
time--Christmas Day--sixty or seventy members of the order mutinied and
the whole design was exposed. Seventy members were arrested and sent to
Mobile for trial by court-martial.[331] There is no record of the action
of the court. The purged regiments were then ordered to the front and
obeyed without a single desertion. Bolling Hall's battalion, which was
sent to the Western army for having in it such a society, made a splendid
record at Chickamauga and in other battles, and came out of the
Chickamauga fight with eighty-two bullet-holes in its colors.[332]

During the summer and fall of 1863 and in 1864 the Confederate officials
in north Alabama often reported that they had found certain traces of
secret organizations which were hostile to the Confederate government. The
Provost-Marshal's Department in 1863 obtained information of the existence
of a secret society between the lines in Alabama and Tennessee, the object
of which was to encourage desertion.

Confederate soldiers at home on furlough joined the organization and made
known its object to the Confederate authorities. The members were pledged
not to assist the Confederacy in any way, to encourage desertion of the
north Alabama soldiers, and to work for a revolution in the state
government. Stringent oaths were taken by the members, a code of signals,
and passwords was used, and a well-organized society was formed. The bulk
of the membership consisted of tories and deserters, with a few
discontented Confederates. Their society gave information to the Federals
in north Alabama and Tennessee and had agents far within the Confederate
lines, organizing discontent. General Clanton early in 1864 endeavored to
break up the organization in north Alabama and made a number of arrests,
but failed to crush the order.

In middle Alabama, about the same time (the spring of 1864), the workings
of a treasonable secret society were brought to light. Colonel Jefferson
Falkner of the Eighth Confederate Infantry overheard a conversation
between two malcontents and began to investigate. He found that in the
central counties a secret society was working to break down the
Confederate government and bring about peace. The plans were not
perfected, but some were in favor of returning to the Union on the
Arkansas or Sebastian platform,[333] others wanted to send to Washington
and make terms, and still others were in favor of unconditional
submission. As to methods, the malcontents meant to secure control of the
state administration, either by revolution or by elections in the summer
of 1865, then they would negotiate with the United States and end the war.
The society had agents in both the Western army and the Army of Northern
Virginia, tampering with the soldiers and endeavoring to carry the
organization into the Federal army. The leaders in the movement hoped to
organize into one party all who were discontented with the administration.
If successful in this, they would be strong enough either to overthrow the
state government, which was supported only by home guards, or by
obstruction to force the state government to make peace. The oaths,
passwords, and signals of this society were similar to those of the north
Alabama organization, with which it was in communication. Conscript
officers, county officials, medical boards, and members of the legislature
were members of the order. If a deserter were arrested, some member
released him; the members claimed that the society caused the loss of the
battle of Missionary Ridge and the surrender at Vicksburg.

The strength of the so-called Peace Society lay in Alabama, Georgia,
Tennessee, and North Carolina. The organizers were called Eminents. They
gave the "degree" to (that is, initiated) those whom they considered
proper persons. No records were kept; the members did not know one another
except by recognition through signals. They received directions from the
Eminents, who accommodated their instructions to the person initiated. An
ignorant but loyal person was told that the object of the order was to
secure a change of administration; the disloyal were told that the purpose
was to encourage desertion and mutiny in the army, to injure loyal
citizens, and to overthrow the state and Confederate governments. Owing to
the non-intercourse between members there were many in the order who never
knew the real objects of the leaders or Eminents, who intended to use the
organization to further their designs in 1865. The swift collapse of the
Confederacy in the spring of 1865 anticipated the work of the secret
societies. The anti-Confederate element was, however, left somewhat
organized through the work of the order.[334]

Reconstruction Sentiment

Besides the open obstruction of politicians, officials, and legislature,
and the secret opposition of the peace societies, there was a third
movement for reconstruction. This movement took place in that part of
Alabama held by the Federal armies, and the reconstruction meetings were
encouraged by the Union army officers. The leaders were D. C. Humphreys
and Jeremiah Clemens, whose defection has been noted before. A more
substantial element than the tories and deserters supported this
movement--the dissatisfied property holders who were afraid of
confiscation. Several Confederate officers were drawn into the movement

Early in 1864, Humphreys[336] issued an elaborate address renouncing his
errors. There was no hope, he told his fellow-citizens, that foreign
powers would intervene. Slavery as a permanent institution must be given
up. Law and order must be enforced and constitutional authority
reëstablished. Slavery was the cause of revolution, and as an institution
was at an end. With slavery abolished, there was, therefore, no reason why
the war should not end. The right to regulate the labor question would be
secured to the state by the United States government. At present labor was
destroyed, and in order to regulate labor, there must be peace. The
address was printed and distributed throughout the state with the
assistance of the Federal officials. A number of the packages of these
addresses was seized by some women and thrown into the Tennessee
River.[337] Jeremiah Clemens, who had deserted in 1862, issued an address
to the people of the South advocating the election of Lincoln as
President.[338] March 5, 1864, a reconstruction meeting, thinly attended,
was held in Huntsville under the protection of the Union troops. Clemens
presided. Resolutions were passed denying the legality of secession
because the ordinance had not been submitted to the people for their
ratification or rejection. Professions of devotion and loyalty to the
United States were made by Clemens, the late major-general of Alabama
militia and secessionist of 1861.[339] A week later the same party met
again. No young men were present, for they were in the army. All were men
over forty-five, concerned for their property. Clemens spoke, denouncing
the "twenty-negro" law. The Gilchrist story was here originated by Clemens
and told for the first time. The story was that J. G. Gilchrist of
Montgomery County went to the Secretary of War, Mr. Walker, and urged him
to begin hostilities by firing on Fort Sumter, saying, "You must sprinkle
blood in the face of the people of Alabama or the state will be back into
the Union within ten days." In closing, Clemens said, "Thank God, there is
now no prospect of the Confederacy succeeding."

D. C. Humphreys then proposed his plan: slavery was dead, but by
submitting to Federal authority gradual emancipation could be secured, and
also such guarantees as to the future status of the negro as would relieve
the people from social, economic, and political dangers. He expressed
entire confidence in the conservatism of the northern people, and asserted
that if only the ordinance of secession were revoked, the southern people
would have as long a time as they pleased to get rid of the institution of
slavery. In case of return to the Union the people would have political
coöperation to enable them to secure control of negro labor. "There is
really no difference, in my opinion," he said, "whether we hold them as
slaves or obtain their labor by some other method. Of course, we prefer
the old method. But that is not the question." He announced the defection
from the Confederacy of Vice-President Stephens, and bitterly denounced
Ben Butler, Davis, and Slidell, to whose intrigues he attributed the
present troubles. Resolutions were proposed by him and adopted,
acknowledging the hopelessness of secession and advising a return to the
Union. Longer war, it was declared, would be dangerous to the liberties of
the people, and the restoration of civil government was necessary. The
governor was asked to call a convention for the purpose of reuniting
Alabama to the Union. It was not expected, it was stated, that the
governor would do this; but his refusal would be an excuse for the
independent action of north Alabama and a movement toward setting up a new
state government. Busteed could then come down and hold a "bloody assize,
trying traitors and bushwhackers."[340]

In the early winter of 1864-1865, the northern newspaper correspondents in
the South[341] began to write of the organization of a strong peace party
called the "State Rights party," in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi. The
leaders were in communication with the Washington authorities. They
claimed that each state had the right to negotiate for itself terms of
reconstruction. The plan was to secure control of the state administration
and then apply for readmission to the Union. The destruction of Hood's
army removed the fear of the soldier element. Several thousand of Hood's
suffering and dispirited soldiers took the oath of allegiance to the
United States, or dispersed to their homes. Early in 1865 peace meetings
were held in Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi, within the Confederate
lines; commissioners were sent to Washington; and the tories and deserters
organized. A delegation waited on Governor Watts to ask him to negotiate
for the return of the state to the Union, but did not get, nor did they
expect, a favorable answer from him. The peace party expected to gain the
August elections and elect as governor J. C. Bradley of Huntsville, or M.
J. Bulger of Tallapoosa.[342] The plan, then, was not to wait for the
inauguration in November, but to have the newly elected administration
take charge at once. It was continually reported that General P. D. Roddy
was to head the movement.[343]

There is no doubt that during the winter of 1864-1865 some kind of
negotiation was going on with the Federal authorities. J. J. Giers, who
was a brother-in-law of State Senator Patton,[344] was in constant
communication with General Grant. In one of his reports to Grant he stated
that Roddy and another Confederate general had sent Major McGaughey,
Roddy's brother-in-law, to meet Giers near Moulton, in Lawrence County, to
learn what terms could be obtained for the readmission of Alabama. Major
McGaughey said that the people considered that affairs were hopeless and
wanted peace. If the terms were favorable, steps would be taken to induce
Governor Watts to accept them. If Watts should refuse, a civil and
military movement would be begun to organize a state government for
Alabama which would include three-fourths of the state. The plan, it was
stated, was indorsed by the leading public men. The peace leaders wanted
Grant, or the Washington administration, to announce at once a policy of
gradual emancipation in order to reassure those afraid of outright
abolition, and to "disintegrate the rebel soldiery" of north Alabama,
which they said was never strongly devoted to the Confederacy. It was
asserted that all the counties north of the cotton belt and those in the
southeast were ready for a movement toward reconstruction. Giers stated
that approaches were then being made to Governor Watts. Andrew Johnson,
the newly elected Vice-President, vouched for the good character of
Giers.[345] Ten days later Giers wrote Grant that on account of the rumors
of the submission of various Confederate generals he had caused to be
published a contradiction of the report of the agreement with the
Confederate leaders. He further stated that one of Roddy's officers,
Lieutenant W. Alexander, had released a number of Federal prisoners
without parole or exchange, according to agreement.[346] In several
instances, in the spring of 1865, subordinate Confederate commanders
proposed a truce, and after Lee's surrender and Wilson's raid this was a
general practice. During the months of April and May, there was a combined
movement of citizens and soldiers in a number of counties in north Alabama
to reorganize civil government according to a plan furnished by General
Thomas, Giers being the intermediary.[347] On May 1 General Steele of the
second army of invasion was informed at Montgomery by J. J. Seibels, L. E.
Parsons, and J. C. Bradley--all well-known obstructionists--that
two-thirds of the people of Alabama would take up arms to put down the
"rebels."[348] Colonel Seibels alone of that gallant company had ever
taken up arms for any cause. The other two and their kind may have been,
and doubtless often were, warlike in their conversation, but they never
drew steel to support their convictions.

It is quite likely that the strength of the disaffection, especially in
north and east Alabama, was exaggerated by the reports of both Union and
Confederate authorities. There never had been during the war much loyalty,
in the proper sense of the word, to the United States. There was much
pure indifference on the part of some people who desired the strongest
side to win as soon as possible and leave them in safety. There was much
discontent on the part of others who had supported the Confederacy for a
while, but who, for various reasons, had fallen away from the cause and
now wanted peace and reunion. There was a very large element of outright
lawlessness in the opposition to the Confederate government. The lowest
class of men on both sides or of no side united to plunder that
defenceless land between the two armies. This class wanted no peace, for
on disorder they thrived. For years after the war ended they gave trouble
to Federal and state authorities. The discontent was actively manifested
by civilians, deserters, "mossbacks," "bomb-proofs," and "feather beds."
These had never strongly supported the Confederacy. It was largely a
timid, stay-at-home crowd, with a few able but erratic leaders. The
soldiers may have been dissatisfied,--many of them were,--and many of them
left the army in the spring of 1865 to go home and plant crops for the
relief of their suffering families. Many of them in the dark days after
Nashville and Franklin took the oath of allegiance and went home, sure
that the war was ended and the cause was lost. Yet these were not the ones
found in such organizations as the Peace Society. That was largely made up
of people whom the true soldier despised as worthless. There were few
soldiers in the peace movement and these only at the last.

The peace party, however, was strong in one way. All were voters and,
being at home, could vote. The soldiers in the army had no voice in the
elections. The malcontents, had they possessed courage and good leaders,
could have controlled the state after the summer of 1864. The able men in
the movement were not those who inspired confidence in their followers.
There were no troops in the state to keep them down, and the only check
seems to have been their fear of the soldiers, who were fighting at the
front, in the armies of Lee and Johnston, of Wheeler and Hood and Taylor.
They were certainly afraid of the vengeance of these soldiers.[349] It was
much better that the war resulted in the complete destruction of the
southern cause, leaving no questions for future controversy, such as would
have arisen had the peace party succeeded in its plans.




Early in the war the blockade of the southern ports became so effective
that the southern states were shut off from their usual sources of supply
by sea. Trade through the lines between the United States and the
Confederate States was forbidden, and Alabama, owing to its central
location, suffered more from the blockade than any other state. For three
years the Federal lines touched the northern part of the state only, and,
as no railroads connected north and south Alabama, contraband trade was
difficult in that direction. Mobile, the only port of the state, was
closely blockaded by a strong Federal fleet. The railroad communications
with other states were poor, and the Confederate government usually kept
the railroads busy in the public service. Consequently, the people of
Alabama were forced to develop certain industries in order to secure the
necessaries of life. But outside these the industrial development was
naturally in the direction of the production of materials of war.

Military Industries

During the first two years of the war volunteers were much more plentiful
than equipment. The arms seized at Mount Vernon and other arsenals in
Alabama were old flint-locks altered for the use of percussion caps and
were almost worthless, being valued at $2 apiece. These were afterwards
transferred to the Confederate States, which returned but few of them to
arm the Alabama troops.[350] Late in 1860 a few thousand old muskets were
purchased by the state from the arsenal at Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for
$2.50 each. A few Mississippi rifles were also secured, and with these the
Second Alabama Infantry was armed. These rifles, however, required a
special kind of ammunition, and this made them almost worthless. Other
arms were found to be useless for the same reason. Both cavalry and
infantry regiments went to the front armed with single and double
barrelled shot-guns, squirrel rifles, muskets, flint-locks, and old
pistols. No ammunition could be supplied for such a miscellaneous
collection. Many regiments had to wait for months before arms could be
obtained. Before October, 1861, several thousand men had left Alabama
unarmed, and several thousand more, also unarmed, were left waiting in the
state camps.[351] In 1861 the state legislature bought a thousand pikes
and a hundred bowie-knives to arm the Forty-eighth Militia Regiment, which
was defending Mobile. The sum of $250,000 was appropriated to lend to
those who would manufacture firearms for the government.[352] In 1863 the
Confederate Congress authorized the enlistment of companies armed with
pikes who should take the places of men armed with firearms when the
latter were dead or absent.[353] Private arms--muskets, rifles, pistols,
shot-guns, carbines--were called for and purchased from the owners when
not donated.[354] An offer was made to advance fifty per cent of the
amount necessary to set up machinery for the manufacture of small
arms.[355] Old Spanish flint-lock muskets were brought in from Cuba
through the blockade, altered, and placed in the hands of the troops.[356]

[Illustration: INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT 1861-1865]

In 1862 a small-arms factory was established at Tallassee which employed
150 men and turned out about 150 carbines a week. At the end of 1864 it
had produced only 6000.[357] At Montgomery the Alabama Arms Manufacturing
Company had the best machinery in the Confederacy for making Enfield
rifles. At Selma were the state and Confederate arsenals, a navy-yard, and
naval foundry with machinery of English make, of the newest and most
complete pattern. It had been brought through the blockade from Europe and
set up at Selma because that seemed to be a place safe from invasion and
from the raids of the enemy. Here the vessels for the defence of Mobile
were built, heavy ordnance was cast, with shot and shell, and plating for
men-of-war. The armored ram _Tennessee_, famous in the fight in Mobile
Bay, the gunboats _Morgan_, _Selma_, and _Gaines_ were all built at the
Selma navy-yard--guns, armor, and everything being manufactured on the
spot. When the _Tennessee_ surrendered, after a terrible battle, its armor
had not been penetrated by a single shot or shell. The best cannon in
America were cast at the works in Selma. The naval foundry employed 3000
men, the other works as many more. Half the cannon and two-thirds of the
fixed ammunition used during the last two years of the war were made at
these foundries and factories. The foundry destroyed by Wilson was
pronounced by experts to be the best in existence. It could turn out at
short notice a fifteen-inch Brooks or a mountain howitzer. Swords, rifles,
muskets, pistols, caps, were manufactured in great quantities. There were
more than a hundred buildings, which covered fifty acres; and after
Wilson's destructive work, Truman, the war correspondent, said that they
presented the greatest mass of ruins he had ever seen.[358] There was a
navy-yard on the Tombigbee, in Clarke County, near the Sunflower Bend.
Several small vessels had been completed and several war vessels, probably
gunboats, were in process of construction here when the war ended; both
vessels and machinery were destroyed by order of the Confederate

Gunpowder was scarce throughout the war, and nitre or saltpetre, its
principal ingredient, was not to be purchased from abroad. A powder mill
was established at Cahaba,[360] but the ingredients were lacking. Charcoal
for gunpowder was made from willow, dogwood, and similar woods. The nitre
on hand was soon exhausted, and it was sought for in the caves of the
limestone region of Alabama and Tennessee. In north Alabama there were
many of these large caves. The earth in them was dug up and put in hoppers
and water poured over it to leach out the nitre. The lye was caught (just
as for making soft soap from lye ashes), boiled down, and then dried in
the sunshine.[361] The earth in cellars and under old houses was scraped
up and leached for the nitre in it. In 1862 a corps of officers under the
title of the Nitre and Mining Bureau[362] was organized by the War
Department to work the nitre caves of north Alabama which lay in the
doubtful region between the Union and the Confederate lines, and which
were often raided by the enemy. The men were subjected to military
discipline and were under the absolute command of the superintendent, who
often called them out to repulse Federal raiders. As much as possible in
this department, as in the others, exempts and negroes were used for
laborers. For clerical work those disabled for active service were
appointed, and instructions were issued that employment should be given
to needy refugee women.[363] These important nitre works were repeatedly
destroyed by the Federals, who killed or captured many of the
employees.[364] In the district of upper Alabama, under the command of
Captain William Gabbitt, whose headquarters were at Blue Mountain (now
Anniston), most of the work was done in the limestone caves of the
mountain region.[365] Several hundred men--whites and negroes--were
employed in extracting the nitre from the cave earth. To the end of
September, 1864, this district had produced 222,665 pounds of nitre at a
cost of $237,977.17, war prices.[366]

The supply from the caves proved insufficient, and artificial nitre beds
or nitraries were prepared in the cities of south and central Alabama. It
was necessary to have them near large towns, in order to obtain a
plentiful supply of animal matter and potash, and the necessary labor.
Efforts were also made to induce planters in marl or limestone counties to
work plantation earth.[367] Under the supervision of Professor W. H. C.
Price, nitraries were established at Selma, Mobile, Talladega, Tuscaloosa,
and Montgomery. Negro labor was used almost entirely, each negro having
charge of one small nitre bed. To October, 1864, the nitraries of south
Alabama produced 34,716 pounds at a cost of $26,171.14, which was somewhat
cheaper than the nitre from the caves. From these nitraries better results
were obtained than from the French, Swedish, and Russian nitraries which
served as models. The Confederate nitre beds were from sixteen to
twenty-seven months old in October, 1864, and hence not at their best
producing stage. Yet, allowing for the difference in age, they gave better
results, as they produced from 2.57 to 3.3 ounces of nitre per cubic foot,
while the average European nitraries at four years of age gave 4 ounces
per cubic foot. Earth from under old houses and from cellars produced from
2 to 4 ounces to the cubic foot. Nitre caves produced from 6 to 12 ounces
per cubic foot. Most of the nitre thus obtained was made into powder at
the mills in Selma. There were some private manufacturers of nitre, and to
encourage these the Confederate Congress authorized the advance to makers
of fifty per cent of the cost of the necessary machinery.[368]

The state legislature appropriated $30,000 to encourage the manufacture
and preparation of powder, saltpetre (nitre), sulphur, and lead. Little of
the last article was found in Alabama.[369] Some of the powder works were
in operation as early as 1861, and in that year the War Department gave
Dr. Ullman of Tallapoosa a contract to supply 1000 to 1500 pounds of
sulphur a day.[370]

The Confederate Nitre and Mining Bureau had charge of the production of
iron in Alabama for the use of the Confederacy. The mines were principally
in the hilly region south of the Tennessee River, where several furnaces
and iron works were already established before the war. Two or three new
companies, with capital of $1,000,000 each, had bought mineral lands and
had commenced operations when the war broke out. The Confederate
government bought the property or gave the companies financial assistance.
The iron district was often raided by the Federals, who blew up the
furnaces and wrecked the iron works.[371] The Irondale works, near Elyton,
were begun in 1862, and made much iron, but they also were destroyed in
1864 by the Federals.[372] Other large iron furnaces, with their forges,
foundries, and rolling-mills, were destroyed by Rousseau's raid in 1864.
The government employed several hundred conscripts and several thousand
negroes in the mines and rolling-mills. It also offered fifty per cent of
the cost of equipment to encourage the opening of new mines by private
owners.[373] There is record of only about 15,000 tons of Alabama iron
being mined by the Confederacy, but probably there was much more.[374] The
iron was sent to Selma, Montgomery, and other places for manufacture. The
ordnance cast in Selma was of Alabama iron; and after the war, when the
United States sold the ruins of the arsenal, the big guns were cut up and
sent to Philadelphia. Here the fine quality of the iron attracted the
attention of experts and led to the development by northern capital of the
iron industry in north Alabama.

The Confederate government encouraged the building and extension of
railroads, and paid large sums to them for the transportation of troops,
munitions of war, and military supplies.[375] Several lines of road within
the state were made military roads, and the government extended their
lines, built bridges and cars, and kept the lines in repair.[376] In 1862
$150,000 was advanced to the Alabama and Mississippi Railway Company, to
complete the line between Selma and Meridian,[377] and the duty on iron
needed for the road was remitted.[378] On June 25 of this year this road
was seized by the military authorities in order to finish it,[379] and
because of the lack of iron D. H. Kenny was directed (July 21, 1863) to
impress the iron and rolling stock belonging to the Alabama and Florida
Railway, the Gainesville Branch of the Mobile and Ohio, the Cahaba,
Marion, and Greensborough Railroad, and the Uniontown and Newberne
Railroad. The Alabama and Mississippi road was a very important line,
since it tapped the supply districts of Mississippi and the Black Belt of
Alabama. There were many difficulties in the way of the builders. In 1862
the locomotives were wearing out and no iron was to be obtained. In the
fall of the same year the planters withdrew their negroes who were working
on the road, and left the bridges half finished. But finally, in December,
1862, the road was completed.[380] In the fall of 1862 a road between Blue
Mountain, Alabama, and Rome, Georgia, was planned, and $1,122,480.92 was
appropriated by the Confederate Congress, a mortgage being taken as
security.[381] This road was graded and some bridges built and iron laid,
but was not in running order before the end of the war.

Telegraph lines, which had been few before the war, were now placed along
each railroad, and several cross-country lines were put up. The first
important new line was along the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, from Mobile to

Private Manufacturing Enterprises

Both the state and the Confederate government encouraged manufactures by
favorable legislation. The Confederate government was always ready to
advance half of the cost of the machinery and to take goods in payment. A
law of Alabama in 1861 secured the rights of inventors and authors. All
patents under the United States laws prior to January 11, 1861, were to
hold good under the state laws, and the United States patent and copyright
laws were adopted for Alabama.[383] Later, jurisdiction over patents,
inventions, and copyrights was transferred to the Confederate government.
A bonus of five and ten cents apiece on all cotton and wool cards made in
Alabama was offered by the legislature in December, 1861.[384] All
employees in iron mills, in foundries, and in factories supplying the
state or Confederate governments with arms, clothing, cloth, and the like
were declared by the state exempt from military duty.

Factories were soon in operation all over the state, especially in central
Alabama. In all places where there were government factories there also
were found factories conducted by private individuals. In 1861 there were
factories at Tallassee, Autaugaville, and Prattville, with 23,000 spindles
and 800 employees, which could make 5000 yards of good tent cloth a
day.[385] And other cotton mills were established in north Alabama as
early as 1861.[386] The Federals burned these buildings and destroyed the
machinery in 1862 and 1863. There was the most "unsparing hostility
displayed by the northern armies to this branch of industry. They
destroyed instantly every cotton factory within their reach."[387]

At Tuscaloosa were cotton and shoe factories, tanneries, and an iron
foundry. A large cotton factory was established in Bibb County, and at
Gainesville there were workshops and machine-shops. In addition to the
government works, Selma had machine-shops, car shops, iron mills, and
foundries, cotton, wool, and harness factories, conducted by private
individuals. There were cotton and woollen factories at Prattville and
Autaugaville, and at Montgomery were car shops, harness shops, iron mills,
foundries, and machine-shops. The best tent cloth and uniform cloth was
made at the factories of Tallassee. The state itself began the manufacture
of shoes, salt, clothing, whiskey, alcohol, army supplies, and supplies
for the destitute.[388] Extensive manufacturing establishments of various
kinds in Madison, Lauderdale, Tuscumbia, Bibb, Autauga, Coosa, and
Tallapoosa counties were destroyed during the war by the Federals. There
were iron works in Bibb, Shelby, Calhoun, and Jefferson counties, and in
1864 there were a dozen large furnaces with rolling-mills and foundries in
the state.[389] However, in that year the governor complained that though
Alabama had immense quantities of iron ore, even the planters in the iron
country were unable to get sufficient iron to make and mend agricultural
implements, since all iron that was mined was used for purposes of the
Confederacy.[390] The best and strongest cast iron used by the Confederacy
was made at Selma and at Briarfield. The cotton factories and tanneries in
the Tennessee valley were destroyed in 1862 by the Federal troops.[391]

Salt Making

Salt was one of the first necessaries of life which became scarce on
account of the blockade. The Adjutant and Inspector-General of Alabama
stated, March 20, 1862, that the Confederacy needed 6,000,000 bushels of
salt, and that only an enormous price would force the people to make it.
In Montgomery salt was then very scarce, bringing $20 per sack, and
speculators were using every trick and fraud in order to control the
supply.[392] The poor people especially soon felt the want of it, and in
November, 1861, the legislature passed an act to encourage the manufacture
of salt at the state reservation in Clarke County.[393] The state
government even began to make salt at these salt springs. At the Upper
Works, near Old St. Stephens, 600 men and 120 teams were employed at 30
furnaces, which were kept going all the time, the production amounting to
600 bushels a day. These works were in operation from 1862 to 1865. The
Lower Works, near Sunflower Bend on the Tombigbee River, for four years
employed 400 men with 80 teams at 20 furnaces. The production here was
about 400 bushels a day. The Central Works, near Salt Mountain, were under
private management, and, it is said, were much more successful than the
works under state management.[394] The price of salt at the works ranged
from $2.50 to $7 a bushel in gold, or from $3 to $40 in currency. From
1861 to 1865, 500,000 bushels of good salt were produced each year.

To obtain the salt water, wells were bored to depths ranging from 60 to
100 feet,--one well, however, was 600 feet deep,--while in the bottom or
swamp lands brine was sometimes found at a depth of 8 feet. The water at
first rose to the surface and overflowed about 30 gallons a minute in some
wells, but as more wells were sunk the brine ceased to flow out and had to
be pumped about 16 feet by steam or horse power. It was boiled in large
iron kettles like those then used in syrup making and which are still seen
in remote districts in the South. Seven or eight kettles of water would
make one kettle of salt. This was about the same percentage that was
obtained at the Onondaga (New York) salt springs. About the same boiling
was required as in making syrup from sugar-cane juice. The wells were
scattered for miles over the country and thousands of men were employed.
For three years more than 6000 men, white and black, were employed at the
salt works of Clarke County, from 2000 to 3000 working at the Upper Works
alone. All were not at work at the furnaces, but hundreds were engaged in
cutting and hauling wood for fuel, and in sacking and barrelling salt. It
is said that in the woods the blows of no single axe nor the sound of any
single falling tree could be distinguished; the sound was simply
continuous. Nine or ten square miles of pine timber were cleared for fuel.

The salt was sent down the Tombigbee to Mobile or conveyed in wagons into
the interior of Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia. These wagons were so
numerous that for miles from the various works it was difficult to cross
the road. The whole place had the appearance of a manufacturing city.
These works had been in operation to some extent since 1809. The wells
were exhausted from 1865 to 1870, when they began flowing again.

Besides the smaller works and large private works there were hundreds of
smaller establishments. When salt was needed on a plantation in the Black
Belt, the overseer would take hands, with pots and kettles, and go to the
salt wells, camp out for several weeks, and make enough salt for the
year's supply. All private makers had to give a certain amount to the
state.[395] People from the interior of the state and from southeast
Alabama went to the Florida coast and made salt by boiling the sea water.
The state had salt works at Saltville, Virginia, but found it difficult to
get transportation for the product. Salt was given to the poor people by
the state, or sold to them at a moderate price. The legislature authorized
the governor to take possession of all salt when necessary for public use,
paying the owners a just compensation; $150,000 was appropriated for this
purpose in 1861, and in 1862 it was made a penal offence to send salt out
of the state.[396] A Salt Commission was appointed to look after the salt
works owned by the state in Louisiana. A private salt maker in Clarke
County made a contract to deliver two-fifths of his product to the state
at the cost of manufacture, and the state purchased some salt from the
Louisiana saltbeds.[397] As salt became scarcer the people took the brine
in old pork and beef barrels and boiled it down. The soil under old
smoke-houses was dug up, put in hoppers, and bleached like ashes, and the
brine boiled down and dried in the sunshine.[398]

At Bon Secour Bay, near Mobile, there were salt works consisting of
fifteen houses, capable of making seventy-five bushels per day from the
sea-water. In 1864 these were burned by the Federals, who often destroyed
the salt works along the Florida coast.[399] At Saltmarsh, ten miles west
of Selma, there were works which furnished much of the salt used in
Mississippi, central Alabama, and east Georgia during the years 1862,
1863, and 1864. Wells were dug to the depth of twelve or fifteen feet,
when salt water was struck. The wells were then curbed, furnaces of lime
rock were built, and upon them large kettles were placed. The water was
pumped from the wells and run into the kettles through troughs, then
boiled down, and the moisture evaporated by the sun. The fires were kept
up day and night. A large number of blacks and whites were employed at
these wells, and, as salt makers were exempt from military duty, the work
was quite popular.[400]

Besides the industries above mentioned there were many minor enterprises.
Household manufactures were universal. The more important companies were
chartered by the legislature. The acts of the war period show that in 1861
there were incorporated six insurance companies and the charters of others
were amended to suit the changed conditions; three railroad companies were
incorporated, and aid was granted to others for building purposes. Roads
carrying troops and munitions free were exempted from taxation. Two mining
and manufacturing companies were incorporated, four iron and coal
companies, one ore foundry, an express company,[401] a salt manufacturing
company, a chemical manufacturing company, a coal and leather company, and
a wine and fruit company. In 1862 the legislature incorporated four iron
and foundry companies, a railroad company, the Southern Express Company, a
gas-light company, six coal and iron companies, a rolling-mill, and an oil
company, and amended the charters of four railroad companies and two
insurance companies. In 1864 two railroad companies were given permission
to manufacture alcohol and lubricating oil, and the Citronelle Wine,
Fruit, and Nursery Company was incorporated. Various other manufacturing
companies--of drugs, barrels, and pottery--were established.

Besides salt the state made alcohol and whiskey for the poor. Every man
who had a more than usual regard for his comfort and wanted to keep out of
the army had a tannery in his back yard, and made a few shoes or some
harness for the Confederacy, thus securing exemption.

Governor Moore, in his message to the legislature on October 28, 1861,
said: "Mechanical arts and industrial pursuits, hitherto practically
unknown to our people, are already in operation. The clink of the hammer
and the busy hum of the workshop are beginning to be heard throughout our
land. Our manufactories are rapidly increasing and the inconvenience which
would result from the continuance of the war and the closing of our ports
for years would be more than compensated by forcing us to the development
of our abundant resources, and the tone and the temper it would give to
our national character. Under such circumstances the return of peace would
find us a self-reliant and truly independent people."[402] And had the
war ended early in 1864, the state would have been well provided with

The raids through the state in 1864 and 1865 destroyed most of the
manufacturing establishments. The rest, whether owned by the government or
private persons, were seized by the Federal troops at the surrender and
were dismantled.[403]


Banks and Banking

In a circular letter dated December 4, 1860, and addressed to the banks,
Governor Moore announced that should the state secede from the Union, as
seemed probable, $1,000,000 in specie, or its equivalent, would be needed
by the administration. The state bonds could not be sold in the North nor
in Europe, except at a ruinous discount, and a tax on the people at this
time would be inexpedient. Therefore he recommended that the banks hold
their specie. Otherwise there would be a run on the banks, and should an
extra session of the legislature be called to authorize the banks to
suspend specie payments, such action would produce a run and thus defeat
the object. He requested the banks to suspend specie payments, trusting to
the convention to legalize this action.[404] The governor then issued an
address to the people stating his reasons for such a step. It was done, he
said, at the request and by the advice of many citizens whose opinions
were entitled to respect and consideration. Such a course, they thought,
would relieve the banks from a run during the cotton season, would enable
them to aid the state, would do away with the expense of a special session
of the legislature, would prevent the sale of state bonds at a great
sacrifice, and would prevent extra taxation of the people in time of
financial crisis.[405]

Three banks--the Central, Eastern, and Commercial--suspended at the
governor's request and made a loan to the state of $200,000 in coin. Their
suspension was legalized later by an ordinance of the convention. The
Bank of Mobile, the Northern Bank, and the Southern Bank refused to
suspend, though they announced that the state should have their full
support. The legislature passed an act in February, 1861, authorizing the
suspension on condition that the banks subscribe for ten year state bonds
at their par value. The bonds were to stand as capital, and the bills
issued by the banks upon these bonds were to be receivable in payment of
taxes. The amount which each bank was to pay into the treasury for the
bonds was fixed, and no interest was to be paid by the state on these
bonds until specie payments were resumed. All the banks suspended under
these acts, and thus the government secured most of the coin in the
state.[406] In October, 1861, before all the banks had suspended, state
bonds at par to the amount of $975,066.68 had been sold--all but $28,500
to the banks. By early acts specie payments were to be resumed in May,
1862, but in December, 1861, the suspension was continued until one year
after the conclusion of peace with the United States. By this law the
banks were to receive at par the Confederate treasury notes in payment of
debts, their notes being good for public dues. The banks were further
required to make a loan to the state of $200,000 to pay its quota of the
Confederate war tax of August 16, 1861. So the privilege of suspension was
worth paying for.[407]

The banking law was revised by the convention so that a bank might deposit
with the state comptroller stocks of the Confederate States or of Alabama,
receiving in return notes countersigned by the comptroller amounting to
twice the market value of the bonds deposited. If a bank had in deposit
with the comptroller under the old law any stocks of the United States,
they could be withdrawn upon the deposit of an equal amount of Confederate
stocks or bonds of the state. The same ordinance provided that none except
citizens of Alabama and members of state corporations might engage in the
banking business under this law. But no rights under the old law were to
be affected. It was further provided that subsequent legislation might
require any "free" bank to reduce its circulation to an amount not
exceeding the market value of the bonds deposited with the comptroller.
The notes thus retired were to be cancelled by the comptroller.[408] The
suspension of specie payments was followed by an increase of banking
business; note issues were enlarged; eleven new banks were chartered,[409]
and none wound up affairs. They paid dividends regularly of from 6 to 10
per cent in coin, in Confederate notes, or in both. Speculation in
government funds was quite profitable to the banks.

Issues of Bonds and Notes

The convention authorized the general assembly of the state to issue bonds
to such amounts and in such sums as seemed best, thus giving the assembly
practically unlimited discretion. But it was provided that money must not
be borrowed except for purposes of military defence, unless by a
two-thirds vote of the members elected to each house; and the faith and
credit of the state was pledged for the punctual payment of the principal
and interest.[410]

The legislature hastened to avail itself of this permission. In 1861 a
bond issue of $2,000,000 for defence, and not liable to taxation, was
authorized at one time; at another, $385,000 for defence, besides an issue
of $1,000,000 in treasury notes receivable for taxes. Of the first issue
authorized, only $1,759,500 were ever issued. Opposition to taxation
caused the state to take up the war tax of $2,000,000 (August 19, 1861),
and for this purpose $1,700,000 in bonds was issued, the banks supplying
the remainder. There was a relaxation in taxation during the war; paper
money was easily printed, and the people were opposed to heavy taxes.[411]

In 1862 bonds to the amount of $2,000,000 were issued for the benefit of
the indigent. The governor was given unlimited authority to issue bonds
and notes, receivable for taxes, to "repair the treasury," and $2,085,000
in bonds were issued under this permit. These bonds drew interest at 6
per cent, ran for twenty years, and sold at a premium of from 50 per cent
to 100 per cent. Bonds were used both for civil and for military purposes,
but chiefly for the support of the destitute. Treasury notes to the amount
of $3,500,000 were issued, drawing interest at 5 per cent, and receivable
for taxes. The Confederate Congress came to the aid of Alabama with a
grant of $1,200,000 for the defence of Mobile.[412] In 1863 notes and
bonds for $4,000,000 were issued for the benefit of indigent families of
soldiers, and $1,500,000 for defence; $90,000 in bonds was paid for the
steamer _Florida_, which was later turned over to the Confederate
government.[413] In 1864 $7,000,000 was appropriated for the support of
indigent families of soldiers, and an unlimited issue of bonds and notes
was authorized.[414] In 1862 the Alabama legislature proposed that each
state should guarantee the debt of the Confederate States in proportion to
its representation in Congress. This measure was opposed by the other
states and failed.[415] A year later a resolution of the legislature
declared that the people of Alabama would cheerfully submit to any tax,
not too oppressive in amount or unequal in operation, laid by the
Confederate government for the purpose of reducing the volume of currency
and appreciating its value. The assembly also signified its disapproval of
the scheme put forth at the bankers' meeting at Augusta, Georgia--to issue
Confederate bonds with interest payable in coin and to levy a heavy tax of
$60,000,000 to be paid in coin or in coupons of the proposed new

The Alabama treasury had many Confederate notes received for taxes. Before
April 1, 1864 (when such notes were to be taxed one-third of their face
value), these could be exchanged at par for twenty-year, 6 per cent
Confederate bonds. After that date the Confederate notes were fundable at
33-1/3 per cent of their face value only.[417] After June 14, 1864, the
state treasury could exchange Confederate notes for 4 per cent non-taxable
Confederate bonds, or one-half for 6 per cent bonds and one-half for new
notes. The Alabama legislature of 1864 arranged for funding the notes
according to the latter method.[418] The Alabama legislature of 1861 had
made it lawful for debts contracted after that year to be payable in
Confederate notes.[419] Later a meeting of the citizens of Mobile proposed
to ostracize those who refused to accept Confederate notes. Cheap money
caused a clamor for more, and the heads of the people were filled with
_fiat_ money notions. The rise in prices stimulated more issues of notes.
On February 9, 1861, $1,000,000 in state treasury notes was issued, and in
1862 there was a similar issue of $2,000,000 more. These state notes were
at a premium in Confederate notes, which were discredited by the
Confederate Funding Act of February 17, 1864. Confederate notes were
eagerly offered for state notes, but the state stopped the exchange.[420]
December 13, 1864, a law was passed providing for an unlimited issue of
state notes redeemable in Confederate notes and receivable for taxes.

Private individuals often issued notes on their own account, and an
enormous number was put into circulation. The legislature, by a law of
December 9, 1862, prohibited the issue of "shinplaster" or other private
money under penalty of $20 to $500 fine, and any person circulating such
money was to be deemed the maker. It was not successful, however, in
reducing the flood of private tokens; the credit of individuals was better
than the credit of the government.

Executors, administrators, guardians, and trustees were authorized to make
loans to the Confederacy and to purchase and receive for debts due them
bonds and treasury notes of the Confederacy and of Alabama and the
interest coupons of the same. One-tenth of the Confederate $15,000,000
loan of February 28, 1861, was subscribed in Alabama.[421] In December,
1863, the legislature laid a tax of 37-1/2 per cent on bonds of the state
and of the Confederacy unless the bonds had been bought directly from the
Confederate government or from the state.[422] This was to punish
speculators. After October 7, 1864, the state treasury was directed to
refuse Confederate notes issued before February 17, 1864 (the date of the
Funding Act) in payment of taxes except at a discount of 33-1/3 per cent.
Later, Confederate notes were taken for taxes at their full market

Gold was shipped through the blockade at Mobile to pay the interest on the
state bonded debt held in London. It has been charged that this money was
borrowed from the Central, Commercial, and Eastern banks and was never
repaid, recovery being denied on the ground that the state could not be
sued.[424] But the banks received state and Confederate bonds under the
new banking law in return for their coin. The exchange was willingly made,
for otherwise the banks would have had to continue specie payments or
forfeit their charters. And to continue specie payments meant immediate
bankruptcy.[425] After the war, the state was forbidden to pay any debt
incurred in aid of the war, nor could the bonds issued in aid of the war
be redeemed. The banks suffered just as all others suffered, and it is
difficult to see why the state should make good the losses of the banks in
Confederate bonds and not make good the losses of private individuals. To
do either would be contrary to the Fourteenth Amendment.

The last statement of the condition of the Alabama treasury was as

  Balance in treasury, September 30, 1864                       $3,713,959
  Receipts, September 30, 1864, to May 24, 1865                  3,776,188
      Total                                                     $7,490,147
  Disbursements, September 30, 1864, to May 24, 1865             6,698,853
      Balance in treasury, September 30, 1864, to May 24, 1865    $791,294

The balance was in funds as follows:--

  Checks on Bank of Mobile, payable in Confederate notes           $11,440
  Certificate of deposit, Bank of Mobile, payable in Confederate
    notes                                                            1,330
  Confederate and state notes in treasury                          517,889
  State notes, change bills (legal shinplasters)                   250,004
  Notes of state banks and branches                                    358
  Bank-notes                                                           424
  Silver                                                               337
  Gold on hand                                                         497
  Gold on deposit in northern banks                                     35
      Balance                                                     $791,294

To dispose of nearly $7,000,000 in small notes must have kept the treasury
very busy during the last seven months of its existence. It is interesting
to note that the treasury kept at work until May 24, 1865, six weeks after
the surrender of General Lee.

Special Appropriations and Salaries

Besides the regular appropriations for the usual expenses of the
government, there were many extraordinary appropriations. These, of
course, were for the war expenses which were far greater than the ordinary
expenses. The chief item of these extraordinary appropriations was for the
support of the indigent families of soldiers, and for this purpose about
$11,000,000 was provided. For the military defence of the state several
million dollars were appropriated, much of this being spent for arms and
clothing for the Alabama troops, both in the Confederate and the state
service. Money was granted to the University of Alabama and other military
schools on condition that they furnish drill-masters for the state troops
without charge. Hospitals were furnished in Virginia and in Alabama for
the Alabama soldiers. The gunboat _Florida_ was bought for the defence of
Mobile, and $150,000 was appropriated for an iron-clad ram for the same
purpose. Loans were made to commanders of regiments to buy clothing for
their soldiers, and the state began to furnish clothing, $50,000 being
appropriated at one time for clothing for the Alabama soldiers in northern
prisons. By March 12, 1862, Alabama had contributed $317,600 to the
support of the Army of Northern Virginia.[426] Much was expended in the
manufacture of salt in Alabama and in Virginia, which was sold at cost or
given away to the poor; in the purchase of salt from Louisiana to be sold
at a low price, and in bounties paid to salt makers in the state who sold
salt at reasonable prices. The state also paid for medical attendance for
the indigent families of soldiers. When the records and rolls of the
Alabama troops in the Confederate service were lost, money was
appropriated to have new ones made. Frequent grants were made to the
various benevolent societies of the state whose object was to care for the
maimed and sick soldiers, the widows and the orphans. Cotton and wool
cards and agricultural implements were purchased and distributed among
the poor. Slaves and supplies were taken for the public service and the
owners compensated.

The appropriations for the usual expenses of the government were light,
seldom more than twice the appropriations in times of peace,
notwithstanding the depreciated currency. The salaries of public officers
who received stated amounts ranged from $1500 to $4000 a year in state
money. In 1862 the salaries of the professors in the State University were
doubled on account of the depreciated currency, the president receiving
$5000 and each professor $4000.[427] The members of the general assembly
were more fortunate. In 1864 they received $15 a day for the time in
session, and the clerks of the legislature, who were disabled soldiers or
exempt from service, or were women, were paid the same amount. The salt
commissioners drew salaries of $3000 a year in 1864 and 1865, though this
amount was not sufficient to pay their board for more than six months.
Salaries were never increased in proportion to expenses. The compensation,
in December, 1864, for capturing a runaway slave was $25, worth probably
50 cents in coin. For the inaugural expenses of Governor Watts, $500 in
paper was appropriated.[428] Many laws were passed, regulating and
changing the fees and salaries of public officials. In October, 1884, for
example, the salaries of the state officials, tax assessors and
collectors, and judges were increased 50 per cent. Besides the general
depreciation of the currency, the variations of values in the different
sections of the state rendered such changes necessary. In the central
part, which was safe for a long time from Federal raids, the currency was
to the last worth more, and the prices of the necessaries of life were
lower than in the more exposed regions. This fact was taken into
consideration by the legislature when fixing the fees of the state and
county officers in the various sections of the state.


As a result of the policy adopted at the outset of meeting the
extraordinary expenses by bond issues,[429] the people continued to pay
the light taxes levied before the war, and paid them in paper money.
Though falling heavily on the salaried and wage-earning classes, it was
never a burden upon the agricultural classes except in the poorest white
counties. The poll tax brought in little revenue. Soldiers were exempt
from its payment and from taxation on property to the amount of $500. The
widows and orphans of soldiers had similar privileges. A special tax of 25
per cent on the former rate was imposed on all taxable property in
November, 1861, and a year later, by acts of December 9, 1862, a
far-reaching scheme of taxation was introduced. Under this poll taxes were
levied as follows:--

  White men, 21 to 60 years                         $0.75
  Free negro men, 21 to 50 years                     5.00
  Free negro women, 21 to 45 years                   3.00
  Slaves (children to laborers in prime)     0.50 to 2.00
  More valuable slaves                               2.00 and up

And other taxes as follows:--

  Crop liens                                                    33-1/3%
  Hoarded money                                                  1%
  Jewellery, plate, furniture                                  1/2%
  Goods sold at auction                                         10%
  Imports                                                        2%
  Insurance premiums (companies not chartered by state)          2%
  Playing cards, per pack                                    $1.00
  Gold watches, each                                          1.00
  Gold chains, silver watches, clocks                         0.50
  Articles raffled off                                          10%
  Legacies, profits and sales, incomes                           5%
  Profits of Confederate contractors                            10%
  Wages of Confederate officials                                10%
  Race tracks                                                   10%
  Billiard tables, each                                    $150.00
  Bagatelle                                                  20.00
  Tenpin alleys, each                                        40.00
  Readings and lectures, each                                 4.00
  Pedler                                                    100.00
  Spirit rapper, per day                                    500.00
  Saloon-keeper                                   $40.00 to 150.00
  Daguerreotypist                                  10.00 to 100.00
  Slave trader, for each slave offered for sale              20.00

In 1863 a tax of 37-1/2 per cent was laid on Confederate and state bonds
not in the hands of the original purchaser;[430] 7-1/2 per cent was levied
on profits of banking, railroad companies, and on evidence of debt; 5 per
cent on other profits not included in the act of the year before. The tax
on gold and silver was to be paid in gold and silver; on bank-notes, in
notes; on bonds, in coupons.[431] In December, 1864, the taxes levied by
the laws of 1862 and 1863 were increased by 33-1/3 per cent. Taxes on gold
and silver were to be paid in kind or in currency at its market
value.[432] This was the last tax levied by the state under Confederate
rule. From these taxes the state government was largely supplied.

A number of special laws were passed to enable the county authorities to
levy taxes-in-kind or to levy a certain amount in addition to the state
tax, for the use of the county. The taxes levied by the state did not bear
heavily upon the majority of the people, as nearly all, except the
well-to-do and especially the slave owners, were exempt. The constant
depreciation of the currency acted, of course, as a tax on the
wage-earners and salaried classes and on those whose income was derived
from government securities.

While the state taxes were felt chiefly by the wealthier agricultural
classes and the slave owners, this was not the case with the Confederate
taxes. The loans and gifts from the state, the war tax of August 19, 1861,
the $15,000,000 loan, the Produce Loan, and the proceeds of
sequestration--all had not availed to secure sufficient supplies. The
Produce Loan of 1862 was subscribed to largely in Alabama, the Secretary
of the Treasury issuing stocks and bonds in return for supplies,[433] and
$1,500,000 of the $15,000,000 loan was raised in the state. Still the
Confederate government was in desperate need. The farmers would not
willingly sell their produce for currency which was constantly decreasing
in value, and, when selling at all, they were forced to charge exorbitant
prices because of the high prices charged them for everything by the
speculators.[434] The speculator also ran up the prices of supplies beyond
the reach of the government purchasing agents who had to buy according to
the list of prices issued by impressment commissioners. So in the spring
of 1863 all other expedients were cast aside and the Confederate
government levied a genuine "Morton's Fork" tax. No more loans of paper
money from the state, no more assumption of war taxes by the state
governments because the people were opposed to any form of direct
taxation, no more holding back of supplies by producers and speculators
who refused to sell to the Confederate government except for coin; the new
law stopped all that.[435]

First there was a tax of 8 per cent on all agricultural products in hand
on July 1, 1863, on salt, wine, and liquors, and 1 per cent on all moneys
and credits. Second, an occupation tax ranging from $50 to $200 and from
2-1/2 per cent to 20 per cent of their gross sales was levied on bankers,
auctioneers, brokers, druggists, butchers, fakirs, liquor dealers,
merchants, pawnbrokers, lawyers, physicians, photographers, brewers, and
distillers; hotels paid from $30 to $500, and theatres, $500. Third, there
was an income tax of 1 per cent on salaries from $1000 to $1500 and 2 per
cent on all over $1500. Fourth, 10 per cent on all trade in flour, bacon,
corn, oats, and dry goods during 1863. Fifth, a tax-in-kind, by which each
farmer, after reserving 50 bushels of sweet and 50 bushels of Irish
potatoes, 20 bushels of peas or beans, 100 bushels of corn or 50 bushels
of wheat out of his crop of 1863, had to deliver (at a depot within 8
miles) out of the remainder of his produce for that year, 10 per cent of
all wheat, corn, oats, rye, buckwheat, rice, sweet and Irish potatoes,
hay, fodder, sugar, molasses, cotton, wool, tobacco, peas, beans, and
peanuts; 10 per cent of all meat killed between April 24, 1863, and March
1, 1863.[436]

By this act $9,500,000 in currency was raised in Alabama. Alabama, with
Georgia and North Carolina, furnished two-thirds of the tax-in-kind.
Though at first there was some objection to the tax-in-kind because it
bore entirely on the agricultural classes, yet it was a just tax so far as
the large planters were concerned, since the depreciated money had acted
as a tax on the wage-earners and salaried classes, who had also some state
tax to pay. The tax-in-kind fell heavily upon the families of small
farmers in the white counties, who had no negro labor and who produced no
more than the barest necessaries of life. To collect the tax-in-kind
required an army of tithe gatherers and afforded fine opportunities of
escape from military service. The state was divided into districts for the
collection of all Confederate taxes, with a state collector at the head.
The collection districts were usually counties, following the state
division into taxing districts. In 1864 the tobacco tithe was collected by
treasury agents and not by the quartermaster's department, which had
formerly collected it.[437] The tax of April 24, 1863, was renewed on
February 17, 1864, and some additional taxes laid as follows:--

  Real estate and personal property                             5%
  Gold and silver ware, jewellery                              10%
  Coin                                                          5%
  Credits                                                       5%
  Profits on liquors, produce, groceries, and dry goods        10%

On June 10, 1864, an additional tax of 20 per cent of the tax for 1864 was
laid, payable only in Confederate treasury notes of the new issue. Four
days later an additional tax[438] was levied as follows:--

  Real estate and personal property and coin                    5%
  Gold and silver ware                                         10%
  Profits on liquors, produce, groceries, and dry goods        30%
  Treasury notes of old issue (after January, 1865)           100%

The taxes during the war, state and Confederate, were in all five to ten
times those levied before the war. Never were taxes paid more willingly by
most of the people,[439] though at first there was opposition to them. It
is probable that the authorities did not, in 1861 and 1862, give
sufficient consideration to the fact that conditions were much changed,
and that in view of the war the people would willingly have paid taxes
that they would have rebelled against in times of peace.

Of the tax-in-kind for 1863, $100,000 was collected in Pickens county
alone, one of the poorest counties in the state. The produce was sent in
too freely to be taken care of by the government quartermasters, and, as
there was enough on hand for a year or two, much of it was ruined for lack
of storage room.[440] An English traveller in east Alabama, in 1864,
reported that there was abundance. The tax-in-kind was working well, and
enough provisions had already been collected for the western armies of the
Confederacy to last until the harvest of 1865.[441] There were few
railroads in the state and the rolling stock on these was scarce and soon
worn out. So the supplies gathered by the tax-in-kind law could not be
moved. Hundreds of thousands of pounds of beef and bacon and bushels of
corn were piled up in the government warehouses and at the depots, while
starvation threatened the armies and the people also in districts remote
from the railroads or rivers. At the supply centres of Alabama and along
the railroads in the Black Belt there were immense stores of provisions.
When the war ended, notwithstanding the destruction by raids, great
quantities of corn and bacon were seized or destroyed by the Federal


The state quite early began to secure supplies by impressment. Salt was
probably the first article to which the state laid claim. Later the
officials were authorized to impress and pay for supplies necessary for
the public service. In 1862 the governor was authorized to impress shoes,
leather, and other shoemakers' materials for the use of the army. The
legislature appropriated $250,000 to pay for impressments under this
law.[443] In case of a refusal to comply with an order of impressment the
sheriff was authorized to summon a _posse comitatus_ of not less than 20
men and seize double the quantity first impressed. In such cases no
compensation was given.[444] The people resisted the impressment of their
property. By a law of October 31, 1862, the governor was empowered to
impress slaves, and tools and teams for them to work with, in the public
service against the enemy, and $1,000,000 was appropriated to pay the
owners.[445] Slaves were regularly impressed by the Confederate officials
acting in coöperation with the state authorities, for work on
fortifications and for other public service. Several thousand were at work
at Mobile at various times. They were secured usually by requisition on
the state government, which then impressed them. In December, 1864,
Alabama was asked for 2500 negroes for the Confederate service.[446] The
people were morbidly sensitive about their slave property, and there was
much discontent at the impressment of slaves, even though they were paid
for. As the war drew to a close, the people were less and less willing to
have their servants impressed.

In the spring of 1863, the Confederate Congress authorized the impressment
of private property for public use.[447] The President and the governor
each appointed an agent, and these together fixed the prices to be paid
for the property taken.[448] Every two months they published schedules of
prices, which were always below the market prices.[449] Evidently
impressment had been going on for some time, for, in November, 1862, Judge
Dargan, member of Congress from Alabama, wrote to the President that the
people from the country were afraid to bring produce to Mobile for fear of
seizure by the government. In November, 1863, the Secretary of War issued
an order that no supplies should be impressed when held by a person for
his own consumption or that of his employees or slaves, or while being
carried to market for sale, except in urgent cases and by order of a
commanding general. Consequently the land was filled with agents buying a
year's supply for railroad companies, individuals, manufactories, and
corporations, relief associations, towns, and counties--all these to be
protected from impressment. Most speculators always had their goods on the
way to market for sale. The great demand caused prices to rise suddenly,
and the government, which had to buy by scheduled prices, could not
compete with private purchasers; yet it could not legally impress. There
was much abuse of the impressment law, especially by unauthorized persons.
It was the source of much lawless conduct on the part of many who claimed
to be Confederate officials, with authority to impress.[450] The
legislature frequently protested against the manner of execution of the
law. In 1863 a state law was passed which indicates that the people had
been suffering from the depredations of thieves who pretended to be
Confederate officials in order to get supplies. It was made a penal
offence in 1862 and again in 1863, with from one to five years'
imprisonment and $500 to $5000 fine, to falsely represent one's self as a
Confederate agent, contractor, or official.[451] The merchants of Mobile
protested against the impressment of sugar and molasses, as it would cause
prices to double, they said.[452] There was much complaint from sufferers
who were never paid by the Confederate authorities for the supplies
impressed. Quartermasters of an army would sometimes seize the necessary
supplies and would leave with the army before settling accounts with the
citizens of the community, the latter often being left without any proof
of their claim. In north Alabama, especially, where the armies never
tarried long at a place, the complaint was greatest. To do away with this
abuse resulting from carelessness, the Secretary of War appointed agents
in each congressional district to receive proof of claims for forage and
supplies impressed.[453] The state wanted a Confederate law passed to
authorize receipts for supplies to be given as part of the
tax-in-kind.[454] The unequal operation of the impressment system may be
seen in the case of Clarke and Monroe counties. In the former, from 16
persons, property amounting to $1700 was impressed. In Monroe, from 37
persons $60,000 worth was taken. The delay in payment was so long that the
money was practically worthless when received.[455]

Debts, Stay Laws, Sequestration

In the secession convention the question of indebtedness to northern
creditors came up, and Watts of Montgomery proposed confiscation, in case
of war, of the property of alien enemies and of debts due northern
creditors. The proposal was supported by several members, who declared
that the threat of confiscation would do much to promote peace. But the
majority of the convention were opposed to any measure looking toward
confiscation, and the matter was carried over for the Confederate
government to settle.[456]

Stay laws were enacted in Alabama on February 8, 1861, and on December
10, 1861. The Confederate Provisional Congress enacted a law (May 21,
1861) that debtors to persons in the North (except in Delaware, Maryland,
Missouri, and the District of Columbia) be prohibited from paying their
debts during the war.[457] They should pay the amount of the debt into the
Confederate treasury and receive a certificate relieving them from their
debts, transferring it to the Confederate treasury. A Confederate law of
November 17, 1862, provided that when payment of the interest on a debt
was proffered in Confederate treasury notes and refused, it should be
unlawful for the plaintiff to secure more than 1/4 of 1 per cent interest.
On August 30, 1861, Congress, in retaliation for the confiscation and
destruction of the property of Confederate citizens, passed the
Sequestration Act, which held all property of alien enemies (except
citizens of the border states) as indemnity for such destruction and
devastation.[458] Under the Sequestration Act receivers were appointed in
each county to take possession of all property belonging to alien enemies.
They were empowered to interrogate all lawyers, bank officials, officials
of corporations engaged in foreign trade, and all persons and agents
engaged for persons engaged in foreign trade, for the purpose of
discovering such property. The proceeds were to be held for the indemnity
of loyal citizens suffering under the confiscation laws of the United
States.[459] Later the property thus seized was sold and the money paid
into the Confederate treasury.[460] In the last days of the war (February
15, 1865), the Sequestration Act was extended to include the property of
disloyal citizens who had gone within the Federal lines to escape military
service, or who had entered the Union service to fight against the

In December, 1861, a law was passed by the legislature which provided
that no suit by or for an alien enemy for debt or money should be
prosecuted in any court in Alabama. No execution was to be issued to an
alien enemy, and suits already brought could be dismissed on the motion of
the defendant.[462] In Alabama much of the time of the Confederate
district courts was taken up by sequestration cases. In fact, they did
little else. However, but little money was ever turned into the
Confederate treasury from this source.[463]

Just as the state sent nearly all its coin through the blockade to pay the
interest of its London debt, so the Mobile, Montgomery, or Selma merchant
cancelled his indebtedness and sent money, as he was able, during the
early years of the war, to his northern and European creditors. Most debts
due to northerners were concealed from the government. The stringent laws
passed against it were of no avail. As a source of revenue the
sequestration of the property of alien enemies hardly paid expenses. After
all, however, the northern creditor probably lost nearly all his accounts
in the South in the general wreck of property in 1865.

Trade, Barter, Prices

After the outbreak of war, business was soon almost at a standstill. The
government monopolized all means of transportation for military purposes.
There were few good railroads in the state and few good wagon roads. In
one section there would be plenty, while seventy-five or a hundred miles
away there would be great suffering from want. Depreciated currency and
the impressment laws made the producer wary of going to market at all. He
preferred to keep what he had and live upon it, effecting changes in the
old way of barter. Cows, hogs, chickens, mules, farm implements, cotton,
corn, peas--all were exchanged and reëxchanged for one another. The farmer
tended more and more to become independent of the merchant and of money.
Consequently the townspeople suffered. Confederate money, at first
received at par, soon began to depreciate, though the most patriotic
people considered it their duty to accept it at its par value.[464]

[Illustration: ALABAMA MONEY.]


[Illustration: PRIVATE MONEY. Printed in large sheets on one side only and
never used. The other side is a state bill similar to the one above. Paper
was scarce, and the state money was printed so that when cut apart the
private money was destroyed.]

At the end of 1861, Confederate money was worth as much[465] as Federal,
but it had depreciated. Often private credit was better than public, and
individuals in need of a more stable circulating medium issued notes or
promises to pay which in the immediate neighborhood passed current at
their face value. Great quantities of this "card money" or shinplasters
were issued, and in some communities it almost supplanted the legal money
as a more reliable medium of exchange. The Alabama legislature passed
severe laws against the practice of issuing "card money," but with little

The effect of depreciation of paper money was the same as a tax so far as
the people were concerned. Forced into circulation, it supported the
government, but it gradually depreciated and each holder lost a little.
Finally, when almost worthless, it was practically repudiated by the state
and by the Confederacy, and funding laws were passed, providing for the
redemption of old notes at a low rate in new issues. Depreciation of the
currency caused extravagance and other more evil results. A person who
handled much money felt that he must at once get rid of all that came into
his possession in order to avoid loss by depreciation. Consequently there
was speculation, reckless spending, and extravagance. Money would be spent
for anything offered for sale. If useful things were not to be had, then
luxuries would be bought, such as silks, fancy articles, liquors, etc.,
from blockade-runners. This was especially the case in Selma, Mobile, and
Montgomery, and in northern Alabama. Persons formerly of good character
frequently drifted into extravagant and dissipated habits, because they
tried to spend their money and there were not enough legitimate ways in
which to do so.

Depreciation, speculation, and scarcity caused prices to rise, especially
the prices of the necessaries of life. These varied in the different
sections of the state. In Mobile, in 1862, prices were as follows:--

  Shoes, per pair                                             $25.00
  Boots, per pair                                              40.00
  Overcoats, each                                              25.00
  Hats, each                                                   15.00
  Flour, per barrel                                  $40.00 to 60.00
  Corn, per bushel                                              3.25
  Butter, per pound                                             1.75
  Bacon, per pound                                             10.00
  Soap, per pound (cheap)                                       1.00
  Candles, per pound                                            2.50
  Sugar, per pound                                    $0.50 to   .75
  Coffee, per pound                                    1.75 to  3.25
  Tea, per pound                                      10.00 to 20.00
  Cotton and wool cards, per pair                               2.00
  Board per week at the Battle House,
    in 1862                                     $3.50; in 1863, 8.00[466]

In May, 1862, at Huntsville, then in the hands of the Federals, some
prices were, in Federal currency:--

  Green tea (poor quality), per pound                          $4.00
  Common rough trousers, per pair                              13.00
  Boots, per pair                                              25.00
  Shoes, per pair                                     $5.00 to 12.00[467]

In 1863, in south Alabama, in Confederate currency:--

  Meat, per pound                                              $4.00
  Lard, per pound                                               6.00
  Salt, per sack at the works                        $80.00 to 95.00
  Wheat, per bushel                                            10.00
  Corn, per bushel                                              3.00
  A cow (worth $15 in 1860)                                   127.00[468]

In March, 1864, prices in Selma were as follows:--

  Salt, per bushel                                            $30.00
  Calico, per yard                                             10.00
  Women's common shoes, per pair                               60.00
  Men's rough boots, per pair                                 125.00
  Cotton cards (worth $1.75 in Connecticut)                    85.00[469]

In August, 1864, the prices in Mobile were:--

  Flour, per barrel                               $250.00 to $300.00
  Bacon, per pound                                   3.00 to    5.00
  Cotton thread, per spool                           6.00 to   12.00
  Calico, per yard                                  12.50 to   15.00
  Common shoes, per pair                           150.00 to  175.00
  Boots, per pair                                  250.00 to  300.00
  Nails, per pound                                              4.00
  Cotton shirts (each worth 50 to 60 c.
    in Massachusetts)                                 50.00 to 60.00[470]

In November, 1864, Colonel Dabney paid the following prices in

  Bacon, per pound                                             $3.50
  Beef, per pound                                      $2.00 to 2.50
  Potatoes, per bushel                                          6.00
  Wood, per cord                                               50.00
  Board, per day                                               30.00[471]

In Russell County and east Alabama the following prices were paid in

  A calico dress (9 yards)                                   $108.00
  A plain straw hat                                           100.00
  Half a quire of note paper                                   40.00
  Morocco shoes                                               375.00
  Coffee, per pound                                  $30.00 to 70.00
  Corn, per bushel                                    12.00 to 13.00
  Wax candles, each                                              .10
  Wages, per day                                               30.00
  Soldier's pay, per month (which he
    seldom received)                                           11.00[472]

In southwest Alabama, in December, 1864, prices were:--

  A mule (worth before the war $75.00
    to $120.00)                                  $800.00 to $1200.00
  A horse (worth before the war $120.00
    to $250.00)                                  1200.00 to  2500.00
  A wagon and team cost                                      2940.00
  Beef cattle, each                                           930.00[473]

At the close of 1864, in Mobile, Alabama, $1 in gold was worth $25 in
state currency, and prices were as follows:--

  Wheat, per bushel                                 $30.00 to $40.00
  Corn, per bushel                                             10.00
  Coffee, per pound                                            20.00
  Fresh beef, per pound                                       150.00
  Bacon, per pound                                              4.00
  Domestics, per yard                                           5.00
  Calico, per yard                                             15.00
  A horse                                        $1500.00 to 2000.00
  Salt, per sack                                    150.00 to 200.00
  Quinine, per ounce                                          150.00[474]

The War Department published, on September 26, 1864, the following
prices[475] as agreed upon by the commissioners of February 17, 1864, for
the states east of the Mississippi:--

  Bacon, per pound                                             $2.50
  Fresh beef, per pound                                          .70
  Flour, per barrel                                            40.00
  Meal, per bushel                                              4.00
  Rice, per pound                                                .30
  Peas, per bushel                                              6.50
  Sugar, per pound                                              3.00
  Coffee, per pound                                             6.00
  Candles, per pound                                            3.75
  Soap, per pound                                               1.00
  Vinegar, per gallon                                           2.50
  Molasses, per gallon                                         10.00
  Salt, per pound                                                .30

The commissioners' prices were always lower than the prevailing market

A little property or labor would pay a large debt. Merchants did not want
to be paid in money, and were sorry to see a debtor come in with great
rolls of almost worthless currency. Barter was increasingly resorted to.
There were so many different series and issues of money and so many
regulations concerning it that no one could know them all, and this
operated to discredit the currency. Besides, it was known that much of it
was counterfeited at the North and quantities sent South. Prices advanced
rapidly in 1865; state money was worth more than Confederate money, though
it was much depreciated. Board was worth $600 a month; meals, $10 to $25
each; a boiled egg, $2; a cup of imitation coffee, $5. After the news of
Lee's surrender, few would accept the paper money, though for two or
three months longer, in remote districts, state money remained in

When Wilson's army was marching into Montgomery, a young man asked an old
negro woman who stood gazing at the soldiers if she could give him a piece
of paper to light his pipe. She fumbled in her pocket and handed him a
one-dollar state bill. "Why, auntie, that is money!" remarked the young
man. "Haw, haw!" the old crone chuckled, "light it, massa; don't you see
de state done gone up?"[476]



For several months after the secession of the state, its one important
seaport--Mobile--was open, and export and import trade went on as usual.
The proclamation of Lincoln, April 19, 1861, practically declared a
blockade of the ports of the southern states. A vessel attempting to enter
or to leave was to be warned, and if a second attempt was made, the vessel
was to be seized as a prize.[477] By proclamations of April 27 and August
16, 1861, the blockade was extended and made more stringent. All vessels
and cargoes belonging to citizens of the southern states found at sea or
in a port of the United States were to be confiscated.[478] As the summer
advanced, the blockade was made more and more effective, until finally, at
the end of 1861, the port of Mobile was closed to all but the professional
blockade-runners.[479] The fact that the legislature in the fall of 1861
was fostering various new industries and purchasing certain articles of
common use shows that the effects of the blockade were beginning to be

At first the general confidence in the power of King Cotton made most
southern people desire to let the blockade assist the work of war, and, by
creating a scarcity of cotton abroad, cause foreign governments to
recognize the Confederate government and raise the blockade.[481] The
pinch of want soon made many forget their faith in the power of cotton;
there was a general desire to get supplies through the blockade and to
send cotton in exchange. The state administration was distinctly in favor
of blockade-running and foreign trade.[482] In 1861 the legislature
incorporated two "Direct Trading Companies," giving them permission to own
and sail ships between the ports of the state and the ports of foreign
countries for the purpose of carrying on trade.[483] The general
regulation of foreign commerce, however, fell to the Confederate
government, which was distinctly opposed to all blockade-running not under
its immediate control and supervision. The state authorities complained
that the course of the Confederate administration was harsh and
unnecessary. The state was willing to prohibit blockade-running on private
account, but insisted that its public vessels be allowed to import
supplies needed by the state. The complaint about restrictions on trade
was general throughout the southern states and, in October, 1864, the
southern governors, in a meeting in Augusta, Georgia, Governor Watts of
Alabama taking a leading part, declared that each state had the right to
export its productions and import such supplies as might be necessary for
state use or for the use of the state troops in the army, state vessels
being used for this purpose. The governors united in a request to Congress
to remove the restrictions on such trade.[484] But the Confederate
administration to the last retained control of foreign trade. Agents were
sent abroad by the Treasury and War Departments[485] who were instructed
to send on vessels attempting to run the blockade, first, arms and
ammunition; second, clothing, boots, shoes, and hats; third, drugs and
chemicals that were most needed, such as quinine, chloroform, ether,
opium, morphine, and rhubarb. These agents were instructed to see that all
vessels leaving for southern ports were laden with the articles named.
Such part of the cargoes as was not taken by the government was sold at
auction to the highest bidder. These blockade auction sales were attended
by merchants from the inland towns, whose shelves were almost bare of
goods during three years of the war.[486] For two years military and naval
supplies were the most important articles brought into the southern ports.
The Alabama troops were in great need of all kinds of war equipment, and
the state administration made every effort to obtain military supplies
from abroad. Shipments of arms from Europe were made to the West Indies,
generally to Cuba, and thence smuggled into Mobile and other Gulf ports.
The shipments were always long delayed while waiting for a favorable
opportunity to attempt a run. A large proportion of the blockade-runners
making for Mobile were captured by the United States vessels.[487] Dark
nights, and rainy, stormy weather furnished the opportunity to the runners
to slip into or out of a port. Once at sea, nothing could catch them,
since they were built for fast sailing rather than for capacity to carry

Most of the arms secured by Alabama came by way of Cuba, as did nearly all
the supplies that entered the port of Mobile or were smuggled in on boats
along the coast. Havanna was 590 miles from Mobile, and between these
ports most of the blockade trade of the Gulf Coast was carried on. One
shipment, welcomed by the state authorities, was a lot of condemned
Spanish flint-lock muskets, which were remodelled and repaired and placed
in the hands of the state troops. Machinery for the naval foundry and
arsenal at Selma and for the navy-yard on the Tombigbee was brought
through the blockade from England _via_ the West Indies. The Confederate
government, besides taking its own half of each cargo, had the first
choice of all other goods brought through the blockade and usually chose
shoes, clothing, and medicine. The state could only make contracts for the
importation of supplies; it could not import them on its own vessels. The
Confederate government paid high prices for goods, but, on the whole, paid
much less than did the private individual for the remainder of the cargo
when sold at auction. The merchants made large profits on the few articles
of merchandise secured by them. Speculators bought up lots of merchandise
at Mobile and carried them far inland, to the small towns and villages of
the Black Belt and farther north, and secured fabulous prices in
Confederate money for ordinary calico, shoes, women's apparel, etc. The
central part of the state was more completely shut from the outside world
than any other section of the South. The Federal lines touched the
northern part of the state, but the traffic carried on through the lines
seldom reached the central counties. Consequently, the arrival of a
merchant in the Black Belt village with a small lot of blockade calicoes,
shoes, hats, scented soap, etc., was a great event, and people came from
far and near to gaze upon the fine things exhibited in the usually empty
show windows. Few had sufficient Confederate money to buy the commonest
articles, but some one could always be found to purchase the latest
useless trifle that came from abroad.[489]

In exchange for goods thus imported, the blockade-runners carried out
cargoes of cotton. As has been stated, the Confederate administration was
in charge of cotton exportation. The Confederate Treasury Department
purchased in Alabama 134,252 bales of cotton for $13,633,621.90--that is,
$101.55 a bale. This cotton was to be sold abroad for the benefit of the
Confederate government. Nearly all the cotton purchased by the government
was in the great producing states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.
Alabama furnished more than any other state. In 1864 3226 bales of cotton
were shipped from Mobile by the Treasury Department, and the proceeds
applied to the support of the Erlanger Loan. To avoid competition between
the departments of the government, it was agreed, June 1, 1864, that all
stores for shipment should be turned over to the Treasury, transported to
the vessels by the War Department, and consigned to Treasury agents in the
West Indies or in Europe. It was to be sold finally by the Treasury agent
at Liverpool and the proceeds placed to the credit of the Treasury. The
export business was under the direction of the Produce Loan Office, which
had charge of all government cotton and tobacco. Contracts were usually
made with companies, to whom the government turned over the cotton for
shipment. In November, 1864, there were 115,450 bales of government cotton
in Alabama, 18,802 bales having been sold. It is hardly possible that it
was all exported; some of it was sold through the lines.[490] It was found
very difficult to secure bagging and ties sufficient to bale the cotton
for shipping.

The state lost much as well as gained by trade through the blockade. The
risks were great and the exporters had to have a large share of the
profit; but arms, medicine, and blankets were valuable and very necessary.
In spite of regulations, the blockade-runners brought in more luxuries
than necessaries, causing much extravagance, and there were people who
objected to the practice altogether. In March, 1863, the Mobile Committee
of Safety reported that there were several vessels then in the harbor
fitting out to carry cotton to Cuba. They were of the opinion that the
government ought not to allow them to depart, since the country could not
afford to lose the vessels with their machinery, which could not be
replaced. Governor Shorter agreed with them, and a protest was made to the
Richmond authorities; but the vessels went out.[491] Judge Dargan, whom
many things troubled, wrote to the Richmond authorities that the
blockade-runners were ruining the country by supplying the enemy with
cotton and bringing in return useless gewgaws.[492]

From March 1, 1864, to the end of the war, the Confederate government
succeeded better in regulating the imports by blockade-runners. But after
August, when Farragut captured the forts defending the harbor entrance,
the port of Mobile received little from the outside world. Before the
stringent regulations of the Confederacy went into force, blockade-running
was demoralizing. The importers refused to accept paper money for their
goods, and thus discredited currency while draining specie from the
country. High prices and extortion followed. Cotton, instead of being
exchanged for British gold, brought in trinkets, silks, satins, laces,
broadcloths, brandy, rum, whiskey, fancy slippers, and ladies' goods
generally. Curiously enough, there was great demand for these, in spite of
the wants of the necessaries of life, medicine, and munitions of war.
Delicate women, old persons, and children suffered most from the effects
of the blockade. As Spears says, there were many tiny graves made in the
South because the blockade kept out necessary medicines.[493]

The blockade reduced the Confederacy; the Union navy rather than the Union
army was the prime factor in crushing the South; it made possible the
victories of the army. As it was, the blockade-runners probably postponed
the end for a year or more.[494] Though the number of blockade-runners
increased in the latter part of 1864 and in 1865, Alabama profited but
little; her one good seaport was closed in August, 1864, by Farragut's
fleet, and with the fleet came the last regular blockade-runner. As the
warships were moving up to engage the forts, a blockade-runner passed in
with them unnoticed.[495] Small boats still brought in supplies.

Trade through the Lines

The early policy of the Confederate administration was to bring the North
to terms by shutting off the cotton supply and by ceasing to purchase
supplies which had heretofore been a source of great profit to northern
merchants, and was, on the whole, consistently adhered to during the war.
The state administration held the same theory until one-fourth of its
people were destitute; then it was ready to relax restrictions on
trade.[496] Individuals who had plenty of cotton and little to eat and
wear soon came to the conclusion that traffic with the North would do no
harm, but much good. The United States wanted the products of the South,
and made stronger efforts to get them than the blockaded South made to get
supplies by the exchange. Until the very last, the North was more active
in commercial intercourse than the South, notwithstanding the fearful want
all over the southern country. The policy of the North was to have all
trade in southern products pass through the hands of its own Treasury
agents, who were to strip such products of all extraordinary profits for
the benefit of the United States Treasury, and to see that the Confederacy
profited as little as possible.[497] The Confederate States government,
when forced to allow some kind of trade through the lines, sought to sell
only government cotton or to force traders to traffic under its license.
The state administration, at times, worked in its agents under Confederate
license in order to get supplies for the destitute in the counties near
the lines of the enemy. Few regulations of commercial intercourse were
made by the Confederate States, but many were made by the United States.
The Confederate States had the problem almost under control; the United
States did not, and had to try to regulate what it could not prohibit.

Trade along the Tennessee and Mississippi frontier was subject to the
following regulations on the side of the United States: Trade was carried
on under the control of the Treasury Department; all trade had to be
licensed; there were numerous officials to regulate the trade and the army
was directed to assist traders; no coin, no foreign money, and no supplies
were to be allowed to get to the Confederates; the trader must not go
within Confederate territory; until 1864 the southern seller, whither
Confederate or Union, when he went beyond the lines could get only 25 per
cent of the New York value of his produce; from 1864 to 1865 he could get
75 per cent of the value if the cotton were not produced by slave labor;
in all cases the seller had to take the oath of allegiance to the United
States. These regulations were gradually repealed during the latter part
of 1865 and early in 1866.[498]

The legislation of the Confederate States was not so full, but the policy
was about the same and more consistently enforced. In 1862 the Confederate
Congress made it unlawful to sell in any part of the Confederate States in
the possession of the enemy any cotton, tobacco, rice, sugar, molasses, or
naval stores.[499] Licenses, however, for the sale of certain merchandise
could be obtained from the Secretary of War. Trade through the lines was
not under the supervision of Treasury officials but was looked after by
the generals commanding the frontier. In 1864 a law of Congress prohibited
the export of military and naval stores, and agricultural production,
such as cotton and tobacco, except under regulations prescribed by the

But the restrictions were not strictly enforced. It was not possible to do
so; commerce would find a way in spite of the war. The people of Alabama
were, on the whole, disposed to approve the policy of the Confederate
authorities, but, when want and destitution came, the owners of cotton
proceeded to find a way to sell a few bales. Early in 1863 north Alabama
was occupied by the Federals, and trade began along the line of the
Tennessee River. Later, there were trade lines to the northwest through
Mississippi, and to the northeast through Georgia and Tennessee.[501]
After the capture of New Orleans, cotton was sent through Mississippi to
New Orleans, or to the banks of the Mississippi River, and always found
purchasers. There was a thriving trade between Mobile and New Orleans
during the Butler régime in the latter city.

By the trade through the lines, the people of Alabama secured more of the
scarcer commodities than by the blockade-running. Much of the trade was
carried on by firms in Mobile that had agents or branch houses in New
Orleans. Three pounds of cotton were exchanged for one of bacon; army
supplies, clothing, blankets, and medical stores were secured in exchange
for cotton; salt was also a commodity much in demand. For three years,
from 1862 to 1864, trade was quite brisk between the two cities, some of
it under license by the Confederate Secretary of War, and some of it
purely contraband. As long as Butler controlled New Orleans there was no
trouble.[502] When General Canby went to New Orleans, he reported that
English houses in Mobile were making contracts to export 200,000 bales of
cotton _via_ New Orleans, and expected to realize $10,000,000 net profits.
Canby was of the opinion that the cotton trade aided the Confederates. The
character of the Treasury agents in charge of the cotton trade was bad;
they were likely to do anything for gain. He stated on the authority of a
New Orleans banker, who was the agent of a cotton speculator, that
Confederate agents would come to New Orleans with United States legal
tender notes and invest in sterling with him, drawing against cotton which
was ostensibly purchased from "loyal" or foreign citizens.[503] The
speculators would give information to the Confederates with regard to the
movements of the Federals, in order that the Confederates might preserve
cotton that would in an emergency be destroyed. The speculators would buy
the cotton later.

In 1864 a New York manufacturer testified that he had made contracts with
firms in Selma, Montgomery, and Mobile to take pay for debts due him in
cotton delivered through the lines at New Orleans. The price was $1.24 to
$1.30 a pound in New York. Treasury agents made similar contracts for
Alabama cotton to be delivered through New Orleans, Pensacola, or through
the lines in Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia. One agent, H. A. Risley,
made contracts with half a dozen persons for more than 350,000 bales of
cotton, the bulk of which was to come from Alabama. Most of this, it is
needless to say, was not delivered.[504]

The Confederate officials tried to manage that only government cotton went
out under the licenses from the War Department and that only necessary
supplies were imported in exchange. But there was much abuse of the
privilege and much private smuggling of cotton in 1864, through the
Mississippi to New Orleans and the river; and on September 22, 1864,
General Dick Taylor (at Selma) annulled all cotton export contracts in the
Department of Alabama, Mississippi, and East Louisiana. However, he said,
the Confederate authorities would purchase necessaries imported and would
pay for them in cotton at 50 cents a pound. This cotton could then be
carried beyond the lines. No luxuries were to be imported, under penalty
of confiscation.[505]

Surgeon Potts, of the Confederate army, stationed at Montgomery, secured
medical supplies from the Federal lines in Louisiana and Mississippi, both
by water and by land, sending cotton in exchange. One of the last reports
made to President Davis was by Lieutenant-Colonel Brand, of Miles's
Louisiana Legion, who stated (April 9, 1865, at Danville, Virginia) that
on March 21, 1865, a Mr. McKnight of the Alabama Reserves had presented a
permit to General Hodges in Louisiana for indorsement and orders for a
grant to escort 1,666,666-2/3 pounds of cotton (about 4000 bales) through
southwestern Mississippi and eastern Louisiana to exchange for medical
supplies for Surgeon Potts. Brand was of the opinion that this was merely
a scheme to sell cotton and not to get medicines, as he had known of only
one wagon-load of medical supplies that had gone through his territory to
Dr. Potts. McKnight had no government cotton to carry, for there was none
in that section of the country, but he expected to buy it as a
speculation. This practice, Brand stated, was common. Even government
cotton would be sold for coffee, soap, flour, etc., under the name of
medical supplies, and these would be sold by the speculators.[506]

In north Alabama a brisk trade was carried on for three years with the
connivance of the Federal officers, many of whom were interested in the
fleecy staple in spite of orders forbidding such conduct.[507] Negroes
were given "free papers" in order that they might go in and out of the
lines of the armies on contraband trade. The Confederate officials on the
border were also often implicated in the traffic or connived at it through
a desire to see poor people get supplies.[508]

One of the mildest charges against the Federal General O. M. Mitchel was
that he had profited by speculation in the contraband trade in cotton
while he was in command in north Alabama. It was alleged that he used
United States transportation to haul cotton when the transportation was
needed for other purposes. Mitchel claimed that personally he had received
no profit from his trade; it appeared, however, that he had used his
official position to advance the interests of his brother-in-law and his
son-in-law. The discussion over his case brought out the fact that the
northern cotton speculator or agent would go into the Confederate lines
and buy cotton at ten and eleven cents a pound, Confederate currency, and
take the cotton North and realize immense profits.[509] Mitchel and other
Federal officers, it was shown, approved and assisted the trade beyond the

Individual permits were sometimes given by President Lincoln, authorizing
the bearers to go within the Confederacy, without restriction, and get
cotton and other southern produce. Sometimes, after bringing it out, these
people lost their cotton to United States Treasury agents, because the
permission given by the President was not in accordance with the Treasury
regulations. In north Alabama several agents got into trouble in this way.
Lincoln, it seems, understood that the laws gave him authority to issue
permits to trade within the Confederate lines.[511]

In 1864, when cotton was selling at forty to fifty cents a pound in coin,
numbers of Federal officers resigned in order to speculate in cotton. A
former beef contractor who had grown rich in the cotton trade was said to
have controlled almost the whole of Huntsville. Both hotels, the
waterworks, and the gas works belonged to him, and there was complaint of
his extortions.[512]

Small packages, especially of quinine, were sent South through the Adams
Express Company, which would guarantee to deliver them within the
Confederacy.[513] This caused speculation, and it was finally stopped.
Women passed through the lines and brought back quinine and other
medicines concealed in their clothing. A druggist in middle Alabama
determined to carry on a contraband trade in cotton and drugs. The South
had prohibited private trade in cotton; the North forbade the sale of
medical supplies to the Confederates. But following the example of many
others, he went into north Mississippi, loaded a wagon with cotton, and
carried it to Memphis, then held by the Federals, and sold it for a high
price in United States money. He then exchanged his wagon for an ambulance
with a white canvas cover, on which was painted the word "SMALLPOX" in
large letters, and over which fluttered a yellow flag. He loaded the
ambulance with quinine, ether, morphine, and other valuable drugs, and
other articles of merchandise scarce in Alabama. The yellow flag and the
magic word "SMALLPOX" kept people away, and, after many adventures, he
finally reached home.[514] Only by such methods could the beleaguered
people obtain the precious medicines.

One of the last contracts on record in respect to trade through the lines
was a deal made on January 6, 1865, by Samuel Noble and George W.
Quintard, his agent, both of Alabama, to deliver several thousand bales of
cotton to an agent of the United States Treasury.[515] There is evidence
that some of the cotton was delivered.

The illicit trade in cotton by private parties became so flagrant that in
the winter of 1864-1865, a fresh Confederate regiment, which had not yet
been touched by the fever of speculation, was sent from the interior of
Georgia to guard part of the frontier in Alabama and Mississippi. One of
the first persons captured smuggling a cotton train through the lines was
the wife of the Confederate commanding general, who, of course, released
her.[516] Much of the trade was carried on by poor people who had a few
bales of cotton and who were obliged to sell it or suffer from want. This
fact caused the Confederate officers to be lax in the enforcement of the

The extraordinary prices of cotton in the outside world brought little
gain to the blockaded Confederacy. Before the cotton could be brought into
the Union lines or beyond the blockade, all the profits had been absorbed
by the Confederate speculator, or, most often, by the Union speculators
and Treasury agents. Theoretically, the regulations of the United States
should have brought much profit to the Federal government. In fact, as
Secretary Chase reported, the United States did not realize a great deal
from Confederate staples brought into the Union lines. These frauds and
the demoralizing effects of the system were evidenced by many reports from
officers from the army and navy.[518]

But in spite of the demoralizing effects of the contraband trade within
the Confederacy and in spite of the extremely low prices obtained for
Confederate staples, much-needed supplies were sent in in such quantities
as to enable the contest to be maintained much longer than otherwise it
would have lasted. Owing to its interior location, it is probable that
Alabama profited less by this trade than the other states.


When the men went away to the army, many poor families began to suffer for
the necessaries of life. The suffering was greater in the white counties,
where slaves were relatively few, many families feeling the touch of want
as soon as the breadwinners left. The Black Belt had plenty, such as it
was, until the end of the war.

The first legislature, after the secession of the state, levied a special
tax of 25 per cent of the regular tax for the next year to provide for the
destitute families of absent volunteers.[519] A month later a law was
passed permitting counties to assume the tax and to pay the amount into
the state treasury, and thus secure exemption from the state tax.[520] The
county commissioners were directed to appropriate money from the county
treasury for the support of the indigent families of soldiers.[521] This
was to secure immediate relief, which was imperatively necessary, since
the special tax for their benefit would not be collected until the next

Early in 1862 portions of north Alabama were so devastated by the Federals
that many people, to escape starvation, had to "refugee" to other parts of
the country, usually to middle Alabama, there to be supported by the
state. At this time all crops were short, owing to a drought, and the
poorer people suffered greatly.[522] Speculators had advanced the prices
on food, and wage-earners were unable to buy. Impressment by the
government made farmers afraid to bring produce to town.[523]

The county commissioners were authorized in 1862 to levy for the next year
a tax equal to the regular state tax and to use it for the benefit of the
destitute.[524] The state also made an appropriation of $2,000,000 for the
same purpose. This appropriation was to be distributed by the county
commissioners in the form of supplies or money. The families of
substitutes were not made beneficiaries of this fund.[525] The sum of
$60,000 was appropriated for cotton and wool spinning cards, which were to
be purchased abroad and distributed among the counties in proportion to
the white population. They were sold at cost to those able to buy,[526]
and several distributions were made to the needy families of
soldiers.[527] Salt was the scarcest of all the necessaries of life. The
state took entire charge of the whole supply that was for sale and sold it
at a moderate price, sometimes at cost, and to those in great need it was
furnished free.[528] The county commissioners were authorized to hire and
rehire slaves and take in return provisions, which were distributed among
the poor families of soldiers.[529] The commissioners of Sumter and Walker
counties were permitted to borrow $10,000 in each county for the poor, and
to levy a tax of 50 per cent of the state tax with which to repay the
borrowed money.[530]

Judge Dargan, member of Congress, wrote to President Davis in the winter
of 1862 that many people of Mobile were destitute.[531] Mobile was farther
away from country supplies, and the people suffered greatly. In the spring
of 1863 there was suffering in the southern white counties. A party of
women, the wives and daughters of soldiers, raided a provision shop in
Mobile, when there were instances of dire distress in the families of
soldiers.[532] The richer citizens of the city gave $130,000 to support a
free market, where for a while 4000 needy persons were furnished daily.
Another contribution of $70,000 was raised to clothe a thousand destitute

In 1863 the non-combatants of north Alabama suffered more than in the
previous year. Houses had been burned, grain and provisions destroyed, and
many were homeless and destitute. Numbers were driven from the country by
the persecutions of the Federals and tories. The Confederate war tax and
the state tax were suspended in districts invaded by the enemy,[534] and
in August, 1863, the legislature appropriated $1,000,000 for the support
of the destitute families of soldiers during the next three months.
Twenty-five pounds of salt were also given to each member of a soldier's
family as a year's supply.[535] Probate judges impressed provisions and
paid for them out of this million-dollar fund. In November, 1863, an
appropriation of $3,000,000 was made for the support of soldiers' families
during the coming year. In counties held by the enemy where there were no
commissioners' courts, the probate judges paid to soldiers' families their
share of the appropriation. The county commissioners were authorized to
impress provisions for the poor if they were unable to buy them.[536]
Washington County was permitted to borrow $10,000 for the relief of
soldiers' families.[537] The policy of giving a county permission to raise
money for its own poor was much opposed on the ground that the counties
which had furnished most soldiers and where the destitution was greatest
were the least able to pay. The legislature declared then that the poor
soldiers' families should be the charge of the state.[538] The sum of
$500,000 was appropriated for the destitute of north Alabama, who had lost
everything from the seizure and destruction by the enemy. Disloyal persons
and their families were not entitled to aid.[539] Macon County was
authorized to levy a tax-in-kind for the poor, and Pike County a
tax-in-kind and a property and income tax, practically a duplicate of the
Confederate tax.[540]

The legislature of 1864 appropriated $5,000,000 for soldiers'
families,[541] and made a special appropriation of $180,000 for the poor
in the counties of Cherokee, De Kalb, Morgan, St. Clair, Marshall, and
Blount, which were overrun by the enemy.[542] The probate judge of
Cherokee County was authorized to act for De Kalb because the probate
judge of that county had been carried off by the Federals.[543] In
Lawrence County the Federals raided the probate judge's office, and took
$3000 belonging to the destitute, and the agent was robbed of $3887.50
while trying to carry it to Moulton. Both losses were made good by the

Statutes were repeatedly passed, prohibiting the distilling of grain for
the purpose of making alcoholic liquors. The state placed this industry
under the supervision of the governor, and alcohol and whiskey were
distributed among the counties where most needed, to be sold at a moderate
price for medicinal purposes, and the profit given to the poor, or to be
given away upon physicians' prescriptions. Later the prohibition was
extended to include potatoes, peas, and even molasses and sugar. This
prohibition was not a temperance measure, but was designed to preserve as
foodstuffs the grain, molasses, peas, and potatoes.[545]

The county commissioners usually had charge of the destitute, and looked
after the collection of the special taxes which were levied for the
benefit of the poor. They also distributed the supplies, purchased or
collected by the tax-in-kind, among the needy people after investigating
the merits of each case. In those portions of the state overrun by the
enemy or liable to repeated invasion, the probate judge of the county was
authorized to take charge of all matters relating to the relief of the
destitute. Many thousand dollars' worth of supplies were furnished the
northern counties when they were within the Federal lines or between the
hostile lines. Many of the supplies sent there fell into the hands of
tories or Federals, and many undeserving persons obtained assistance.
Confederate sympathizers within the Federal lines had a struggle to live,
and numbers, completely ruined by the ravages of the Federals and tories,
had to flee to the central and southern counties.

The quartermaster-general of the state had charge of the state
distribution among the counties, and among the Confederate soldiers. There
was an agent of the state whose business it was to look after claims for
pay and bounty due the families of deceased soldiers. It is safe to say
that little was ever collected on this account.[546] The Confederate
soldiers, as plentiful as paper money was, were rarely paid. Much of their
supplies came from home. The Confederate government could not supply them
even with blankets and shoes. This the state undertook to do and with some
degree of success. And at one time, however (1862), after impressing all
the leather and shoes in the state, only one thousand pairs could be
secured.[547] Agents were sent with the armies going north into Kentucky
and Maryland to buy supplies of blankets, shoes, woollen clothing, and
salt, for the state. Blankets could not be obtained except by capture,
running the blockade, or purchase through the lines, as there was not a
blanket factory in the Confederacy in 1862. In the following year the
carpets in the state capitol were torn up and sent to the Alabama soldiers
to be used as blankets.[548] In 1863 the legislature asked Congress to
exempt from payment of the tax-in-kind the people of that part of north
Alabama which was subject to the invasions of the enemy. This was done.
Congress was also asked to exempt from the payment of this tax those
families of soldiers whose support was derived from white labor.[549] As a
result of economic conditions the taxation fell upon the slave owners of
central and south Alabama. But the suffering was much greater among the
people whose supplies came from white labor. These were the people
assisted by the state and county appropriations. Yet when they were able
to pay the tax-in-kind, they, at times, almost rebelled against it.

It has been estimated that from the latter part of 1862 to the close of
the war at least one-fourth of the white population of the state was
supported by the state and counties. This estimate does not include the
soldiers.[550] A letter written in April, 1864, to the governor, from
Talladega County discloses the following facts in regard to that county:
With a white population of 14,634, it had furnished up to April, 1864, 27
companies of volunteers, not counting those who volunteered in other
regiments or who furnished substitutes or were enrolled in the reserves or
militia. The citizens of the county pledged the soldiers that they would
raise $20,000 annually, if necessary, for the support of the soldiers'
families. In May, 1861, 30 persons received aid from the county; in April,
1864, 3799. In 1863, the county received about $80,000 from the state for
the poor, and 25 pounds of salt for each member of needy families of
soldiers. In addition to this the people of the county raised in that
year, for the poor, $7276 in cash, 2570 bushels of corn, 102 bushels of
wheat, and 16 sacks of salt. The county bought 21,755 bushels of corn at
$3 a bushel, and sold it at 50 cents a bushel to the poor; 920 bushels of
wheat at $10 a bushel and sold it at $2 a bushel; 233 sacks of salt at $80
per sack, and sold it at $20 per sack. The destitute families were those
of laborers who had joined the army. They lived mostly in the hill
country, where they suffered much from the tories. Many were refugees from
north Alabama.[551] In May, 1864, 1600 soldiers' families in Randolph
County were supported by the state and county. Many thousand bushels of
corn brought from middle Alabama had to be hauled 40 miles from the
railway. Eight thousand people, or one-third of the population, were
destitute. The same condition existed in other white counties.[552]
Colonel Gibson, probate judge of Lawrence County, relates an experience of
his in caring for the destitute. He went in person to Gadsden for 100
sacks of salt. He found the sacks in a very bad condition, and repaired
the whole lot with his own hands so as to preserve the precious contents.
This judge, with his own money, bought cotton cards for the poor people of
his county as well as salt, which at that time cost $100 a barrel.[553]
The people who had supplies gave to those who had none, and thus
supplemented the work of the state. They felt it a duty to divide to the
last with the deserving families of the poorer soldiers.[554]

Early in the war, in order to provide against famine, the authorities,
state and Confederate, began to urge the people to plant food crops only.
They were asked to plant no cotton, except for home needs. Corn, wheat,
beans, peas, potatoes, and other farm produce and live stock were
essential.[555] During the winter of 1862-1863 there was much distress
among the poor people in the cities and towns, and the next spring the
senators and representatives of Alabama united in an address to the
people, asking them to stop raising cotton and raise more foodstuffs and
live stock. Governor Shorter begged the people to raise food crops to keep
the soldiers from starving. The planters were asked as a patriotic duty to
raise the largest possible quantities of supplies. The Confederate
Congress also urged the people to raise provision crops instead of
cotton.[556] Though hard to convince that cotton was not king, the people
in 1863 and 1864 turned their attention more to food crops, and had
transportation facilities been good in 1864 and 1865, there need not have
been any suffering in the state, and the armies could have been fed

Because of the few railways, and the bad roads, often people in one
section of the state would be starving when there was an abundance a
hundred miles away. In the upper counties, when the soldiers' families
failed to make a crop, and when supplies were hard to get, the probate
judges would give the women certificates, and send them down into the
lower country for corn. Women whose husbands were at home hiding to escape
the conscript officer or the squad searching for deserters, young girls,
and old women came in droves into the central counties both by railway and
by boat, for free passage was given them, getting off at every landing and
station. With large sacks, these "corn women," as they were called,
scoured the country for corn and other provisions. Something was always
given them, and these supplies were sent to the station or landing for
them. Money was sometimes given to them, and a crowd of "corn women" on
their way home would have several hundred dollars and quantities of
provisions. These women were usually opposed to the war, and hated the
army and every one in it; the negro they especially disliked. The "corn
women" became a nuisance to the overseers and planters' wives on the

When there was plenty in the country, the towns and the armies were often
in want. Speculators controlled the prices on whatever found its way to
the market. In 1861 Governor Moore issued a proclamation condemning the
extortion of tradesmen, who were buying up the necessaries of life for the
purposes of speculation. Such, he declared, was unpatriotic and
wicked.[559] The legislature made such an action a penal offence, and to
buy up provisions and clothing on the false pretence of being a
Confederate agent was "felony."[560] In 1862 some officers of the
Quartermaster's Department were found guilty of speculation in food
supplies.[561] To prevent extortion the legislature afterwards enacted
that on all goods for sale or speculation, except medicine and drugs, a
profit of 15 per cent only could be made. All over that amount was to be
paid into the state treasury.[562] Millers were not to take more than
one-eighth for toll.[563]

At times it was unlawful to buy corn or other grain for shipment and sale
in another part of the state or in other states. The military authorities
in charge of the railroads sometimes prohibited the shipment of grain or
supplies away from the regions where the armies were likely to camp or to
march. In December, 1862, it was enacted that no one except the producer
or miller should sell corn without a license from the judge of probate,
which license limited the sale to one county for one year at a profit of
not more than 20 per cent.[564] However, in 1863 the legislature
authorized T. B. Bethea of Montgomery to sell corn bought in Marengo
County in any market in the state.[565]

Distress was produced in south Alabama by General Pemberton's order
prohibiting shipment by private individuals from Mississippi to Alabama on
the railways.[566]

In each state and later in each congressional district there were price
commissioners appointed, whose duty it was to fix schedules of prices at
which the articles of common use and necessity were to be sold by the
owners or paid for by the government when impressed. These prices were
fixed for the whole state, were usually for a term of three months, and
were often below the real market value. Consequently this had no effect
except to make the people hide their supplies from the government.[567]
Prices necessarily varied greatly in the different sections of the state,
and what was a reasonable value in central Alabama was unreasonably low in
north Alabama or at Mobile. In 1863 a Confederate quartermaster in north
Alabama insisted that the price commissioners must raise their prices or
he would be unable to buy for the army. He wrote that wool and woollen and
leather goods sold at Mobile in December, 1863, for from three to five
times as much as the scheduled prices of November 1, 1863. Prices in north
Alabama, he added, must be made higher than in south Alabama because there
was barely enough in that section for the people themselves to live

For months after the end of the war the inhabitants of the hill and
mountain districts of north Alabama and of the pine barrens of south
Alabama were on the verge of starvation, and a number of deaths actually
occurred. The Black Belt fared better, and recovered more quickly from the
devastation of the armies.


Military Uses of Negroes

The large non-combatant negro population was not wholly a source of
military and economic weakness to the state. In many respects it was a
source of strength to the military authorities, who employed negroes in
various capacities, thus relieving whites for military service. They were
employed as teamsters, cooks, nurses, and attendants in the hospitals,
laborers on the fortifications at Mobile, Montgomery, and Selma, around
the ordnance factories at Selma, in the salt works of Clarke County, and
at the nitre works of central and southern Alabama. Half as many whites
could be released for war as there were negroes employed in military
industries. The negroes employed by the authorities were usually chosen
because trustworthy, and they were as devoted Confederates as the whites,
all in all, perhaps, more so. They were efficient and faithful, and rarely
deserted to the enemy or allowed themselves to be captured, though many
opportunities were offered in north Alabama.[569]

After the secession of the state and before the formation of the
Confederacy numerous offers of the services of negro men were made by
their masters. The legislature passed an act to regulate the use of men so
proffered.[570] Where the negroes were employed in great numbers by the
government they worked under the supervision, not of a government
overseer, but of one appointed by the master who supported the negroes,
and who was paid or promised pay for their work. In the early part of the
war the white soldiers wanted to fight, but not to dig trenches, cook,
drive teams, or play in the band. Congress authorized, in 1862, the
employment of negroes as musicians in the army, and the enlistment of four
cooks, who might be colored, for each company.[571] In the same year the
state legislature authorized the governor to impress negroes to work on
the fortifications.[572] The state government impressed numbers of negroes
as laborers in the various state industries, such as nitre and salt
working, building railroads, and hauling the tax-in-kind. The legislature,
in August, 1863, declared that negroes ought to be placed in all possible
positions in the workshops and as laborers, and the white men thus
released should be sent to the army.[573]

Most of the impressment of blacks was done by the Confederate government.
The Confederate Impressment Act of March 26, 1863, provided that no farm
slave should be impressed before December 1. On February 17, 1864, free
negroes were made liable to service in the army as laborers and teamsters.
Before the passage of this act free negroes had often been hired as
substitutes, and sent to the army as soldiers in place of those who
preferred the comforts of home.[574] Bishop-General Polk made a general
impressment of negroes in north Alabama to work on the defences in his
department, and many protests were made by the owners. A public meeting
was held in April, 1864, in Talladega County to protest against further
impressment of negroes. This county, in December, 1862, sent 90 negroes to
the fortifications; in January, 1863, 120 more were sent; in February,
1863, 160; in March, 1863, 160; and so on. Talladega was one of the
counties that had to furnish supplies to the destitute mountain counties,
and the loss of labor was severely felt. Randolph and other north Alabama
counties made similar protests. From north Alabama 2500 negroes were taken
at one time to work on the fortifications in the Tennessee valley; this
frequently occurred. Central and south Alabama and southeast Mississippi
furnished many negroes to work on the fortifications at Selma, Montgomery,
and Mobile. After Farragut passed the forts at Mobile, 4500 negroes were
at once set to throwing up earthworks and soon had the city in
safety.[575] The lines of earthworks then made by the negroes still
stretch for miles around the city, through the pine woods, almost as well
defined as when thrown up.

When the crack regiments of young men from the black counties went to
Virginia, early in 1861, nearly every soldier had with him a negro servant
who faithfully took care of his "young master" and performed the rough
tasks that fell to the soldier--splitting wood, digging ditches about the
camp, hauling, and building. The Third Alabama regiment of infantry, one
of the best, left Alabama a thousand strong in rank and file and several
hundred strong in negro servants. Two years later there were no negro
servants; they had been sent home when their masters were killed, or
because they were needed at home, or they had been sold and "eaten up" by
the youngsters, who now had to do their own work.[576] Only the officers
kept body-servants after the first year or two. These servants were always
faithful, even unto death. The old Confederate soldiers have pleasant
recollections of the devotion of the faithful black who "fought, bled, and
died" with him for four years in dreary camp and on bloody battle-field.
The old soldier-servants who survive tell with pride of the times when
with "young master" and "Mass Bob Lee" they "fowt the Yankees in Virginny"
or at "Ilun 10." Many a bullet was sent into the northern lines by the
slaves secretly using the white soldiers' guns. When capture was imminent,
the negro servant would take watches, papers, and other valuables of the
master, and, making his way through the enemy's lines, return to the old
home with messages and directions from his master, then in prison. In
battle the slave was close at hand to aid his master when wounded or
exhausted. With a pine torch at night he searched among the wounded and
dead for his master. Finding him wounded, he cared for him faithfully,
bore him to hospital or friendly house, or carried him a long journey
home. Finding him dead, the devoted slave performed the last duties and
alone often buried his master, and then went sadly home to break the news.
Sometimes he managed to carry home his master's body, that it might lie
among kindred in the family burying-ground. If he could not do that, he
carried to his mistress his master's sword, horse, trinkets, and often his
last message.[577]

The negroes were more willing to serve as soldiers than the whites were
for them to serve. The slave owner did not like the idea of having the
negro fight, because it was felt that fundamentally the black was the
cause of strife. Others were sensitive about using slave property to fight
the quarrels of free men. As the years went on opinion was more and more
favorable to negro enlistment, but it was too late before the Confederate
government took up the matter.[578]

The average white person and the private soldiers generally were opposed
to the enlistment of the negroes. The white soldier thought it was a white
man's duty and privilege to serve as a soldier and that the fight was a
white man's fight. To make a negro a soldier was to grant him military
equality at least. To enlist negroes meant to abolish slavery, sooner or
later: negro soldiers would be emancipated at once; the rest would be
freed gradually. The non-slaveholders were more opposed to such a scheme
than the slaveholders. The negro would have made a good soldier under his
master, but he was worth almost as much to the Confederacy to raise
supplies and perform labor.[579]

The free negro population, though less than 3000 in number, were devoted
supporters of the Confederacy, and nearly all free black men were engaged
in some way in the Confederate service. Some entered the service as
substitutes, others as cooks, teamsters, and musicians. In Mobile they
asked to be enlisted as soldiers under white officers. The skilful
artisans usually stayed at home at the urgent request of the whites, who
needed their work, but, nevertheless, they contributed. All accounts agree
that they never avoided payment of the tax-in-kind, and other
contributions. One of the best-known of the free negroes was Horace Godwin
(or King)[580] of Russell County. He was a constant and liberal
contributor to the support of the Confederacy. He also furnished clothes
and money to the sons of his former master who were in the army, and
erected a monument over the grave of their father.

Negroes on the Farms

During the war the greater part of the farm labor in the white counties
was done by old men, women, and children, and in the Black Belt by the
negroes. Usually the owner, who was perhaps entitled to exemption under
the "twenty-negro" law, went to war and left his family and plantation to
the care of the blacks. In no known instance was the trust misplaced.
There was no insubordination among the negroes, no threat of violence. The
negroes worked contentedly, though they were soon aware that if the war
went against their masters their freedom would result.[581] Under the
direction of the mistress, advised once in a while by letter from the
master in the army, the black overseer controlled his fellow-slaves,
planted, gathered, and sold the crops, paid the tax-in-kind (under
protest), and cared for the white family.[582] In a day's ride in the
Black Belt no able-bodied white man was to be found.[583] When raiders
came, the negroes saved the family valuables and concealed the farm cattle
in the swamps, and though often mistreated by the plundering soldiers
because they had hidden the property, they were faithful. Women and
children felt safer then, when nearly all the white men were away, than
they have ever felt since among free negroes.[584] The Black Belt could
never again send out one-half as many whites to war, in proportion, as in

Fidelity to Masters

The negroes had every opportunity to desert to the Federals, except in the
interior of the state, but desertions were infrequent until near the close
of the war. In the Tennessee valley many were captured and carried off to
work in the Federal camps. Numbers of these captives escaped and gladly
returned home. As the Federal armies invaded the neighboring states,
negroes from Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, and Mississippi were sent into
the state to escape capture. In many instances the refugee slaves were in
charge of one of their own number--the overseer or driver. The invading
armies in 1865 found numbers of negro refugees doing their best to keep
out of the way of the Federals. As a rule only the negroes of bad
character or young boys deserted to the enemy or gave information to their
armies. The young negroes who followed the Federal raiders did not meet
with the treatment expected, and were glad enough to get back home. Most
of the negroes disliked and feared the invaders until they came as
intensely as the whites did.[585]

The devotion and faithfulness of the house-servants and of many of the
field hands where they came in contact with the white people at "the big
house" cannot be questioned.[586] On the part of these there was a desire
to acquit themselves faithfully of the trust imposed in them.[587] It is
one of the beautiful aspects of slavery. Yet this will not account for the
good behavior of the blacks on the large plantations where a white person
was seldom seen. They were as faithful almost as the house-servants. It
was the faithfulness of trained obedience rather than of love or
gratitude, for these were fleeting emotions in the soul of the average
African.[588] On the other hand, the negro did not harbor malice or
hatred. Constitutionally good-natured, the negroes were as faithful to a
harsh and strict master as to one who treated them as men and brothers.
Where one would expect a desire and an effort for revenge, there was
nothing of the sort. Not so much love and fidelity, but training and
discipline, made insurrection impossible among the blacks. Moreover, the
negro lacked the capacity for organization under his own leaders. Had
there been strong leaders and agitators, especially white ones, it is
likely that there would have been insurrection, and a negro rising in
Marengo County would have disbanded the Alabama troops. But the system of
discipline prevented that.

The good church people maintain that one of the strongest influences to
hold the negro to his duty was his religion. He had often been carefully
instructed by preachers, black and white, and by his white master, and his
religion was a real and living thing to him. Invariably the influence of
the sturdy old black plantation preacher was exerted for good. This
influence was strongly felt on the large plantations, where the negroes
seldom held converse with white men.[589]

The negroes were frightened, during the last months of the war, at
possible capture by the Federals and forced enlistment or deportation to
freedom and work in camps. They had somewhat the small white child's idea
of a "Yankee" as some kind of a thing with horns. When the end was at hand
and the bonds of the social order were loosening, the negro heard more of
the freedom beyond the blue armies, and some of them hoped for and
welcomed the invaders. When the armies came at last, most of the negroes
helped, as before, to save all that could be saved from the plunderers. At
the worst, the negro celebrated freedom by quitting work and following the
armies. Much stealing was done by them with the encouragement of their
deliverers, but the behavior of the blacks was always better than that of
the invaders. Many rode off the plantation stock in order to be able to
follow the army to freedom and no work. Some burned buildings, etc.,
because the army did. Most of the former house-servants remained faithful
to the whites until it was no longer safe for a black man to be the friend
of a native white.

On the whole the behavior of the slaves during the war, whatever may be
the causes, was most excellent. To the last day of bondage the great
majority were true against all temptations. With their white people they
wept for the Confederate slain, were sad at defeat, and rejoiced in


Schools and Colleges

During the first year of the war the higher institutions of learning kept
their doors open and the common schools went on as usual. The strongest
educational institution was the University of Alabama, which was supported
by state appropriations. In 1860 a military department was established at
the university under Captain Caleb Huse, U.S.A., who afterwards became a
Confederate purchasing agent in Europe. This step was not taken in
anticipation of future trouble with the United States, but had been
contemplated for years. The student body had been rather turbulent and
hard to control, and for the sake of order they were put under a strict
military discipline similar to the West Point system. Many students
resigned early in 1861 and went into the Confederate service. Others,
proficient in drill, were ordered by the governor to the state camps of
instruction to drill the new regiments. There were no commencement
exercises in 1861; but the trustees met and conferred degrees upon a
graduating class of fifty-two, the most of whom were in the army.

The fall session of 1861 opened with a slight increase of students, but
they were younger than usual,--from fourteen to seventeen years, and not
as well prepared as before the war. Parents sent young boys to school to
keep them out of the army; many went to get the military training in order
that they might become officers later; the state needed officers and
encouraged military education. The university was required to furnish
drill-masters to the instruction camps without expense to the state. As
soon as the boys were well drilled they usually deserted school and
entered the Confederate service. This custom threatened to break up the
school, and in 1862 all students were required to enlist as cadets for
twelve months, and were not permitted to resign. Yet they still deserted
in squads of two, three, and four, and went to the army. Recruiting
officers would offer them positions as officers, and they would accept and
leave the university. The students refused to study seriously anything
except military science and tactics. Numbers refused to take the
examinations in order that they might be suspended or expelled, and thus
be free to enlist.

In 1862-1863, 256 students were enrolled,--more than ever before,--but
mostly boys of fourteen and fifteen. The majority of them were badly
prepared in their studies, and it was necessary to establish a preparatory
department for them. In 1863-1864 there were 341 boys enrolled--younger
than ever. At the end of this session the first commencement since 1860
was held, and degrees were conferred on a few who had enlisted and on one
or two who had not. The enrolment during the session of 1864-1865 was
between 300 and 400--all young boys of twelve to fifteen. The cadets were
called out several times during this session to check Federal raids.
Little studying was done; all were spoiling for a fight. When Croxton
came, one night in 1865, the long roll was beaten, and every cadet
responded. Under the command of the president and the commandant they
marched against Croxton, whose force outnumbered theirs six to one. There
was a sharp fight, in which a number of cadets were wounded, and then the
president withdrew the corps to Marion in Perry County, where it was
disbanded a few days later. It was now the end of the war. Croxton had
imperative orders to burn the university buildings, and they were
destroyed. There was a fine library, and the librarian, a Frenchman,
begged in vain that it might be spared. The officers who fired the
library saved one volume--the Koran--as a souvenir of the occasion.[591]

The Hospital for the Deaf and Dumb at Talladega and the Insane Asylum were
continued throughout the war by means of state aid, and after the collapse
of the Confederacy were not destroyed by the Federals.[592] La Grange
College, a Methodist institution at Florence, in north Alabama, lost its
endowment during the war, and after the occupation of that section by the
Federals was closed. After the war it was given to the state, and is now
one of the State Normal Colleges. In 1861, Howard College, the Baptist
institution at Marion, sent three professors and more than forty students
to the army. Soon there was only one professor left to look after the
buildings; the rest of the faculty and all of the students had joined the
army. The endowments and equipment of the college were totally destroyed.
Nothing was left except the buildings.

The Southern University at Greensboro kept its doors open for three years,
but had to close in 1864 for want of students and faculty. Most of its
endowment was lost in Confederate securities. After two years of war the
East Alabama College at Auburn suspended exercises. The buildings were
then used as a Confederate hospital. The endowment was totally lost in
Confederate bonds, and after the war the property was given to the state
for the Agricultural and Mechanical College, now the Alabama Polytechnic
Institute. The Catholic College at Spring Hill near Mobile, the Judson
Institute at Marion, a well-known Baptist College for women, and the
Methodist Woman's College at Tuskegee managed to keep going during the
war.[593] The student body at both male and female colleges was composed
of younger and younger students each successive year. In 1865 only
children were found in any of them.

In 1860 there were many private schools throughout the state. Every town
and village had its high school or academy. For several years before the
war military schools had been springing up over the state. State aid was
often given these in the form of supplies of arms. Several were
incorporated in 1860 and 1861. Private academies were incorporated in 1861
in Coffee, Randolph, and Russell counties, with the usual provision that
intoxicating liquors should not be sold within a mile of the school.
Charters of several schools were amended to suit the changed conditions.
These schools were all destroyed, with the exception of Professor
Tutwiler's Green Springs School, which survived the war, though all its
property was lost,[594] and two schools in Tuscaloosa. One of these, known
as "The Home School," was conducted by Mrs. Tuomey, wife of the well-known
geologist, and the other by Professor Saunders in the building later known
as the "Athenæum."[595]

The only independent city public school system was that of Mobile,
organized in 1852, after northern models. The Boys' High School in this
city was kept open during the war, though seriously thinned in numbers.
The lower departments and the girls' schools were always full.[596] The
state system of schools was organized in 1855 on the basis of the Mobile
system. It was not in full operation before the war came, though much had
been done.

During the first part of the war public and private schools went on as
usual, though there was a constantly lessening number of boys who
attended. Some went to war, while others, especially in the white
counties, had to stop school to look after farm affairs as soon as the
older men enlisted. Teachers of schools having over twenty pupils were
exempt,[597] but as a matter of fact the teachers who were physically able
enlisted in the army along with their older pupils. The teaching was left
to old men and women, to the preachers and disabled soldiers; most of the
pupils were small girls and smaller boys. The older girls, as the war went
on, remained at home to weave and spin or to work in the fields. In
sparsely settled communities it became dangerous, on account of deserters
and outlaws, for the children to make long journeys through the woods, and
the schools were suspended. The schools in Baldwin County were suspended
as early as 1861.[598]

Legislation for the schools went on much as usual. After the first year
few new schools were established, public or private. Appropriations were
made by the legislature and distributed by the county superintendents.
When the Federals occupied north Alabama, the legislature ordered that
school money should be paid to the county superintendents in that section
on the basis of the estimates for 1861.[599] The sixteenth section lands
were sold when it was possible and the proceeds devoted to school
purposes.[600] A Confederate military academy was established in Mobile
and conducted by army officers. The purpose of this institute was to give
practical training to future officers and to young and inexperienced

Few, if any, of the schools were entirely supported by public money. The
small state appropriation was eked out by contributions from the patrons
in the form of tuition fees. These fees were paid sometimes in Confederate
money, but oftener in meat, meal, corn, cloth, yarn, salt, and other
necessaries of life. The school terms were shortened to two or three
months in the summer and as many in the winter. The stronger pupils did
not attend school when there was work for them on the farm; consequently
the summer session was the more fully attended. The school system as thus
conducted did not break down, except in north Alabama, until the
surrender, though many schools were discontinued in particular localities
for want of teachers or pupils.

The quality of the instruction given was not of the best; only those
taught who could do little else. The girls are said to have been much
better scholars than the boys, whose minds ran rather upon military
matters. Often their play was military drill, and listening to war stories
their chief intellectual exercise.[601]

Some rare and marvellous text-books again saw the light during the war.
Old books that had been stored away for two generations were brought out
for use. Webster's "blue back" Speller was the chief reliance, and when
the old copies wore out, a revised southern edition of the book was
issued. Smith's Grammar was expurgated of its New Englandism and made a
patriotic impression by its exercises. Davies's old Arithmetics were used,
and several new mathematical works appeared. Very large editions of
Confederate text-books were published in Mobile, and especially in
Richmond; South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia also furnished
Confederate text-books to Alabama. Mobile furnished Mississippi.[602] I
have seen a small geography which had crude maps of all the countries,
including the Confederate States, but omitting the United States. A few
lines of text recognized the existence of the latter country. Another
geography was evidently intended to teach patriotism and pugnacity, to
judge from its contents. Here are some extracts from W. B. Moore's Primary
Geography: "In a few years the northern states, finding their climate too
cold for the negroes to be profitable, sold them to the people living
farther south. Then the northern states passed laws to forbid any person
owning slaves in their borders. Then the northern people began to preach,
to lecture, and to write about the sin of slavery. The money for which
they had sold their slaves was now partly spent in trying to persuade the
southern states to send their slaves back to Africa.... The people [of the
North] are ingenious and enterprising, and are noted for their tact in
'driving a bargain.' They are refined and intelligent on all subjects but
that of negro slavery; on this they are mad.... This [the Confederacy] is
a great country! The Yankees thought to starve us out when they sent their
ships to guard our seaport towns. But we have learned to make many things;
to do without others.

"Q. Has the Confederacy any commerce?

"A. A fine inland commerce, and bids fair, sometime, to have a grand
commerce on the high seas.

"Q. What is the present drawback to our trade?

"A. An unlawful blockade by the miserable and hellish Yankee nation."[603]

In some families the children were taught at home by a governess or by
some member of the family. This was the case especially in the Black Belt,
where there were not enough white children to make up a school. Many
mistresses of plantations were, however, too busy to look after the
education of their children, and the latter, when old enough, would be
sent to a friend or relative who lived in town, in order to attend
school.[604] Sometimes a planter had a school on his plantation for the
benefit of his own children. To this school would be admitted the children
of all the whites on the plantation, and of the neighbors who were near
enough to come.[605]


In 1860 there were ninety-six periodicals of various kinds published in
Alabama. About twenty-five of these suspended publication during the war
and were not revived afterwards. Numbers of others suspended for a short
time when paper could not be secured or when being moved from the enemy.
The monthly publications--usually agricultural--all suspended. The
so-called "unionist" newspapers of 1860 went to the wall early in the war
or were sold to editors of different political principles.[606] In spite
of the existence of war, the circulation decreased. Most of the reading
men were in the army; the people at home became less and less able to pay
for a newspaper as the war progressed, and many persons read a single
copy, which was handed around the community. People who could not read
would subscribe for newspapers and get some one to read for them. An eager
crowd surrounded the reader. Papers left for a short time in the
post-office were read by the post-office loiterers as a right. Few war
papers are now in existence, there were so many uses for them after they
were read.

It is said that the newspaper men did more service in the field in
proportion to numbers than any other class. At the first sound of war many
of them left the office and did not return until the struggle was ended.
Often every man connected with a paper would volunteer, and the paper
would then cease to be issued. There were instances when both father and
son left the newspaper office, and one or both were killed in the war.
Colonel E. C. Bullock of the Alabama troops was a fine type of the Alabama
editor. The law exempted from service one editor and the necessary
printers for each paper. But little advantage was taken of this; few
able-bodied newspaper men failed to do service in the field.[607]

Sometimes in north Alabama publication had to cease because of the
occupation of the country by the Federal forces, which confiscated or
destroyed the printing outfits. It was difficult to get supplies of paper,
ink, and other newspaper necessaries. No new lots of type were to be had
at all during the whole war. Some papers were printed for weeks at a time
on blue, brown, or yellow wrapping-paper. The regular printing-paper was
often of bad quality and the ink was also bad, so that to-day it is almost
impossible to read some of the papers. Others are as white and clean as if
printed a year ago. A bound volume presents a variegated appearance--some
issues clear and white and strong, others stained and greasy from the bad
ink. The type was often so worn as to be almost illegible. In some
instances, when the sense could be made out, letters were omitted from
words, and even words were omitted, in order to save the type for use

The reading matter in the papers was not as a rule very exciting. Brief
summaries were given of military operations, in which the Confederates
were usually victorious, and of political events, North and South. One of
the latest war papers that I have seen chronicles the defeat of Grant by
Lee about April 10, 1865. Letters were printed from the editor in the
field; former employees also wrote letters for the paper, and items of
interest from the soldiers' letters were published. New legislation, state
and Confederate, was summarized. The governor's proclamations were made
public through the medium of the county newspapers. It was about the only
way in which the governor could reach his people. The orders and
advertisements of the army commissaries and quartermasters and conscript
officers were printed each week; there were advertisements for
substitutes, a few for runaway negroes, and a very few trade
advertisements. If a merchant had a stock of goods, he was sure to be
found without giving notice. Notices of land sales were frequent, but very
few negroes were offered for sale. The price of slaves was high to the
last, a sentimental price. Many papers devoted columns and pages to the
printing of directions for making at home various articles of food and
clothing that formerly had been purchased from the North--how to make
soap, salt, stockings, boxes without nails, coarse and fine cloth,
substitutes for tea, coffee, drugs, etc.

Mobile, Montgomery, Selma, and Tuscaloosa were the headquarters of the
strongest newspapers. The _Mobile Tribune_ and the _Register and
Advertiser_ were suppressed when the city fell; the material of the latter
was confiscated. Both had been strong war papers. In April, 1865, the
_Montgomery Advertiser_ sent its material to Columbus, Georgia, to escape
destruction by the raiders, but Wilson's men burned it there. In
Montgomery the newspaper files were piled in the street by Wilson and
burned; and when Steele came, with the second army of invasion, the
_Advertiser_, which was coming out on a makeshift press, was suppressed,
and not until July was it permitted to appear again. The _Montgomery
Mail_, edited by Colonel J. J. Seibels, who had leanings toward peace,
began early in 1865 to prepare the people for the inevitable. Its attitude
was bitterly condemned by the _Advertiser_ and by many people, but it was
saved from destruction by this course.[608]

Publishing Houses

Most of the people of Alabama had but little time for reading, and those
who had the time and inclination were usually obliged to content
themselves with old books. The family Bible was in a great number of homes
almost the only book read. Most of the new books read were published in
Atlanta, Richmond, or Charleston, though during the last two years of the
war Mobile publishers sent out many thousand volumes. W. G. Clark and Co.,
of Mobile, confined their attention principally to text-books, but S. H.
Goetzel was more ambitious. His list includes text-books, works on
military science and tactics, fiction, translations, music, etc. The
best-selling southern novel published during the war was "Macaria," by
Augusta J. Evans of Mobile. It was printed by Goetzel, who also published
Mrs. Ford's "Exploits of Morgan and his Men," which was pirated or
reprinted by Richardson of New York. Evans and Cogswell of Charleston
published Miss Evans's "Beulah." Both "Macaria" and "Beulah" were
reprinted in the North. Goetzel bound his books in rotten pasteboard and
in wall-paper. Goetzel was also an enterprising publisher of translations.
In 1864 he published (on wrapping-paper) a four-volume translation, by
Adelaide de V. Chaudron, of Muhlbach's "Joseph II and His Court." He
published other translations of Miss Muhlbach's historical novels,--her
first American publisher. Owen Meredith's poem, "Tanhauser," was first
printed in America in Mobile. An opera of the same name was also
published. Hardee's "Rifle and Infantry Tactics," in two volumes, and
Wheeler's "Cavalry Tactics" were printed in large editions by Goetzel for
the use of Alabama troops.

Lieutenant-Colonel Freemantle's book, "Three Months in the Southern
States," was published in Mobile in 1864, and in the same year the works
of Dickens and George Eliot were reprinted by Goetzel. An interesting book
published by Clark of Mobile was entitled "The Confederate States Almanac
and Repository of Useful Knowledge." It appeared annually to 1864 in
Mobile and Augusta, and resembled the annual cyclopædias and year-books of
to-day. Small devotional books and tracts were printed in nearly every
town that had a printing-press. It is said that the church societies
published no doctrinal or controversial tracts. Hundreds of different
tracts, such as Cromwell's "Soldier's Pocket Bible," were printed for
distribution among the soldiers. But not enough Bibles and Testaments
could be made. The northern Bible societies "with one exception" refused
to supply the Confederate sinners. The American Bible Society of New York
gave hundreds of thousands of Bibles, Testaments, etc., principally for
the Confederate troops. At one time 150,000 were given, at another 50,000,
and the work was continued after the war. In 1862 the British and Foreign
Bible Society gave 310,000 Bibles, etc., for the soldiers, and gave
unlimited credit to the Confederate Bible Society.[609]

After the surrender the material of the newspapers and publishing houses
was confiscated or destroyed.


Attitude of the Churches toward Public Questions

The religious organizations represented in the state strongly supported
the Confederacy, and even before the beginning of hostilities several of
them had placed themselves on record in regard to political questions. As
a rule, there was no political preaching, but at conferences and
conventions the sentiment of the clergy would be publicly declared.

The Alabama Baptist Convention, in 1860, declared, in a series of
resolutions on the state of the country, that though standing aloof for
the most part from political parties and contests, yet their retired
position did not exclude the profound conviction, based on unquestioned
facts, that the Union had failed in important particulars to answer the
purpose for which it was created. From the Federal government the southern
people could no longer hope for justice, protection, or safety, especially
with reference to their peculiar property, recognized by the Constitution.
They thought themselves entitled to equality of rights as citizens of the
republic, and they meant to maintain their rights, even at the risk of
life and all things held dear. They felt constrained "to declare to our
brethren and fellow-citizens, before mankind and before our God, that we
hold ourselves subject to the call of proper authority in defence of the
sovereignty and independence of the state of Alabama and of her sacred
right as a sovereignty to withdraw from this Union, and to make any
arrangement which her people in constituent assemblies may deem best for
securing their rights. And in this declaration we are heartily,
deliberately, unanimously, and solemnly united."[610] Bravely did they
stand by this declaration in the stormy years that followed. A year later
(1861) the Southern Baptist Convention adopted resolutions sustaining the
principles for which the South was fighting, condemning the course of the
North, and pledging hearty support to the Confederate government.[611]
Like action was taken by the Southern Methodist Church, but little can now
be found on the subject. One authority states that in 1860 the politicians
were anxious that the Alabama Conference should declare its sentiment in
regard to the state of the country. This was strongly opposed and
frustrated by Bishops Soule and Andrew, who wanted to keep the church out
of politics.[612] From another account we learn that in December, 1860, a
meeting of Methodist ministers in Montgomery declared in favor of
secession from the Union.[613]

In 1862 a committee report to the East Liberty Baptist Association urged
"one consideration upon the minds of our membership: the present civil war
which has been inaugurated by our enemies must be regarded as a
providential visitation upon us on account of our sins." This called forth
warm discussion and was at once modified by the insertion of the words,
"though entirely just on our part."[614]

In 1863 the Alabama ministers--Baptist, Methodist Episcopal South,
Methodist Protestant, United Synod South, Episcopal, and
Presbyterian--united with the clergy of the other southern states in "The
Address of the Confederate Clergy to Christians throughout the World." The
address declared that the war was being waged to achieve that which it was
impossible to accomplish by violence, viz. to restore the Union. It
protested against the action of the North in forcing the war upon the
South and condemned the abolitionist policy of Lincoln as indicated in the
Emancipation Proclamation. It made a lengthy defence of the principles
for which the South was fighting.[615]

By law ministers were exempt from military service.[616] But nearly all of
the able-bodied ministers went to the war as chaplains, or as officers,
leading the men of their congregations. It was considered rather
disgraceful for a man in good physical condition to take up the profession
of preaching or teaching after the war began. Young men "called to preach"
after 1861 received scant respect from their neighbors, and the government
refused to recognize the validity of these "calls to preach." The
preachers at home were nearly all old or physically disabled men.
Gray-haired old men made up the conferences, associations, conventions,
councils, synods, and presbyteries. But to the last their spirit was high,
and all the churches faithfully supported the Confederate cause. They
cheered and kept up the spirits of the people, held society together
against the demoralizing influences of civil strife, and were a strong
support to the state when it had exhausted itself in the struggle. They
gave thanks for victory, consolation for defeat; they cared for the needy
families of the soldiers and the widows and orphans made by war. The
church societies incorporated during the last year of the war show that
the state relief administration had broken down. Some of them were, "The
Methodist Orphans' Home of East Alabama," "The Orphans' Home of the Synod
of Alabama," "The Samaritan Society of the Methodist Protestant Church,"
"The Preachers' Aid Society of the Montgomery Conference of the Methodist
Episcopal Church South." The Episcopal Church was incorporated in order
that it might make provision for the widows and orphans of soldiers.[617]

In 1861 the Presbyterian, Cumberland Presbyterian, Episcopal, and
Methodist churches in Huntsville sent their bells to Holly Springs,
Mississippi, and had them cast into cannon for a battery to be called the
"Bell Battery of Huntsville." Before they were used the cannon were
captured by the Federals when they invaded north Alabama in 1862.[618]

Each command of volunteers attended church in a body before departing for
the front. On such occasions there were special services in which divine
favor was invoked upon the Confederate cause and its defenders. Religion
exercised a strong influence over the southern people. The strongest
denominations were the Methodists and the Baptists. Nearly all the
soldiers belonged to some church, the great majority to the two just
named. The good influence of the chaplains over the undisciplined men of
the southern armies was incalculable. To the religious training of the men
is largely due the fact that the great majority of the soldiers returned
but little demoralized by the four years of war.[619]

Not only was the southern soldier not demoralized by his army life, but
many passed through the baptism of fire and came out better men in all
respects. The "poor whites," so-called, arrived at true manhood, they
fought their way into the front of affairs, and learned their true worth.
The reckless, slashing temper of the young bloods disappeared. All were
steadied and sobered and imbued with greater self-respect and respect for
others. And the work of the church at home and in the army aided this
tendency; its democratic influences were strong.

The white congregations at home were composed of women, old men, cripples,
and children. Among the women the religious spirit was strongest; it
accounts in some degree for their marvellous courage and constancy during
the war. They were often called to church to sanctify a fast. The favorite
readings in the Bible were the first and second chapters of Joel. They
worked and fasted and prayed for protection and for victory.[620] The
Bible was the most commonly read book in the entire land. The people,
naturally religious before the war, became intensely so during the

The Churches and the Negroes

After the separation of the southern churches from the northern
organizations the religious instruction of the negroes was conducted
under less difficulties, and greater progress was made. There was no
longer danger of interference by hostile mission boards controlled by
antislavery officials.[622] The mission work among the negroes was
prospering in 1861, and while the white congregations were often without
pastors during the war, the negro missions were always supplied.[623] Many
negro congregations were united to white ones and were thus served by the
same preacher; others were served by regular circuit riders. Some of the
best ministers were preachers to the blacks, and were most devoted
pastors. One winter a preacher in the Tennessee valley, when the Federals
had burned the bridges, swam the river in order to reach his negro charge.
The faithful blacks were waiting for him and built him a fire of pine
knots. He preached and dried his clothes at the same time.[624]

The fidelity of the slave during these trying times called forth
expressions of gratitude from the churches, and all of them did what they
could to better his social and religious condition.[625] Often when there
was no white preacher, the old negro plantation preacher took his place in
the pulpit and preached to the white and black congregation.[626] The good
conduct of the slaves during the war was due in large degree to the
religious training given them by white and black preachers and by the
families of the slaveholders. The old black plantation preacher was a
tower of strength to the whites of the Black Belt.[627] The missions were
destroyed by the victorious Unionists, and the negro members of the
southern churches were encouraged to separate themselves from the "rebel"
churches; and never since have the southern religious organizations been
able to enter successfully upon work among the blacks.

The Federal Armies and the Southern Churches

With the advance of the Federal armies came the northern churches.
Territory gained by northern arms was considered territory gained for the
northern churches. Ministers came, or were sent down, to take the place of
southern ministers, who were prohibited from preaching. The military
authorities were especially hostile to the Methodist Episcopal Church
South,[628] and to the Protestant Episcopal Church, annoying the ministers
and congregations of these bodies in every way. They were told that upon
them lay the blame for the war; they had done so much to bring it on.
There were very few "loyal" ministers and no "loyal" bishops, but the
Secretary of War at Washington, in an order dated November 30, 1863,
placed at the disposal of Bishop Ames of the northern Methodist Church,
all houses of worship belonging to the southern Methodist Church in which
a "loyal" minister, appointed by a "loyal" bishop, was not officiating.
It was a matter of the greatest importance to the government, the order
stated, that Christian ministers should by example and precept support and
foster the "loyal" sentiment of the people. Bishop Ames, the order
recited, enjoyed the entire confidence of the War Department, and no doubt
was entertained by the government but that the ministers appointed by him
would be "loyal." The military authorities were directed to support Bishop
Ames in the execution of his important mission.[629] A second order, dated
January 14, 1864, directed the military authorities to turn over to the
American Baptist Home Mission Society all churches belonging to the
southern Baptists. Confidence was expressed in the "loyalty" of this
society and its ministers.[630] Other orders placed the Board of Home
Missions of the United Presbyterian Church in charge of the churches of
the Associate Reformed Church, and authorized the northern branches of the
(O. S. and N. S.) Presbyterians to appoint "loyal" ministers for the
churches of these denominations in the South.

Lincoln seems to have been displeased with the action taken by the War
Department, but nothing more was done than to modify the orders so as to
concern only the "churches in the rebellious states."[631]

Under these orders churches in north Alabama were seized and turned over
to the northern branches of the same denomination. In some of the mountain
districts this was not opposed by the so-called "union" element of the
population. But in most places bitter feelings were aroused, and
controversies began which lasted for several years after the war ended.
The northern churches in some cases attempted to hold permanently the
property turned over to them during the war. In central and south Alabama,
where the Federal forces did not appear until 1865, these orders were not

In the section of the country occupied by the enemy, the military
authorities attempted to regulate the services in the various churches.
Prayer had to be offered for the President of the United States and for
the Federal government. It was a criminal offence to pray for the
Confederate leaders. Preachers who refused to pray "loyal" prayers and
preach "loyal" sermons were forbidden to hold services. In Huntsville, in
1862, the Rev. Frederick A. Ross, a celebrated Presbyterian clergyman, was
arrested by General Rousseau, and sent North for praying a "disloyal"
prayer in which he said, "We pray Thee, O Lord, to bless our enemies and
to remove them from our midst as soon as seemeth good in Thy sight." He
seems to have been released, for in February, 1865, General R. S. Stanley
wrote to General Thomas's adjutant-general protesting against the policy
of the provost-marshal in Huntsville, who had selected a number of
prominent men to answer certain test questions as to "loyalty." If not
answered to his satisfaction, the person catechized was to be sent beyond
the lines. Among other prominent citizens two ministers--Ross and
Bannister--were selected for expulsion. These, General Stanley said, had
never taken part in politics, and he thought it was a bad policy. However,
he stated that General Granger wanted the preachers expelled.[632]

Throughout the war there was a disposition on the part of some army
officers to compel ministers of southern sympathies to conduct "loyal"
services--that is, to preach and pray for the success of the Federal
government. It was especially easy to annoy the Episcopal clergy, on
account of the formal prayer used, but other denominations also suffered.
In one instance, a Methodist minister was told that he must take the oath
(this was soon after the surrender) and pray for the President of the
United States, or he must stop preaching. For a time he refused, but
finally he took the oath, and, as he said, "I prayed for the President;
that the Lord would take out of him and his allies the hearts of beasts
and put into them the hearts of men, or remove the cusses from office. The
little captain never asked me any more to pray for the President and the
United States."[633]

In the churches the situation at the close of the war was not promising
for peace. Some congregations were divided; church property was held by
aliens supported by the army; "loyal" services were still demanded; the
northern churches were sending agents to occupy the southern field; the
negroes were being forcibly separated from southern supervision; the
policy of "disintegration and absorption" was beginning. Consequently the
church question during Reconstruction was one of the most irritating.[634]


Society in 1861

During the early months of 1861 society was at its brightest and best. For
several years social life had been characterized by a vague feeling of
unrest. Political questions became social questions, society and politics
went hand in hand, and the social leaders were the political leaders. The
women were well informed on all questions of the day and especially on the
burning sectional issues that affected them so closely. After the John
Brown episode at Harper's Ferry, the women felt that for them there could
be no safety until the question was settled. They were strongly in favor
of secession after that event if not before; they were even more unanimous
than the men, feeling that they were more directly concerned in questions
of interference with social institutions in the South. There was to them a
great danger in social changes made, as all expected, by John Brown

Brilliant social events celebrated the great political actions of the day.
The secession of Alabama, the sessions of the convention, the meeting of
the legislature, the meeting of the Provisional Congress, the inauguration
of President Davis--all were occasions for splendid gatherings of beauty
and talent and strength. There were balls, receptions, and other social
events in country and in town. There was no city life, and country and
town were socially one. Enthusiasm for the new government of the southern
nation was at fever heat for months. At heart many feared and dreaded that
war might follow, but had war been certain, the knowledge would have
turned no one from his course. When war was seen to be imminent,
enthusiasm rose higher. Fear and dread were in the hearts of the women,
but no one hesitated. From social gayety they turned to the task of making
ready for war their fathers, brothers, husbands, and sweethearts. They
hurriedly made the first gray uniforms and prepared supplies for the
campaign. When the companies were fitted out and ready to depart, there
were farewell balls and sermons, and presentations of colors by young
women. These ceremonies took place in the churches, town halls, and
court-houses. Speeches of presentation were made by young women, and of
acceptance by the officers. The men always spoke well. The women showed a
thorough acquaintance with the questions at issue, but most of their
addresses were charges to the soldiers, encouragement to duty. "Go, my
sons, and return victorious or fall in the cause of the South," or a
similar paraphrase, was often heard. One lady said, "We confide [to you]
this emblem of our zeal for liberty, trusting that it will nerve your
hearts and strengthen your hands in the hour of trial, and that its
presence will forbid the thought of seeking any other retreat than in
death." Another maiden told her soldiers that "we who present this banner
expect it to be returned brightened by your chivalry or to become the
shroud of the slain." "The terrors of war are far less to be feared than
the degradation of ignoble submission," the soldiers were assured by
another bright-eyed girl. The legends embroidered or woven into the colors
were such as these: "To the Brave," "Victory or Death," "Never

There were dress parades, exhibition drills, picnics, barbecues; and then
the soldiers marched away. After a short season of feverish social gayety,
the seriousness of war was brought home to the people, and those left
behind settled down to watch and wait and work and pray for the loved ones
and for the cause. It was soon a very quiet life, industrious, strained
with waiting and listening for news. For a long time the interior country
was not disturbed by fear of invasion. Life was monotonous; sorrow came
afresh daily; and it was a blessing to the women that they had to work so
hard during the war, as constant employment was their greatest comfort.

Life on the Farm

The great majority of the people of Alabama lived in the country on farms
and plantations. They had been dependent upon the North for all the finer
and many of the commoner manufactured articles. The staple crop was
cotton, which was sold in exchange for many of the ordinary necessaries of
life. Now all was changed. The blockade shut off supplies from abroad, and
the plantations had to raise all that was needed for feeding and clothing
the people at home and the soldiers in the field. This necessitated a
change in plantation economy. After the first year of war less and less
cotton was planted, and food crops became the staple agricultural
productions. The state and Confederate authorities encouraged this
tendency by advice and by law. The farms produced many things which were
seldom planted before the war, when cotton was the staple crop. Cereals
were cultivated in the northern counties and to some extent in central
Alabama, though wheat was never successful in central and south Alabama.
Rice, oats, corn, peas, pumpkins, ground-peas, and chufas were grown more
and more as the war went on. Ground-peas (called also peanuts, goobers, or
pindars, according to locality) and chufas were raised to feed hogs and
poultry. The common field pea, or "speckled Jack," was one of the
mainstays of the Confederacy. It is said that General Lee called it "the
Confederacy's best friend." At "laying by" the farmers planted peas
between the hills of corn, and the vines grew and the crop matured with
little further trouble. Sweet potatoes were everywhere raised, and became
a staple article of food.

Rice was stripped of its husk by being beaten with a wooden pestle in a
mortar cut out of a section of a tree. The threshing of the wheat was a
cause of much trouble. Rude home-made flails were used, for there were no
regular threshers. No one raised much of it, for it was a great task to
clean it. One poor woman who had a small patch of wheat threshed it by
beating the sheaves over a barrel, while bed quilts and sheets were spread
around to catch the scattering grains. Another placed the sheaves in a
large wooden trough, then she and her small children beat the sheaves with
wooden clubs. After being threshed in some such manner, the chaff was
fanned out by pouring the grain from a measure in a breeze and catching it
on a sheet.

Field labor was performed in the Black Belt by the negroes, but in the
white counties the burden fell heavily upon the women, children, and old
men. In the Black Belt the mistress of the plantation managed affairs with
the assistance of the trusty negroes. She superintended the planting of
the proper crops, the cultivation and gathering of the same, and sent to
the government stores the large share called for by the tax-in-kind. The
old men of the community, if near enough, assisted the women managers by
advice and direction. Often one old gentleman would have half a dozen
feminine planters as his wards. Life was very busy in the Black Belt, but
there was never the suffering in this rich section that prevailed in the
less fertile white counties from which the white laborers had gone to war.
In the latter section the mistress of slaves managed much as did her Black
Belt sister, but there were fewer slaves and life was harder for all, and
hardest of all for the poor white people who owned no slaves. When few
slaves were owned by a family, the young white boys worked in the field
with them, while the girls of the family did the light tasks about the
house, though at times they too went to the field. Where there were no
slaves, the old men, cripples, women, and children worked on the little
farms. All over the country the young boys worked like heroes. All had
been taught that labor was honorable, and all knew how work should be
done. So when war made it necessary, all went to work only the harder;
there was no holding of hands in idleness. The mistress of the plantation
was already accustomed to the management of large affairs, and war brought
additional duties rather than new and strange problems; but the wife of
the poor farmer or renter, left alone with small children, had a hard time
making both ends meet.

Home Industries; Makeshifts and Substitutes

Many articles in common use had now to be made at home, and the plantation
developed many small industries. There was much joy when a substitute was
found, because it made the people independent of the outside world. Farm
implements were made and repaired. Ropes were made at home of various
materials, such as bear-grass, sunflower stalks, and cotton; baskets, of
willow branches and of oak splints; rough earthenware, of clay and then
glazed; cooking soda from seaweed and from corn-cob ashes; ink from
nut-galls or ink balls, from the skin of blue fig, from green persimmons,
pokeberries, rusty nails, pomegranate rind, and indigo. Cement was made
from wild potatoes and flour; starch from nearly ripe corn, sweet
potatoes, and flour. Bottles or gourds, with small rolls of cotton for
wicks, served as lamps, and in place of oil, cotton-seed oil, ground-pea
or peanut oil, and lard were used. Candles made of wax or tallow were
used, while in the "piney woods" pine knots furnished all the necessary
illumination. Mattresses were stuffed with moss, leaves, and "cat-tails."
No paper could be wasted for envelopes. The sheet was written on except
just enough for the address when folded. In other instances wall-paper and
sheets of paper with pictures on one side and the other side blank were
folded and used for envelopes. Mucilage for the envelopes was made from
peach-tree gum. Corn-cob pipes with a joint of reed or fig twig for a stem
were fashionable. The leaves of the China tree kept insects away from
dried fruit; the China berries were made into whiskey and were used as a
basis for "Poor Man's" soap. Wax myrtle and rosin were also used in making
soap. Beer was made from corn, persimmons, potatoes, and sassafras;
"lemonade" from may-pops and pomegranates. Dogwood and willow bark were
mixed with smoking tobacco "to make it go a long way." Shoes had to be
made for white and black, and backyard tanneries were established. The
hides were first soaked in a barrel filled with a solution of lye until
the hair would come off, when they were placed in a pit between alternate
layers of red oak bark and water poured in. In this "ooze" they soaked for
several months and were then ready for use. The hides of horses, dogs,
mules, hogs, cows, and goats were utilized, and shoes, harness, and
saddles were made on the farm.

All the domestic animals were now raised in larger numbers, especially
beef cattle, sheep, goats, and hogs. Sheep were raised principally for
their wool. The work of all was directed toward supplying the army, and
the best of everything was sent to the soldiers.

Home life was very quiet, busy, and monotonous, with its daily routine of
duty in which all had a part. There were few even of the wealthiest who
did not work with their hands if physically able. Life was hard, but
people soon became accustomed to makeshifts and privation, and most of
them had plenty to eat, though the food was usually coarse. Corn bread was
nearly always to be had; in some places often nothing else. After the
first year few people ever had flour to cook; especially was this the case
in the southern counties. When a family was so fortunate as to obtain a
sack or barrel of flour, all the neighbors were invited in to get
biscuits, though sometimes all of it was kept to make starch. Bolted meal
was used as a substitute for flour in cakes and bread. Most of the meat
produced was sent to the army, and the average family could afford it only
once a day, many only once a week. When an epidemic of cholera killed the
hogs, the people became vegetarians and lived on corn bread, milk, and
syrup; many had only the first.[637] Tea and coffee were very scarce in
the interior of Alabama, and small supplies of the genuine were saved for
emergencies. For tea there were various substitutes, among them holly
leaves, rose leaves, blackberry and raspberry leaves; while for coffee,
rye, okra seed, corn, bran, meal, hominy, peanuts, and bits of parched or
roasted sweet potatoes were used. Syrup was made from the juice of the
watermelon, and preserves from its rind. The juice of corn-stalks was also
made into syrup. In south Alabama sugar-cane and in north Alabama sorghum
furnished "long sweetening." The sorghum was boiled in old iron kettles,
and often made the teeth black. In south Alabama syrup was used instead of
sugar in cooking. In grinding sugar-cane and sorghum, wooden rollers often
had to be made, as iron ones were scarce. However, when they could be
obtained, they were passed from family to family around the community.

Clothes and Fashions

Before the war most articles of clothing were purchased in the North or
imported from abroad. Now that the blockade shut Alabama off from all
sources of supply, the people had to make their cloth and clothing at
home. The factories in the South could not even supply the needs of the
army, and there was a universal return to primitive and frontier
conditions. Old wheels and looms were brought out, and others were made
like them. The state government bought large quantities of cotton and wool
cards for the use of poor people. The women worked incessantly. Every
household was a small factory, and in an incredibly short time the women
mastered the intricacies of looms, spinning-wheels, warping frames,
swifts, etc. Negro women sometimes learned to spin and weave. The whites,
however, did most of it; weaving was too difficult for the average negro
to learn. The area devoted to the cultivation of cotton was restricted by
law, but more than enough was raised to supply the few factories then
operating, principally for the government, and to supply the
spinning-wheels and hand looms of the people.

As a rule, each member of the family had a regularly allotted task for
each day in spinning or weaving. The young girls could not weave, but
could spin;[638] while the women became expert at weaving and spinning and
made beautiful cloth. All kinds of cotton goods were woven, coarse
osnaburgs, sheetings, coverlets, counterpanes, a kind of muslin, and
various kinds of light cloth for women's dresses. Wool was grown on a
large scale as the war went on, and the women wove flannels, plaids,
balmorals, blankets, and carpets.[639] Gray jeans was woven to make
clothing for the soldiers, who had almost no clothes except those sent
them by their home people. A soldier's pay would not buy a shirt, even
when he was paid, which was seldom the case. Nearly every one wove
homespun, dyed with home-made dyes, and it was often very pretty. The
women took more pride in their neat homespun dresses than they did before
the war in the possession of silks and satins. And there was friendly
rivalry between them in spinning and weaving the prettiest homespun as
there was in making the whitest sugar, the cleanest rice, and the best
wheat and corn. But they could not make enough cloth to supply both army
and people, and old clothes stored away were brought out and used to the
last scrap. When worn out the rags were unravelled and the short threads
spun together and woven again into coarse goods. Pillow-cases and sheets
were cut up for clothes and were replaced by homespun substitutes, and
window curtains were made into women's clothes. Carpets were made into
blankets. There were no blanket factories, and the legislature
appropriated the carpets in the capitol for blankets for the
soldiers.[640] Some people went to the tanyards and got hair from horse
and cow hides and mixed it with cotton to make heavy cloth for winter use,
which is said to have made a good-looking garment. Once in a long while
the father or brother in the army would send home a bolt of calico, or
even just enough to make one dress. Then there would be a very proud woman
in the land. Scraps of these rare dresses and also of the homespun dresses
are found in the old scrap-books of the time. The homespun is the
better-looking. No one saw a fashion plate, and each one set the style.
Hoop-skirts were made from the remains of old ones found in the garrets
and plunder rooms. It is said that the southern women affected dresses
that were slightly longer in front than behind, and held them aside in
their hands. Sometimes fortunate persons succeeded in buying for a few
hundred dollars some dress material that had been brought through the
blockade. A calico dress cost in central Alabama from $100 to $600, other
material in proportion. Sewing thread was made by the home spinners with
infinite trouble, but it was never satisfactory. Buttons were made of
pasteboard, pine bark, cloth, thread, persimmon seed, gourds, and wood
covered with cloth. Pasteboard, for buttons and other uses, was made by
pasting several layers of old papers together with flour paste.[641]

Sewing societies were formed for pleasure and to aid soldiers and the
poor. At stated intervals great quantities of clothing and supplies were
sent to the soldiers in the field and to the hospitals. All women became
expert in crocheting and knitting--the occupations for leisure moments.
Even when resting, one was expected to be doing something. Many formed the
habit of knitting in those days and keep it up until to-day, as it became
second nature to have something in the hands to work with. Many women who
learned then can now knit a pair of socks from beginning to end without
looking at them. After dark, when one could not see to sew, spin, or
weave, was usually the time devoted to knitting and crocheting, which
sometimes lasted until midnight. Capes, sacks, vandykes, gloves, socks and
stockings, shawls, underclothes, and men's suspenders were knitted. The
makers ornamented them in various ways, and the ornamentation served a
useful purpose, as the thread was usually coarse and uneven, and the
ornamentation concealed the irregularities that would have shown in plain
work. The smoothest thread that could be made was used for knitting. To
make this thread the finest bolls of cotton were picked before rain had
fallen on them and stained the fibre.

The homespun cloth had to be dyed to make it look well, and, as the
ordinary dye materials could not be obtained, substitutes were made at
home from barks, leaves, roots, and berries. Much experimentation proved
the following results: Maple and sweet gum bark with copperas produced
purple; maple and red oak bark with copperas, a dove color; maple and red
walnut bark with copperas, brown; sweet gum with copperas, a nearly black
color; peach leaves with alum, yellow; sassafras root with copperas, drab;
smooth sumac root, bark, and berries, black; black oak bark with alum,
yellow; artichoke and black oak, yellow; black oak bark with oxide of tin,
pale yellow to bright orange; black oak bark with oxide of iron, drab;
black oak balls in a solution of vitriol, purple to black; alder with
alum, yellow; hickory bark with copperas, olive; hickory bark with alum,
green; white oak bark with alum, brown; walnut roots, leaves, and hulls,
black. Copperas was used to "set" the dye, but when copperas was not to be
had blacksmith's dust was used instead. Pine tree roots and tops, and
dogwood, willow bark, and indigo were also used in dyes.[642]

Shoes for women and children were made of cloth or knitted uppers or of
the skins of squirrels or other small animals, fastened to leather or
wooden soles. A girl considered herself very fortunate if she could get a
pair of "Sunday" shoes of calf or goat skin. There were shoemakers in each
community, all old men or cripples, who helped the people with their
makeshifts. Shoes for men were made of horse and cow hides, and often the
soles were of wood. A wooden shoe was one of the first things patented at
Richmond. Carriage curtains, buggy tops, and saddle skirts furnished
leather for uppers, and metal protections were placed on leather soles.
Little children went barefooted and stayed indoors in winter; many grown
people went barefooted except in winter. Shoe blacking was made from soot
mixed with lard or oil of ground-peas or of cotton-seed. This was applied
to the shoe and over it a paste of flour or starch gave a good polish.

Old bonnets and hats were turned, trimmed, and worn again. Pretty hats
were made of cloth or woven from dyed straw, bulrushes, corn-shucks,
palmetto, oat and wheat straw, bean-grass, jeans, and bonnet squash, and
sometimes of feathers. The rushes, shucks, palmetto, and bean-grass were
bleached by boiling and sunning. Bits of old finery served to trim hats as
well as feathers from turkeys, ducks, and peafowls, with occasional wheat
heads for plumes. Fans were made of the palmetto and of the wing feathers
and wing tips of turkeys and geese. Old parasols and umbrellas were
re-covered, but the majority of the people could not afford cloth for such
a purpose. Hair-oil was made from roses and lard. Thin-haired unfortunates
made braids and switches from prepared bark.

The ingenious makeshifts and substitutes of the women were innumerable.
They were more original than the men in making use of what material lay
ready to hand or in discovering new uses for various things. The few men
at home, however, were not always of the class that make discoveries or do
original things. In an account of life on the farms and plantations in the
South during the war, the white men may almost be left out of the story.

Drugs and Medicines

After the blockade became effective, drugs became very scarce and
home-made preparations were substituted. All doctors became botanical
practitioners. The druggist made his preparations from herbs, roots, and
barks gathered in the woods and fields. Manufacturing laboratories were
early established at Mobile and Montgomery to make medical preparations
which were formerly procured abroad. Much attention was given to the
manufacture of native preparations, which were administered by
practitioners in the place of foreign drugs with favorable results.
Surgeon Richard Potts, of Montgomery, Alabama, had exclusive charge of the
exchange of cotton for medical supplies, and when allowed by the
government to make the exchange, it was very easy for him to get drugs
through the lines into Alabama and Mississippi. But this permission was
too seldom given.[643]

Quinine was probably the scarcest drug. Instead of this were used dogwood
berries, cotton-seed tea, chestnut and chinquapin roots and bark, willow
bark, Spanish oak bark, and poplar bark. Red oak bark in cold water was
used as a disinfectant and astringent for wounds. Boneset tea, butterfly
or pleurisy root tea, mandrake tea, white ash or prickly ash root, and
Sampson's snakeroot were used in fever cases. Local applications of
mustard seed or leaves, hickory leaves, and pepper were used in cases of
pneumonia and pleurisy, while sumac, poke root and berry, sassafras,
alder, and prickly ash were remedies for rheumatism, neuralgia, and
scrofula. Black haw root and partridge berry were used for hemorrhage;
peach leaves and Sampson's snakeroot for dyspepsia and sassafras tea in
the spring and fall served as a blood medicine. The balsam cucumber was
used for a tonic, as also was dogwood, poplar, and rolled cherry bark in
whiskey. Turpentine was useful as an adjunct in many cases. Hops were used
for laudanum; may-apple root or peach tree leaf tea for senna; dandelion,
pleurisy root, and butterfly weed for calomel. Corks were made from black
gum roots, corn-cobs, and old life preservers. Barks were gathered when
the sap was running, the roots after the leaves were dead, and medicinal
plants when they were in bloom.[644] Opium was made from the poppy,
cordials from the blackberry, huckleberry, and persimmon, brandy from
watermelons and fruits, and wine from the elderberry.[645] Whiskey made in
the hills of north Alabama, in gum log stills, formed the basis of nearly
all medicinal preparations. The state had agents who looked after the
proper distribution of the whiskey among the counties. The castor beans
raised in the garden were crushed and boiled and the oil skimmed off.[646]

Social Life during the War

Life in the towns was not so monotonous as in the country. In the larger
ones, especially in Mobile, there was a forced gayety throughout the war.
Many marriages took place, and each wedding was usually the occasion of
social festivities. In the country "homespun" weddings were the
fashion--all parties at the wedding being clad in homespun. Colonel Thomas
Dabney dined in Montgomery in November, 1864, with Mr. Woodleaf, a refugee
from New Orleans. "They gave me," he said, "a fine dinner, good for any
time, and some extra fine music afterwards, according to the Italian,
Spanish, and French books, for we had some of each sort done up in true
opera fashion, I suppose. It was a _leetle_ too foreign for my ear, but
that was my fault, and not the fault of the music."[647] The people were
too busy for much amusement, yet on the surface life was not gloomy. Work
was made as pleasant as possible, though it could never be made play. The
women were never idle, and they often met together to work. There were
sewing societies which met once a week for work and exchange of news.
"Quiltings" were held at irregular intervals, to which every woman came
armed with needle and thimble. At other times there would be spinning
"bees," to which the women would come from long distances and stay all
day, bringing with them in wagons their wheels, cards, and cotton. When a
soldier came home on furlough or sick leave, every woman in the community
went to see him, carrying her work with her, and knitted, sewed, or spun
while listening to news from the army. The holiday soldier, the
"bomb-proof," and the "feather bed" received little mercy from the women;
a thorough contempt was the portion of such people. "Furlough" wounds came
to receive slight sympathy.[648] The soldiers always brought messages
from their comrades to their relatives in the community, which was often
the only way of hearing from those in the army. Letters were uncertain,
the postal system never being good in the country districts. Postage was
ten to twenty cents on a letter, and one to five cents on small
newspapers. Letters from the army gave news of the men of the settlement
who were in the writer's company or regiment, and when received were read
to the neighbors or sent around the community. Often when a young man came
home on furlough or passed through the country, there would be many social
gatherings or "parties" in his honor, and here the young people gathered.
There were parties for the older men, too, and dinners and suppers. Here
the soldier met again his neighbors, or rather the feminine half of them,
anxious to hear his experiences and to inquire about friends and relatives
in the army. The young people also met at night at "corn shuckings" and
"candy pullings," from which they managed to extract a good deal of
pleasure. At the social gatherings, especially of the older people, some
kind of work was always going on. Parching pindars to eat and making
peanut candy were amusements for children after supper.

The intense devotion of the women to the Confederate cause was most
irritating to a certain class of Federal officers in the army that invaded
north Alabama. They seemed to think that they had conquered entrance into
society, but the women were determined to show their colors on all
occasions and often had trouble when boorish officers were in command. A
society woman would lose her social position if seen in the company of
Federal officers. When passing them, the women averted their faces and
swept aside their skirts to prevent any contact with the hated Yankee.
They played and sang Confederate airs on all occasions, and when ordered
by the military authorities to discontinue, it usually took a guard of
soldiers to enforce the order. The Federal officers who acted in a
gentlemanly manner toward the non-combatants were accused by their rude
fellows and by ruder newspaper correspondents of being "wound round the
fingers of the rebel women," who had some object to gain. When the people
of a community were especially contemptuous of the Federals, they were
sometimes punished by having a negro regiment stationed as a garrison.
Athens, in Limestone county, one of the most intensely southern towns,
was garrisoned by a regiment of negroes recruited in the immediate

       *       *       *       *       *

For the negroes in the Black Belt life went on much as before the war.
More responsibility was placed upon the trusty ones, and they proved
themselves worthy of the trust. They were acquainted with the questions at
issue and knew that their freedom would probably follow victory by the
North. Yet the black overseer and the black preacher, with their
fellow-slaves, went on with their work. The master's family lived on the
large plantation with no other whites within miles and never felt fear of
harm from their black guardians. The negroes had their dances and, 'possum
hunts on Saturday nights after the week's work was done. There was
preaching and singing on Sunday, the whites often attending the negro
services and _vice versa_. Negro weddings took place in the "big house."
The young mistresses would adorn the bride, and the ceremony would be
performed by the old white clergyman, after which the wedding supper would
be served in the family dining room or out under the trees. These were
great occasions for the negroes and for the young people of the master's
family. The sound of fiddle and banjo, songs, and laughter were always
heard in the "quarters" after work was done, though Saturday night was the
great time for merrymaking. In July and August, after the crops were "laid
by," the negroes had barbecues and picnics. To these the whites were
invited and they always attended. The materials for these feasts were
furnished by the mistress and by the negroes themselves, who had garden
patches, pigs, and poultry. The slaves were, on the whole, happy and

The clothes for the slaves were made under the superintendence of the
mistress, who, after the war began, often cut out the clothes for every
negro on the place, and sometimes assisted in making them. Some of the
negro women had spinning-wheels and looms, and clothed their own families,
while others spun, wove, and made their clothes under the direction of the
mistress. But most of them could not be trusted with the materials,
because they were so unskilful. It took a month or two twice a year to get
the negroes into their new outfits. The rule was that each negro should
have two suits of heavy material for winter wear and two of light goods
for summer. To clothe the negroes during the war time was a heavy burden
upon the mistress.

To those negroes who did their own cooking rations were issued on Saturday
afternoon. Bacon and corn meal formed the basis of the ration, besides
which there would be some kind of "sweetening" and a substitute for
coffee.[650] Special goodies were issued for Sunday. The negroes in the
Black Belt fared better during the war than either the whites or the
negroes in the white counties. When there were few slaves or in the time
of great scarcity, the cooking for whites and blacks was often done in the
house kitchen by the same cooks. This was done in order to leave more time
for the negroes to work and to prevent waste. Where there were many
slaves, there was often some arrangement made by which cooking was done in
common, though there were numbers of families that did their own cooking
at home all the time. When meat was scarce, it was given to the negro
laborers who needed the strength, while the white family and the negro
women and children denied themselves.

As the Confederate government did not provide well for the soldiers, their
wives and mothers had to supply them. The sewing societies undertook to
clothe the soldiers who went from their respective neighborhoods. Once a
week or once a month, a box was sent from each society. One box sent to
the Grove Hill Guards contained sixty pairs of socks, twenty-five
blankets, thirteen pairs of gloves, fourteen flannel shirts, sixteen
towels, two handkerchiefs, five pairs of trousers, and one bushel of dried
apples. Other boxes contained about the same. Hams and any other edibles
that would keep were frequently sent and also simple medicine chests. When
blankets could not be had, quilts were sent, or heavy curtains and pieces
of carpet. With the progress of the war, there was much suffering among
the soldiers and their destitute families that the state could do but
little to relieve, and the women took up the task. Besides the various
church aid societies, we hear of the "Grove Hill Military Aid Society" and
the "Suggsville Soldiers' Aid Society," both of Clarke County; the "Aid
Society of Mobile"; the "Montgomery Home Society" and the "Soldiers'
Wayside Home," in Montgomery; the "Wayside Hospital" and the "Ladies'
Military Aid Society" of Selma; the "Talladega Hospital"; the "Ladies'
Humane Society" of Huntsville,[651] and many others. The legislature gave
financial aid to some of them. Societies were formed in every town,
village, and country settlement to send clothing, medicines, and
provisions to the soldiers in the army and to the hospitals. The members
went to hospitals and parole camps for sick and wounded soldiers, took
them to their homes, and nursed them back to health. "Wayside Homes" were
established in the towns for the accommodation of soldiers travelling to
and from the army. Soldiers on sick leave and furlough who were cut off
from their homes beyond the Mississippi came to the homes of their
comrades, sure of a warm welcome and kind attentions. Poor soldiers sick
at home were looked after and supplies sent to their needy families.

The last year of the war a bushel of corn cost $13, while a soldier's pay
was $11 a month, paid once in a while. So the poor people became
destitute. But the state furnished meal and salt to all[652] and the more
fortunate people gave liberally of their supplies. Many of the poorer
white women did work for others--weaving, sewing, and spinning--for which
they were well paid, frequently in provisions, which they were in great
need of. Some made hats, bonnets, and baskets for sale. The cotton
counties supported many refugees from the northern counties, and numerous
poor people from that section imposed upon the generosity of the planting
section. The overseers, white or black, had a dislike for those to whom
supplies were given; they also objected to the regular payment of the
tax-in-kind, and to impressment which took their corn, meat, horses, cows,
mules, and negroes, and crippled their operations. The mistresses had to
interfere and see that the poor and the government had their share.

In the cities the women engaged in various patriotic occupations,--sewing
for the soldiers, nursing, raising money for hospitals, etc. The women of
Tuskegee raised money to be spent on a gunboat for the defence of Mobile
Bay. They wanted it called _The Women's Gunboat_.[653] "A niece of James
Madison" wrote to a Mobile paper, proposing that 200,000 women in the
South sell their hair in Europe to raise funds for the Confederacy. The
movement failed because of the blockade.[654] There were other similar
propositions, but they could not be carried out, and year after year the
legislatures of the state thanked the women for their patriotic devotion,
their labors, sacrifices, constancy, and courage.

The music and songs that were popular during the war show the changing
temper of the people. At first were heard joyous airs, later contemptuous
and defiant as war came on; then jolly war songs and strong hymns of
encouragement. But as sorrow followed sorrow until all were stricken; as
wounds, sickness, imprisonment, and death of friends and relatives cast
shadow over the spirits of the people; as hopes were dashed by defeat, and
the consciousness came that perhaps after all the cause was losing,--the
iron entered into the souls of the people. The songs were sadder now. The
church hymns heard were the soul-comforting ones and the militant songs of
the older churchmen. The first year were heard "Farewell to Brother
Jonathan," "We Conquer or We Die;" then "Riding a Raid," "Stonewall
Jackson's Way," "All Quiet Along the Potomac," "Lorena," "Beechen Brook,"
"Somebody's Darling," "When the Cruel War is O'er," "Guide Me, O Thou
Great Jehovah." "Dixie" was sung and played during the entire time, whites
and blacks singing it with equal pleasure. The older hymns were sung and
the doctrines of faith and good works earnestly preached. The promises
were, perhaps, more emphasized. A deeply religious feeling prevailed among
the home workers for the cause.

The women had the harder task. The men were in the field in active
service, their families were safe at home, there was no fear for
themselves. The women lived in constant dread of news from the front; they
had to sit still and wait, and their greatest comfort was the hard work
they had to do. It gave them some relief from the burden of sorrow that
weighed down the souls of all. To the very last the women hoped and prayed
for success, and failure, to many of them, was more bitter than death. The
loss of their cause hurt them more deeply than it did the men who had the
satisfaction of fighting out the quarrel, even though the other side was






The Loss of Life

The surviving soldiers came straggling home, worn out, broken in health,
crippled, in rags, half starved, little better off, they thought, than the
comrades they had left under the sod of the battle-fields on the border.
In the election of 1860 about 90,000 votes were cast, nearly the entire
voting population, and about this number of Alabama men enlisted in the
Confederate and Union armies. Various estimates were made of Alabama's
losses during the war, most of which are doubtless too large. Among these
Governor Parsons, in his inaugural address, gives the number as 35,000
killed or died of wounds and disease, and as many more disabled.[656]
Colonel W. H. Fowler, for two years the state agent for settling the
claims of deceased soldiers and also superintendent of army records,
states that he had the names of nearly 20,000 dead on his lists and
believed this to be only about half of the entire number; that the Alabama
troops lost more heavily than any other troops. He asserted that of the
30,000 Alabama troops in the Army of Northern Virginia over 9000 had died
in service, and of those who were retired, discharged, or who resigned,
about one-half were either dead or permanently disabled.[657] These
estimates are evidently too large, and they probably form the basis of the
statements of Governors Parsons and Patton. Governor Patton estimated that
40,000 had died in service, while 20,000 were disabled for life, and that
there were 20,000 widows and 60,000 orphans.[658] A _Times_ correspondent
places the loss in war at 34,000.[659] The strongest regiments were worn
out by 1865. At Appomattox, when three times as many men surrendered as
were in a condition to bear arms, the Alabama commands paroled hardly
enough men in each regiment to form a good company. Though the average
enlistment had been 1350 to the regiment, one of the best regiments--the
Third Alabama Infantry--paroled: from Company B, 8 men; from Company D, 7
men; Company G, 4; Company E, 7; while the Fifth Alabama paroled: from
Company A, 2; B, 7; C, 2; E, 2; F, 1; K, 3. The Twelfth Alabama: Company
A, 4; C, 6; D, 6; E, 4; G, 3; I, 5; M, 4. Sixth Alabama (over 2000
enlistments): D, 2; F, 2; I, 5; M, 4. Sixty-first Alabama: B, 2; C, 4; E,
1; G, 5; I, 4; K, 3. Fifteenth Alabama: C, 8. Forty-eighth Alabama: C, 6;
K, 7. Ninth Alabama: 70 men in all--an average of 7 to a company.
Thirteenth Alabama: 85 men in all. Forty-first Alabama: 74 men in all.
Forty-first, Forty-third, Fifty-ninth, Sixtieth, and Twenty-third: 220 men
in all. Some companies were entirely annihilated, having neither officer
nor private at the surrender. A company from Demopolis is said to have
lost all except 7 men, that is, 125 by death in the service.[660] The
census of 1866 contains the names of 8957 soldiers killed in battle,
13,534 who died of disease or wounds, and 2629 disabled for life.[661]
These are the only facts obtainable on which to base calculations, yet the
census was very imperfect, as hundreds of families were broken up,
thousands of men forgotten, and there was no one to give information
regarding them to the census taker.

The white population decreased 3632 from 1860 to 1866, according to the
census of the latter year. But for the war, according to rate of increase
from 1850 to 1860, there should have been an increase of 50,000. In 1870
the census showed a further decrease of 1415, due, perhaps, to the great
mortality just after the war. In other words, the white population was
about 100,000 less in 1870 than it would have been under normal
conditions, without immigration. Contemporary accounts state that the
negro suffered much more than the whites in the two years immediately
following the war, from starvation, exposure, and pestilence, and the
census of 1866 showed a decrease of 14,325 in the colored population, when
there should have been an increase of nearly 70,000 according to the rate
of 1850 to 1860, besides the 20,000 that it has been estimated were sent
into the interior of the state from other states to escape capture by the
raiding Federals. The census of 1866 was not accurate, for the negroes at
that time were in a very unsettled condition, wandering from place to
place. However, in 1870, the number of negroes had increased 37,740 over
the numbers for 1860, while the number of whites had decreased several
thousand, which would seem to indicate that the census of 1866 was
defective. But there is no doubt that the negroes suffered terribly during
this time.[662]

Destruction of Property

Governor Patton, in a communication to Congress dated May 11, 1866, gives
the property losses in Alabama as $500,000,000,[663] which sum doubtless
includes the value of the slaves, estimated in 1860 at $200,000,000, or
about $500 each.[664] The value of other property in 1860 has been
estimated at $640,000,000, the assessed value, $256,428,893, being 40 per
cent of the real value.[665]

A comparison of the census statistics of 1860 and of 1870 after five years
of Reconstruction will be suggestive:--

                                               1860             1870
  Value of farms                          $175,824,032      $54,191,229
  Value of live stock                       43,411,711       21,325,076
  Value of farm implements                   7,433,178        5,946,543
  Number of horses                             127,000           80,000
  Number of mules                              111,000           76,000
  Number of oxen                                88,000           59,000
  Number of cows                               230,000          170,000
  Number of other cattle                       454,000          257,000
  Number of sheep                              370,000          241,000
  Number of swine                            1,748,000          719,000
  Improved land in farms, acres              6,385,724        5,062,204
  Corn crop, bushels                        33,226,000       16,977,000
                                  (35,053,047 in 1899)
  Cotton crop, bales                           989,955          429,482
                                   (1,106,840 in 1899)

Not until 1880 was the acreage of improved lands as great as in 1860.[666]
Live stock, valued at $43,000,000 in 1860, is still to-day $7,000,000
behind. Farm implements and machinery in 1900 were worth $1,000,000 more
than in 1860, having doubled in value in the last ten years.[667] Land
improvements and buildings, worth $175,000,000 in 1860, were in 1900 still
more than $30,000,000 below that mark. The total value of farm property in
1860 was $226,669,511; in 1870, $97,716,055;[668] and in 1900,
$179,339,882. Though the population has increased twofold since 1860[669]
and the white counties have developed and the industries have become more
varied, agriculture has not yet reached the standard of 1860, the Black
Belt farmer is much less prosperous, and the agricultural system of the
old cotton belt has never recovered from the effects of the war. From the
theoretical point of view the abolition of slavery should have resulted in
loss only during the readjustment of industrial conditions. Yet
$200,000,000 capital had been lost; and, as a matter of fact, the
statistics of agriculture show that, while in the white counties in 1900
there was a greater yield of the staple crops,--cotton and corn,--in the
black counties the free negroes of double the number do not yet produce as
much as the slaves of 1860.[670]

The manufacturing establishments that had existed before the war or were
developed during that time were destroyed by Federal raids, or were
seized, sold, and dismantled after the surrender because they had
furnished supplies to the Confederacy. The public buildings used by the
Confederate authorities in all the towns and all over the country were
burned or were turned over to the Freedmen's Bureau. The state and county
public buildings in the track of the raiders were destroyed. The stocks of
goods in the stores were exhausted long before the close of the war. All
banking capital, and all securities, railroad bonds and stocks, state and
Confederate bonds, and currency were worth nothing. All the accumulated
capital of the state was swept away; only the soil and some buildings
remained. People owning hundreds of acres of land often were as destitute
as the poorest negro. The majority of people who had money to invest had
bought Confederate securities as a patriotic duty, and all the coin had
been drawn from the country. The most of the bonded debt was held in
Mobile, and that city lost all its capital when the debt was declared null
and void.[671] This city suffered severely, also, from a terrible
explosion soon after the surrender. Twenty squares in the business part
were destroyed.[672]

[Illustration: DEVASTATION BY INVADING ARMIES 1861-1865.]

Thousands of private residences were destroyed, especially in north
Alabama, where the country was even more thoroughly devastated than in the
path of Sherman through Georgia. The third year of the war had seen the
destruction of everything destructible in north Alabama outside of the
large towns, where the devastation was usually not so great. In Decatur,
however, nearly all the buildings were burned; only three of the principal
ones were left standing.[673] Tuscumbia was practically destroyed, and
many houses were condemned for army use.[674] The beautiful buildings of
the Black Belt were out of repair and fast going to ruin. Many of the
fine houses in the cities--especially in Mobile--had fallen into the hands
of the Jews. One place, which was bought for $45,000 before the war, was
sold with difficulty in 1876 for $10,000. Before the war there were
sixteen French business houses in Mobile; none survived the war. The port
of Mobile never again reached its former importance. In 1860, 900,000
bales of cotton had been shipped from the port; in 1865-1866, 400,000
bales; in 1866-1867, 250,000 bales; in 1876, 400,000 bales. There was no
disposition on the part of the Washington administration to remove the
obstructions in Mobile harbor. They were left for years and furnished an
excuse to the reconstructionists for the expenditure of state money.[675]
Nearly all the grist-mills and cotton-gins had been destroyed, mill-dams
cut, and ponds drained. The raiders never spared a cotton-gin. The cotton,
in which the government was interested, was either burned or seized and
sold, and private cotton, when found, fared in the same way. Cotton had
been the cause of much trouble to the commanders on both sides during the
war; it was considered the mainstay of the South before the war and the
root of all evil. So of all property it received the least consideration
from the Federal troops, and was very easily turned into cash. All farm
animals near the track of the armies had been carried away or killed by
the soldiers (as at Selma), or seized after the occupation by the troops.
Horses, mules, cows, and other domestic animals had almost disappeared
except in the secluded districts. Many a farmer had to plough with oxen.
Farm and plantation buildings had been dismantled or burned, houses
ruined, fences destroyed, corn, meat, and syrup taken. The plantations in
the Tennessee valley were in a ruined condition. The gin-houses were
burned, the bridges ruined, mills and factories gone, and the roads
impassable.[676] In the homes that were left, carpets and curtains were
gone, for they had been used as blankets and clothes, window glass was
out, furniture injured or destroyed, and crockery broken. In the larger
towns, where something had been saved from the wreck of war, the looting
by the Federal soldiers was shameful. Pianos, furniture, pictures,
curtains, sofas, and other household goods were shipped North by the
Federal officers during the early days of the occupation. Gold and silver
plate and jewellery were confiscated by the bummers who were with every
command. Abuses of this kind became so flagrant that the northern papers
condemned the conduct of the soldiers, and several ministers, among them
Henry Ward Beecher, rebuked the practice from the pulpit.[677]

Land was almost worthless, because the owners had no capital, no farm
animals, no farm implements, in many cases not even seed. Labor was
disorganized, and the product of labor was most likely to be stolen by
roving negroes and other marauders. Seldom was more than one-third of a
plantation under cultivation, the remainder growing up in broom sedge
because laborers could not be gotten. When the Federal armies passed, many
negroes followed them and never returned. Numbers of them died in the
camps. When the war ended, many others left their old homes, some of whom
several years later came straggling back.[678] Land that would produce a
bale of cotton to the acre, worth $125, and selling in 1860 for $50 per
acre at the lowest, was now selling for from $3 to $5 per acre. Among the
negroes, especially after the occupation, there was a general belief,
which was carefully fostered by a certain class of Federal officials and
by some leaders in Congress, that the lands would be confiscated and
divided among the "unionists" and the negroes. When the state seceded, it
took charge of the public lands within its boundaries and opened them to
settlement. After the fall of the Confederacy those who had purchased
lands were required to rebuy them from the United States or to give up
their claims. Some lands were abandoned, as the owners were able neither
to cultivate nor to sell them, for there was no capital. In Cumberland, a
village, at one time there were ninety advertisements of sales posted in
the hotel. The planters often found themselves amid a wilderness of land,
without laborers, and often rented land free to some white man or to a
negro who would pay the taxes.[679] Many hundreds of the people could see
no hope whatever for the future of the state, and certainly the North was
not acting so as to encourage them. Hence there was heavy emigration to
Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, the northern and western states, and much property
was offered at a tenth of its value and even less.

The heaviest losses fell upon the old wealthy families, who, by the loss
of wealth and by political proscription, were ruined. In middle life and
in old age they were unable to begin again, and for a generation their
names disappear from sight. Losses, debts, taxes, and proscriptions bore
down many, and few rose to take their places.[680] The poorer people,
though they had but little to lose, lost all, and suffered extreme poverty
during the latter years of the war and the early years of Reconstruction.
No wonder they were in despair and seemed for a while a menace to public
order. To the power and influence of the leaders succeeded in part a
second-rate class--the rank and file of 1861--upon whom the losses of the
war fell with less weight, and who were thrown to the front by the war
which ruined those above and those below them. They were the sound,
hard-working men--the lawyers, farmers, merchants, who had formerly been
content to allow brilliant statesmen to direct the public affairs. Now
those leaders were dead or proscribed, for poverty, war, reconstruction,
and political persecution rapidly destroyed the old ruling element, and
deaths among them after the war were very common. The men who rescued the
state in 1874 were the men of lesser ability of 1860, farmer subordinates
in the political ranks.[681]

The Wreck of the Railways

The steamboats on the rivers were destroyed. At that time the steamers
probably carried as much freight and as many passengers as did the
railroads, and served to connect the railway systems. The railroads also
were in a ruined condition; depots had been burned, bridges and trestles
destroyed, tracks torn up, cross-ties burned or were rotten, rails worn
out or ruined by burning, cars and locomotives worn out or destroyed or
captured. The boards of directors and the presidents of the roads, because
of the aid they had given the Confederacy, were not considered safe
persons to trust with the reorganization of the system, and, in August,
1865, Stanton, the Secretary of War, directed that each southern railway
be reorganized with a "loyal" board of directors.

In 1860 there were about 800 miles of railways in Alabama. Nearly all of
the roads were unfinished in 1861, and, except on the most important
military roads, little progress was made in their construction during the
war--only about 20 or 30 miles being completed. During this time all roads
were practically under the control of the Confederate government, which
operated them through their own boards of directors and other officials.
The various roads suffered in different degrees. At the close of the war,
the Tennessee and Alabama Railroad had only two or three cars that could
be used, the rails also were worn out, the locomotives out of order and
useless, nearly all the depots, bridges, and trestles destroyed, as well
as all of its shops, water tanks, machinery, books, and papers. The
Memphis and Charleston, extending across the entire northern part of the
state, fell into the hands of the Federals in 1862, who captured at
Huntsville nearly all of the rolling stock and destroyed the shops and
the papers. The rolling stock had been collected at Huntsville, ready to
be shipped to a place of less danger; but because of the treachery of a
telegraph operator who kept the knowledge of the approaching raid from the
officials, all was lost, for to prevent its falling into the hands of the
enemy much more was destroyed than was captured. When the Federals were
driven from a section of the road, they destroyed it in order to prevent
the Confederates from using it. The length of this road in the state was
155 miles, and 140 miles of the track were torn up, the rails heated in
the middle over fires of burning cross-ties, and the iron then twisted
around trees and stumps so as to make it absolutely useless. In 1865 very
little machinery of any kind was left. Besides this the company lost
heavily in Confederate securities, and the other losses (funds, etc.)
amounted to $1,195,166.79.

The Mobile and Ohio lost in Confederate currency $5,228,562.23.
Thirty-seven miles of rails were worn out, 21 miles were burned and
twisted, 184 miles of road cleared of bridges, trestles, and stations, the
cross-ties burned, and the shops near Mobile destroyed. There were 18 of
59 locomotives in working order, 11 of 26 passenger cars, 3 of 11 baggage
cars, 231 of 721 freight cars. The Selma and Meridian lost its shops and
depots in Selma and Meridian, and its bridges over the Cahaba and Valley
creeks. It sustained a heavy loss in Confederate bonds and currency. The
Alabama and Tennessee Rivers Railroad lost a million dollars in
Confederate funds, its shops, tools, and machinery at Selma, 6 bridges,
its trestles, some track and many depots, its locomotives and cars. The
Wills Valley Road suffered but little from destruction or from loss in
Confederate securities. The Mobile and Great Northern escaped with a loss
of only $401,190.37 in Confederate money, and $164,800 by destruction,
besides the wear and tear on its track and rolling stock in the four years
without repairs. The Alabama and Florida Road lost in Confederate currency
$755,343,21. It had at the end of the war only 4 locomotives and 40 cars
of all descriptions. The people were so poor that in the summer of 1865
this road, on a trip from Mobile to Montgomery and return, a distance of
360 miles, collected in fares only $13. The Montgomery and West Point, 161
miles in length, and one of the best roads in the state, probably suffered
the heaviest loss from raids. It lost in currency $1,618,243, besides all
of its rolling stock that was in running order; much of the track was
torn up and rails twisted, all bridges and tanks and depots were
destroyed. Both Rousseau and Wilson tore up the track and destroyed the
shops and rolling stock at Montgomery and along the road to West Point and
also the rolling stock that had been sent to Columbus, Georgia. After the
surrender an old locomotive that had been thrown aside at Opelika and 14
condemned cars were patched up, and for a while this old engine and a
couple of flat cars were run up and down the road as a passenger train.
The worn strap rails used in repairing gave much trouble. The fare was 10
cents a mile in coin or 20 cents in greenbacks.[682] Every road in the
South lost rolling stock on the border. The few cars and locomotives left
to any road were often scattered over several states, and some of them
were never returned.

As the Federal armies occupied the country, they took charge of the
railways, which were then run either under the direction of the War
Department or the railroad division of the army. After the war they were
returned to the stockholders as soon as "loyal" boards of directors were
appointed or the "disloyal" ones made "loyal" by the pardon of the
President. Contractors who undertook to reopen the roads in the summer of
1865 were unable to do so because the negroes refused to work. The
companies were bankrupt, for all money due them was Confederate currency,
and all they had in their possession was Confederate currency. Many debts
that had been paid by the roads during the war to the states and counties
now had to be paid again. All of the nine roads in the state attempted
reorganization, but only three were able to accomplish it, and these then
absorbed the others. None, it appears, were abandoned.[683]


Immediately after the surrender of the armies a general demand arose from
the people throughout the lower South that the governors convene the state
legislatures for the purpose of calling conventions which, by repealing
the ordinance of secession and abolishing slavery, could prepare the way
for reunion. This, it was thought, was all that the North wanted, and it
seemed to be in harmony with Lincoln's plan of restoration. General
Richard Taylor, when he surrendered at Meridian, Mississippi, advised the
governors of Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi to take steps to carry
out such measures; and General Canby, to whom Taylor surrendered the
department, indorsed the plan, as did also the various general officers of
the armies of occupation. But these generals were not in touch with
politics at Washington. The Federal government outlawed the existing
southern state governments, leaving them with no government at all.
Governor Watts and ex-Governors Shorter and Moore were arrested and sent
to northern prisons. A number of prominent leaders, among them John Gayle
of Selma and ex-Senators Clay and Fitzpatrick, were also arrested. The
state government went to pieces. General Canby was instructed by President
Johnson to arrest any member of the Alabama legislature who might attempt
to hold a meeting of the general assembly. Consequently, from the first of
May until the last of the summer the state of Alabama was without any
state government;[684] and it was only after several months of service as
provisional governor that Parsons was able to reorganize the state

For six months after the surrender there was practically no government of
any kind in Alabama except in the immediate vicinity of the military
posts, where the commander exercised a certain authority over the people
of the community. A good commander could do little more than let affairs
take their course, for the great mass of the people only wanted to be left
alone for a while. They were tired of war and strife and wanted rest and
an opportunity to work their crops and make bread for their suffering
families. The strongest influence of the respectable people was exerted
in favor of peace and order. While much lawlessness appeared in the state,
it was not as much as might have been expected under the existing
circumstances at the close of the great Civil War. Much of the disorder
was caused by the presence of the troops, some of whom were even more
troublesome than the robbers and outlaws from whom they were supposed to
protect the people. The best soldiers of the Federal army had demanded
their discharge as soon as fighting was over, and had gone home. Those who
remained in the service in the state were, with few exceptions, very
disorderly, and kept the people in terror by their robberies and outrages.
Especially troublesome among the negro population, and a constant cause of
irritation to the whites, were the negro troops, who were sent into the
state, the people believed, in order to humiliate the whites. They were
commanded by officers who had been insulted and threatened all during the
war because of their connection with these troops, and this treatment had
embittered them against the southern people. The negro troops were
stationed in towns where Confederate spirit had been very strong, as a
discipline to the people. For months and even years after the surrender
the Federal troops in small detachments were accustomed to march through
the country, searching for cotton and other public property and arresting
citizens on charges preferred by the tories or by the negroes, many of
whom spent their time confessing the sins of their white neighbors. The
garrison towns suffered from the unruly behavior of the soldiers. The
officers, who were only waiting to be mustered out of service, devoted
themselves to drinking, women, and gambling. The men followed their
example. The traffic in whiskey was enormous, and most of the sales were
to the soldiers, to the lowest class of whites, and to the negroes. The
streets of the towns and cities such as Montgomery, Mobile, Selma,
Huntsville, Athens, and Tuscaloosa, were crowded with drunken and violent
soldiers. Lewd women had followed the army and had established
disreputable houses near every military post, which were the centre and
cause of many lawless outbreaks. Quarrels were frequent, and at a
disorderly ball in Montgomery, in the fall of 1865, a Federal officer was
killed. The peaceable citizens were plundered by the camp followers,
discharged soldiers, and the deserters who now crawled out of their
retreats. Sometimes these marauders dressed in the Federal uniforms when
on their expeditions, in order to cast suspicion on the soldiers, who were
often wrongfully charged with these crimes.[685]

As one instance of the many outrages committed at this time the following
may be cited: in the summer of 1865, when all was in disorder and no
government existed in the state, a certain "Major" Perry, as his followers
called him, went on a private raid through the country to get a part of
anything that might be left. He was one of the many who thought that they
deserved some share of the spoils and who were afraid that the time of
their harvest would be short. So it was necessary to make the best of the
disordered condition of affairs. Perry was followed by a few white
soldiers, or men who dressed as soldiers, and by a crowd of negroes. At
his saddle-bow was tied a bag containing his most valuable plunder. From
house to house in Dallas and adjoining counties he and his men went,
demanding valuables, pulling open trunks and bureau and wardrobe drawers,
scattering their contents, and choosing what they wanted, tearing pictures
in pieces, and scattering the contents of boxes of papers and books in a
spirit of pure destructiveness. At one house they found some old shirts
which the mistress had carefully mended for her husband, who had not yet
returned from the army. One of the marauders suggested that they be added
to their collection. "Major" Perry looked at them carefully, but, as he
was rather choice in his tastes, rejected them as "damned patched things,"
spat tobacco on them, and trampled them with his muddy boots. Incidents
similar to this were not infrequent, nor were they calculated to soften
the feelings of the women toward the victorious enemy. Their cordial
hatred of Federal officers was strongly resented by the latter, who were
often able to retaliate in unpleasant ways.[686]

In southeast Alabama deserters from both armies and members of the
so-called First Florida Union Cavalry continued for a year after the close
of the war their practice of plundering all classes of people and
sometimes committing other acts of violence. Some persons were robbed of
nearly all that they possessed.[687] Joseph Saunders, a millwright of Dale
County, served as a Confederate lieutenant in the first part of the war.
Later he resigned, and being worried by the conscript officers, allied
himself with a band of deserters near the Florida line, who drew their
supplies from the Federal troops on the coast. Saunders was made leader of
the band and made frequent forays into Dale County, where on one occasion
a company of militia on parade was captured. The band raided the town of
Newton, but was defeated. After the war, Saunders with his gang returned
and continued horse-stealing. Finally he killed a man and went to Georgia,
where, in 1866, he himself was killed.[688] He was a type of the native
white outlaw.

The burning of cotton was common. Some was probably burned because the
United States cotton agents had seized it, but the heaviest loss fell on
private owners. A large quantity of private cotton worth about $2,000,000,
that had escaped confiscation and had been collected near Montgomery, was
destroyed by the cotton burners.[689] Horse and cattle thieves infested
the whole state, especially the western part. Washington and Choctaw
counties especially suffered from their depredations.[690] The rivers were
infested with cotton thieves, who floated down the streams in flats,
landed near cotton fields, established videttes, went into the fields,
stole the cotton, and carried it down the river to market.[691] A band of
outlaws took passage on a steamboat on the Alabama River, overcame the
crew and the honest passengers, and took possession of the boat.[692]

A secret incendiary organization composed of negroes and some discharged
Federal soldiers plotted to burn Selma. The members of the band wore red
ribbon badges. One of the negroes informed the authorities of the plot and
of the place of meeting, and forty of the band were arrested. The others
were informed and escaped. The military authorities released the
prisoners, who denied the charge, though some of their society testified
against them.[693] There were incendiary fires in every town in the
state, it is said, and several were almost destroyed.

The bitter feeling between the tories and the Confederates of north
Alabama resulted in some places in guerilla warfare. The Confederate
soldiers, whose families had suffered from the depredations of the tories
during the war, wanted to punish the outlaws for their misdeeds, and in
many cases attempted to do so. The tories wanted revenge for having been
driven from the country or into hiding by the Confederate authorities, so
they raided the Confederate soldiers as they had raided their families
during the war. Some of the tories were caught and hanged. In revenge, the
Confederates were shot down in their houses, and in the fields while at
work, or while travelling along the roads. The convention called by
Governor Parsons declared that lawlessness existed in many counties of the
state and authorized Parsons to call out the militia in each county to
repress the disorder. They also asked the President to withdraw the
Federal troops, which were only a source of disorder,[694] and gave to the
mayors of Florence, Athens, and Huntsville special police powers within
their respective counties in order to check the lawless element, which was
especially strong in Lauderdale, Limestone, and Madison counties.[695]
These counties lay north of the Tennessee River, along the Tennessee
border. There was a disposition on the part of the civil and military
authorities in Alabama to attribute the lawlessness in north and northwest
Alabama to bands of desperadoes from Tennessee and Mississippi, but north
Alabama had numbers of marauders of her own, and it is probable that
Tennessee and Mississippi had little to do with it. Half a dozen men,
where there was no authority to check them, could make a whole county
uncomfortable for the peaceable citizens.[696]

The Federal infantry commands scattered throughout the country were of
little service in capturing the marauders. General Swayne repeatedly asked
for cavalry, for, as he said, the infantry was the source of as much
disorder as it suppressed. The worst outrages, he added, were committed by
small bands of lawless men organized under various names, and whose chief
object was robbery and plunder.[697] After the establishment of the
provisional government an attempt was made to bring to trial some of the
outlaws who had infested the country during and after the war, and who
richly deserved hanging. They were of no party, being deserters from both
armies, or tories who had managed to keep out of either army. However,
when arrested they raised a strong cry of being "unionists" and appealed
to the military authorities for protection from "rebel" persecution,
though the officials of the Johnson government in Alabama were never
charged by any one else with an excess of zeal in the Confederate cause.
The Federal officials released all prisoners who claimed to be
"unionists." Sheriff Snodgrass of Jackson County arrested fifteen
bushwhackers charged with murder. They claimed to be "loyalists," and
General Kryzyanowski, commanding the district of north Alabama, ordered
the court to stop proceedings and to discharge the prisoners. This was not
done, and Kryzyanowski sent a body of negro soldiers who closed the court,
released the prisoners, and sent the sheriff to jail at Nashville.[698]
The military authorities allowed no one who asserted that he was a
"unionist" to be tried for offences committed during the war, and any
effort to bring the outlaws to trial resulted in an outcry against the
"persecution of loyalists."

In August, 1865, Sheriff John M. Daniel of Cherokee County arrested and
imprisoned a band of marauders dressed in the Federal uniform, though they
had no connection with the army. A short time afterwards the citizens
asked him to raise a _posse_ and arrest a similar band which was engaged
in robbing the people, plundering houses, assaulting respectable citizens,
and threatening to kill them. And as such occurrences were frequent,
Sheriff Daniel, after consulting with the citizens, summoned a _posse
comitatus_ and went in pursuit of the marauders. One squad was encountered
which surrendered without resistance. A second, belonging to the same
band, approached, and, refusing to surrender, opened fire on the sheriff's
party. In the fight the sheriff killed one man. Upon learning that his
prisoners were soldiers and were on detail duty, he desisted from further
pursuit, released the citizens who were held as prisoners by the soldiers,
and turned his prisoners over to the military authorities. This was on
August 24. Daniel was at once arrested by the military authorities and
confined in prison at Talladega in irons. Six months later he had had no
trial, and the general assembly petitioned the President for his release,
claiming that he had acted in the faithful discharge of his duty.[699] The
memorial asserts that such outrages were of frequent occurrence. Another
petition to the President asked for the withdrawal of the troops, whose
presence caused disorder, and who at various times provoked unpleasant
collisions. Many of the troops, remote from the line of transportation,
subsisted their stock upon the country. This was a hardship to the people,
who had barely enough to support life.[700]

For several years the arbitrary conduct of some of the soldiers was a
cause of bad feeling on the part of the citizens.[701] But the soldiers
were very often blamed for deeds done by outlaws disguised as Federal
troops. In northern Alabama a party of northern men bought property, and
complained to Governor Parsons of the depredations of the Federal troops
stationed near and asked for protection. Parsons could only refer their
request to General Davis at Montgomery, and in the meantime the troops
complained of drove out of the community the signers of the request for
protection. One of them, an ex-captain in the United States army, was
ordered to leave within three hours or he would be shot.[702] The
soldiers, except at the important posts, were under slack discipline, and
their officers had little control over them. At Bladen Springs some negro
troops shot a Mr. Bass while he was in bed and beat his wife and children
with ramrods. They drove the wife and daughters of a Mr. Rhodes from home
and set fire to the house. The citizens fled from their homes, which were
pillaged by the negro soldiers in order to get the clothing, furniture,
books, etc. The trouble originated in the refusal of the white people to
associate with the white officers of the colored troops.[703] These
negroes had little respect for their officers and threatened to shoot
their commanding officers.[704] At Decatur the negro troops plundered and
shot into the houses of the whites. In Greensboro a white youth struck a
negro who had insulted him, and was in turn slapped in the face by a
Federal officer, whom he at once shot and then made his escape. The negro
population, led by negro soldiers, went into every house in the town,
seized all the arms, and secured as a hostage the brother of the man who
had escaped. A gallows was erected and the boy was about to be hanged when
his relatives received an intimation that money would secure his release.
With difficulty about $10,000 was secured from the people of the town and
sent to the officer in command of the district. No one knows what he did
with the money, but the young man was released.[705]

Before the close of 1865, the commanding officers were reducing the troops
to much better discipline and many were withdrawn. The provisional
government also grew stronger, and there was considerably less disorder
among the whites, though the blacks were still demoralized.


The conduct of the negro during the war and after gaining his freedom
seemed to convince those who had feared that insurrection would follow
emancipation that no danger was to be feared from this source. Most of the
former slaveholders, who were better acquainted with the negro character
and who knew that the old masters could easily control them, at no time
feared a revolt of the blacks unless under exceptional circumstances. It
was only when the wretched characters who followed the northern armies
gained control of the negro by playing upon his fears and exciting his
worst passions that the fear of the negro was felt by many who had never
felt it before, and who have never since been entirely free from this

When the Federal armies passed through the state, the negroes along the
line of march followed them in numbers, though many returned to the old
home after a day or two. Yet all were restless and expectant, as was
natural. During the war they had understood the questions at issue so far
as they themselves were concerned, and now that the struggle was decided
against their masters they looked for stranger and more wonderful things,
not so much at first, however, as later when the negro soldiers and the
white emissaries had filled their minds with false impressions of the new
and glorious condition that was before them. For several weeks before the
master came home from the army the negroes knew that, as a result of the
war, they were free. They, however, worked on, somewhat restless, of
course, until he arrived and called them up and informed them that they
were free. This was the usual way in which the negro was informed of his
freedom. The great majority of the blacks, except in the track of the
armies, waited to hear from their masters the confirmation of the reports
of freedom. And the first thing the returning slaveholder did was to
assemble his negroes and make known to them their condition with its
privileges and responsibilities. It did not enter the minds of the masters
that any laws or constitutional amendments were necessary to abolish
slavery. They were quite sure that the war had decided the question. Some
of the legal-minded men, those who were not in the army and who read their
law books, were disposed to cling to their claims until the law settled
the question. But they were few in number.[706]

How to prove Freedom

The negro believed, when he became free, that he had entered Paradise,
that he never again would be cold or hungry, that he never would have to
work unless he chose to, and that he never would have to obey a master,
but would live the remainder of his life under the tender care of the
government that had freed him. It was necessary, he thought, to test this
wonderful freedom. As Booker Washington says, there were two things which
all the negroes in the South agreed must be done before they were really
free: they must change their names and leave the old plantation for a few
days or weeks. Many of them returned to the old homes and made contracts
with their masters for work, but at the same time they felt that it was
not proper to retain their old master's name, and accordingly took new

Upon leaving their homes the blacks collected in gangs at the cross-roads,
in the villages and towns, and especially near the military posts. To the
negro these ordinary men in blue were beings from another sphere who had
brought him freedom, which was something that he did not exactly
understand, but which he was assured was a delightful state. The towns
were filled with crowds of blacks who left their homes with absolutely
nothing, thinking that the government would care for them, or, more
probably, not thinking at all. Later, after some experience, they were
disposed to bring with them their household goods and the teams and wagons
of their former masters. This was the effect that freedom had upon
thousands; yet, after all, most of the negroes either stayed at their old
homes, or, that they might feel really free, moved to some place near by.
But among the quietest of them there was much restlessness and neglect of
work. Hunting and fishing and frolics were the duties of the day. Every
man acquired in some way a dog and a gun as badges of freedom. It was
quite natural that the negroes should want a prolonged holiday to enjoy
their new-found freedom; and it is rather strange that any of them worked,
for there was a universal impression, vague of course in the remote
districts--the result of the teachings of the negro soldiers and of the
Freedmen's Bureau officials--that the government would support them. Still
some communities were almost undisturbed. The advice of the old plantation
preachers held many to their work, and these did not suffer as did their
brothers who flocked to the cities. Many negro men seized the opportunity
to desert their wives and children and get new wives. It was considered a
relic of slavery to remain tied to an ugly old wife, married in slavery.
Much suffering resulted from the desertion, though, as a rule, the negro
mother alone supported the children much better than did the father who

In many districts the negro steadily refused to work, but persisted in
supporting himself at the expense of the would-be employer. Thousands of
hogs and cattle that had escaped the raiding armies or the Confederate
tithe gatherer went to feed the hungry African whom the Bureau did not
supply. The Bureau issued rations only three times a week, and as the
homeless negro had nowhere to keep provisions for two or three days, there
would be a season of plenty and then a season of fasting. The Bureau
reached only a small proportion of the negroes; and, of those it could
reach, many, in spite of the regulations, neglected to apply for relief.
By causing the negroes to crowd into the towns and cities the Bureau
brought on much of the want that it did not relieve. The complaint was
made that in the worst period of distress the soldiers in charge of the
issue of supplies made no effort to see that the negroes were cared for.
It was easier also for the average negro to pick up pigs and chickens than
to make trips to the Bureau. During the summer the roving negro lived upon
green corn from the nearest fields and blackberries from the fence corners
and pine orchards. With the approach of winter suffering was sure to come
to those who were now doing well in a vagrant way, but winter was to them
too far in the future to trouble them.

The negroes soon found that freedom was not all they had been led to
expect. A meeting of 900 blacks held near Mobile decided by a vote of 700
to 200 to return to their former masters and go to work to make a living,
since their northern deliverers had failed to provide for them in any

The negro preacher, especially those lately called to preach, and the
northern missionaries had, during the summer and fall, a flourishing time
and a rich harvest. A favorite dissipation among the negroes was going to
church services as often as possible, especially to camp-meetings where he
or she could shout. It was another mark of freedom to change one's church,
or to secede from the white churches. All through the summer of 1865 the
revival meetings went on, conducted by new self-"called" colored preachers
and the missionaries. The old plantation preachers, to their credit be it
remembered, frowned upon this religious frenzy. The people living near the
places of meetings complained of the disappearance of poultry and pigs,
fruit and vegetables after the late sessions of the African congregations.
The various missionaries filled the late slave's head with false notions
of many things besides religion, and gathered thousands into their folds
from the southern religious organizations. Baptizings were as popular as
the opera among the whites to-day. That ceremony took place at the river
or creek side. Thousands were sometimes assembled, and the air was
electric with emotion. The negro was then as near Paradise as he ever came
in his life. The Baptist ceremony of immersion was preferred, because, as
one of them remarked, "It looks more like business." Shouting they went
into the water and shouting they came out. One old negro woman was
immersed in the river and came out screaming: "Freed from slavery! freed
from sin! Bless God and General Grant!"[710]

Suffering among the Negroes

The negroes massed in the towns lived in deserted and ruined houses, in
huts built by themselves of refuse lumber, under sheds and under bridges
over creeks, ravines, and gutters, and in caves in the banks of rivers and
ravines. Many a one had only the sky for a roof and the ground in a fence
corner for a bed. They were very scantily clothed. Food was obtained by
begging, stealing, or from the Bureau. Taking from the whites was not
considered stealing, but was "spilin de Gypshuns." The food supply was
insufficient, and was badly cooked when cooked at all. It was not possible
for the army and the Freedmen's Bureau, which came later, to do half
enough by issuing rations to relieve the suffering they caused by
attracting the negroes to the cities. While in slavery the negro had been
forced to keep regular hours, and to take care of himself; he had plenty
to eat and to wear, and, for reasons of dollars and cents, if for no
other, his health was looked after by his master. Now all was changed. The
negroes were like young children left to care for themselves, and even
those who remained at home suffered from personal neglect, since they no
longer could be governed in such matters by the directions of the whites.
Among the negroes in the cities and in the "contraband" camps the sanitary
conditions were very bad. To make matters infinitely worse disease in its
most loathsome forms broke out in these crowded quarters. Smallpox,
peculiarly fatal to negroes, raged among them for two years and carried
off great numbers. The Freedmen's Bureau had established hospitals for
the negroes, but it could not or would not care for the smallpox patients
as carefully as for other sickness. In Selma, for instance, the city
authorities had been sending the negroes who were ill to one of the city
hospitals. But the military authorities interfered, took the negroes away,
and informed the city authorities that the negroes were the especial wards
of the government, which would care for them at all times. When smallpox
broke out, the military authorities in charge of the Bureau refused to
have anything to do with the sick negroes, and left them to the care of
the town.[711] Consumption and venereal diseases now made their
appearance. The relations of the soldiers of the invading army and the
negro women were the cause of social demoralization and physical
deterioration. An eminent authority states that from various causes the
efficient negro population was reduced by one-fourth.[712] Though this
estimate must be too large, still the negro population decreased between
1860 and 1866, as the census of the latter year shows,[713] in spite of
the fact that thousands of negroes[714] were sent into Alabama during the
war from Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Florida to escape capture by
the Federal armies. The greatest mortality was among the negroes in the
outskirts of the cities and towns. Some of the loss of population must be
ascribed to the enrolment of negroes as soldiers and to the capture of
slaves by the Federal armies.[715] For several years after the war young
negro children were scarce in certain districts. They had died by hundreds
and thousands through neglect.[716]

Relations between Whites and Blacks

For a year or two the relations between the blacks and whites were, on the
whole, friendly, in spite of the constant effort of individual northerners
and negro soldiers to foment trouble between the races. As a result of the
work of outsiders, there was a growing tendency to insolent conduct on the
part of the younger negro men, who were convinced that civil behavior and
freedom were incompatible. On the part of some there was a disposition not
to submit to the direction of the white men in their work, and the negro's
advisers warned him against the efforts of the white man to enslave him.
Consequently he refused to make contracts that called for any
responsibility on his part, and if he made a contract the Bureau must
ratify it, and, as he had no knowledge of the obligation of contracts, he
was likely to break it. In an address of the white ministers of Selma to
the negroes, they said that papers had been circulated among the negroes
telling them that they were hated and detested by the whites, and that
such papers caused bad feeling, which was unfortunate, as the races must
live together, and the better the feeling, the better it would be for
both. At first, the address added, there was some bad feeling when certain
negroes, in order to test their freedom, became impudent and insulting,
but on the part of the white man this feeling was soon changed. Later the
negroes were poisoned against their former masters by listening to lying
whites, and then they refused to work. The ministers warned the negroes
against their continual idleness and their immoral lives, and told them
that those of them who pretended to work were not making one bushel of
corn where they might make ten, and that the whites wanted workers. The
self-respecting negroes were asked to use their influence for the
bettering of the worthless members of their race.[717]

When the negroes became convinced that the government would not support
them entirely, they then took up the notion that the lands of the whites
were to be divided among them. In the fall of 1865 there was a general
belief that at Christmas or New Year's Day a division of property would be
made, and that each negro would get his share--"forty acres of land and an
old gray mule" or the equivalent in other property. The soldiers and the
officials of the Freedmen's Bureau were responsible for putting these
notions into the heads of the negroes, though General Swayne endeavored to
correct such impressions. The effect of the belief in the division of
property was to prevent steady work or the making of contracts. Many
ceased work altogether, waiting for the division. In many cases northern
speculators and sharpers deceived the negroes about the division of land,
and, in this way, secured what little money the latter had.

The trust that the negro placed in every man who came from the North was
absolute. They manifested a great desire to work for those who bought or
leased plantations in the South, and nearly all observers coming from the
North in 1865 spoke of the alacrity with which the blacks entered into
agreements to work for northern men. At the same time there was no ill
feeling toward the southern whites; only, for the moment, they were
eclipsed by these brighter beings who had brought freedom with them. Two
years' experience at the most resulted in a thorough mutual distrust. The
northern man could make no allowances for the difference between white and
negro labor, he expected too much; the negro would not work for so hard a

The northern newspaper correspondents who travelled through the South in
1865 agreed that the old masters were treating the negroes well, and that
the relations between the races were much more friendly than they had
expected to find. When cotton was worth fifty cents a pound, it was to the
interest of the planter to treat the negro well, especially as the negro
would leave and go to another employer on the slightest provocation or
offer of better wages. The demand for labor was much greater than the
supply. The lower class of whites, the "mean" or "poor whites," as the
northern man called them, were hostile to the negro and disposed to hold
him responsible for the state of affairs, and, in some cases, mistreated
him. The negro, in turn, made many complaints against the vicious whites,
and against the policemen in the towns, who were not of the highest type,
and who made it hard for Sambo when he desired to hang around town and
sleep on the sidewalks. One correspondent said that the Irish were
especially cruel to the negroes.

The negro freedman undoubtedly suffered much more from mistreatment by low
characters than the negro slave had suffered. In slavery times his master
saw that he was protected. Now he had no one to look to for protection.
The strongest influence of the great majority of the whites was used
against any mistreatment of the negro, and the meaner element of the
whites was suppressed as much as it was possible to do when there was no
authority except public opinion. All in all the negro had less ill
treatment than was to be expected, and suffered much more from his own
ignorance and the mistaken kindness of his friends.[718]


When the war ended, there was little good money in the state, and industry
was paralyzed. The gold and silver that remained was carefully hoarded,
and for months there was none in circulation except in the towns. A
Confederate officer relates that on his way home, in 1865, he gave $500 in
Confederate currency to a Federal soldier for a silver dime, and that this
was the only money he saw for several weeks. The people had no faith in
paper money of any kind, and thought that greenbacks would become
worthless in the same way as Confederate currency. All sense of values had
been lost, which may account for the fabulous and fictitious prices in the
South for several years after the war, and the liberality of
appropriations of the first legislature after the surrender, which in
small matters was severely economical. The legislators had been accustomed
to making appropriations of thousands and even millions of dollars, with
no question as to where the money was to come from, for the state had
three public printers to print money. Now it was hard to realize that
business must be brought to a cash basis.

Here and there could be found a person who had a bale or two of cotton
which he had succeeded in hiding from the raiders and the Treasury agents.
This was sold for a good price and relieved the wants of the owner; but
those who had cotton to sell often spent the money foolishly for gewgaws
and fancy articles to eat and wear, such as they had not seen for several
years. There was an almost maddening desire for the things which they had
once been accustomed to, and which the traders and speculators now placed
in tempting array in the long-empty store windows. But the majority of the
people had no cotton to sell, and in many cases a pig or a cow was driven
ten or fifteen miles to sell for a little money to buy necessaries, or
frequently trinkets.

In certain parts of the state the crops planted by the negroes were in
good condition in April, 1865, but after the invasions they were
neglected, and in thousands of cases the negroes went away and left them.
In the white counties conditions were as bad as it was possible to be.
Half of the people in them had been supported by state and county aid
which now failed. Nearly all the men were injured or killed, and there
were no negroes to work the farms. The women and the children did
everything they could to plant their little crops in the spring of 1865,
but often not even seed corn was to be had. All over the state, where it
was possible, the returning soldiers planted late crops of corn, and in
the Black Belt they were able to save some of the crops planted by the
negroes. But in the white counties, especially in the northern part of the
state, nothing could be done. Often the breadwinner had been killed in the
war, and the widow and orphans were left to provide for themselves. The
late crops were almost total failures because of the drought, not
one-tenth of the crop of 1860 being made. In this section everything that
would support life had been stripped from the country by the contending
armies and the raiding bands of desperadoes. A double warfare had
devastated the country, "tories" raiding their neighbors and _vice versa_;
and the bitter state of feeling prevented neighbor from relieving
neighbor. But the "Unionists," who were sure that their turn had come,
wanted the destitute cared for, even if some were fed "who curse us as
traitors." This part of the country had been supported by the central
Black Belt counties, but in 1865 the supply was exhausted. In the cotton
counties there was enough to support life, and had the negroes remained at
home and worked, they would not have suffered. As it was, those who left
the plantation were decimated by disease and want. Soon after the
occupation, the army officers distributed the supplies captured from the
Confederates among the needy whites and blacks who applied for aid. But
many out of reach of aid starved, and especially did this happen among the
aged and helpless who made no appeal for aid, but who died in silence
from want of shelter and food.

After several months the Freedmen's Bureau, under the charge of General
Swayne, who was a man of discretion and common sense, and who understood
the real state of affairs, extended its assistance to the destitute
whites. Among the negroes the Bureau created much of the misery it
relieved, for in the cotton belt there was enough to support life; and had
the negroes not flocked to the Bureau, they would have lived in plenty.
Besides, the aged and infirm negroes were not assisted by the Bureau, but
remained with their master's people, who took care of them. But the
generous assistance extended by that much-abused institution saved many a
poor white from starvation. In the fall of 1865, 139,000 destitute whites
were reported to the provisional government. They were mostly in the
mountain counties of north and northeast Alabama, though in southeast
Alabama there was also much want. And in Governor Parsons's last message
to the legislature (December, 1865), he stated that those in need of food
numbered 250,000.[719] A state commissioner for the destitute was
appointed to coöperate with General Swayne and the Freedmen's Bureau. The
legislature appropriated $500,000 in bonds to buy supplies for the poor,
but the attitude of Congress toward the Johnson state governments
prevented the sale of state securities. However, the governor went to the
West and succeeded in getting some supplies. In December, 1865, it was
believed that there were 200,000 people who needed assistance in some

The failure of the crops in 1865 left affairs in even a worse condition
than before. Small farmers could not subsist while making a new crop, and
many widows and children were in great need. Some of the latter walked
thirty or forty miles for food for themselves and for those at home.[720]

In January, 1866, the state commissioner, M. H. Cruikshank, reported to
Governor Patton that 52,921 whites were entirely destitute. These were
mostly in the counties of Bibb, Shelby, Jefferson, Talladega, St. Clair,
Cherokee, Blount, Jackson, Marshall, all white counties; nine other
counties had not been heard from.[721] During the same month, a Freedmen's
Bureau official who travelled through the counties of Talladega, Bibb,
Shelby, Jefferson, and Calhoun reported that the suffering among the
whites was appalling, especially in Talladega County. The Freedmen's
Bureau had neglected the poor whites, though there was little suffering in
the richer sections where the negroes lived. He stated that near Talladega
many white families were living in the woods with no shelter except the
pine boughs, and this in the middle of winter.[722]

In Randolph County, in January, 1866, the probate judge said that 5000
persons were in need of aid. Most of these had been opposed to the
Confederacy. The "unionists" complained that the Confederate foragers had
discriminated against them, which, while very likely true, was more than
offset by the depredations of the tories and Federals on the Confederate
sympathizers. All accounts agree that the Confederate sympathizers were in
the worse condition; many of them had not tasted meat for months. But
charges were brought that the probate judges of the provisional
government, who certainly were not strong Confederates, did not fairly
distribute provisions among the "damned tories," as the latter complained
that they were called.[723] The state commissioner could relieve only
about one-tenth of the destitute whites. In January, 1866, he gave
assistance in the form of meal, corn (and sometimes a little meat) to 5245
whites and 2426 blacks; in February, to 13,083 whites and to 4107 blacks;
and in March, to 17,204 whites and to 5877 blacks, most of whom were women
and children, the men receiving assistance being old, infirm, or crippled.
General Swayne of the Freedmen's Bureau helped Cruikshank in every way he
could, and took charge of some of the negroes. But owing to the failure of
the crops in 1865, the situation was growing worse, and there was no hope
for any relief until the summer of 1866 when vegetables and corn would

In May, 1866, Governor Patton said that of 20,000 widows and 60,000
orphans, three-fourths were in need of the necessaries of life, that they
had been able to do very little for themselves, even those who had land
being unable to work it to any advantage, and that their corn crop of the
previous year had failed.[725] There is little doubt that many died from
lack of food and shelter during 1865 and 1866, but in the disordered times
incomplete records were kept. Many cases of starvation were reported,
especially in north Alabama, but few names can now be obtained. Near
Guntersville there were three cases of starvation, while hundreds were in
an almost perishing condition. From Marshall County, where, it was said,
there were 2180 helpless and destitute persons and 2000 who were able to
work, but could get nothing to do, it was reported that not more than
twenty people had more than enough to supply their own needs. The people
of Cherokee County, when on the verge of starvation, appealed to south
Alabama for aid. They asked for corn, and said that if they could not get
it they must leave the country. Hundreds, they said, had not tasted meat
for months, and farm stock was in a wretched condition. Nashville sent
$15,000 and Montgomery $10,000 to buy provisions for them.[726] From Coosa
County much distress was reported among the old people, widows, children,
refugees, and the families whose heads had returned from the army too late
to make a crop. However, the negroes in this section who had remained on
their farms had made good crops and were doing well.[727] In the valley of
the Coosa, in northeast Alabama, several cases of starvation were
reported. One woman went seventeen miles for a peck of meal, but died
before she could reach home with it. Another, after fasting three days,
walked sixteen miles to obtain supplies, and failing, died. One family
lived on boiled greens, with no salt nor pepper, no meat nor bread. An old
woman, living eighteen miles from Guntersville, walked to that village to
get meal for her grandchildren. It has been estimated that there were
20,000 people in the five counties south of the Tennessee
river--Franklin, Lawrence, Morgan, Marshall, De Kalb--in a state of want
bordering on starvation.[728]

The majority of the destitute whites never appealed for aid, but managed,
though half starved, to live until better times. Numbers left the land of
famine and went where there was plenty, and where they could get work.
Others who could not emigrate and those broken in spirit received
assistance. From January to September, 1866, 15,000 to 20,000 whites, and
4000 to 14,000 negroes were aided each month by the Freedmen's Bureau and
by the state. Most of these were women and children, the rule being not to
assist able-bodied whites except in extreme cases.

In 1866 the state succeeded in selling some of its bonds, and raised money
in other ways. Much was spent for supplies for the poor, for in 1866 the
crops almost failed again. From November, 1865, to September, 1866, the
Freedmen's Bureau and the state commissioner issued, to black and white,
3,789,788 rations. There were also large donations from the West and from
Tennessee and Kentucky. After this the Freedmen's Bureau gave less, though
during the year from September, 1866, to September, 1867, it issued
214,305 rations to whites and 274,399 to blacks. To the whites, and partly
to the blacks, the issue of provisions was made under the general
supervision of General Swayne, and through state agents in each county who
were acceptable to Swayne.[729]

In November, 1867, the Freedmen's Bureau reported that there were 10,000
whites and 50,000 blacks without means of support, and 450,000 rations per
month were asked for. It would have been much better to have put an end to
relief work, since by this time the officials of the Freedmen's Bureau
were very active in politics and showed a disposition to report their
political henchmen as destitute and in need of support. And in another way
there was much abuse of the charity of the government, for some
broken-down, spiritless people would never work for themselves as long as
they could draw rations for nothing. The negroes, especially, were
demoralized by the issue of rations. Fear of the contempt of their
neighbors would drive all but the meaner class of whites back to work, but
the negro came to believe that he would be supported the rest of his life
by the government.

As late as October, 1868, it was reported that there was great want in
middle and south Alabama, and soup houses were established by the state
and the Bureau in Mobile, Huntsville, Selma, Montgomery, and other central
Alabama towns.[730] The location of the soup kitchens, and the date, lead
one to suspect that politics, perhaps, had something to do with the
matter. These towns were the very places where there was less want than
anywhere else in the state, but Grant was to be elected, and there were
many negro votes.

For more than two years after the war in all the small towns were seen
emaciated persons who had come long distances to get food. General Swayne
thought the condition of the poor white much worse than that of the negro.
The latter, he said, was hindered by no wounds nor by a helpless family,
for his aged and helpless kin were cared for at the old master's. The
"refugees," as the poor whites were called who had but little and lost all
by the war, lived in a different part of the country,--in the mountains
and in the pine woods,--beyond the reach of work or help, clinging to the
old home places in utter hopeless desolation. For the negro, Swayne
thought, there was hope, but for the "refugee" there was none; he existed

It was years before a large number of the people again attained a
comfortable standard of living. Some gave up altogether. Many died in the
struggle. Numbers left the country; others, in reach of assistance, became
trifling and worthless from too much aid. In later years the opening of
mines and the building of railroads in north Alabama, the lumber industry
and the rapid development of south Alabama, saved the "refugee" from the
fate that General Swayne thought was in store for him.




Restrictions on Trade in 1865

At the time of the collapse of the Confederacy trade within the state of
Alabama was subject to the following regulations: gold and silver was in
no case to be paid for southern produce; all trade was to be done through
officers appointed by the United States Treasury Department;[732] the
state was divided into districts and sub-districts called agencies, under
the superintendence of these Treasury agents, whose business it was to
regulate trade, and collect captured, abandoned, and confiscable property;
in making purchases of cotton, and other produce the agents were to pay
only three-fourths of the value, or to purchase the produce at
three-fourths its value, and then at once resell it to the former owner at
full value, with permission to export or ship to the North; in order to
get permission to sell, the owner must take the Lincoln amnesty oath of
December 8, 1863; there was, besides, an internal revenue tax of two cents
a pound, and a shipping fee of four cents a pound.[733] So for a month
after the surrender the person who owned cotton near any port or place of
sale had to sell to United States Treasury agents, or pretended agents,
and have twenty-five per cent to fifty per cent of the value of his cotton
deducted before it could be sent North. On May 9, 1865, a regulation
provided that "all cotton not produced by persons _with their own labor_
or with the labor of _freedmen_ or others employed and _paid_ by them,
must, before shipment to any port or place in a loyal state, be sold to
and resold by an officer of the government ... and before allowing any
cotton or other product to be shipped ... the proper officer must require
a certificate from the purchasing agent or the internal revenue officer
that the cotton proposed to be shipped had been resold by him or that 25
per cent of the value thereof has been paid to such purchasing agent in

This was in accord with the general policy of Johnson, at first, viz. to
punish the slaveholding class and to favor the non-slaveholders. Cotton
was then worth $250 or more a bale, and cotton raised by slave labor had
to pay the 25 per cent tax--$60 to $75. However, the regulations ordered
that no other fees were to be exacted after the fourth was taken. Nearly
all the cotton not yet destroyed was in the Black Belt, and was raised by
slave labor. The few people who had cotton raised by their own labor might
sell it after paying the tax of three cents a pound, or $12 to $15 a bale.

May 22, 1865, the proclamation of the President removed restrictions on
commercial intercourse except as to the right of the United States to
property purchased by agents in southern states, and except as to the 25
per cent tax on purchases of cotton. No exceptions were made to the 25 per
cent tax. The ports were to be opened to foreign commerce after July 1,
1865.[735] After June 30, 1865, restrictions as to trade were removed
except as to arms, gray cloth, etc.[736] And after August 29, 1865, even
contraband goods might be admitted on license.[737]

Federal Claims to Confederate Property

The confiscation laws relating to private property under which the army
and Treasury agents were acting in Alabama in 1865 were: (1) the act of
July 17, 1862, which authorized the confiscation and sale of property as a
punishment for "rebels"; (2) the act of March 12, 1863, which authorized
Treasury agents to collect and sell "captured and abandoned"
property,--but a "loyal" owner might within two years after the close of
the war prove his claim, and "that he has never given any aid or comfort"
to the Confederacy, and then receive the proceeds of the sales, less
expenses; (3) the act of July 2, 1864, authorizing Treasury agents to
lease or work abandoned property by employing refugee negroes. "Abandoned"
property was defined by the Treasury Department as property the owner of
which was engaged in war or otherwise against the United States, or was
voluntarily absent. According to this ruling all the property of
Confederate soldiers was "abandoned" and might be seized by Treasury
agents. North Alabama suffered from the operation of these laws from their
passage until late in 1865, the rest of Alabama only in 1865.

The blockade prevented the people from disposing of most of the cotton
raised during the war; there were heavy crops in 1860, 1861, 1862, and
small ones in 1863 and 1864. The number of bales produced in 1859 was
989,955; in 1860, about the same; and less in 1861 and 1862.

Comparatively little cotton was sent out on blockade-runners, and not very
much was sent through the lines from the cotton belt proper, so that at
the close of the war there were many thousands of bales of cotton in the
central counties of the state. Cotton was selling for high prices--30
cents to $1.20 a pound, or $200 to $500 a bale. It was almost the sole
dependence of the people to prevent the severest suffering. The state and
Confederate governments had some kind of a claim on much of the cotton
early in 1865. No one knew how much nor exactly where all of the
Confederate cotton was stored, and it bore no marks that would distinguish
it from private cotton. But the records surrendered by General Taylor and
others showed who had subscribed to the Cotton or Produce Loan. Many
thousand bales had been destroyed by the raiders in 1864 and 1865, and
many thousand more had been burned by Confederate authorities to prevent
its falling into the hands of the Federals.[738]

On October 30, 1864, a report was made to Secretary of the Treasury[739]
Trenholm which showed the amount of Confederate cotton in the southern
states. By far the greater part that was still on hand was in Alabama. In
this state the Confederacy had received as subscriptions to the Produce
Loan, 134,252 bales, at an average cost of $101.55, in all,
$13,633,621.90. Other sales or subscriptions on other products to this
Produce or Cotton Loan raised the amount in Alabama to $16,691,500.
Alabama, as one of the producing states, and the one least affected by the
ravages of war, furnished to all of these loans more produce than any
other state.[740] The people, unable to sell their cotton abroad,
exchanged some of it for Confederate bonds. Several thousand bales (6000
in 1864) were gathered by the cotton tithe. After shipping several
thousand bales through the blockade, and smuggling some through the lines,
and after some destruction by the enemy, or to prevent seizure by the
enemy, there remained in the state, in the fall of 1864, 115,450 bales of
Confederate cotton. Nearly all of this was destroyed in 1865, before the
surrender, by Federals and Confederates, and very little remained which
the Federal government could rightfully claim as Confederate property.
This claim was based on the theory that cotton subscribed to the Produce
Loan was devoted to the aid of the Confederacy, in intention at least, and
therefore was forfeited to the United States, even though the owner had
never delivered the cotton or other produce, and though the United States
held that the Confederacy could not legally acquire property.[741] There
were three classes of property claimed by the United States: (1)
"captured" property or anything seized by the army and navy; (2)
"abandoned" property, the owner being in the Confederate service, no
matter whether his family were present or not; (3) "confiscable" property,
or that liable to seizure and sale under the Confiscation Act of July 17,
1862. Until 1865, all sorts of property were seized and used by the
Federal forces, or, if portable, sent North for sale. Live stock, planting
implements and machinery, wagons, etc., were in some cases sent North and
sold;[742] but most was used on the spot.

After the surrender the Secretary of Treasury ordered household furniture,
family relics, books, etc., to be restored to all "loyal" owners or to
those who had taken the amnesty oath.[743] In no case had a person who
could not prove his or her "loyalty" any remedy against seizure of
property. Until the surrender the people of north Alabama were despoiled
of all property that could be moved, and after the surrender the same
policy was pursued all over the state, especially in regard to cotton. No
right of property in cotton was there recognized, but by a previous law a
"loyal" owner had until two years after the war to prove his claim and his

The Attorney-General delivered an opinion, July 5, 1865, that cotton and
other property seized by the agents or the army was _de facto_ and _de
jure_, _captured_ property, and that neither the President nor the
Secretary of the Treasury had the power to restore such property to the
former owners. They must go through the courts, and under the laws only
"loyal" claimants had any basis for claims, and "loyalty" must first be
determined by the courts.[745] After the opinion of the Attorney-General,
Secretary McCulloch followed it so far as captures by the army were
concerned, but still continued to "revise the mistakes" of the cotton
agents who "frequently seized the property of private individuals." Proof
of "loyalty" was, however, required in all cases before restoration, and
the fourteen classes excepted by the amnesty proclamation of May 29, 1865,
could get no restoration. In all cases the expenses charged against the
property had to be paid before the owner could get it. After April 4,
1867, by request of the Joint Sub-Committee on Retrenchment, no further
releases of any kind were made.[746] On March 30, 1868, a joint resolution
of Congress covered into the Treasury all money received from sales of
property in the South. After this only an act of Congress could restore
the proceeds to the owner.[747]

The result was in the long run that the "disloyal" owners never received
restoration of their property seized by the army, and by the Treasury
agents during and after the war, but claim agents and perjurers have
pursued a thriving business in proving "loyal" claims against the
Treasury. "Disloyal" persons, whose property was liable to confiscation,
and who could not recover in the Court of Claims, were, as decided by that
body: those who served in the military, naval, or civil service of the
state or the Confederacy; those who voted for secession or for secession
candidates; those who furnished supplies to the Confederacy, engaged in
business that aided the Confederacy, subscribed to its loans, resided or
removed voluntarily within the Confederate lines, or sold produce to the
Confederacy. Women who had sons or husbands in the Confederate army, or
who belonged to "sewing societies," or made flags and clothing for, or
furnished delicacies to, Confederate soldiers were "disloyal" and could
not recover property. "Loyalty" had to be proven, not only for the
original owner, but also for the heirs and claimants. The claims of
deserters were allowed. In order to test the "loyalty" of claimants, they
were asked to answer in writing lists of questions (numbering at various
times 49, 62, 79, and 80 questions) regarding their conduct during the
war. The questions covered several hundred points, and embraced every
possible activity from 1861 to 1865. No man and few women who lived within
the state until 1865 could, without perjury, pass the examination and
prove a claim. Yet numbers have proved claims.[748]

Cotton Frauds and Stealing

The minority report of the Ku Klux Committee in 1872 asserted that, of the
5,000,000 bales of cotton in the South at the close of the war, 3,000,000
had been seized by United States Treasury agents or pretended agents.[749]
The Gulf states, and especially Alabama, were for a year or more filled
with agents and "cotton spies," seeking Confederate cotton and other
property. They were paid a percentage of what they seized--25 to 50 per
cent. Native scoundrels united with these, and all reaped a rich

On much of the cotton subscribed to the Confederate Produce Loan the
government had advanced a small amount to the owner and allowed him to
keep it. In many cases no payment had been made. The farmer considered
that the cotton still belonged to him, but that the Confederacy had a
claim on a part of it. The records kept were imperfect, and few persons
knew just what was Confederate cotton and what was not. Much of the cotton
subscribed had been destroyed or sent to government warehouses in Selma,
Mobile, Montgomery, and Columbus, where it was burned in April and May,
1865. Of course each man considered that the cotton destroyed was
Confederate cotton, and that all left was private cotton. In most cases
the claim of the government was very shadowy. Where cotton was still in
the hands of the planter, private and government cotton could not be
distinguished. The records did not show whether a man had kept or
delivered the cotton he had subscribed to the Produce Loan. The agents
proceeded upon the assumption that he had kept it, and that all he had
kept was government cotton.[751] No proof to the contrary would convince
the average agent. Secretary McCulloch said, "I am sure I sent some
honest cotton agents South; but it sometimes seems very doubtful whether
any of them remained honest very long."[752] It was said that Secretary
Chase had foreseen the trouble that would result if the cotton were
confiscated, and had proposed to leave all cotton in the hands of the
former owners who then held it. When the records were certain, the cotton
might be confiscated; but in most cases there were no correct records.
Such a policy would have been generous and magnanimous, and would have had
a good effect.[753] The plan of Chase was not accepted, and a carnival of
corruption followed. In August, 1865, President Johnson wrote to General
Thomas, "I have been advised that innumerable frauds are being practised
by persons assuming to be Treasury agents, in various portions of Alabama,
in the collection of cotton pretended to belong to the Confederate States
government."[754] The thefts of the Treasury agents and the worst
characters of the army did much to arouse bitter feelings among the people
who lost their only possession that could be turned into ready money. It
was assumed, as a general rule, that all cotton belonged to the government
until the real owner could prove his claim and his "loyalty," and of
course he could seldom do this to the satisfaction of the agent or of the
army officer who was bent on supplementing his pay. Cotton had been all
along an object of the special hostility of Federals. The old southern
belief that cotton was king and the hopes that Confederates had founded on
this belief were well known. "Cotton is the root of all evil" was a common
declaration of the invading army and of the cotton agents. When no other
private property was taken or destroyed, cotton was sure to be. Every
cotton-gin and press in reach of the armies was burned from 1863 to 1865.
There seemed to be an intense desire to destroy the royal power of King
Cotton. As opportunity offered, officers in the army, contrary to orders,
began to interest themselves in speculations in cotton--captured,
purchased, or stolen. The small garrisons were not officered by the best
men of the army, and many who would never have touched money from any
other kind of plunder thought it perfectly legitimate to fill their
pockets by the seizure and sale of cotton. They did not consider it
defrauding the government, for the latter, they knew, had no more title to
it than they had.[755]

The disposition of the cotton collectors to regard the people as without
rights resulted in the growth of a feeling on the part of the latter that
it was perfectly legitimate to keep the government and its rascally agents
from profiting by the use of Confederate property. In every way people
began to hinder the agents and the army in its work of collecting cotton.
Colonel Hunter Brooke stated, in 1866, that most of the people who had
subscribed cotton to the Confederate government or on whose cotton the
Confederates had some claim utterly refused to recognize the title of the
United States to that property and refused to give any assistance to the
authorities in tracing the cotton. At times the citizens rose in rebellion
against the invasion of Treasury agents and the military escorts sent with
them. A cotton spy was sent into Choctaw County to collect information
about cotton stealing. He had an escort of twenty soldiers, but the people
drove them out. A battalion of cavalry was then sent. Steamers sent up the
rivers to get the cotton seized by the agents were sometimes fired

Not only cotton but stores collected on private plantations for the army,
no matter whether private property or not, were seized. Horses and mules
used in the Confederate service were taken, notwithstanding the terms of
surrender and the fact that the Confederate soldiers owned the cavalry
horses.[757] The counties of Cherokee, Franklin, Jackson, Jefferson,
Lauderdale, Limestone, Madison, Morgan, St. Clair, Walker, and
Winston--all white counties--lost principally corn, fodder, provisions,
harness, mules, horses, and wagons.[758]

As to cotton, much pure stealing was done by the followers of the army and
thieving soldiers and some natives, but sooner or later the officials
became implicated in it, since only by their permission could the
commodity be shipped. A thieving southerner would find where a lot of
cotton was stored and inform a soldier, usually an officer, who would make
arrangements to ship the cotton, and the two would divide the profits.
Planters who were afraid that their cotton would be seized by Treasury
agents went into partnership with Federal officers and shipped their
cotton to New Orleans or to New York. No one outside the ring could ship
cotton until five or ten dollars a bale was paid the military officers who
controlled affairs. Along the line of the Mobile and Ohio Railway 10,000
bales of cotton were said to have been stolen from the owners and sold in
Mobile and New Orleans. The thieves often paid $75 a bale to have the
cotton passed through to New Orleans.[759]

But all petty thievery went unnoticed when the Treasury agents began
operations. They harried the land worse than an army of bummers. There was
no protection against one; he claimed all cotton, and, unless bribed,
seized it. Thousands of bales were taken to which the government had not a
shadow of claim. In November, 1865, the _Times_ correspondent (Truman)
stated that nearly all the Treasury agents in Alabama had been filling
their pockets with cotton money, and that $2,000,000 were unaccounted for.
One agent took 2000 bales on a vessel and went to France. Their method of
proceeding was to find a lot of cotton, Confederate or otherwise, and give
some man $50 a bale to swear the cotton belonged to him, and that it had
never been turned over to the Confederate States. Then the agent shipped
the cotton and cleared $100 a bale.[760]

Secretary McCulloch said that the most troublesome and disagreeable duty
that he was called upon to perform was the execution of the law in regard
to Confederate property. The cotton agents, being paid by a commission on
the property collected, were disposed to seize private property also.
There was no authority at hand to check them. And people were disposed, he
thought, to lay claim to Confederate cotton and "spirited away" much of
it, while on the other hand much private property was taken by the

Five years later the testimony taken in Alabama at the instance of the
minority members of the Ku Klux Committee exposed the methods of the
cotton agents.[762] The country swarmed with agents or pretended agents
and their spies or informers; the commission given was from one-fourth to
one-half of all cotton collected; everybody's cotton was seized, but for
fear of future trouble a proposition from the owner to divide was usually
listened to and a peaceable settlement made; when private or public cotton
was shipped it was consigned by bales and not by pounds; the various
agents through whose hands it passed were in the habit of "tolling" or
"plucking" it, often two or three times, about one-fifth at a time; in
this way a bale weighing 500 pounds would be reduced to 200 or 300 pounds;
even after the private cotton arrived at Mobile or New Orleans, paying
"toll" all the way, it was liable to seizure by order of some Treasury
agent; as a rule, terms could be arranged by which a planter might keep
one-fourth to three-fourths of his cotton, whether Confederate or not; it
was safer for the agent to take a part of the cotton with the consent and
silence of the owner than to steal both from the owner and from the
government for which he pretended to work, and in this way the owners
saved some for themselves; much private cotton was seized on the
plantations near the rivers before the owners came home from the war;
cotton seized in the Black Belt was shipped to Simeon Draper, United
States cotton agent, New York, while that from north Alabama was sent to
William P. Mellen, Cincinnati;[763] complaint was made by those few owners
who succeeded in tracing their cotton that, after being reduced by
"tolling" or "plucking,"[764] it was sold by the agent in the North, by
samples which were much inferior to the cotton in the bales, and in this
way the purchaser, who was in partnership with the agents, would pay ten
or fifteen cents a pound for a lot of cotton certainly not worth more than
that if the samples were honest, but which was really good cotton, worth
35 cents to $1.20 a pound in New York.

So in case the Secretary of the Treasury could be brought to "revise the
mistakes" of his agents, the owner would get only the small sum paid in
for inferior cotton, and even this was reduced by excessive charges and
fees.[765] There was also complaint that when a lot of private cotton was
seized and traced to Draper, the latter would inform the owners that only
a small proportion of what had been seized was received,[766] and that had
been sold at a low price. It was afterwards shown that Draper never gave
receipts for cotton received. There was nothing businesslike about the
cotton administration. Cotton was consigned to Draper or Mellen by the
bale and not by the pound. A bale might weigh 200 or 500 pounds. As soon
as cotton was seized the bagging was stripped off, and it was then
repacked in order to prevent identification.[767] Many persons who knew
nothing of the law and who saw that their property was unsafe were induced
by the Treasury agents to surrender their cotton to the United States
government, even though there might be no claim against it, the agents
promising that the United States would pay to the owners the proceeds upon
application to the Treasury Department. When the Secretary of the Treasury
discovered this, and when the agent would certify that such was the case,
his "mistake was revised" and the money received from the sale of cotton
was refunded.[768] The owner had no remedy if the agent declined to
certify, and he usually declined, since the cotton had probably never
been turned over to the United States by him.

The experience of Hon. F. S. Lyon[769] is typical of many in the Black
Belt. He stated[770] that after the surrender of Taylor, General Canby
issued an order that all who had sold cotton to the Confederate government
must now surrender it to United States authorities under penalty of
confiscation of other property to make good the failure to deliver
Confederate cotton. Under this order some cotton was seized to replace
Confederate cotton that had disappeared. United States army wagons,
guarded by soldiers, went over the country day and night, gathering cotton
for persons who pretended to be Treasury agents. Lyon had 384 bales of
Confederate cotton which were claimed by General Dustin, a cotton agent
(later a carpet-bag politician), and Lyon agreed to haul it to the
railroad, under an "agreement" with Dustin. But one night a train of army
wagons, guarded by soldiers, came and carried off 26 bales, and the next
day, 70 bales. (They had asked the manager "if he would accept $2000 and
sleep soundly all night.") The wagons were traced to Uniontown, and the
commanding officer there was induced to hold the cotton until the question
was settled. General Hubbard, commanding the district, arrested one Ruter,
who, with the soldiers, had taken the cotton. Ruter claimed to be acting
under the authority of a cotton agent in Mississippi, but could show no
evidence of his authority, and his name was not on the list of authorized
agents. However, General Hubbard was ordered by superior authority to
regard Ruter as a cotton agent and to discharge him. The 70 bales were

The Mobile agent, Dustin,[771] would not make a decision in disputed cases
because he was afraid of appeal to Washington. A proposition to divide the
profits, however, would always secure from him a declaration that the
cotton had no claims against it. Lyon reported that not one-tenth of the
cotton seized was consigned to government agents, but that the agents
usually sold it on the spot to cotton buyers. The planter was held
responsible for cotton sold or subscribed to Confederate government.
Cotton stolen from the agent had to be made good by the person from whom
the agent had seized it. Seed cotton was often hauled away at night by
pretended agents. In every part of the cotton belt the looting of cotton
went on.

There were frequent changes of agents. As soon as a man became rich his
place would be taken by another. The chief cotton agents sold for high
prices appointments as collecting agents. The new agents often seized the
cotton that through bribery had escaped former agents; and in this way the
same lot would be seized two or three times. One cotton agent, a mere
youth, at Demopolis received as his commission for one month 400 bales of
cotton which netted him $80,000. The Treasury Department made a regulation
allowing one-fourth to a person who had kept the Confederate cotton and
delivered it safely to the United States authorities, but the agents did
not make known the regulation, and the one-fourth went to them.[772]

There were complaints of the seizure of cotton grown after the war. The
Planters' Factory of Mobile lost 240 bales of cotton grown in 1865. This
company was made up of "Union" and northern men who were able to obtain an
order for the release of the cotton. There was of course no way to tell
what cotton was seized, and 240 bales of "dog tail," worth six cents a
pound, were turned over to the factory instead of the good cotton, worth
sixty cents, a pound.[773]

Dishonest Agents Prosecuted

The Federal grand jury reported that at the end of the war there were
150,000 bales of cotton in Alabama to which the government had clear
title;[774] the records showed the history and location of each bale, and
these records were placed in the hands of the cotton agents; the papers of
two agents, in south Alabama, Dexter and Tomeny, showed that while a large
part of this cotton had been shipped but little of it had been consigned
to the government, the bulk of it having become a source of private profit
to the agents; the 20,000 bales turned over to the government by these
agents had been much reduced in weight, in some cases as much as
one-third, and exorbitant expenses had been charged against them; large
quantities of cotton had been fraudulently released to parties who
presented fictitious claims; cotton belonging to private individuals had
often been seized, and release refused unless the owner sold at a ruinous
sacrifice to S. E. Ogden and Company, who seemed to be on the inside at
New York; cotton thus seized was not released except through the influence
of Ogden and Company, and it was said that Tomeny openly advised some
parties to make arrangements with Ogden and Company, who paid less than
half-price for cotton under such circumstances.[775] The grand jury
declared that in Alabama 125,000 bales had been stolen by agents. Tomeny,
who seems to have secured a much smaller share of the spoils than Dexter,
stated that when he began business in November, 1865, nearly all cotton
had been collected or stolen, and that not a hundred bales had been
received by himself except from other agents who had collected it. He
consigned all his cotton to Simeon Draper, in New York City. None was
released to Ogden and Company, and they bought only one lot of cotton that
had been seized--505 bales seized from Ellis and Alley, themselves cotton
agents under the First Agency. This lot, Tomeny claimed, was bought by
Ogden and Company without his knowledge or consent.[776]

Two cotton agents, T. C. A. Dexter and T. J. Carver, were finally
arraigned, in the fall and winter of 1865, in the Federal courts, and
Judge Busteed proceeded to try them; but they denied the jurisdiction of
the court, and the army interfered and stopped the proceedings, whereupon
Busteed closed the court. Then a military commission was convened, and
before it the cases were tried. Lieutenant-Colonel Hunter Brooke presided
over the commission. The culprits denied the legality of this trial by a
military commission in time of peace and ultimately were pardoned on this
account. Carver was convicted of fraud in the collection of cotton, and
was fined $90,000 and sentenced to imprisonment for one year and until the
fine should be paid. Carver had paid Dexter $25,000 for his commission as
cotton agent. So it seems the office must have carried with it certain
opportunities. Dexter was convicted of fraud in the cotton business and
for selling the appointment to Carver. Only 3321 bales of government
cotton could be traced directly to his stealing.[777] He was fined
$250,000 and imprisoned for one year and until the fine should be

Statistics of the Frauds

The minority report of the Ku Klux Committee asserted, as has been said,
that in 1865 there were 5,000,000 bales of cotton in the South, and that
the agents seized 3,000,000 bales for themselves and for the
government;[779] Dr. Curry said that there were about 250,000 bales of
Confederate cotton;[780] another expert estimate placed the total number
of bales of Confederate cotton at 150,000 on April 1, 1865; after April 1,
many thousand bales were destroyed in Alabama, where most of the
Confederate cotton was gathered; the report of A. Roane, in 1864, showed
115,000 bales in Alabama. It is not probable, after all the burnings which
later took place in Alabama, that there was much government cotton left
in Alabama, 20,000 bales at the most.

Secretary McCulloch, on March 2, 1867, reported that the total receipts
from captured and abandoned property amounted to $34,052,809.54, netting
$24,742,322.55.[781] The cotton sold for $29,518,041.17.[782] The records
show that only 115,000 bales were turned over to the United States, and of
these Draper received 95,840-1/2 bales which he sold for about $15,000,000
when cotton was worth 33 cents to $1.22 a pound, and a bale weighed 400 to
450 pounds. This cotton was worth in New York $500,000,000.[783] The
records of the agencies were badly kept or not kept at all, and many
agents made no reports. The government never knew how many bales had been
collected in its name.

The First Special Agency reported that in Alabama it had seized cotton
(after June 1, 1865) in the counties of Greene, Marengo, Perry, Dallas,
Pickens, Montgomery, Sumter, and Tuscaloosa, during October, November, and
December, 1865, and January, 1866. This agency had, before June 1,
1866,[784] shipped 5697 bales to the government agent in New York, who
sold them for $750,702.68, and had made charges of $209,338.58 for
freight, fees, etc., $35 a bale. The Ninth Agency, under the notorious T.
C. A. Dexter and J. M. Tomeny, gathered cotton from the counties of
Dallas, Marengo, Sumter, Montgomery, Wilcox, Lowndes, Barbour, Butler,
Tuscaloosa, Macon, and Mobile. This agency had thirty-six collecting
agents, and turned over to the government only 9,712 bales, which sold for
$1,412,335.68, with fees and charges amounting to $540,962.38.[785]

Most of the government cotton was consigned to New York agents and sold

The army quartermasters at Mobile received 19,396 bales of cotton, of
which 6149 were delivered to Dexter and 9741 were, it was claimed,
destroyed by the great explosion. Dexter turned over to the government
only 7469 bales and Tomeny 7732, other agents accounted for enough to
bring the total up to about 30,000 bales. Dexter sold $823,947 worth of
other property.[787]

The Freedmen's Bureau in Alabama was supported for two years by the sale
of confiscated property, of which no accounts were kept. The army also
sold cotton and other confiscated property and used the proceeds.
"Abandoned" cotton netted to the Treasury $2,682,271.69. After June 30,
according to Treasury records, 33,638 bales (worth $7,650,675.93, but
netting only $4,886,671) were illegally seized. It is this money which is
still held because the former owners once subscribed to the Confederate
Produce Loan. "Loyal" claimants, 22,298 in number in 1871, were asking
damages, to the amount of $60,258,150.44. When Congress, on March 30,
1868, called into the Treasury all proceeds of captured and abandoned
property, it was found that Jay Cooke and Company had $20,000,000, which
they had been using in their business for years. The cotton agents and
others interested lobbied persistently in Washington against legislation
in behalf of claimants, fearing investigation and exposure.

The statistics given in the public documents are often those for the whole
South, but usually only for Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. Seldom
can the figures for Alabama be separated from the others. Alabama lost
more from the invasion of Treasury agents than any other state, since in
1865 she had more cotton and other property, and many more agents visited
her soil. The United States Treasury received only a small fraction of the
confiscated property, and most of the proceeds of that have been released
to people who were willing to commit perjury in order to get it.[788]

Under the act of March 12, 1863, "loyal" owners had until two years after
the war to file claims, and by February, 1888, $9,864,300.75 had been paid
out to satisfy these people. Since 1888, $520,700.18 has been paid out.
Under the act of May 18, 1872, providing for return of proceeds of cotton
seized illegally after June 30, 1865, 1337 claims were filed, 339 of which
were from Alabama. These Alabama claims called for 23,529 bales. Only a
very small amount ($195,896.21) was returned to the claimants, because the
records showed that most of them had once sold cotton to the Confederate
government. Therefore, they now say, all cotton seized after June 30,
1865, was Confederate cotton, and the proceeds will be held. Only about
four and a half millions now (1904) remain in the Treasury, as the
proceeds of all the cotton seized. This is the amount for which the cotton
seized after June 30, 1865, was sold. All other proceeds have either been
returned to "loyal" claimants or have been absorbed by expenses. Very few,
if any, claimants not able to prove "loyalty" have been able to secure
restoration, since "loyalty" was in most cases a prerequisite to

The confiscation policy, it may be concluded, profited the government
nothing; the Treasury agents and pretended agents were enriched by their
stealings and but few were punished; nearly all private cotton was lost;
the people were reduced to more desperate want and exasperated against the
government which, it seemed, had acted upon the assumption that the
ex-Confederates had no rights whatever.


Another heavy burden imposed on the prostrate South was the tax levied by
the United States government on each pound of cotton raised. An act of
July, 1862, imposed a tax of one-half cent a pound on cotton, but this tax
could be collected only on that part of the crop that was brought through
the lines by speculators. January 30, 1864, the tax was increased to two
cents a pound, collectible on all cotton coming from the Confederate
States. This was raised to two and a half cents a pound on March 3, 1865,
and to three cents a pound, or $15 a bale, on July 13, 1866.[790] After
the war the tax bore with crushing weight on the impoverished
farmers.[791] On March 2, 1867, in anticipation of Reconstruction, the tax
was reduced to two and a half cents a pound, or $12.50 a bale, to take
effect after September 1, 1867. A year later, partly because of the
decided objections of those carpet-baggers, scalawags, and negroes who had
small farms and whose remonstrances had more influence than those of the
planters, the tax was discontinued on all cotton raised after the crop of
1867. The tax was a lien on the cotton from the time it was baled until
the tax was paid, and was often collected in the states to which the
cotton was shipped.

The collections in the South amounted to the following sums:--

  For the year ending June 30, 1863        $351,311.48
  For the year ending June 30, 1864       1,268,412.56
  For the year ending June 30, 1865       1,772,983.48
  For the year ending June 30, 1866      18,409,654.90
  For the year ending June 30, 1867      23,769,078.80
  For the year ending June 30, 1868      22,500,947.77
      Total,                            $68,072,388.99[792]

Of this tax Alabama paid within her borders $10,388,072.10,[793] and since
she was one of the three great cotton states, her share of the tax paid in
northern ports must have been several million dollars more. Of the other
cotton states,--Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas, Tennessee, and
Arkansas,--all except Georgia, which paid about a million dollars more
than Alabama, suffered in less degree.

From April 1, 1865, to February 1, 1866, Alabama paid in other taxes, into
the United States Treasury, $1,747,563.51, of which $1,655,218.31 was
internal revenue, and from September 1, 1862, to January 30, 1872,
$14,200,982 internal revenue.[794] The former sum was much more than the
Federal government spent in Alabama during that year for the relief of the
destitute, both black and white. The cotton spirited away by thieves and
confiscated by the government would have paid several times over all the
expenses of the army and the Freedmen's Bureau during the entire time of
the occupation. Many times as much money was taken from the negro tenant
in the form of this cotton tax as was spent in aiding him. The most
crushing weight of the tax came in 1866 and 1867, and it was much heavier
than the taxation imposed by the Confederate and state governments even in
the darkest days of the war. Had the price of cotton remained high, the
tax would not have borne so heavily on the people; but with the decline of
the price the tax finally amounted to a third of the net value of the
cotton, while the amount raised in these years was about one-fifth of the
value of the farming lands.[795] The tax absorbed all the profits of
cotton planting and left the farmer nothing.

A letter from the Secretary of the Treasury in reference to the propriety
of refunding the money received from the cotton tax stated some of the
arguments of the opponents of the tax. It was claimed (1) that the tax was
unconstitutional because it was not uniform and because it was virtually a
tax upon exports; (2) that the tax was unequal and oppressive in its
operations because it fell entirely upon cotton producers; (3) that it was
levied without the consent of the people and when they were not
represented in Congress; and (4) that in addition to the cotton tax the
producers of the cotton were subject to all taxes paid by citizens of
other states.[796] These objections were answered by the Secretary, who
said that the tax was added to the price of cotton and was borne by the
consumer, not the producer, and that it was the fault of the cotton states
that they were not represented. He asserted that the tax on cotton was an
excise like that on tobacco and whiskey.[797]

In 1866 an effort was made in Congress to raise the tax to five cents a
pound. Such a tax, they said, would raise $66,000,000, or, at the least,
$50,000,000 a year, of which Alabama's share would be about $12,000,000 to
$15,000,000. The Committee on the Revenue reported that such a tax "will
not prove detrimental to any national interest." The testimony of experts
was quoted to prove that the tax would fall upon the consumer, though most
of the experts, who were manufacturers from New England, said that on
account of the great demand and excessive prices of cotton goods the tax
would fall upon the manufacturer for the present time. Nevertheless, they
were all in favor of the proposed tax, except one manufacturer and one
planter from Georgia, who objected on the ground that the producer would
have the burden to bear.[798]

The business men of New York and other northern cities opposed the tax
and defeated the extra levy. The New York Chamber of Commerce, when the
measure to raise the cotton tax to five cents a pound was proposed,
memorialized Congress against the injustice of the tax. The memorial
stated that the North and the West must not take advantage of the South in
the days of her weakness; that the cultivation of cotton should not be
thus discouraged. It was shown that the manufacturer would be protected by
the drawback of five cents a pound allowed on cotton goods exported, while
the cotton farmer would pay a five-cent tax. By the operation of such a
tax, they stated, the rich would be made richer, and the poor made poorer.
That in the proposed law "there is a want of impartiality which is
calculated to provoke hostility at the South, and to excite in all honest
minds at the North the hope that such a purpose will not prevail."[799]

By the people who had to pay the tax it was considered an unjust and
purely vindictive measure, which was the more exasperating because they
had no voice in the matter and because no attention was paid to their
remonstrances. They complained that it was levied as a penalty, that it
was confiscation under color of law. They felt that it was a blow of
revenge aimed at them when there was no fear of resistance or hope of
protection, as no other part of the country had its exports taxed.[800]
The fact that the tax was removed because of the objections of the
carpet-baggers, scalawags, and negroes, instead of pleasing the whites,
was a source of irritation to them. The respectable people had asked for
justice and it was refused them, but was granted to those who were of
opposing politics. Those who paid the tax never believed that the mass of
the people at the North were in favor of such a measure, and they hoped
that favorable elections would reverse the policy of Congress, which, then
recognizing the unconstitutionality of the tax, would refund it, if not to
individuals, at least to the states in proportion to the amount raised in
each, or, that Congress would give it to the states as a long-time
loan.[801] For years there was a belief among the farmers that the unjust
tax would be refunded, and the cotton tax receipts were carefully
preserved against a day of reimbursement, but, like the negroes' "forty
acres and a mule," the money never came.[802]



After the Surrender

The paroled Confederate soldier returned to his ruined farm and went to
work to keep his family from extreme want. For him the war had decided two
questions, the abolition of slavery, and the destruction of state
sovereignty. Further than that he did not expect the effects of the war to
extend, while punishment, as such, for the part he had taken in the
war[803] was not thought of. He knew that there would be a temporary delay
in restoring former relations with the central government, but political
proscription and humiliation were not expected. That after a fair fight,
which had resulted in their defeat, they should be struck when down, was
something that did not occur to the soldiers at all. No one thought of
further opposition to the United States; the results of the war were
accepted in good faith, and the people meant to abide by the decision of
arms. Naturally, there were no profuse expressions of love for the United
States,--which was the North,--but there was an earnest desire to leave
the past behind them and to take their place and do their duty as citizens
of the new Union.[804]

The women and the children, who heard with a shock of the surrender, felt
a terrible fear of the incoming armies. The raids of the latter part of
the war had made them fear the northern soldiers, from whom they expected
harsh treatment. The women had been enthusiastic for the Confederate
cause; their sacrifices for it had been incalculable, and to many the
disappointment and sorrow were more bitter than death. The soldier had the
satisfaction of having fought in the field for his opinions, and it was
easier for him to accept the results of war. A certain class of people who
had served during the war at duties which kept them at home professed to
be afraid of hanging, of confiscation, of negro suffrage and negro
equality, and many other horrible things; they were loud in their
denunciation of the surrender; they would have "fought and died in the
last ditch," they declared. It is hard to see how they could so flatter
themselves as to think the conqueror would hold them responsible for
anything, unless for their violent talk on political questions before and
during the war.

Such was the state of feeling in the first stage, before there was any
general understanding of the nature of the questions to be solved or of
the conflicting policies. News from the outside world came in slowly; each
country community was completely cut off from the world; the whole state
lay prostrate, breathless, exhausted, resting. Little interest was shown
in public questions; the long strain had been removed, and the people were
dazed about the future. There was no information from abroad except
through the army officials, who reported the news to suit themselves. The
railroads and steamboats were not running; for months there was no
post-office system, and for years the service was poor. The people settled
down into a lethargy, seemingly indifferent to what was going on, and
exhibiting little interest in the government and in politics. Some persons
dumbly awaited the worst, but the soldiers feared nothing; at present they
took no interest in politics; they were working, when they were able, to
provide for their families.

With many people there was a disposition to see in the defeat the work of
God. There was a belief that fate, destiny, or Providence had been against
the South, and this state of mind made them the more ready to accept as
final the results of war. The fear expressed by northern politicians that
in case of foreign war the South would side with the enemy was without
cause. The South had had enough and too much of war. It disliked England
and France more than it hated the North, because they had withheld their
aid after seeming to promise it.

From the general gloom and seeming despair the young people soon recovered
to some degree, and among them there was much social gayety of a quiet
sort. For four years the young men and young women had seen little of each
other, and there had been comparatively few marriages. Now they were glad
to be together again, and all the surviving young men proceeded to get
married at once. This revival of spirits did not extend to the older
people. Nearly all were grieving over the loss of sons, brothers,
husbands, or relatives. Much that made life worth living was lost to them
forever, and unable to adapt themselves to changed conditions or to
recover from the shock of grief and the strain of war, they died one after
the other, until soon but few were left.[805]

One of the first things to awaken the people of Alabama from the blank
lethargy into which they had fallen was the question of what was to be
done by the United States government with the Confederate leaders who had
been arrested. President Davis and Vice-President Stephens, Senator Clay,
the war governors,--Moore, Shorter, and Watts,--Admiral Semmes, several
judicial officers of the state, and many minor officials were arrested and
imprisoned in the North. Davis, Moore, and Clay were known to be in feeble
health, and from them came accounts of harsh treatment. The arrests of
lesser personages were purely arbitrary, and in most cases were probably
done by the military without any higher authority. It was announced
unofficially that all who had held office before the war and who had
supported the Confederacy, even those who had never taken an oath to
support the Constitution and laws of the United States, would be arrested
and tried for treason.[806] During the spring and summer of 1865 rumor was
busy. Thus, fear of arrest and imprisonment, the sympathy of the people
for their leaders who were being made to suffer as scapegoats, the
irritating methods of the Freedmen's Bureau, the work of various political
and religious emissaries among the negroes, and the confiscation of
property served progressively to awaken the people from the stupor into
which they had fallen, and they began to take an interest in affairs of
such vital importance to them. The newspapers began to discuss the
problems of Reconstruction and to condemn the treatment of the political
prisoners from the South. This renewed interest was characterized by a
section of the northern press and by prominent politicians as
"disloyalty,"--a proof of a "rebellious" spirit which ought to be

"The Condition of Affairs in the South"

The President, who began with a vindictive policy, gradually modified it
until it was as fair as the South could expect from him. To support his
policy, he sent agents to the South to ascertain the state of feeling here
and the exact condition of affairs. These agents were General Grant, the
head of the army, Carl Schurz, a sentimental foreign revolutionist and
politician with an implicit belief in the Rights of Man, and Benjamin C.
Truman, a well-known and able journalist.

General Grant reported: "I am satisfied that the thinking men of the South
accept the present condition of affairs in good faith. The questions that
have heretofore divided the sentiment of the people of the two sections,
slavery and state rights, or the right of a state to secede from the
Union, they regard as having been settled by the highest
tribunal--arms--that man can resort to." He believed that acquiescence in
the authority of the general government was universal, but that the
demoralization following four years of civil war made it necessary to post
small garrisons throughout the South until civil authority was fully

The report of Carl Schurz was distinctly unfavorable to the southerners.
He made a classification of the people into four divisions: (1) The
business and professional men and men of wealth who were forced into
secession. These, though prejudiced, were open to conviction, and accepted
the results of the war. However, as a class, they were neither bold nor
energetic. (2) The professional politicians who supported the policy of
the President and wanted the state readmitted at once, as they hoped then
to be able to arrange things to suit themselves. (3) A strong lawless
element, idlers and loiterers, who persecuted negroes and "union" men, and
in politics would support the second class. They appealed to the passions
and prejudices of the masses and commanded the admiration of the women.
(4) The mass of the people, who were of weak intellect, with no definite
ideas about anything; who were ruled by those who appealed to their
impulses and prejudices. He stated, however, that all were agreed that
further resistance to the government was useless and that all submitted to
its authority. The people, he said, were hostile toward the soldiers,
northern men, unionists, and negroes; their loyalty was only submission to
necessity; and they still honored their old political leaders.[808]

B. C. Truman, the journalist, after a long stay in the South, of which
about two months were spent in Alabama, reported to the President that the
southerners were loyal to the government and were cheerfully submissive
and obedient to the law. The fates were against them, the people thought,
and it was the will of God that they should lose; the dream of
independence was over, and secession would never be thought of again; the
war had decided this question, and the decision was accepted. The
Confederate soldier, the backbone and sinew of the South, who must be the
real basis of reconstruction and worthy citizenship, was exerting his
influence for peace and reconciliation; there were few more potent
influences at work in promoting real and lasting reconciliation and
reconstruction than that of the Confederate soldier. The fear that in case
of foreign war the South would fight against the United States he knew to
be unfounded; the soldiers hated England, and would fight for the United
States; this, Hardee, McLaws, and Forrest had told him; but, he added, the
soldiers preferred to have no war at all, they had had all that they
wanted. At the collapse of the Confederacy, there had been a general
feeling of despair. The people at home, especially, had expected the
worst; and the reaction was wrongly called "disloyal." The people were
gradually returning to old attachments, but that they would repudiate
their old leaders was not to be expected; neither would they acknowledge
any wrong in their former belief in slavery and the right of secession,
though ready to grant that those no longer existed. They were better
friends to the negro than the northern men who came South; and the courts,
magistrates, and lawyers would see that justice was done the negro.[809]

In order to produce a report which would justify the action of Congress in
opposing the President's plan,[810] a committee of Congress for several
months held an inquest at Washington and examined selected witnesses who
gave the desired testimony relative to the condition of affairs in the
South. The committee consisted of six senators and nine representatives.
Only three Democrats were on this committee, and not one of them was on
the sub-committee that took testimony relating to affairs in Alabama.[811]
All sessions of the subcommittees were held in Washington, far removed
from the state under inquisition. Care was exercised in calling as
witnesses only Republicans, and these usually were not citizens of the
state. No citizens of Alabama testified except two deserters,[812] one
tory,[813] and one man who, during the war, had been an agent of the
Confederate government "to examine political prisoners,"[814] but who told
the committee that during the war he had been a "union" man. A witness
from Ohio claimed to be a citizen of Alabama.[815] Another witness was a
cotton speculator from Massachusetts, and still another, a land office man
from the North. Three hailed from Illinois, three from Iowa, one each from
California and Minnesota, and the remainder were from the North, with the
exception of General George H. Thomas, who had been a Virginian and who
had not been allowed to remain in ignorance of what the Virginians called
his "treasonable" conduct toward his native state. Three were connected
with the Freedmen's Bureau, already fiercely criticised in all sections of
the country, and twelve were, or had been, connected with the army, and
for short periods had served in some part of Alabama.[816]

Of the five men who resided in the state, each was bitter in denunciation
of existing conditions and tendencies in Alabama. The course they had
taken during the war made it impossible for them to attain to any position
of honor or profit so long as the Confederate sympathizers were not
proscribed. Existing institutions must be overthrown before they could
hope for political preferment.[817]

The conflicting stories of most of the witnesses neutralized one another,
and the remainder corroborated the testimony of General Wager Swayne, the
head in Alabama of that much-hated institution, the Freedmen's Bureau.
General Swayne stated that he had been agreeably disappointed in the
temper of the people. In most of his conclusions he agreed with Truman. He
said that he had observed a gradual cessation of disorder, the opening of
courts to the negro, and favorable legislation for him; but a marked
increase of political animosity. He thought the northerner was well
treated except socially. He thought the people were determined to make it
honorable to have been engaged in "rebellion" and dishonorable to have
been a "unionist" among them during the war.[818] The statements of
General Swayne were probably as near to the truth as the average human
being could attain to.[819] His account was from the northern standpoint,
but was as impartial as any one could make at that time.[820] A few weeks
later he said that the bluster of a few irreconcilables should not be
exaggerated into the threatening voice of a whole people.[821] This he
repeatedly asserted.

Ex-Governor Andrew B. Moore spoke for the people when he said: "Slavery
and the right of secession are settled forever. The people will stand by
it." Rev. Thomas O. Summers, who lived in the heart of the Black Belt,
said, "I have not found a planter who does not think the abolition of
slavery a great misfortune to both races; but all recognize abolition to
be an accomplished fact."[822]

The people had little faith in the free negro as a laborer, but were
disposed to make the best of a bad situation and to give the negro a fair
chance. The old soldiers took a hopeful view, and the great wrong of
Reconstruction was not so much in the enfranchising of the ignorant slave
as in the proscription and humiliation of the better whites with the
alienated negro as an instrument.

There was no indication at this time that the people could ever be united
into one political party. Before the war party lines had sharply divided
the people, and the divisions were deep and political prejudices strong,
though not based to any great extent on differences of principles. The war
had served to unite the people only temporarily, and the last years of the
struggle showed that this temporary union would fall to pieces when the
pressure from without was removed. When normal conditions should be
restored, local political strife was sure to be warm and probably bitter,
and parties would separate along the old Whig and Democratic lines. At
this time there was a disposition on the part of Whig and Democrat,
secessionist and coöperationist, each to charge the responsibility for
present evils upon the other, and by the "bomb-proof" people there was
much talk of the "twenty-nigger law," of "the rich man's war and the poor
man's fight," etc., in order to discredit the former leaders.[823]

The "Loyalists"

An unpleasant and violent part of the population was the Union "loyal" or
tory party, consisting of a few thousand persons who had now returned from
the North or had crept out of their hiding-places and were demanding the
punishment of the "traitors" who had carried the state into war. Hanging,
imprisonment, disfranchisement, confiscation, banishment, was the
programme demanded by them. From the Johnson régime in the state they
could hope only for toleration, never for official preferment, nor even
for respect. They demanded the assistance of the Federal government to
place them in power and maintain them there.[824]

About this time it became difficult to distinguish the various species of
"loyal" men or "loyalists." There were: (1) Those who had taken the side
of the United States in the war. These numbered two or three thousand and
they were "truly loyal," as they were called. (2) Those who had escaped
service in the Confederate army by hiding out or by desertion, or who
engaged in secret movements intended to overthrow the Confederate
government. These claimed and were accorded the title of "loyalists" or
"union" men. (3) All who during the war became in any way disaffected
toward the Confederate or state government and gave but weak support to
the cause asked to be called "loyalists" or "unionists." (4) All negroes
were, in the minds of the northern radical politician, "loyalists" by
virtue of their color, and had all the time been "devoted to the Union";
the fact, of course, was that the negroes had been about as faithful as
their masters to the Confederate cause. (5) All who took the oath in 1865
or were pardoned by the President and who promised to support the
government thereby acquired the designation of "loyal" men. These included
practically all the population except negroes and the first class. (6) A
small number included in the fifth class who were conservative people, and
who now used their influence to bring about peace and reconstruction. This
was the best class of the citizens, and the majority of them were old
soldiers,--men like Clanton, Longstreet, Gordon, and Hardee. (7) Later,
only those who approved the policy of Congress were "loyal," while those
who disapproved were "disloyal." The first and second classes coalesced at
once, and finally they admitted the right of the third class to bear the
designation "loyal." They, for a long time, would not admit the claims of
the negro to "loyalty," but at last political necessity drove them to it;
they denied always that the sixth class had any right to share the rewards
of "loyalty." These various definitions of loyalty were made by the men
themselves, by the various political parties, and by the party newspapers.
Every man in the South was some kind of a "loyalist," and most of them
were also "disloyal," according to the various points of view.

Treatment of Northern Men

There was no question more irritating to both sides than that of social
relations between the southern people and the northerners. After the first
weeks of occupation the relations between the enlisted men of the Union
army and the native whites became somewhat friendly and in most cases
remained so, while, with few exceptions, the regular officers and the
people maintained friendly relations, in public matters, at least. The
volunteers, however, were much more disagreeable, especially the volunteer
officers, who lacked the social training of the regulars. Too often the
northerners seemed to feel that they had conquered in war the right to
enter the most exclusive southern society, and individuals made themselves
disliked more than ever by striving to obtain social recognition where
they were not known and were not desired. They had a newspaper knowledge
of social conditions before the war, and, while professing to scorn the
pretensions of the "southern chivalry and beauty," yet were very desirous
of closer acquaintance with both, and especially the latter. Soon after
the armies of occupation came, matters were pretty bad for the southern
people. The less refined subordinate volunteer officers almost demanded
entrance, and even welcome, into southern social circles. They found that
while the southern men would meet them courteously in business relations
and in public places, they were never invited to the homes. On all
occasions the women avoided meeting the northern men; this was their own
wish, as well as that of their male relatives. They felt the losses of war
more keenly than did the men because they had lost more. All of them had
lost some loved one in the war, and quite naturally had no desire to meet
in social relations the men who had overcome their country and possibly
killed their fathers, brothers, husbands, lovers. They must have time to
bury their dead, and it was long before the sight of a Federal soldier
caused other than bitter feelings of sorrow and loss. Yet most of the
northerners overlooked this fact. The southern women reigned supreme over
society; the death in the war of so large a number of young men had only
strengthened the influence of the women; as a rule, they were better
educated than the men, especially the young men, whose education had been
interrupted by the war.[825]

When the families of the northern people came South, the doors of the
southern homes were not opened to them. The northerners resented this
ostracism by the southerners, and the coldness of society toward them
caused many a sarcastic and sneering letter to be written home or to the
newspapers.[826] There was constant interference in semi-social relations:
the mistress of the house was told how she must treat her colored cook;
the employer was warned that his conduct must be more respectful toward
the negroes in his employ; ex-Confederates were forbidden to wear their
uniforms, or even to use their buttons; nor could southern airs be sung or
played.[827] The soldiers would crowd a woman off the sidewalk in order to
make her look at them. Women would go far out of the way to avoid meeting
a Federal officer, and when forced to pass one, would sweep their skirts
aside as if to avoid contagion. Forthwith the man insulted indited an
epistle in which such incidents were related and the size of the ladies'
feet and ankles and the poverty-stricken appearance of their dress
commented upon. This naturally found its way into the newspapers, as home
letters from soldiers usually do. Soldiers, white and black, would sit on
the back fence and jeer at the former mistress of slaves as she worked at
the family washing. United States flags were hung over the sidewalks to
force the women to walk under them, and in some instances, when they
refused to do so and went out into the street, efforts were made to force
them to pass under the flag. For refusal and for exceedingly "disloyal"
remarks made under the excitement of such treatment, several were arrested
and lectured by coarse officials. Drunken soldiers terrorized women in the
garrison towns. A lot of drunken officers in a launch in Mobile Bay
habitually terrified pleasure parties of women who were on the bay in
small boats. The officers invited the women to balls and entertainments,
but the latter paid no attention to what they considered impertinence.
This angered the officers. The northern newspapers of 1865, 1866, and 1867
have many letters from correspondents in the South complaining of social
neglect or ostracism. Letters were written about the coarseness, unlovely
tempers, and character of the southern men and women who, it was insisted,
were of the best families.[828]

These letters the violent southern press afterward made a practice of
copying for political reasons.[829] The more incorrigible officers were
accustomed to express their most offensive sentiments in regard to negro
inequality, the position of the negro, the slavery question, and the
treatment of the negro by the whites. The Bureau officials were cordially
disliked for their tendency to such conduct. Though only a small portion
of the northerners and Federal officials were guilty of offensive actions,
the relations in many places being kindly and the conduct of most of the
officers considerate and courteous, yet the insolent behavior of some
caused all to be blamed.[830]

The question of the social standing of the tory element may be summed up
in a few words. They were mercilessly ostracized and thoroughly despised
by the Confederate element of the population at that time, and the same
feeling of social contempt had descended to their children's children. It
is rather a feeling of indifference now, but the result is even more
deadly. The true Unionist was disliked but respected.

All the witnesses called before the sub-committee at Washington complained
of the dislike exhibited toward "unionists" and northerners. It was a
burning question and had much influence on the later course of

Immigration to Alabama

As soon as the war was ended, there was an influx of northern men and
northern capital into Alabama. Cotton was selling at a fabulous
price,--40 to 50 cents a pound, $200 to $250 a bale,--and the newcomers
expected to make fortunes in a few years. They were welcomed by the
planters who wanted to sell or to lease their plantations, which, for want
of funds, they were unable to cultivate. General Swayne said that in 1866
there were 5000 northern men[832] in Alabama engaged in trading and
planting. They were sought for as partners or as overseers by those who
hoped that northern men could control free negro labor. Lands were sold or
leased at low prices, and many soldiers, especially officers, decided to
buy land and raise cotton. Numbers of large plantations in the Black Belt
were bought or leased by officers of the army, all of whom had lofty ideas
as to what they were going to do. The soil was fertile, cotton was selling
for high prices, and the free blacks, they were sure, would work for them
out of gratitude and trust. They wanted to help reconstruct southern
industry, and to show what could be done toward developing the great
natural resources of the state. They embarked in large enterprises, and as
long as their money lasted bought everything that was offered for sale.
Their success or failure was dependent largely upon the negro laborer, who
was to make the cotton, and the new planters made extraordinarily liberal
terms with him. They dealt with the negro as if he were a New Englander
with a black skin, and they purchased expensive machinery for him to use.
They would not listen to southern advice, but went as far as possible to
the opposite extreme from southern methods of farming. All suggestions
were met with the assurance that the southern man was used only to slaves,
and could not know how free men would work.

Reports, generally false and made mainly for political purposes, were
continually published by the northern press in regard to the ill treatment
of northern men who wished to make their homes in the South.[833] But not
a single authenticated case of violence to such persons can be found to
have taken place in Alabama.

In some localities, on account of bands of outlaws, for several months
after the war it was not safe for any stranger to settle. The ignorant
whites had no liking for the northern men (and may not have to this day).
The better class of people was in favor of much immigration from the
North, and Governor Parsons made a tour through the North to induce
northern men and capital to come to Alabama.[834] The people had no
capital, and wanted to induce those who possessed it to come and live in
the state. The testimony of travellers was that the accounts of cruelty
and intolerance toward northerners were almost entirely false; that they
were welcomed if they did not attempt to stir up trouble between the
races.[835] The refusal of Congress to recognize the state government and
the rejection of the members elected to Congress caused a fresh outburst
of bitter feeling against the North; but General Swayne, who had the best
opportunities for observation, said that rudeness and insult and the
occasional attentions of a horse-thief were the worst things that had
happened to the northern settlers.[836]

These northern men meant well but, as a rule, were incompetent as farmers
and business men. Consequently they failed, and most of them never quite
understood the reasons for their failure. They knew next to nothing of
plantation economy, and the negroes were their only teachers. Most of them
were from the West, and had never seen cotton growing before. It was
almost pathetic to see these 5000 northerners risking all they possessed
upon their faith in the negro, and losing. The northern merchant gave the
negro unlimited credit and lost; the planter gave his tenant all he asked
for, whenever it pleased him to ask. The farm stock was driven to
camp-meetings and frolics while the grass was killing the cotton. Mills
and factories were built and negro laborers employed, but the negroes,
because of a lack of quickness and sensitiveness of touch, proved to be
unfit for factory work. Besides, the noise of the machinery made them
sleepy, and it was beyond their power to report for work at a regular hour
each morning. At first, the negroes showed great confidence in the
northern man and were glad to work for him, but too much was required of
them, and after a year or two the disgust was mutual. The revulsion of
feeling following failure and disappointment and ostracism injured the
South by creating hostile opinion in the North. Nearly all the northern
men went home, but the less desirable ones remained to assist in the
political reconstruction of the state, when many of them became state

Troubles in the Church

At the close of the war, the churches were in a disturbed condition, owing
to the attitude of the Washington government. Most of the southern
churches held by the northern organizations were restored to their former
owners. The northern Methodist Church caused irritation by retaining
southern church property that had been placed under its control by the
military authorities. But the most aggravated ill feeling was aroused in
the Protestant Episcopal Church.

After the collapse of the Confederate government, Bishop Wilmer of Alabama
directed the Episcopal clergy to omit that portion of the prayer
mentioning the President of the Confederate States. Further, he ordered
that when civil authority should be restored, the prayer for the President
of the United States should be used.[838] Bishop Wilmer, consecrated in
1862, had never made a declaration of conformity to the constitution and
canons of the church in the United States, and, consequently, even by the
northern Episcopal Church, was not considered amenable to its

For several months his directions were not noticed by the Federal
authorities, and services were held in conformity to the bishop's orders.
In September, "Parson" William G. Brownlow of Tennessee, it is said,
brought the matter of the Wilmer pastoral letters to the attention of
General George H. Thomas, who commanded the Military Division of the
Tennessee, to which belonged the Department of Alabama. Thomas, like
Wilmer, was a Virginian, and was regarded by the latter and other
southerners as a traitor to his native state. Thomas was peculiarly
sensitive to such a charge, and disliked Wilmer, who had expressed his
opinion in regard to the matter. So it was easy to secure his
interference. General Woods, at Mobile, was directed to investigate the
matter. An officer was sent to ask Wilmer when he intended to order the
clergy to pray for the President of the United States. The bishop refused
to direct its use at the dictation of the military authority, or while the
state was under military domination, since no one desired "length of
life," nor the least prosperity to such a government.[840] The result was
the argumentative order which follows:[841]--

      MOBILE, ALA., Sept. 20, 1865.

    _General Order No. 38_:

    The Protestant Episcopal Church of the United States has established a
    form of prayer to be used for "the President of the United States and
    all in civil authority." During the continuance of the late wicked and
    groundless rebellion the prayer was changed to one for the President
    of the Confederate States, and so altered, was used in the Protestant
    Episcopal churches of the Diocese of Alabama.

    Since the "lapse" of the Confederate government, and the restoration
    of the authority of the United States over the late rebellious states,
    the prayer for the President has been altogether omitted in the
    Episcopal churches of Alabama.

    This omission was recommended by the Rt. Rev. Richard Wilmer, Bishop
    of Alabama, in a letter to the clergy and laity, dated June 20, 1865.
    The only reason given by Bishop Wilmer for the omission of a prayer,
    which, to use his own language, "was established by the highest
    ecclesiastical authorities, and has for many years constituted a part
    of the liturgy of the church," is stated by him in the following

    "Now the church in this country has established a form of prayer for
    the President and all in civil authority. The language of the prayer
    was selected with careful reference to the subject of the prayer--all
    in civil authority--and she desires for that authority prosperity and
    long continuance. No one can reasonably be expected to desire a long
    continuance of military rule. Therefore, the prayer is altogether
    inappropriate and inapplicable to the present condition of things,
    when no civil authority exists in the exercise of its functions.
    Hence, as I remarked in the circular, we may yield a true allegiance
    to, and sincerely pray for grace, wisdom, and understanding in behalf
    of a government founded on force, while at the same time we could not
    in good conscience ask for its continuance, prosperity, etc."

    It will be observed from this extract, first, that the bishop, because
    he cannot pray for the continuance of "military rule," therefore
    declines to pray for those in authority; second, he declares the
    prayer inappropriate and inapplicable, because no civil authority
    exists in the exercise of its functions. On the 20th of June, the date
    of his letter, there was a President of the United States, a Cabinet,
    Judges of the Supreme Court, and thousands of other civil officers of
    the United States, all in the exercise of their functions. It was for
    them specially that this form of prayer was established; yet the
    bishop cannot, among all these, find any subject worthy of his

    Since the publication of this letter a civil governor has been
    appointed for the state of Alabama, and in every county judges and
    sheriffs have been appointed, and all these are, and for weeks have
    been, in the exercise of their functions; yet the prayer has not been

    The prayer which the bishop advised to be omitted is not a prayer for
    the continuance of military rule, or the continuance of any particular
    form of government or any particular person in power. It is simply a
    prayer for the temporal and spiritual weal of the persons in whose
    behalf it is offered--it is a prayer to the High and Mighty Ruler of
    the Universe that He would with His power behold and bless His
    servant, the President of the United States, and all others in
    authority; that He would replenish them with grace of His holy spirit
    that they might always incline to His will and walk in His ways; that
    He would endow them plenteously with heavenly gifts, grant them in
    health and prosperity long to live, and finally, after this life, to
    attain everlasting joy and felicity. It is a prayer at once applicable
    and appropriate, and which any heart not filled with hatred, malice,
    and all uncharitableness, could conscientiously offer.

    The advice of the bishop to omit this prayer, and its omission by the
    clergy, is not only a violation of the canons of the church, but shows
    a factious and disloyal spirit, and is a marked insult to every loyal
    citizen within the department. Such men are unsafe public teachers,
    and not to be trusted in places of power and influence over public

    It is therefore ordered, pursuant to the directions of Major-General
    Thomas, commanding the military division of Tennessee, that said
    Richard Wilmer, Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of the
    Diocese of Alabama, and the Protestant Episcopal clergy of said
    diocese be, and they are hereby suspended from their functions, and
    forbidden to preach, or perform divine service; and that their places
    of worship be closed until such time as said bishop and clergy show a
    sincere return to their allegiance to the government of the United
    States, and give evidence of a loyal and patriotic spirit by offering
    to resume the use of the prayer for the President of the United States
    and all in civil authority, and by taking the amnesty oath prescribed
    by the President.

    This prohibition shall continue in each individual case until special
    application is made through the military channels to these
    headquarters for permission to preach and perform divine service, and
    until such application is approved at these or superior headquarters.

    District commanders are required to see that this order is carried
    into effect.

      By order of
        Major-General CHARLES R. WOODS,
          FREDERICK H. WILSON, A. A.-G.

Wilmer denied the right of civil or military officials to interfere in
such matters. Prayer, he said, was religious, not political, and was not
to be prescribed by secular authority.[842] Woods threatened to use force,
and had the churches closed by soldiers. St. John's Church in Montgomery
having been closed by the military authorities, the congregation attempted
to meet in Hamner Hall, a school building, but was dispersed by soldiers
at the point of the bayonet. Much to the indignation of Generals Woods and
Thomas, services were held in private houses.[843] The House of Bishops of
the northern church protested against this edict to the President. Wilmer
appealed to Governor Parsons and found that the "civil governor" of G. O.
No. 38 was only a subordinate military official with no power. President
Johnson at first refused to interfere, but was finally induced to direct
Thomas to revoke the suspension of the clergy. This was done in the
following remarkable order:[844]--

        NASHVILLE, TENN., Dec. 22, 1865.

    _General Orders No. 40_:

    Armed resistance to the authority of the United States having been put
    down, the President, on the 29th of May last, issued his Proclamation
    of Amnesty, declaring that armed resistance having ceased in all
    quarters, he invited those lately in rebellion to reconstruct and
    restore civil authority, thus proclaiming the magnanimity of our
    government towards all, no matter how criminal or how deserving of

    Alarmed at this imminent and impending peril to the cause in which he
    had embarked with all his heart and mind, and desiring to check, if
    possible, the spread of popular approbation and grateful appreciation
    of the magnanimous policy of the President in his efforts to bring the
    people of the United States back to their former friendly and national
    relations one with another, an individual, styling himself Bishop of
    Alabama, forgetting his mission to preach peace on earth and good will
    towards man, and being animated with the same spirit which through
    temptation beguiled the mother of men to the commission of the first
    sin--thereby entailing eternal toil and trouble on earth--issued, from
    behind the shield of his office, his manifesto of the 20th of June
    last to the clergy of the Episcopal Church of Alabama, directing them
    to omit the usual and customary prayer for the President of the United
    States and all others in authority, until the troops of the United
    States had been removed from the limits of Alabama; cunningly
    justifying this treasonable course, by plausibly presenting to the
    minds of the people that, civil authority not yet having been restored
    in Alabama, there was no occasion for the use of said prayer, as such
    prayer was intended for the civil authority alone, and as the military
    was the only authority in Alabama it was manifestly improper to pray
    for the continuance of military rule.

    This man in his position of a teacher of religion, charity, and good
    fellowship with his brothers, whose paramount duty as such should have
    been characterized by frankness and freedom from all cunning, thus
    took advantage of the sanctity of his position to mislead the minds of
    those who naturally regarded him as a teacher in whom they could
    trust, and attempted to lead them back into the labyrinths of treason.

    For this covert and cunning act he was deprived of the privileges of
    citizenship, in so far as the right to officiate as a minister of the
    Gospel, because it was evident he could not be trusted to officiate
    and confine his teachings to matters of religion alone--in fact, that
    religious matters were but a secondary consideration in his mind, he
    having taken an early opportunity to subvert the church to the
    justification and dissemination of his treasonable sentiments.

    As it is, however, manifest that so far from entertaining the same
    political views as Bishop Wilmer, the people of Alabama are honestly
    endeavoring to restore the civil authority in that state in conformity
    with the requirements of the Constitution of the United States, and to
    repudiate their acts of hostility during the past four years, and have
    accepted with a loyal and becoming spirit the magnanimous terms
    offered them by the President; therefore, the restrictions heretofore
    imposed upon the Episcopal clergy of Alabama are removed, and Bishop
    Wilmer is left to that remorse of conscience consequent to the
    exposure and failure of the diabolical schemes of designing and
    corrupt minds.

      By command of
        Major-General THOMAS.
            _Assistant Adjutant-General_.

Wilmer had won, and three days after the order was promulgated in Alabama
he directed the use of the prayer for the President of the United States.
Two months earlier, the General Council of the Confederate States had
provided for such a prayer, but this provision was not to have the force
of law in any diocese until approved by the bishop. This was to enable
Wilmer to win the fight and then to resume the use of the prayer.[845]

The General Council of the Confederate Church, in November, 1865, decided
that each diocese should decide for itself whether to remain in union with
the General Council (of the Confederate States) or to withdraw and unite
with the General Convention (of the United States). A small party in the
northern church wanted "to keep the southern churchman out for a while in
the cold," and "to put the rebels upon stools of repentance," but better
feeling and better policy prevailed. The southern church was met halfway
by the northern church, and the only important reunion of churches
separated by sectional strife was accomplished. The diocese of Alabama was
the last to join, Bishop Wilmer making the declaration of conformity
January 31, 1866.[846]






Owing to the important bearing upon the problem of Reconstruction of the
disputes between the President and Congress in regard to the status of the
seceded states, it will be of interest to examine the various plans and
theories for restoring the Union. From the beginning of the war the
question of the status of the seceded states was discussed both in
Congress and out, and with the close of the war it became of the gravest
importance. There was nothing in the Constitution to guide the President
or Congress, though each sought to base a policy on that ancient
instrument. Many questions confronted them. Were the states in the Union
or out? If in the Union, what rights had they? If out of the Union, were
they conquered territories subject to no law but the will of the United
States government, or were they United States territory with rights under
the Constitution? Must they be reconstructed or restored, and who was to
begin the movement--the people of the states, Congress, or the President?
Were the states in their corporate capacity, or the people as individuals,
responsible for secession? What punishment was to be inflicted, and on
whom or what must it fall--the people or the states? Who or what decides
who are the political people of the state? Exactly what was a state? Was
the Union the old Union of Washington, or a new one? Congress and the
President could never agree in their answers to these questions.[847]

Conservative Theories

As to the status of the seceded states and the proper method of
Reconstruction, all interested persons had theories, but the only one
which was logical and consistent with regard to the "Constitution as it
was" was the so-called Southern theory. This theory was that secession
having failed, state sovereignty was at an end; the doctrine was
worthless; secession was a nullity, and therefore the states were not out
of the Union; the state was indestructible. The war was prosecuted against
individuals and not against states, and the consequences must fall upon
individuals; the states had all the rights they ever possessed, but, being
out of their proper relation to the Union, its officers must take the oath
of allegiance to the United States government, representatives must be
sent to Congress, and the people must submit to the authority of the
government. Then the Union would be restored as it was.[848] At the fall
of the Confederacy the general belief was that restoration would proceed
along these lines. Many of the higher officials of the United States army
were of the same opinion, and on this theory the celebrated
Johnston-Sherman convention was drawn up by General Sherman, which
promised amnesty to the people and recognition of the state governments as
soon as the officials should have taken the oath of allegiance.[849]
Likewise, in the Southwest, General Dick Taylor, with the approval of
General Canby, advised the governors of the states in his department to
take steps toward restoring their states to their former relations to the
Union. General Thomas, and perhaps General Grant, had likewise advised the
people of north Alabama, and the subordinate Federal commanders in the
Southwest favored such reconstruction and were inclined to help along the
movement. But orders from Washington put an end to any such course by
directing the arrest of all state officials who endeavored to act. Among
those who had taken steps to restore the former relations with the Union
were the governors of Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida.[850]

The Presidential and Democratic theories, like the Southern theory, were
based on the doctrine of the indestructibility of the state. In the
beginning the Democratic theory would have recognized the state
governments of the seceded states and thus practically coincided with the
later Southern theory. The Presidential theory, as formulated later, would
not have recognized the state governments, and to this view the Democrats
came after the war. The Union was indestructible and was composed of
indestructible states. To assert that the states as states were not in the
Union was to admit the success of secession and the dissolution of the
Union. But the people as insurgents were incapable of political
recognition by the United States government. So the state after the war
was in a condition of suspended animation: the so-called state governments
were not governments in a constitutional sense; the President could have
the citizens tried for treason and punished, or he could pardon them and
thus restore to them all their former rights, which, of course, included
the right to reëstablish their governments and to resume their former
relations with the Union. Congress had no power to interfere or to
disfranchise any man, nor to regulate the suffrage in any way. Its only
part in Reconstruction was to admit to Congress the representatives of the
states as soon as constitutional government was restored by the people
with the assistance of the President.[851]

The earliest legislative declaration touching this subject was in the
Crittenden Resolutions passed by the House of Representatives on July 22,
1861.[852] Two days later practically the same resolutions were introduced
in the Senate by Andrew Johnson of Tennessee and passed with only five
dissenting voices.[853] They declared that "war is not waged upon our part
in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or
subjugation, nor for the purpose of overthrowing or interfering with the
rights or established institutions of these states, but to defend and
maintain the supremacy of the Constitution with all the dignity, equality,
and rights of the several states unimpaired; and that as soon as these
objects are accomplished the war ought to cease."[854] To this declaration
of principles the Democratic party adhered throughout the war and after.
The Union as it was must be restored and maintained, one and

President Lincoln had no such regard for the "sacred rights of a state" as
had the Democrats and his successor, Andrew Johnson. In his inaugural
address he asserted that the Union existed before the states and was
perpetual; that no state could withdraw from the Union; that secession was
null and void; and that the Union was unbroken.[856] In the formation of
the provisional governments by the aid of the military authorities in
Tennessee, Arkansas, and Louisiana, Lincoln showed that he expected the
political institutions of 1861 to be restored. In December, 1863, he
brought forth this plan for restoration: When one-tenth of the voting
population of a state in 1861 should take an oath to support the
Constitution and should establish a government on the basis of the state
constitution and laws in 1861, such a government would be recognized as
the government of the state.[857] In July, 1864, he announced by
proclamation that he was unwilling to commit himself formally to any fixed
plan of restoration. This was in answer to the Wade-Davis bill passed by
Congress, which, if approved, would set aside the governments he had
erected in Louisiana, Tennessee, and Arkansas, and it showed that he
considered it the prerogative of the executive to bring about and
recognize the restored government.[858] These restored states he expected
to take their places in the Union on the old terms,[859] for as soon as
the people submitted and civil governments were established,
constitutional relations would be resumed, and Congress would be obliged
to admit their representatives.[860] Early in the war, he said nothing
about abolition, but rather to the contrary. Later he advocated gradual
and compensated emancipation by state action. At the close of the war,
after the practical, if not the theoretical, abolition of slavery, he
suggested that the newly established governments might, as a measure of
expediency, confer the privilege of voting upon the best negroes.[861] He
considered the matter of the suffrage beyond the control of the central
government. The enfranchisement of the negro as a measure of revenge, and
as a means of keeping the southern whites down and the Republican party in
power, never entered his thoughts.

President Johnson succeeded to the policy of Lincoln, or, at least, to
Lincoln's belief that restoration was a matter for the executive
attention, not for the legislative. He asserted that secession was null
and void from the beginning; that a state could not commit treason; that
by the attempted revolution the vitality of the state was impaired and its
functions suspended but not destroyed; that it was the duty of the
executive to breathe into the inanimate state the life-giving breath of
the Constitution. He recognized no power in Congress to pass laws
preliminary to or restricting the admission of duly qualified
representatives of the states.[862]





The plan of Lincoln was, in theory and at first in practice,
objectionable. It would recognize as the political people of a state the
loyal minority, which would be an oligarchy, and the principle of the rule
of majorities would thus be repudiated. Those who claimed to be loyal were
not promising material for a new political people, and the "10 per cent"
governments were treated with just contempt. But the plan was based, not
on any narrow principle of legality, but on the broader grounds of justice
and expediency, and was capable of expansion into a very different plan
from what it was in the beginning. As applied to Louisiana and Arkansas,
it was severely, and in theory justly, criticised on the ground that the
President was assuming absolute authority in dealing with the seceded
states, and that by this plan the entire political power would be given to
a small class not capable of using it. As later modified, his plan would
have admitted to participation in Reconstruction nearly or quite all the
citizens of the southern states.

President Johnson, a war Democrat, gave promise of being more harsh than
Lincoln in the work of restoration. Lincoln's policy was based on
expediency; Johnson's, on the narrow legal principles of a State Rights
Democrat. He had a strong regard for the "sacred rights of a state." He
proposed to reëstablish the state governments by means of a political
people of the lower classes, and the old political leaders were to be
disfranchised. Lincoln imposed certain conditions on individuals as a
prerequisite to participation in reconstruction. Having created by the
pardoning power a political people, he expected the initiative to come
from them. The executive then retired into the background and waited the
impulse of the people. He shrank from interfering with the states, not
from any great respect for their rights, but from motives of policy. As
Johnson applied his theory, there was little initiative left to the
people. The executive authority as the source of power set the machinery
of restoration in motion, and the people were obliged to do as he ordered,
many of them being at first excluded from participation. The whole
programme was prescribed by him, and he watched every step of the progress
made. For a firm believer in the rights of states he took strange
liberties with them while restoring their suspended animation. Lincoln
advised a limited suffrage for the blacks; but negroes could have no part
in the Johnson scheme. Like Lincoln, however, Johnson so modified his plan
that practically all the white people were to take part in the
reëstablishment of the government. The conservative theories contemplated
restoration, not reconstruction.

Radical Theories

The Republican majority in Congress soon advanced from the position taken
in the Crittenden-Johnson resolutions. Most of the Republican party had no
fixed opinions in regard to Reconstruction, but formed a kind of a centre
or swamp between the Democrats and the President on the one extreme, and
the Radicals on the other. The plan of Lincoln, as first announced and
applied, was offensive to all parties, and some leaders never seem to have
recognized that the President had, to any appreciable degree, modified his
policy. The extreme Radicals were not sorry to have the matter of
reconstruction fall from the hands of the wise and kind Lincoln into those
of the narrow and vindictive Johnson. But the seeming defection of the
latter soon disappointed those who were in favor of harsh measures in
dealing with the defeated southerners. The best-known of the Radical
theories advanced in opposition to the presidential policy were (1) the
State Suicide theory of Charles Sumner, (2) the Conquered Province theory
of Thaddeus Stevens, and (3) the Forfeited Rights theory, practically the
same as the Conquered Province theory, but expressed in less definite
language for the benefit of the more timid members of the Republican

Charles Sumner, the Radical leader of the Senate, set forth the Suicide
theory in a series of resolutions to the effect that the ordinances of
secession were void, and, when sustained by force, amounted to abdication
by the state of all constitutional rights; that the treason involved
worked instant destruction of the body politic, and the state became
territory under the exclusive control of Congress. Consequently, there
were no state governments in the South, and all peculiar institutions had
ceased to exist--among them slavery. Sumner constantly asserted that
Congress now had exclusive jurisdiction over the southern territory.[863]
He made strong objection to the despotic power of the President as applied
in dealing with the seceded states, and declared that the executive was
encroaching upon the sphere of Congress, which was the proper authority to
organize the new governments. The seceded states, he affirmed, by breaking
the constitutional compact had committed suicide, and no longer had
corporate existence, and that the "loyalists," who were few in number,
should not have the power formerly possessed by all. The whole South was a
"tabular rasa," "a clean slate," upon which Congress might write the
laws.[864] The existence of slavery was declared to be incompatible with a
republican form of government, which it was the duty of Congress to
establish. For it is necessary to such a form of government that there be
absolute equality before the law, suffrage for all, education for all, the
choice of "loyal" citizens for office, and the exclusion of "rebels." The
negro must take part in Reconstruction, for his vote would be needed to
support the cause of human rights and "the party of the Union"--meaning,
of course, the Republican party.[865]

Sumner cared little for the Constitution except for the clause about
guaranteeing a republican form of government to the states, and on this he
based the power of Congress to act. The Declaration of Independence was to
him the supreme law and above the Constitution, and to make the government
conform to that document was his aim. He wearied his colleagues with his
continual harping on the Declaration of Independence as the fundamental
law, upon which footing the seceded states must return. That, he declared,
would destroy slavery and all inequality of rights, political and

The Conquered Province theory was originated by Thaddeus Stevens, the
Radical leader of the House of Representatives, who, however, refused to
call it a theory. He made no attempt to harmonize his plan with the
Constitution, and frankly expressed his opinion that there was nothing in
the Constitution providing for such an emergency; that the laws of war
alone should govern the action of Congress, allowing no constitutions to
interfere.[867] It was impossible to execute the Constitution in the
seceded states, he said, which the victors must treat "as conquered
provinces and settle them with new men and exterminate or drive out the
present rebels as exiles from this country."[868] Every inch of the soil
of the southern states should be held for the costs of the war, to pay
damages to the "loyal" citizens and pensions to soldiers and their
families, and slavery should be abolished.[869] Secession, according to
Stevens, was so far successful that the southern states were out of the
Union and the people had no constitutional rights.[870] All ties were
broken by the war. The states in their corporate capacities made war, and
were out of the Union so far as the conqueror might choose to consider
them, and must come back into the Union as new states or remain as
conquered provinces with no rights except such as the conqueror might
choose to grant. Perpetual ascendency of the North must be secured by
giving the ballot to the negro, by confiscation, and by banishment. The
Constitution, in his opinion, had been torn to atoms; it was now a "bit of
worthless parchment," and there could be no reconstruction on the basis of
that instrument. Congress had absolute jurisdiction over the whole
question.[871] Stripped of its violence, Stevens's theory was probably the
correct one from the point of view of public law. It was more in accord
with historical facts. It recognized the great changes wrought by war in
the structure of the government. It was frank, explicit, and practical.
Unfortunately, the statesmanship necessary to carry to success such a plan
was entirely lacking in its supporters.

Sumner would limit the authority of Congress only by the provisions of the
Declaration of Independence; Stevens would have Congress unchecked by any
law. By martial law and the law of nations, he meant no law at all, as his
utterances show; nothing must stand in the way of the absolute powers of
Congress. Both theories agreed in reducing the states to a territorial
status. Sumner would leave the people of these states the rights of
people in the United States territories. Stevens would deny that they had
any such rights whatever under any law, but that they were to be
considered conquered foes, with their lives, liberty, and property at the
mercy of the conqueror.[872]

The Forfeited Rights theory, patched up to suit the more timid Radicals
who would not concede that the states had succeeded in getting outside of
the Union or that they could be destroyed, was, in effect, the Stevens
theory, though recognizing some kind of a survival of the states. The
names and boundaries of the states alone survived; the political
institutions were entirely destroyed, and must be reconstructed by

It is a waste of time to try to find a basis in the old Constitution for
any of the theories advanced. If a legal basis must be had, it will have
to be found in the Constitution as revolutionized by seventy-five years of
development and four years of war. The main purposes of the congressional
plans were to reduce the late dictatorial powers of the President, to
remove forever from political power the political leaders of the South, to
give the ballot to the negro as a measure of revenge and to assure the
continuation in power of the Republican party.[873]

Owing to the fact that Congress was not in session for several months
after the downfall of the Confederacy, the President had a good
opportunity to put into operation the executive plan for restoring the
southern states to their proper standing in the Union.


Early Attempts at Restoration

In the early spring of 1865, Governor Watts, in a speech calling upon the
people to make renewed exertions against the invader, said: "We hold more
territory than a year ago, more of Texas, Louisiana, and Arkansas, Georgia
is overrun but is ready to rise. Our financial condition is better than
four years ago. Arms, commissary and quartermaster's stores are more
abundant now."[874] But there were no more men. A month later Lee had
started on the march to Appomattox; two months later Dick Taylor was
surrendering the last Confederate armies east of the Mississippi; three
months later the war governors of Alabama were in northern prisons, and
not a vestige of the Confederate or state governments remained. There was
no government.

Even before the collapse of the Confederacy there were indications of an
approaching revolution in the state government, to be carried out by the
union of all discontented factions. The object was to gain control of the
state government or to organize a new one and return to the Union. This
movement was strongest in north Alabama and was supported and encouraged
by the Federal military authorities. One of the disaffected clique
testified before the Subcommittee on Reconstruction that in the last years
of the war a "Reconstruction" or "Union" party was organized in Alabama,
which, at the time of the surrender, had a majority in the lower house of
the legislature.[875] But the Senate, elected in 1861, held over and
prevented any action by the House. During the year 1865 the "Union" party
hoped to secure both the governorship and the Senate in the first
elections which were to occur under the new constitution, and thus secure
control of the state. But the invasion and surrender stopped the

There were indications during the winter and spring of 1865 that
Reconstruction movements were going on in the northern half of the state.
After the invasion of the state in April many people more influential than
the ordinary peace party men began to think of Reconstruction. General
Thomas authorized the citizens of Morgan, Marshall, Lawrence, and the
neighboring counties to organize a civil government based on the Alabama
laws of 1861. J. J. Giers, a brother-in-law of State Senator Patton (later
governor), was sent by the military leaders to "reorganize civil law."
Thomas invited the people of the other northern counties to do likewise
and thus show that they were "forced into rebellion." Colonel Patterson of
the Fifth Alabama Cavalry accepted the terms for his forces, and Giers
stated that Roddy's men were so pleased with Thomas's letter that they
released their prisoners and stopped fighting. A Reconstruction meeting
was held at Somerville, Morgan County, and was largely attended by
soldiers. This was early in April.[877] In the central and southern
portions of the state the movement did not begin until the Federal forces
traversed the country. General Steele with the second army of invasion
reported from Montgomery, May 1, 1865, that J. J. Seibels, L. E. Parsons,
and J. C. Bradley[878] had approached him and had told him that two-thirds
of the people of the state would take up arms to "put down the
rebels."[879] A meeting was held at Selma, in Dallas County, on May 10,
and called upon the governor to convene the legislature and take the state
back into the Union. Judge Byrd,[880] one of the speakers, said that the
war had decided two things--slavery and the right of secession--and both
against the South. He counselled a spirit of conciliation and moderation,
and in this he expressed the general sentiment of the people.[881]

A more important meeting was held the next day in Montgomery. A number of
the more prominent politicians met to take steps to place the state in the
way of readmission to the Union.[882] George Reese[883] of Chambers County
presided over the meeting and Albert Roberts was secretary. Seibels
introduced resolutions, which were adopted, pledging to the United States
government earnest and zealous coöperation in the work of restoring the
state of Alabama to its proper relation with the Union at the earliest
possible moment. The murder of Lincoln and the attempt on the life of
Seward were condemned as "acts of infamous diabolism revolting to every
upright heart." The bad effect the crime would have on political matters
was deplored. The desire was expressed that all guilty of participation in
the attempt might be brought to speedy and condign punishment, and "we
shall hold as enemies all who sympathize with the perpetrators of the foul
deed." The majority reported a memorial to the President asking him to
permit the governor of Alabama to convene the legislature, which would
call a convention in order to restore the state to her political relations
to the United States. This they believed was the most speedy method. But
if this were not permitted, then the President was requested to appoint a
military governor from among the most prominent and influential "loyal"
men of the state and invest him with the power to call a convention. They
were encouraged to ask this, the memorial stated, by the recent statement
of the President of the principle that the states which attempted to
secede were still states, and not being able to secede would not be lost
in territorial or other division. "To forever put an end to the doctrine
of secession; to restore our state to her former relations to the Union
under the Constitution and the laws thereof; to enable her to resume the
respiration of her life's breath in the Union,--is a work in which we in
good faith pledge you our earnest and zealous coöperation, and we hazard
nothing in the assurance that the people of Alabama will concur with us
with a majority approaching almost unanimity."

Colonel J. C. Bradley presented a memorial from the minority of the
committee. It was the same as the other memorial, except that the part
relating to the appointment of a military governor was omitted. Such an
official was not desired nor needed, he stated. After some discussion both
memorials were adopted and each person present signed the one he
preferred. The chairman appointed a committee to bear the memorials to the
President. The general sentiment of the meeting and of the people seemed
to be that, since they had failed to maintain their independence, there
was nothing left to do but to accept as a working basis the theory that a
state could not secede, and to get straight into the Union by having the
President restore the suspended animation of the Constitution. The best
and shortest way, they thought, was for Governor Watts to convene the
legislature, which should begin the work, and a convention of the people
would complete it. Governor Watts and the Supreme Court (Stone and Phelan)
approved the action of the meeting, though they took no part in it.[884]

Another meeting on the same day (May 11), at Guntersville, in Marshall
County, in the heart of the devastated section of the state, proposed to
submit cheerfully to the decision of war and return to the Union. Two
soldiers, Major A. C. Baird and Colonel J. L. Sheffield,[885] were the
leaders in the meeting.[886] Two mass-meetings were held in Covington
County (one at Andalusia on May 17) and passed resolutions favoring a
restoration of the Union. The Union General Asboth said that these people
had returned to their allegiance early in April and had organized and
armed to resist the "rebels." The resolutions were signed by 280 and 376
persons respectively. Asboth reported great excitement on account of the
action taken by the meeting.[887] On May 23 there was a meeting of
citizens in Franklin County. James W. Ligon was president, H. C. Tompkins,
vice-president, and R. B. Lindsey (governor in 1870-1872) addressed the
meeting. This meeting seems to have been behind the times, for it accepted
the overtures of Thomas made April 13, and promised to assist cheerfully
in restoring law and order. They were anxious to resume former friendly
relations to the United States and wanted a state convention called to
settle matters.[888]

About this time the President, General Grant, and Stanton, by repeated
orders, managed to reach the generals who were encouraging the movement
toward Reconstruction, and put an end to their plans by ordering them not
to recognize the state government in Alabama and to prevent the assembly
of the legislature.[889] Thereupon, on May 23, a memorial was signed by
106 prominent citizens of Mobile, asking the President to take steps to
enable Alabama to be restored to the Union. Robert H. Smith[890] and Percy
Walker[891] were sent as a committee to General Granger, who commanded in
the city, to ask him to transmit the memorial to the President. General
Granger did so with the indorsement that no impediment existed to
immediate restoration, that the signers were influential men and
represented the sentiment of the people of the state.[892] At Athens, in
Limestone County, the citizens met and adopted resolutions declaring that
all must be restored to the Union; that the state officials should be
recognized, but that a new election should be held under the laws of
Alabama as they were before secession; that a convention was not necessary
and in the present unsettled condition of the county it would be dangerous
to hold one; that the constitution of 1819, changed by amendment, should
be used. The murder of Lincoln was deplored.[893] Similar meetings were
held all over the state, especially in north Alabama.[894]

The "loyal" element held a meeting in north Alabama about the first of
June.[895] Resolutions were introduced by K. B. Seawell to the effect that
the government of Alabama had been illegally set aside in 1861 by a
combination of persons regardless of the best interests of the state, that
secession was not the act of the people, and that the Confederacy was a
usurpation. It was decided that Alabama must go back to the Union, and the
authority of the United States was invoked to enable "loyal" citizens to
form a state government.[896] The sentiments of the more violent
"unionists" or tories may be understood from a letter of D. H.
Bingham,[897] then at West Point, New York. He said that reconstruction
must not be committed to the hands of the "rebels"; that Parsons, who was
spoken of for provisional governor, was not one of the "union" men of
Alabama and would use his influence to secure control to the old slave
dynasty; that his appointment would be unfair to the "union" men; that the
masses were coerced and deluded into fighting the battles of slavery; "I,
George W. Lane,[898] and J. H. Larcombe," he said, "never gave way to
secession." The non-slaveholding whites in slaveholding districts were
trained to obey, he wrote, and the official class used its influence to
keep the non-slaveholders in ignorance. Hence the small number of
slaveholders (of whom most were owners of few slaves and hence were union
men) controlled the "union" population of over 5,000,000. He said that the
Alabama delegates, then in Washington,[899] were not inactive in producing
these results, though they claimed to be "unionists." They were once
"union" men, but went over. Now they alleged that they were carried into
rebellion by a great wave of public feeling. Such men should not be
trusted until they had passed through a probationary state.[900]

The southerners who wanted immediate restoration of constitutional rights
and privileges on the basis of the Crittenden Resolution of 1861,[901]
soon found that this plan would not work; so, to make the best of a bad
situation, all accepted the Johnson plan and declared that the state,
since it had not had the right to secede, must still be in the Union. The
press and the prominent men, even those who would be disfranchised by the
President's plan, gave it a hearty support in order to give peace to the
land and restore civil government.[902] At this time the Johnson plan
promised to be one of merciless proscription of the prominent men. As
Johnson himself expressed it: "The American people must be made to
understand the nature of the crime, the length, the breadth, the depth,
and height of treason. For the thousands who were driven into the infernal
rebellion there should be amnesty, conciliation, clemency, and mercy. For
the leaders, justice--the penalty and the forfeit should be paid. The
people must understand that treason is the blackest of crimes and must be
punished."[903] The leaders were not afraid of such threats and meant not
to stand in the way. The people intended to make the best they could out
of a bad state of affairs. They believed then and always that their cause
was right, secession justifiable and necessary; that the provocation was
great, and that they were the aggrieved party; that the abolitionists and
fanatics forced secession and civil war. But since they were beaten in
war, after they had done all that men could do, they meant to accept the
result and abide by the decision of the sword. There was a general purpose
to stand by the government--certainly no dream of opposition to it. The
people meant (which was neither treasonable nor unreasonable) to ally
themselves to the more conservative political party in the North in order
to secure as many advantages as possible to the South. Their aim was to
preserve as much of their old constitution as they could, all the while
recognizing that state sovereignty and slavery ended with the war. Their
course in ceasing at once all useless opposition and proceeding to secure
reinstatement on the old terms was, _The Nation_ declared, "a display of
consummate political ability." Southerners like to think that had Lincoln
lived his plan would have succeeded, and that the most shameful chapter of
American history would not have to be written.[904] Johnson helped to ruin
his own cause and his supporters along with it. The people never seem to
have taken seriously the proposed merciless plans of Johnson, and the
opposition of moderate advisers and the pleasure of pardoning southern
"aristocrats" (and later Radical criticism) caused a distinct modification
of his policy in the direction of mildness until the proscriptive part was
almost lost sight of.[905]

The southern leaders[906] saw clearly that there was no hope for their
party unless the President could win the fight against the Radicals in
Congress, and they attempted to disarm northern hostility outside Congress
until the Radical party, aided by the rash conduct of the President,
educated the people of the North to the proper point for approving drastic

The President begins Restoration

On May 29 the President began his attempt at restoration by proclaiming
amnesty to all, except certain specified classes of persons. They were
pardoned and therefore restored to all rights of property, except in
slaves, on condition that the following oath be taken:--

    "I ________________ do solemnly swear (or affirm) in the presence of
    Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and
    defend the Constitution of the United States, and the Union of the
    states thereunder; and that I will, in like manner, abide by and
    faithfully support all laws and proclamations which have been made
    during the existing rebellion, with reference to the emancipation of
    slaves: So help me God."[908]

Fourteen classes of people were excluded from the benefits of this
proclamation; of these twelve were affected in Alabama:--

    (1) The civil or diplomatic officers, or domestic or foreign agents of
    the Confederacy; (2) those who left judicial positions under the
    United States to aid the Confederacy; (3) all above the rank of
    colonel in the army and lieutenant in the navy; (4) those who left
    seats in the United States Congress and aided the Confederacy; (5)
    those who resigned commissions in the United States army and navy to
    escape service against the Confederacy; (6) persons who went abroad to
    aid the Confederacy in a private capacity; (7) graduates of the naval
    and military academies who were in the Confederate service; (8) the
    war governors of Confederate states; (9) those who left the United
    States to aid the Confederacy; (10) Confederate sailors (considered as
    pirates); (11) all in confinement as prisoners of war or for other
    offences; (12) those who supported the Confederacy and whose taxable
    property was over $20,000.

The classes excluded embraced practically all Confederate and state
officials, for the latter had acted as Confederate agents, all the old
political leaders of the state, many of the ablest citizens who had not
been in politics but had attained high position under the Confederate
government or in the army, the whole of the navy,--officers and
men,--several thousand prisoners of war, a number of political prisoners,
and every person in the state whose property in 1861 was assessed at
$20,000 or more. According to the proclamation the assessment was to be in
1865, but it was made on the basis of 1861, at which time slaves were
included and a slaveholder of very moderate estate would be assessed at
$20,000. In 1865 there were very few people worth $20,000.

It was provided that persons belonging to these excepted classes might
make special application to the President for pardon, and the proclamation
promised that pardon should be freely granted.[909] The oath could be
taken before any United States officer, civil, military, or naval, or any
state or territorial civil or military officer, qualified to administer
oaths.[910] In Alabama 120 army officers were sent into all the counties
to administer the amnesty oath. These officers were strict in barring out
"all improper persons" and subscription went on slowly until the military
commander issued orders that all who were eligible must take the oath.
Less than 50,000 persons took the oath; 90,000 had voted in 1860.

There was a fight for appointment to the provisional governorship. William
H. Smith of Randolph and D. C. Humphreys of Madison, both of whom had
opposed secession, then entered the Confederate service, and later
deserted; D. H. Bingham of Limestone, who had been a tory during the war;
and L. E. Parsons of Talladega, who had aided the Confederacy materially
and damned it spiritually--all wanted to oversee the restoration of the

June 21, 1865, the President, acting as commander-in-chief of the army and
under the clause in the Constitution requiring the United States to
guarantee to each state a republican form of government and protect each
state against invasion and domestic violence,[912] proceeded to breathe
the breath of life into the prostrate state by appointing Lewis E. Parsons
provisional governor.[913]

It was made the duty of Parsons to call a convention of delegates chosen
by the "loyal"[914] people of the state. This convention was to amend or
alter the state constitution to suit the changed state of affairs, to
exercise all the powers necessary to enable the people to restore the
state to its constitutional relations with the central authority, and to
set up a republican form of government. All voters and delegates must have
taken the oath of amnesty, and must have the qualifications for voters
prescribed by the Alabama constitution and laws prior to the secession of
the state. This excluded the fourteen proscribed classes and said nothing
of the negroes. The convention, when assembled, was to prescribe
qualifications for voters and for office holders. The military and naval
officers of the United States were directed to assist the provisional
officials and to refrain from hindering and discouraging them in any way.
The Secretary of State was directed to put in force in the state of
Alabama all laws of the United States, the administration of which
belonged to the State Department. The Secretary of the Treasury was
directed to nominate assessors, collectors, and other treasury officials,
and to put into execution in Alabama the revenue laws of the United
States. The Postmaster-General was ordered to establish post-offices and
post routes and to enforce the postal laws. The Attorney-General and the
Federal judges were directed to open the United States courts in the
state. The Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of the Interior were
ordered to put in execution the regulations of their respective
departments, so far as related to Alabama.[915]

In making appointments to office in the southern states, the departments
were to give preference to "loyal"[916] persons of the district or state
where they were to serve. If no "loyal" persons could be found in the
state or district, such persons might be imported from other states or

In this measure the difference appears between the Lincoln and the Johnson
plan of restoration. Lincoln believed that the executive should only make
things easy for the people to erect a government for themselves. He kept
as much as possible in the background and let it appear that the movement
originated with the people. Several times he merely suggested that negroes
with certain qualifications should be granted the suffrage. Johnson, on
the other hand, made it clear that he was the source of all authority in
the movement. He himself made stringent regulations of the suffrage, thus
creating a body of citizens, and set up a government of his own for the
purpose of creating a new state government. The people were to do as he
bade them. He did not suggest negro suffrage in any form and was, like
most southern Unionists, opposed to it. The Johnson provisional government
was a military government with the President as the source of authority.
Parsons was a military governor appointed by the commander-in-chief and
paid by the War Department.[917] Lincoln's provisional government would
have been popular government based on election by the people.

The appointment of Parsons gave general satisfaction to all parties except
the more violent tory element in the northern part of the state, who
wanted men like D. H. Bingham or William H. Smith. A correspondent of _The
Nation_ who travelled among them in August, 1865, when this element of the
people seemed likely to form a strong portion of the new ruling class of
the South, before the President modified his plans, said of them: they are
ignorant and vindictive, live in poor huts, drink much, and all use
tobacco and snuff; they want to organize and receive recognition by the
United States government in order to get revenge--really want to be
bushwhackers supported by the Federal government; they "wish to have the
power to hang, shoot, and destroy in retaliation for the wrongs they have
endured"; they hate the "big nigger holders," whom they accuse of bringing
on the war and who, they are afraid, would get into power again; they are
the "refugee," poor white element of low character, shiftless, with no
ambition.[918] To proscribe the mass of leading citizens, the experienced
men in public affairs, as Johnson's plan at first promised to do, would
have had serious results, but his later, more liberal, policy restored the
rights of all except the more prominent. But the old leaders were never
again leaders, thinking it more politic to put forward less well-known
men. At first Johnson had the mountaineer's dislike of the "slave
aristocracy," as he called it, and his plan was devised to humiliate and
ruin this class.[919]

A month after his appointment Governor Parsons issued (July 20) a
proclamation to the people, drawn largely from the census of 1860, showing
how prosperous the state was at that time and inviting attention to the
present condition of affairs. The question of slavery and secession, he
said, had been decided against the South, but every political and property
right, except slavery, still remained. He thus repudiated any former
belief he may have had in the right of secession. A funny comparison was
made in exuberant language and with many mixed metaphors, likening the
Union to a steamship and the state of Alabama to a man swimming around in
the water, trying to get on board. The following officers of the
Confederate state government who were in office on the 22d of May,[920]
1865, were reappointed to serve during the continuance of the provisional
government: justices of the peace, constables, members of common councils,
judges of courts, except probate, county treasurers, tax collectors and
assessors, coroners, and municipal officers. Judges of probate and
sheriffs who were in office on May 22 were directed to take the amnesty
oath and serve until others were appointed. All officers reappointed were
to take the amnesty oath and give new bond. The right was reserved to
remove any officer for disloyalty or for misconduct in office. Thus there
was a continuity between the Confederate administration and the
"restoration" administration.

The civil and criminal laws of the state as they stood on January 11,
1861, except as to slavery, were declared in full force, and an election
of delegates to a constitutional convention was ordered for August 31, and
the convention was to meet on September 10.[921] No one could vote in the
election or be a candidate for election to the convention who was not a
legal voter according to the law on January 11, 1861, and all voters and
candidates must first take the amnesty oath or must have been pardoned by
the President. Instructions were given as to how a person who was excluded
from the benefits of the amnesty proclamation might proceed in order to
secure a pardon. A list of questions was appended by which "an improper
person" might test his case and see how bad it was. They ran like this:--

    (1) Are you under arrest? Why? (2) Did you order, advise, or aid in
    the taking of Fort Morgan and Mount Vernon? (3) Have you served on any
    "vigilance" committee for the purpose of trying cases of disloyalty to
    the Confederate States? (4) Did you order any persons to be shot or
    hung for disloyalty to the Confederate States? (5) Did you shoot or
    hang such a person? (6) Did you hunt such a person with dogs? (7) Were
    you in favor of the so-called ordinance of secession? (8) You are not
    bound to answer any except the first of these questions. (9) Will you
    be peaceable and loyal in the future? (10) Have proceedings been
    instituted against you under the Confiscation Act? (11) Have you in
    your possession any property of the United States?[922]

Parsons appointed to assist him a full staff of secretaries as follows:
Wm. Garrett, Secretary of State; M. A. Chisholm, Comptroller of Accounts;
L. P. Saxton, Treasurer; ---- Collins, Adjutant-General; M. H. Cruikshank,
Commissioner for the Destitute; John B. Taylor, Superintendent of

A report on the condition of the treasury on September 1, 1865, shows that
of $791,294 in the treasury on May 24, 1865, only $337 was in silver and
$532 in gold. The rest was in state and Confederate money, now worthless.
The financial status of the provisional treasury was uncertain. Receipts
from July 20 to September 21, 1865, were $1766 and disbursements had been
$1572. The bonded debt of the state, held in London, was $1,336,000, in
New York, $2,109,000, a total of $3,445,000.[923]

Parsons could hardly do otherwise than reappoint the old state officials
as temporary officers, but it created some dissatisfaction in the state
and much in the North; and in truth the Confederate state officers in 1865
were not, in general, very efficient, being old men, cripples, incapables,
"bomb-proofs," "feather beds," and deadheads. They were not much liked by
any party unless perhaps by the few who put them in office. The
_Huntsville Advocate_ may have been voicing the objections of either
"tory" or "rebel" when it condemned Governor Parsons's reappointment of
the _de facto_ state officers--"they are not the proper persons to
rekindle the fires of patriotism in the hearts of the people."[924]

The provisional governor was obliged to rely upon inferior material in
restoring the state government. Though the President's plan soon was shorn
of its worst proscriptive features, the work of restoration had begun by
excluding the natural leaders from a share in the upbuilding of the state,
and they were thus rendered somewhat indifferent to the process. The class
to whom the task fell was good, but it was not the best. The best men went
into the southern army or otherwise committed themselves strongly to the
cause of the Confederacy. The strong men of the state who sulked in their
tents during the war were few in numbers, and they were usually
disgruntled and cranky, and now, without influence, were much disliked by
the people. The so-called "union" men who stayed at home in "bomb-proof"
offices, or as teachers, overseers, ministers, etc., were not the kind of
men to reconstruct the shattered government. The few who had openly
espoused the Union cause had not the character, experience, and training
necessary to fit them to rule a state. Though the administration began on
a basis of very inferior material, yet the modification of the plan of the
President gradually admitted the second-rate leaders to political
privileges, and, had the experiment continued, they would have gradually
resumed control of the politics of the state. It was in some degree the
hope of this that made them willing to submit to proscription and
exclusion for a while and support the reconstruction measures of the
President. They hoped for better times.[925]

Parsons revised the official lists thoroughly, and many of the old
officers were discharged and new ones appointed. However, they had little
to do; the army and the Freedmen's Bureau usurped their functions. A
proclamation of August 19, 1865, directed the probate judge, sheriff, and
clerk in each county to destroy, after August 31, old jury lists and make
new ones from the list of names of "loyal" citizens who had taken the
amnesty oath and registered. Circuit court judges were directed to hold
special sessions of court for the trial of state cases and to have their
grand juries inquire particularly into the cases of cotton and horse
stealing, now common crimes.[926]

"Proscribing Proscription"

One of the principal occupations of the provisional government was
securing pardons for those who were excluded from the general amnesty of
May 29, 1865. Governor Parsons was for reconciliation, and those who hoped
to profit by the disfranchisement of the leaders complained of the lenient
treatment of the latter. Parsons's policy of "proscribing proscription"
was greatly disliked by those who would profit by disfranchisement. If it
were continued, they saw there would be no spoils for them. One of the
aggrieved parties related a case which might well have been his own: A
prominent "union" man went to the President to get his pardon, stating
that he had been as much a Union man as possible for the last four years.
"I am delighted to hear that," the President said. Directly the "union"
man said that he had been forced to become somewhat implicated in the
rebellion, that he had been obliged to raise money by selling cotton to
the Confederates, and, as he was worth over $20,000, it was necessary to
get a pardon. "Well, sir," the President answered, "it seems that you were
a Union man who was willing to let the Union slide. Now I will let you
slide." On the other hand, Judge Cochran of Alabama told the President
that he had been a rabid, bitter, uncompromising rebel; that he had done
all he could to cause secession, and had fought in the ranks as a private;
that he regretted very much that the war had resulted as it had; that he
was sorry they had not been able to hold out longer. But he now accepted
the results. The President asked: "Upon what ground do you base your
application for pardon? I do not see anything in your statement to justify
you in making such an application." Judge Cochran replied, "Mr. President,
I read that where sin abounds, mercy and grace doth much more abound, and
it is upon that principle that I ask for pardon." The pardon was

The President in the end granted pardons to nearly all persons who applied
for them, but not a great number applied. The total number pardoned in
Alabama from April 15, 1865, to December 4, 1868, was less than 2000, and
of these most were those who had been worth over $20,000 in 1861 and had
aided the Confederacy with their substance. For this offence (for offence
it was in Johnson's eyes) 1456 people (of whom 72 were women) were
pardoned before the general amnesty in 1868.[928] How many of this class
of excepted persons did not ask for pardon is not known. It is certain
that all who possessed that amount of wealth assisted the Confederacy.
Half at least of the $20,000 must have been slave property.[929]

Few of the state and Confederate officials applied for pardon. Many worth
over $20,000 in 1861 did not apply. Most of those who were wealthy in 1861
lost all they had in the war. To December 31, 1867, the President had
pardoned in Alabama only 12 generals, viz. Battle, Baker, F. M. Cockerill,
Clayton, Deas, Duff C. Green, Holtzclaw, Morgan, Moody, Pettus, Roddy, and
Wood; 11 members of the Confederate Congress had been pardoned, 1 former
United States judge, 1 former member United States Congress, 1 West Point
graduate; 2 naval officers, and 2 governors. These were the only prominent
political leaders who applied for pardon.[930]


Personnel and Parties

The election for delegates was held August 31, and the convention met in
Montgomery September 12 and adjourned on September 30. The total vote cast
for delegates was about 56,000,[931] a very large vote when all things are
considered. This being a representative body of the men who were to carry
out the Johnson plan of restoration, it will be of interest to examine
closely the personnel of the convention. There were 99 delegates, of whom
only 18 were under forty years of age, the majority being over fifty; it
was a body of old rather than middle-aged men; 26 were natives of Alabama;
24 were born in Georgia; Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina
furnished 28; Maryland, Kentucky, and Tennessee, 14; 6 were from northern
states, and 1 from Ireland. There were 23 Methodists; 19 Baptists; 16
Presbyterians (the most able members), and 5 Episcopalians; 34 belonged to
no church (not a mark of respectability at that time). There were 33
lawyers and 42 farmers and planters; 6 physicians, 9 merchants, 2
teachers, and 7 ministers. The proportion of ministers and
non-church-members is remarkable. As to politics, 45 were old Whigs and
had voted for Bell and Everett electors in 1861, 24 voted for
Breckenridge, and 30 for Douglas; 18 had been in favor of immediate
secession and a few of these were now called "precipitators"; 11 had been
in the convention of 1861, and 10 had then voted for secession. Only one
member of the convention of 1861 from the southern and central parts of
the state was returned to the convention of 1865. All the others had by
their course in the war made themselves ineligible. Fifty-two had had no
previous experiences in public life. There were two ex-governors, two
former members of Congress, and one who had been minister to Belgium.[932]

[Illustration: PARTIES IN THE CONVENTION OF 1865.]

There were several extreme "union" men, a few "precipitators," who,
however, made no factious opposition, and a large majority of conservative
men. The votes on test questions showed a wide difference between the
extremists from north Alabama and the other members. The proportion was
about 63 conservatives to 36 north Alabama anti-Confederates. It was the
old sectional division. The minority was made up about equally of rampant
"union" men and old conservative Whigs; the majority, of the more liberal
Whigs and conservative Democrats. Neither party was as united as the
parties had been in 1861. There were almost as many minor divisions as
there were members, but the most of them acted together in order to
transact business, and none were allowed to obstruct. As a body the
convention was much inferior in ability to that of 1861 and lacked
experience. Nearly all were men of ordinary ability, while those of 1861
were the best from both sections of the state. Yet this was quite a
respectable conservative body.[933] The secessionists and former Democrats
were the ablest members, and were more inclined to accept the results of
war in a philosophical spirit, and, making the best of things, to go to
work to bring order out of political chaos. The _Herald_ correspondent
said that John A. Elmore was the strongest man in the convention. He had
been an ardent secessionist of the Yancey school, yet in the convention he
did more than any other man to bring the weaker men around to correct
views and harmony of action.[934]

Ex-Senator and Ex-Governor Fitzpatrick was chosen to preside, and Governor
Parsons administered the amnesty oath. The convention at once notified
President Johnson of the desire and intention of the people to be and to
remain loyal citizens of the United States. It indorsed his administration
and policy and asked him to pardon all who were not included in the
amnesty proclamation of May 9, 1865.[935]

Debates on Secession and Slavery

The debate on the action to be taken as to the ordinance of secession was
warm and extended over the entire session. The dispute was concerning the
form of words to be used in repealing or otherwise getting rid of the
ordinance of secession. One delegate proposed that it be declared
"unconstitutional and therefore illegal and void"; another wanted it
declared "null and void"; another, "the so-called ordinance of secession,
null and void"; others, "unconstitutional, null and void"; "unauthorized,
null and void"; or "unauthorized and void from the beginning." The
minority proposition to declare it "unauthorized, null and void," was laid
on the table by a vote of 69 to 21, the minority being from north Alabama.
A proposition to declare it "unconstitutional, null and void" was lost by
the same vote. And all similar propositions fared about the same.[936]
However, a proposition to say that "it is and was unconstitutional"
secured 34 votes against 59. Clark of Lawrence, who had been in the
convention of 1861, wanted this convention to declare the ordinance of
secession "unauthorized, null and void," because, he said, in 1861, the
majority of the people voted for "union and coöperation," and that, as the
convention refused to submit its work to the people, the people were
misrepresented and the ordinance of secession was unauthorized. Yet he
would not say that it was unconstitutional and void from the beginning.
Other members said that the convention of 1861 had full authority. From
the act of the legislature of 1860 which provided for the calling of the
convention, the people understood that it had full authority and they also
knew that it would use its authority to secede. "Unauthorized" would mean
that there was no cause for calling the convention of 1861, and would even
deny the right to secede as a revolutionary right. It would mean consent
to the doctrine of passive obedience, and also that the convention of 1861
and those who supported it had usurped authority, and "we thereby
impliedly should leave the memory of our dead who died for their country
to be branded as traitors and rebels and turn over the survivors, so far
as we are concerned, to the gibbet."[937] The ordinance favored by the
majority of the convention declared that the ordinance of secession "is
null and void," and was adopted by a unanimous vote.[938] All other
ordinances, resolutions, and proceedings of the convention of 1861, and
such provisions of the constitution of 1861 as were in conflict with the
Constitution of the United States, were declared null and void.[939]

The state bonded debt in aid of the war was $3,844,500, which was held
principally in Mobile. There were other indirect war debts, but no one
knew the amount. On a test vote early in the session the convention was
divided, 58 to 34, against repudiating the war debt.[940] Later, by a vote
of 60 to 19, all debts created by the state of Alabama, directly or
indirectly in aid of the war, were declared void, and the legislature was
forbidden to pay any part of it, or of any debts contracted directly or
indirectly by the Confederacy or its agents or by its authority.[941]

In the debate in regard to the abolition of slavery, Mr. Coleman of
Choctaw[942] desired to know by what authority the people of Alabama had
been deprived of their constitutional right to property in slaves.[943] He
urged the convention not to pass an ordinance to abolish slavery, but to
leave the President's proclamations and the acts of Congress to be tested
by the Supreme Court; that there was no such thing as secession; a state
could not be guilty of treason, and Alabama had committed no crime;
individuals had done so; others were loyal and were entitled to their
rights. Not only those who had always been loyal but also those who had
taken the amnesty oath were entitled to their property;[944] those
pardoned by the President were entitled to the same rights, and Congress
had no authority to seize property except during the lifetime of the
criminal. The Federal government had no right to nullify the Constitution.
The abolition of slavery should be accepted as an act of war, not as the
free and voluntary act of the people of Alabama which latter course would
prevent the "loyalists" of Alabama, from receiving compensation for
slaves. He denied that slavery was non-existent; Lincoln's proclamation
did not destroy slavery; it was a question for the Supreme Court to
decide, and to admit that Lincoln's proclamation destroyed slavery was to
admit the power of the President and Congress to nullify every law of the
state. For all these reasons it was inexpedient for the convention to
declare the abolition of slavery.

Judge Foster of Calhoun answered that the war had settled the question of
slavery and secession; that the question of slavery was beyond the power
of the courts to decide, and, besides, a decision of the Supreme Court
would not be respected. The question had to be decided by war, and having
been so decided, there was no appeal from the decision. The institution of
slavery had been destroyed by secession. The question was not open for
discussion. Slavery, he said, does not exist, is utterly and forever
destroyed,--by whom, when, where, is no matter. The power of arms is
greater than all courts. Citizens should begin to make contracts with
their former slaves. Should the Supreme Court declare the proclamations of
the Presidents and the acts of Congress unconstitutional, slavery would
not be restored. Whether destroyed legally or illegally, it was destroyed,
and the people had better accept the situation and restore Federal

Mr. White of Talladega[946] proposed to abide by the proclamations of the
President and the acts of Congress until the Supreme Court should decide
the question of slavery. White said that he had opposed secession as long
as he could; that the states were not out of the Union, but had all their
rights as formerly.[947] Mr. Lane of Butler wanted an ordinance to the
effect that since the institution of slavery had been destroyed in the
state of Alabama by act of the Federal government, therefore slavery no
longer exists. This was lost by a vote of 66 to 17.[948] On September 22,
1865, an ordinance was adopted by a vote of 89 to 3 which declared that
the institution of slavery having been destroyed, neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude should thereafter exist in the state, except as a
punishment for crime. All provisions in the constitution regarding slavery
were struck out, and it was made the duty of the next legislature to pass
laws to protect the freedmen in the full employment of all their rights of
person and property and to guard them and the state against any evils that
might arise from their sudden emancipation.[949] Mr. Taliafero Towles of
Chambers, a "loyalist," proposed an ordinance to make all "free
negroes"[950] who were not inhabitants of the state before 1861 leave the
state. Mr. Langdon of Mobile regretted this proposition, and thought it
would do harm. Mr. Towles explained that he lived near the Georgia line
and that he was much annoyed by the negroes who came into Alabama from
Georgia. Mr. Patton[951] of Lauderdale opposed such a policy. It was
unwise, he said; let people go where they pleased; he would invite people
from all parts of the Union to Alabama. Mr. Mudd of Jefferson thought that
such a measure would be extremely unwise. Mr. Hunter of Dallas said that
it was very unwise, that it would do no good, and at such a time would be
harmful. Passions must be allayed. Towles withdrew the resolution.[952]

Mr. Saunders of Macon introduced a memorial to the President to release
President Davis. It was referred to a committee and was not heard
from.[953] General Swayne of the Freedmen's Bureau sent to the convention
a memorial from a negro mass-meeting in Mobile praying for the extension
of suffrage to them. It was unanimously laid on the table.[954]

"A White Man's Government"

General Swayne had made an arrangement with the governor by which the
state officials were required to act as agents of the Freedmen's Bureau.
The convention now passed an ordinance requiring these officers to
continue to discharge the duties of agents of the Bureau "until the
adjournment of the next general assembly." Seventeen north Alabama men
opposed the passage of this ordinance.[955]

Mr. Patton of Lauderdale proposed an ordinance in regard to the basis of
representation in the general assembly. It was not correctly understood in
north Alabama, which section, thinking it called for representation based
on population, rose in wrath. The _Huntsville Advocate_ said: "This is a
white man's government and a white man's state. We are opposed to any
changes in the convention except such as are necessary to get the state
into the Union again."[956] Mr. Patton explained that the purpose of his
measure was to base representation on the white population. He cheerfully
indorsed north Alabama doctrine, "This is a white man's government and we
must keep it a white man's government."[957] The ordinance as passed
provided for a census in 1866, and the apportionment of senators and
representatives according to white population as ascertained by the
census. The delegates from the white counties of north Alabama and
southeast Alabama voted for the ordinance, and thirty delegates from the
Black Belt voted against it.[958]

This measure destroyed at a blow the political power of the Black Belt,
and had the Johnson government survived, the state would have been ruled
by the white counties instead of by the black counties. This was partly
the result of antagonism between the white and black counties.

Early in the session Mr. Sheets of Winston, "loyalist," demanded that all
amendments to the Constitution adopted by the convention should be
referred to the people for ratification or rejection, except such as
related to slavery.[959] Mr. Webb of Greene, chairman of the Committee on
the Constitution, reported that, on account of the state of the times, it
was not expedient to refer the amendments to the people. Mr. Clark of
Lawrence[960] wanted the people to have an opportunity to show whether
they favored the work of the convention. He said that, in 1861, had the
ordinance of secession been referred to the people, it would have been

The members who were in favor of not sending the amendments to the people
said that there was not time, and that there were too many other
elections; that the people had confidence in the convention or they would
not have elected the delegates who were there. But the north Alabama
delegates insisted that their constituents not only expected to have the
amendments submitted to them, but that they (the delegates) had pledged
that they would have the amendments sent before the people.[961] The north
Alabama party could not consistently do anything but object to the
adoption of the constitution by proclamation. Some had never recognized
the supreme authority of a constitutional convention; others were opposed
to the expediency of adoption by proclamation. By a vote of 61 to 25 the
constitution was proclaimed in force without reference to the people.[962]


The convention did some important legislative work necessary to put the
business of administration in running order again. All the laws enacted
during the war not in conflict with the United States Constitution, and
not relating to the issue of money and bonds nor to appropriations, were
ratified and declared in full force since their dates.[963] All officials
acts of the state and county officials, all judgments, orders, and decrees
of the courts, all acts and sales of trustees, executors, administrators,
and guardians, not in conflict with United States Constitution were
ratified and confirmed. Deeds, bonds, mortgages, and contracts made during
the war were declared valid and binding. But in cases where payments were
to be made in Confederate money the courts were to decide what the true
value of the consideration was at the time.[964] Divorces granted during
the war by the chancery court were declared valid.[965] Marriages between
negroes, whether during slavery or since emancipation, were declared
valid; and in cases where no ceremony had been performed, but the parties
recognized each other as man and wife, such relationship was declared
valid marriage. The children of all such marriages were declared
legitimate. Fathers of bastard negro children were required to provide for
them. The freedmen were placed under the same laws of marriage as the
whites, except that they were not required to give bond.[966] The
legislature was commanded to pass laws prohibiting the intermarriage of
whites with negroes or with persons of mixed blood.[967]

In view of the lawlessness prevailing in some of the counties, the
provisional governor was authorized to call out the militia in each
county, and the mayors of Huntsville, Athens, and Florence were given
police jurisdiction over their respective counties until the legislature
should act. The ante-bellum militia code was declared in force, and all
other laws in regard to the militia were repealed.[968]

The governor was ordered to pay the interest on the bonded debt of the
state that was made before 1861, and the convention pledged the faith of
the people that the old debt should be paid in full with interest.[969]
The state was divided into six congressional districts. The negro was no
longer counted in the "Federal number," and the representation of the
state in Congress was thus reduced. Elections were ordered for various
offices in November and December, 1865, and March and May, 1866. The
provisional governor was authorized to act as governor until another was
elected and inaugurated. It was ordered that in the future no convention
be held unless first the question of convention or no convention be
submitted to the people and approved by a majority of those voting.[970]

Finally, the convention asked that the President withdraw the troops from
the state, the people and the convention having complied with all the
conditions and requirements necessary to restore the state to its
constitutional relations to the Federal government.[971] The convention
adjourned on September 30, having been in session ten days in all. The
constitution went into effect gradually, Parsons enforcing some of it;
Patton and the newly elected legislature organized the government under it
from December, 1865, to May, 1866. But it never became more than a
provisional constitution, which was set aside by the President at


By convention ordinance and by constitutional amendment the civil rights
of the freedmen were made secure, family relations legalized, property
rights secured; the courts of law were open to them, and in all cases
affecting themselves, their evidence was admissible. The admission of
negro testimony was generally approved by the bar and the magistracy, but
disliked by the ignorant classes of whites. All magistrates and judicial
officers who refused to admit negro testimony or to act as Bureau agents
were removed from office by the governor. One mayor (of Mobile) and one
judge were removed.

Affairs were going on well, though the civil government was weakened and
lost prestige by being subordinated to the military authorities.[972] The
convention having authorized Parsons to organize the militia to aid in
restoring order, several companies were organized and instructed to act
solely in aid of the civil authorities and in subordination to them. They
were to act alone only when there was no civil officer present.[973]

Among the whites there was a vague but widespread fear of negro
insurrections, and toward Christmas this fear increased. The negroes were
disappointed because of the delayed division of lands, and their temper
was not improved by the reports of adventurers, black and white, who came
among them as missionaries and sharpers. There was a general and natural
desire among the freedmen to get possession of firearms, and all through
the summer and fall they were acquiring shotguns, muskets, and pistols in
great quantities. Most of the guns were worthless army muskets, but new
arms of the latest pattern were supplied by their ardent sympathizers in
the belief that the negroes were only seeking means of protection. A
sharper who claimed to be connected with the government travelled through
some of the black counties, telling the negroes that they were mistreated
and must arm themselves for protection. He sold them certificates for
$2.50 each which he said would entitle the bearers to muskets if presented
at the arsenals at Selma, Vicksburg, etc.[974] Hence arose the fears of
the whites who were poorly armed.

In several instances where there was fear of negro insurrection the civil
authorities, backed by the militia, searched negro houses for concealed
weapons, and sometimes found supplies of arms, which were confiscated.
There was a general desire to disarm the freedmen until after Christmas,
when the expected insurrection failed to materialize; but no order for
disarming was issued by the governor, and a bill for that purpose was
defeated in the legislature. Some of the militia companies undertook to
patrol the country to scare the negroes with a show of force,[975] and in
some places disguised patrols rode through the negro settlements to keep
them in order. There were several instances of unauthorized disarming and
lawless plunder under the pretence of disarming the blacks, by marauders
who took advantage of the state of public feeling and followed the example
of the disguised patrol bands. General Swayne himself was afraid of negro
insurrection, and before Christmas did not interfere with the attempts of
the whites to control the blacks. After Christmas the negroes quieted
down, and most of them made some pretence of working. The next case of
disarming that occurred brought the interference of General Swayne, who
ordered that neither the civil nor the military authorities should again
interfere with the negroes under any pretext, unless by permission from
himself. He threatened to send a negro garrison into any community where
the blacks might be interfered with. After that, he says, the people were
"more busy in making a living," and the militia organizations disbanded.
Two classes of the population were now beyond the reach of the civil
government, the "loyalists" and the negroes, and the civil authorities
maintained that these were the source of most disorder.[976]

An act of Congress, July 2, 1862, prescribed that every person elected or
appointed to any office under the United States government should, before
entering upon the duties of the office, subscribe to the "iron-clad" test
oath,[977] which obliged one to swear that he had never aided in any way
the Confederate cause. Outside of the few genuine Union men of North
Alabama, there were not half a dozen respectable white men in the state
who could take such an oath. Those who had been opposed to secession had
nearly all aided in the prosecution of the war or had held office under
the Confederate government. The thousands who had fallen away from the
Confederates in the last year of the war could not take the oath. The
women could not take it, and few even of the negroes could. Those who
could take the oath were detested by all, and the unfitness of such
persons for holding office was clearly recognized by the administration.
By law, certain Federal offices had to be filled by men who lived in the
county or state. The Federal service did not exist in Alabama at the end
of the war, and the President and Cabinet, agreeing that the requirement
of the oath could not be enforced, made temporary appointments in the
Treasury and postal service of men who could not take the oath. In Alabama
the men appointed were the old conservatives, those who had opposed
secession. The officers appointed were marshals and deputy marshals,
collectors and assessors of internal revenue, customs officers, and
postmasters. Objection was made in Congress to the payment of these
officers, and Secretary McCulloch of the Treasury made a report on the
subject. He stated that it was difficult to find competent persons who
could take the oath, and that it was better for the public service and for
the people that their own citizens should perform the unpleasant duty of
collecting taxes from an exhausted people. There was no civil government
whatever, and it was necessary that the Federal service be established. In
regard to future appointments, he said, it would be difficult, if not
impossible, to find competent men in the South who could take the oath,
that very few persons of character and intelligence had failed to connect
themselves in some way with the insurgent cause. The persons who could
present clean records for loyalty would have been able to present equally
fair records to the Confederate government had it succeeded, or else they
lacked the proper qualifications. Northern men of requisite qualifications
would not go South for the compensation offered. For the government to
collect taxes in the southern states by the hands of strangers was not
advisable. Better for the country politically and financially to suspend
the collection of internal revenue taxes in the South for months or years
than to collect them by men not identified with the taxpayers in sympathy
or interest. It would be a calamity to the nation and to the cause of
civil liberty everywhere if, instead of a policy of conciliation, the
action of the government should tend to intensify sectional feeling. To
make tax-gatherers at the South of men who were strangers to the people
would be a most unfortunate course for the government to pursue, and fatal
consequences, he thought, would follow such a policy. He asked that the
oath be modified so that the men in office could take it.[978] The
Postmaster-General made similar recommendations.[979]

For years after the war the test oath obstructed administration and
justice in the South. The Alabama lawyers could not take the oath, and
United States courts could not be held because there were no lawyers to
practise before them. There were many cases of property libelled which
should have come before the United States courts, but it was not
possible.[980] As men of character could not be found to fill the offices,
the Post-office Department tried to get women to take the post-offices,
but they could not take the test oath. Many post-offices remained closed,
and mail matter was sent by express. Letters were thrown out at a station
or given to a negro to carry to the proper person. Juries in the Federal
courts had to take practically the same oath as the "iron-clad," and the
jury oath was in existence long after the others were modified. So for
years a fair jury trial was in many localities impossible.[981]

The effect of the proscription by the test oaths of the only men who were
fit for office was distinctly bad. It drove the old
Whig-coöperationist-Unionist men into affiliation with the secessionists
and Democrats. The division of the whites into different parties was made
less likely. The Senate regularly rejected nominations made by the
President of men who could not take the oath,[982] and the military
authorities were inclined to enforce the taking of the test oath by the
state and local officials of the provisional government.[983]

The convention ordered an election, on November 30, for governor, state
and county officials, and legislature. There were three candidates for
governor, all respectable, conservative men, old-line Whigs, from north
Alabama, the stronghold of those who had opposed secession. They were R.
M. Patton of Lauderdale, M. J. Bulger of Tallapoosa, and W. R. Smith of
Tuscaloosa.[984] The section of Alabama where the spirit of secession had
been strongest refrained from putting forward any candidate. The radical
"loyalists" had no candidate. The few prominent men of that faction saw
that it would be political suicide for them to commit themselves to the
Johnson plan after he had begun the pardoning process, and were now
working to overthrow the present political institutions. Only in case the
plan of the Radicals in Congress should succeed would the "loyalists" get
any share in the spoils. The Conservative candidates were in sympathy with
the north Alabama desire for "a white man's government." Mr. Patton in the
late convention had secured the revision of the constitution so as to base
representation on the white population. During the war General M. J.
Bulger, the second candidate, made a speech at Selma in which he said he
had opposed secession and had refused to sign the ordinance, but had
deemed it his duty to fight when the time came and had served throughout
the war. There could be, he said, no negro suffrage, no negro
equality.[985] W. R. Smith had been the leader of the coöperationists in
the convention of 1861. The election resulted in the choice of R. M.
Patton of Lauderdale over Bulger and Smith by a good majority.[986]

The new legislature met on November 20, but Patton was not inaugurated
until a month later, owing to the refusal of the Washington administration
to allow Parsons to resign the government into the hands of what the
administration intended should be the permanent, "restored" state
government. The object in the delay was the desire of the President to
have the Thirteenth Amendment ratified before he relinquished the state
government. It was a queer mixture of a government--an elected
constitutional legislature and a governor and state administration
appointed by the commander-in-chief of the army.[987] The legislature was
recognized, but the governor elected at the same time was not. Several
acts of legislation were done by this military-constitutional government
during the thirty days of its existence, the most important being the
ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment by the legislature. This was done
with the understanding, the resolution stated, that it did not confer upon
Congress the power to legislate upon the political status of the freedmen
in Alabama.[988] The amendment was ratified December 2, 1865, and on the
10th, Secretary Seward telegraphed to Parsons that the time had arrived
when in the judgment of the President the care and conduct of the proper
affairs of the state of Alabama might be remitted to the constitutional
authorities chosen by the people. Parsons was relieved, the instructions
stated, from the trust imposed in him as provisional governor. When the
governor-elect should be qualified, Parsons was to transfer papers and
property to him and retire.[989] On the strength of these instructions
Governor Patton was inaugurated December 13, 1865. In his inaugural
address the new governor said that the extinction of slavery was one of
the inevitable results of the war. "We shall not only extend to the
freedmen all their legitimate rights," he stated, "but shall throw around
them such effectual safeguards as will secure them in their full and
complete enjoyment. At the same time it must be understood that
politically and socially ours is a white man's government. In the future,
as has been the case in the past, the state affairs of Alabama must be
guided and controlled by the superior intelligence of the white man. The
negro must be made to realize that freedom does not mean idleness and
vagrancy. Emancipation has not left him where he can live without

Though Patton was inaugurated on December 13, the Washington authorities
did not authorize the formal transfer of the government until December 18,
and the charge was made on December 20, 1865.

The legislature at once elected ex-Governor Parsons and George S. Houston
to the United States Senate. The people had already elected six
congressmen of moderate politics.[991] So far as concerned the state of
Alabama, the presidential plan of restoration was complete, if Congress
would recognize the work.

A proclamation of the President on December 1, revoking and annulling the
suspension of the writ of _habeas corpus_, expressly excepted all the
southern states and the southern border states. It was not until April 2,
1866, that the President declared the rebellion at an end.[992] He had
little faith in his restored governments, or else he liked to interfere,
and he still retained the power to do so.



Status of the Provisional Government

It was generally understood in the state that while Congress was opposed
to the presidential plan of restoration and repudiated it as soon as it
convened, yet if the state conventions should abolish slavery, and the
state legislatures should ratify the Thirteenth Amendment, their
representatives would be admitted to Congress. This was the meaning, it
seemed, of a resolution offered in the Senate December 4, 1865, by Charles
Sumner, one of the most radical of the Radical leaders.[993] On the same
day, in the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens, the Radical leader
of the lower house, introduced a resolution, which was adopted, to appoint
a joint committee of the Senate and House to inquire into conditions in
the southern states. Until the committee should make a report, no
representatives from the southern states should be admitted to
Congress.[994] Under this resolution, the Committee of Fifteen on
Reconstruction was appointed. In order to support a report in favor of the
congressional plan of reconstruction and to justify the overturning of the
southern state governments, the committee took testimony at Washington
which was carefully calculated to serve as a campaign document. Such
Radicals as Stevens professed to believe that the arbitrary rule of the
President was hateful to the southern people. Stevens said: "That they
would disregard and scorn their present constitutions forced upon them in
the midst of martial law, would be most natural and just. No one who has
any regard for freedom of elections can look upon these governments,
forced upon them in duress, with any favor."[995] Just exactly how much of
this he meant may be inferred from his later course as leader of the
Radicals of the House, in the movement which forced the negro-carpet-bag
government upon the southern states. Now Stevens proposed to "take no
account of the aggregation of whitewashed rebels who, without any legal
authority, have assembled in the capitals of the late rebel states and
simulated legislative bodies."[996]

The Republican caucus instructed Edward McPherson, clerk of the House, to
omit from the roll the names of the members-elect from the South as
certified by the Secretary of State. This was done, and the southern
congressmen were not even allowed the usual privileges of

As soon as the leaders in Congress felt that they were strong enough to
carry through their plan to destroy the governments erected under the
President's plan, they agreed that no senator or representative from any
southern state should be admitted to either branch of Congress until both
houses should have declared such state entitled to representation.[998]
The state governments were recognized as provisional only, and for a year
or more Congress was occupied in the fight with the President over
Reconstruction. The consequence was that Patton became provisional
governor of a territory and not the constitutional governor of a state.
The state suffered from much government at this time. First, came the
military authorities with military commissions; then, the Freedmen's
Bureau with its courts supported by the military; the Bureau also acted
independently of the army and with civilian officers; it was also a part
of the Parsons provisional government, and later of the Patton government,
and so controlled the minor officials of the state administration. To
complicate matters further, the President constantly interfered by order
or direction with all the various administrations, for all were subject to
his supervision. The many governments were bound up with one another, and
by interfering with the action of one another increased the general
confusion. The people lost respect for authority, and only public opinion
served to regulate the conduct of individuals.

Legislation about Freedmen

For several months the industrial system was entirely disorganized,
especially in the neighborhood of the cities, and many people realized the
absolute necessity of laws to regulate negro labor. The negro insisted on
taking a living from the country without working for it. There were also
fears of insurrection by the idle negroes who were waiting for the
division of spoils, and General Swayne of the Bureau felt a touch of the

When the legislature met, a few of the demagogues who had told their
constituents that they would soon regulate all troubles introduced many
bills to regulate labor, and thousands of copies were printed for
distribution. On December 15 it was agreed to print ten thousand copies of
all bills relating to freedmen.[1000] This was done, and though the
governor had not approved them, the country members went home with pockets
full of bills introduced by themselves, to show to their constituents and
to scare the negroes into work. The regulations proposed made special
provision for the freedmen, and under different circumstances it would
have been well for the negro if they had been passed into law and
enforced; but it was not good policy at this time to propose such
regulations, in view of the fact that the Radicals were watching for such
action and hoping for it. However, it is probable that nothing that the
southern whites could have done would have met with the approval of the

Governor Patton asked General Swayne for advice in regard to the pending
bills relating to freedmen, and Swayne informed him of the probable bad
effect on public opinion in the North. After Christmas the Senate passed
some obnoxious bills, and these the governor vetoed. The other bills that
came up from the lower house failed to pass in the Senate. Similar bills,
modified in many details, but which would have been of much use could they
have been enforced as law, were passed by both houses only to be vetoed by
the governor. The negroes were now showing a disposition to work, and the
legislature did not attempt to pass the bills over the governor's veto.
Next, a law relating to contracts between whites and blacks was attempted.
General Swayne was known to favor such a law, but Governor Patton vetoed
it. He declared that such a law would cause much trouble; he had
information that everywhere freedmen were going to work on terms
satisfactory to both parties and that they were disposed to discharge
their obligations, and there should not be, he said, one law for whites
and another for blacks; special laws for regulating contracts between
whites and freedmen would do no good and might cause harm; the common law
gave sufficient remedy for violations of contracts, viz. damages. General
Swayne had been strongly of the opinion that contracts regularly made and
carefully inspected on behalf of the negro were necessary. Later he came
to the conclusion that the negro needed no protection by contract or by
special law; that he had a much better protection in the demand for his
labor, and would only be injured by artificial safeguards; contracts would
cause litigation, and it was best for both parties to be able to break an
engagement at pleasure. He was of the opinion that the whites preferred
contracts, while the negro disliked to bind himself to anything. Hunger
and cold, he declared, were the best incentives to labor. Swayne further
reported that all objectionable bills relating to freedom had been

A bill passed both houses to extend to freedmen the old criminal laws of
the state formerly applicable to free persons of color. Governor Patton
vetoed the bill on the ground that a system of laws enacted during slavery
was not applicable to present conditions. He showed how the proposed laws
would act, and the legislature not only accepted the veto, but repealed
all such laws then in the code and on the statute books.[1002] At the
close of the session there were two laws on the statute books which made a
distinction before the law between negroes and whites. The first made it a
misdemeanor, with a penalty of $100 fine and ten days' imprisonment, to
purchase or receive from a "free person of color" any stolen goods,
knowing the same to have been stolen.[1003]

The second act gave the freedmen the right to sue and be sued, to plead
and be imprisoned, in the state courts to the same extent as whites. They
were competent to testify only in open court, and in cases in which
freedmen were concerned directly or indirectly. Neither interest in the
suit nor marriage should disqualify any black witness.[1004] This law, if
restrictive at all, was never in force in the lower courts where minor
magistrates and judicial officers presided; for, by the order of the
convention and later of the legislature, the state officials were _ex
officio_ agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, and sworn to make no distinction
between white and black.[1005]

Two laws were passed for the purpose of regulating labor, in theory
applicable equally to white and black. They had the approval of General
Swayne, who was always present when labor legislation was discussed.[1006]
The first law made it a misdemeanor to interfere with, to hire, entice
away, or induce to leave the service of another any laborer or servant who
had made a contract in writing, as long as the contract was in force,
unless by consent of the employer given in writing or verbally "in the
presence of some reputable white person." The penalty for inducing a
laborer to break a contract was a fine of $50 to $500,--in no case less
than double the amount of the injury sustained by the employer; and half
the fine was to go to the injured party.[1007] The compilers of the Penal
Code refused to incorporate this statute into the code on the ground that
it was inconsistent with other provisions of the code as adopted by the
legislature. The Penal Code had an old ante-bellum provision which made it
a penal offence to entice, decoy, or persuade a servant or apprentice to
leave the service of his master. The penalty was a fine of $20 to $100,
and imprisonment for not more than three months might also be

The second labor law defined the relations of master and apprentice. The
war had made orphans of many thousand children, white and black, and there
were few people who could look after them. Under slavery no regulation of
such things had been necessary for negro children. Now the children were
running wild, in want, neglected, becoming criminals and vagabonds. Negro
fathers ran off when freedom came, left their wives and children, and took
unto themselves other and younger wives. The negro mother, left alone,
often incapable and without judgment, could not support her children; and
many negro children were found both of whose parents had died, or who had
deserted them. As a result of the war, there were many white orphan
children and many widowed mothers who were unable to care for their
children. For years (1862-1875) there was much suffering among the
children of the poorer whites and the negroes. The apprentice law was an
extension of an old statute, and was designed to make it possible to care
for these dependent children. It was made the duty of county officials to
report to the probate courts all minors under the age of eighteen who were
destitute orphans, or whose parents refused or were unable to support
them; and the court was to apprentice them to suitable persons. In case
the minor were the child of a freedman, the former owner should have the
preference when he or she should be proven a suitable person. In such
cases the probate judge was to keep a record of all the proceedings. The
master to whom the minor was apprenticed was obliged to give bond that he
would furnish the apprentice sufficient food and clothing, treat him
humanely, furnish medical attention in case of sickness, and teach or have
him taught to read and write, whether white or black, if under the age of
fifteen. Power was given to inflict such punishment as a father or
guardian might inflict on a child or ward, but in no case should the
punishment be cruel. In case the apprentice should leave the employment of
the master without the consent of the latter, he might be arrested by the
master and carried before a justice of the peace, whose duty it was to
remand the apprentice to the service of his master. If the apprentice
refused to return, he was to be committed to jail until the next session
of the probate court, which would investigate the case, and, if convinced
that the apprentice had not good cause for leaving his master, would
punish the apprentice under the vagrancy laws. If the court should decide
that the apprentice had good cause to leave his master, he was to be
released from the indenture and the master fined not more than $100, which
was to be given to the apprentice. Apprenticeship was to end at the age of
twenty-one for men and eighteen for women. Parents could bind out minor
children under the regulations of this act.[1009] It was a penal offence
to sell or give intoxicating liquors to apprentices or to gamble with

The definition of vagrancy was extended to include stubborn and refractory
servants, laborers, and servants who loitered away their time or refused,
without cause, to comply with a contract for service. A vagrant might be
fined $50 and costs, and hired out until the fine was paid, but could not
be hired for a longer time than six months. The proceeds of fines and
hiring in all cases were to go to the county treasury for the benefit of
the poor.[1011]

These statutes form the so-called "Slave Code" or "Black Code" of the
state which was so harshly criticised by the Radicals as being designed to
reënslave the negroes.[1012] There is no doubt that if enforced they would
have affected the blacks more than the whites, though they were meant to
apply to both.[1013] Something of the kind was felt to be a necessity.
There were hundreds of negroes wandering about the country, living by
petty theft, and some rascally whites made it a business to purchase
stolen property, especially cotton, from them. White vagrants were
numerous. The refuse of both armies and numbers of the most worthless
whites, who had lost all they had in the war, travelled about the country
as tramps, their sole occupation being to victimize the ignorant by some
scheme. Stringent laws, strictly enforced, would have done much to restore

The Negro under the Provisional Government

The lawlessness prevalent in the state consequent upon civil war and
emancipation had resulted in filling the jails with all sorts and
conditions of criminals--mostly negroes--who were charged with minor
offences, such as stealing, fighting, burning, which were committed during
the jubilee after the coming of the Federal troops. They were clearly
guilty of the crimes alleged, since they were imprisoned by consent of the
Freedmen's Bureau, which allowed no negro to be arrested without its
permission. There were some whites confined for similar small offences,
and there were many "union" men, or "rebels," according to locality, who
were under arrest for crimes committed during the war. Most of the crimes
were not serious or were committed under the abnormal conditions of war.
The governor, after consultation with General Swayne, "with entire
singleness of purpose" (Swayne), issued a proclamation of amnesty and
pardon[1015] for all offences, except murder and rape, committed between
April 13, 1861, and July 20, 1865.[1016] Many hundred prisoners were thus
liberated, among them eight hundred freedmen[1017] confined for
penitentiary offences. No bad results followed.[1018]

By state law and military order the negro was now freed from slavery and
given all the civil rights possessed by the whites, unless in certain
cases of law between whites in the higher courts where the negro was not
permitted to testify. In all cases concerning his own race, directly or
indirectly, his standing before the court was the same as that of a white
or better. The races were forbidden to intermarry. The apprentice and
vagrancy laws, which were meant to regulate the economic relations between
the races, could not be enforced because of technical and practical
difficulties, and because the officials who were to enforce them were _ex
officio_ agents of the Bureau and therefore forbidden to enforce such
laws. The Bureau upheld the negro in all his rights and much beyond. There
was the most urgent demand for his labor, and to secure his wages there
was a lien on the employer's crop. The negro was free to come and go when
he pleased, and his pleasure led him to do this so often that written
contracts fell into immediate disfavor on account of the useless
litigation and disputes that ensued. Many of the more thrifty blacks began
to acquire small bits of property.

The travellers who visited the South in the fall of 1865 and in 1866
agreed (except Schurz) that there was no thought of reënslavement of the
negro by the white; that the white was more afraid of the negro than the
negro of the white; that there was no need of protection, for the demand
for his labor would protect him. There were more colored artisans than
white, and all were sure of employment. At first the strong conviction
that they were not free unless they were careering around the country in
idleness resulted in a general wandering. In the fall and winter a large
majority returned to their old homes. "Once being assured of their liberty
to go and come at will, they generally returned to the service of the
southerner."[1019] The courts gave substantial justice, it was reported;
the judge and jury would prefer the case of a black to that of a mean
white man; negro testimony in lawsuits was more and more favored, and the
standing of the negro in the courts became more and more secure.
Conditions as to the treatment of the negroes were steadily
improving.[1020] An unfriendly critic who travelled through the Gulf
states said that the negro was fairly well paid and fairly well
treated.[1021] A charge to the grand jury of Pike County by Judge Henry D.
Clayton, on September 9, 1866, will serve to show the sentiments of the
judicial officers and members of the bar as well as juries. It was
reprinted at the North as a campaign document. The following is a

A certain class of our population is clothed with civil rights and
privileges that it did not possess until recently, and in dealing with
them some embarrassment will be felt. One of the results of the war was
the freedom of the black race. We deplore the result as injurious to the
country and fatal to the negroes, but we are in honor bound to observe the
laws which acknowledge their freedom. "When I took off my sword in
surrender, I determined to observe the terms of that surrender with the
same earnestness and fidelity with which I first shouldered my musket." We
may cherish the glorious memories of that past, in the history of which
there is nothing of which we need be ashamed, but now we have to
reëstablish society and rebuild our ruined homes. Those unwilling to
submit to this condition of things may seek homes abroad.[1022] We are
bound to this soil for better or for worse. What is our duty? Let us deal
with the facts as they are. The negro has been made free, though he did
not seek freedom. Nominally free, he is beyond expression helpless by his
want of self-reliance, of experience, of ability to understand and
appreciate his condition. For promoting his welfare and adapting him to
this new relation to society, all agencies from abroad will prove
inadequate. The task is for us who understand him. To remedy the evil
growing out of abolition two things are necessary: (1) we must recognize
the freedom of the race as a fact, enact just and humane laws, and
willingly enforce them; (2) we must in all our relations with the negro
treat him with perfect fairness. We shall thus convince the world of our
good faith, get rid of the system of espionage [the Freedmen's Bureau] by
removing the pretext for its necessity, and secure the services of the
negroes, teach them their place, and convince them that we are their
friends. We need the labor of the negro and it is worth the effort to
secure it. We owe the negro no grudge; he has done nothing to provoke our
hostility; freedom was forced upon him. "He may have been the companion of
your boyhood; he may be older than you, and perhaps carried you in his
arms when an infant. You may be bound to him by a thousand ties which only
a southern man knows, and which he alone can feel in all their force. It
may be that when, only a few years ago, you girded on your cartridge box
and shouldered your trusty rifle to go to meet the invaders of your
country, you committed to his care your home and your loved ones; and when
you were far away upon the weary march, upon the dreadful battle-field, in
the trenches, and on the picket line, many and many a time you thought of
that faithful old negro, and your heart warmed toward him."[1023]

Movement toward Negro Suffrage

The Freedmen's Bureau and the provisional government had set aside,
repealed, or suspended laws which treated the negro as a separate class.
It was soon seen that the civil government had little real authority,
being frequently overruled by the officials of the army and Bureau and by
the President. The civil officials became accustomed to considering Swayne
or Woods, the commander of the troops in Alabama, rather than the state
government, as the source of authority. It was known that the Radicals
were bent on giving the ballot to the negro and on disfranchising southern
political and military leaders. Some politicians began to consider the
question of giving the ballot to the negro under certain restrictions.
This was not done from any faith in the political intelligence of the
negro, or belief that he was fitted for or needed the exercise of the
franchise; for it was and is an article of the political faith of the
southern people that the exercise of suffrage is a high privilege, an
historical and inherited right, not the natural and absolute right of all
men. The reasons were very different, and were based entirely on
expediency and necessity: (1) Such action would forestall the Radical
programme and disarm, to some extent, the hostile party at the North. (2)
It would enable the native leaders, by conferring the privilege on the
negro, to gain his confidence, control his vote, and thereby make it
harmless. It was certain, it seemed, that two widely separated white
political parties would arise as soon as outside pressure should be
removed, and each hoped to get control of most of the negro vote. (3) Such
a measure would increase the representation of the state in the Congress,
thus giving them needed strength at a critical period. (4) The Black Belt
hoped in this way to regain its former political influence. The new
constitution, by making the white population the basis of representation,
had transferred political supremacy to the white counties.

As early as October, 1865, Truman remarked that some leaders were thinking
of giving the ballot to the negroes. He thought that suffrage for the
negroes would harm them and would inflame the lower classes of whites
against them. But if left to the leaders and politicians, they, for the
sake of increased representation in Congress, would bring the people
around, and by 1870 the negro would be voting.[1024] About the same time a
correspondent of _The Nation_ observed that there was no great objection
to giving the negro the ballot because the white leaders thought that they
could control it. It would not be opposed by the planters of the South,
but by the middle and poorer classes,--the merchants, mechanics, and
laborers.[1025] Early in 1866 Representative Brooks[1026] of Lowndes, a
black county, introduced a bill in the lower house providing for a
qualified negro suffrage based on education and property. It was laid on
the table, but not before a calm and dispassionate discussion. The bill
proposed by Brooks was opposed more because it disfranchised a large
number of whites than because it gave suffrage to the negro. The debates
showed that later the legislature would do something along that line if
assured that such a course would result in readmission into the Union. In
the discussion the idea was urged that something must be done to prevent
the Radicals from taking the question of suffrage to the central
government. This, it was held, would be dangerous to the South, with its
peculiar population, to which general Federal legislation would not well
apply, and hence it would be dangerous for the suffrage question to become
one of national instead of state concern. Then, too, the people were
intensely weary of provisional rule, and wanted to resume their proper
position in the Union.[1027]

The people of the north Alabama white counties, the hilly section of the
state, were opposed to any form of negro suffrage, though some of their
leaders who understood the state of affairs were willing to think of it as
a last resort to defeat the intentions of the Radicals. The Black Belt
people, who had less prejudice against the negro and who were sure that
they could control him and gain in political power, were more favorably
inclined. Left alone, the various interests would have united to carry
through the project in time. Suffrage so conferred upon the blacks would
have been strictly limited,--a premium offered, not a right
acknowledged,--under the control of the native white leaders and
supporting their interests, just exactly the situation of the lower-class
voters everywhere else, and the reverse of the southern situation since

One of the north Alabama leaders, L. Pope Walker,[1028] after consulting
with other prominent men, went to Montgomery and conferred with General
Swayne in regard to the state of affairs. Swayne gave assurance that a
qualified negro suffrage would be favorably received at the North, would
create a good impression, and assist, perhaps, in an early restoration of
the state to the Union. He knew that suffrage for the negro brought about
in this way would result in gaining the black vote for the southern and
probably for the Democratic party. Though a believer in the rights of all
men to vote and a strong Republican, Swayne was not then committed to the
Radical programme and was ready to encourage the movement. An opportunity
for the entering wedge was now at hand. Many of the minor magistrates and
the sheriffs were also administering the affairs of the Freedmen's Bureau,
and consequently were more or less under the direction of Swayne, who was
the assistant commissioner in Alabama. His instructions to agents, before
the convention, directed that all laws be administered without regard to
color. Governor Parsons approved these directions and required all
provisional officers to take oath accordingly. The convention sanctioned
this arrangement, and ordered it to continue until the close of the next
general assembly. This general assembly had practically continued the
arrangements already made. In consequence, the state officials, whether
willingly or not, were still, at the time when the movement for negro
suffrage began, obliged to obey the directions of Swayne. The bulk of the
people being opposed to the movement, it was proposed to make an
experiment on the responsibility of the Freedmen's Bureau and to use that
much-disliked institution as an instrument, for the people would not be
much surprised at anything it would do. So the sheriff of Madison County,
in the winter of 1866-1867, when some local election was at hand, wrote to
General Swayne, asking if the election laws also were to be carried out
regardless of color. He announced his willingness to carry out
instructions. Here was an opportunity to begin the experiment, but public
feeling became so irritated by the Radical measures in Congress that
nothing was done, the election was not held, and the Reconstruction Acts,
coming soon after, prejudiced the people more strongly than ever against
anything of the kind.[1029]

About December 1, 1866, a bill was introduced into the state legislature
"to amend the constitution of the state according to impartial suffrage,
and then ask representation, leaving the amnesty question in the hand of
Congress." Reporting this action to Chief Justice Chase, Swayne added:
"This I am told is popular, and the member is sustained by his
constituents."[1030] The legislature, at the same time, intended to reject
the Fourteenth Amendment.

It has been stated that in February, 1867, an effort was made, with the
indorsement of the President, to induce the southern legislatures which
had rejected the Fourteenth Amendment to adopt a qualified negro suffrage.
This was tried in Alabama and North Carolina, and probably hastened
congressional Reconstruction.[1031]

With the passage of the Reconstruction Acts and other congressional action
in regard to the negroes, affairs changed complexion rapidly. The
alienation of the races began. It was seen that the negro vote would now
be controlled by worthless outsiders and native whites. The expected
division of the whites into two well-defined parties did not occur; there
was an almost united white party. A few whites, indeed, there were who
were ready to try negro suffrage, not those, however, who had been
thinking of it during the past two years. The result of the war had
intensified party spirit. The old "Union" men were intensely bitter
against the secessionists or "precipitators," and in the present crisis
some otherwise good citizens were so blinded by party passion as to put
revenge above the welfare of their country, and were ready to accept the
aid of their former slaves in their fight against the men whom they
considered responsible for the present condition of affairs. Others who
now took up negro suffrage were mere politicians, content to take office
at any price to the country, and who could never hope for office until
existing institutions were destroyed.[1032]

New Conditions of Congress and Increasing Irritation

The first general assembly under the provisional government ratified the
Thirteenth Amendment, "with the understanding that it does not confer upon
Congress the power to legislate upon the political status of freedmen in
this state."[1033] The same legislature requested the President to order
the withdrawal of the Federal troops on duty in Alabama, for their
presence was a source of much disorder and there was no need of

The President was asked to release Hon. C. C. Clay, Jr., who was still in
prison.[1035] At the end of the session a resolution was adopted approving
the policy of President Johnson and pledging coöperation with his "wise,
firm, and just" work; asserting that the results of the late contest were
conclusive, and that there was no desire to renew discussion on settled
questions; denouncing the misrepresentations and criminal assaults on the
character and interest of the southern people; declaring that it was a
misfortune of the present political conditions that there were persons
among them whose interests were promoted by false representations;
confidence was expressed in the power of the administration to protect the
state from malign influences; slavery was abolished and should not be
reëstablished; the negro race should be treated with humanity, justice,
and good faith, and every means be used to make them useful and
intelligent members of society; but "Alabama will not voluntarily consent
to change the adjustment of political power as fixed by the Constitution
of the United States, and to constrain her to do so in her present
prostrate and helpless condition, with no voice in the councils of the
nation, would be an unjustifiable breach of faith."[1036]

During the year 1866 there was a growing spirit of independence in the
Alabama politics. At no time had there been a subservient spirit, but for
a time the people, fully accepting the results of the war, were disposed
to do nothing more than conform to any reasonable conditions which might
be imposed, feeling sure that the North would impose none that were
dishonorable. To them at first the President represented the feeling of
the people of the North, perhaps worse. The theory of state sovereignty
having been destroyed by the war, the state rights theories of Lincoln and
Johnson were easily accepted by the southerners, who were content, after
Johnson had modified his policy, to leave affairs in his hands. When the
serious differences between the executive and Congress appeared, and the
latter showed a desire to impose degrading terms on the South, the people
believed that their only hope was in Johnson. They believed the course of
Congress to be inspired by a desire for revenge. Heretofore the people had
taken little interest in public affairs. Enough voters went to the polls
and voted to establish and keep in operation the provisional government.
The general belief was that the political questions would settle
themselves or be settled in a manner fairly satisfactory to the South. Now
a different spirit arose. The southerners thought that they had complied
with all the conditions ever asked that could be complied with without
loss of self-respect. The new conditions of Congress exhausted their
patience and irritated their pride. Self-respecting men could not tamely
submit to such treatment.[1037]

During the latter part of 1865 and in 1866, ex-Governor Parsons travelled
over the North, speaking in the chief cities in support of the policy of
the President. He asked the northern people to rebuke at the polls the
political fanatics who were inflaming the minds of the people North and
South. He demanded the withdrawal of the military. There had been, he
said, no sign of hostility since the surrender; the people were opposed to
any legislation which would give the negro the right to vote; and it was
the duty of the President, not of Congress, to enforce the laws.[1038]

Much angry discussion was caused by the passage of the Freedmen's Bureau
Bill in 1866. The Bureau officials had caused themselves to be hated by
the whites. They were a nuisance, when no worse, and useless,--a plague to
the people. Though there were comparatively few in the state, they were
the cause of disorder and ill-feeling between the races. Though there was
now even less need of the institution than a year before, the new measure
was much more offensive in its provisions.[1039] There was great
rejoicing when the President vetoed the bill, which the _Mobile Times_
called "an infamous disorganization scheme of radicalism." The Bureau had
become a political machine for work among white and black. The passage of
the bill over the veto was felt to be a blow at the prostrate South.[1040]

The Civil Rights Bill of 1866 was also a cause of irritation. There was a
disposition among the officials of the Freedmen's Bureau to enforce all
such measures before they became law. Orders were issued directing the
application of the principles of measures then before Congress. The United
States commissioner in Mobile decided that under the "Civil Rights
Bill"[1041] negroes could ride on the cars set apart for the whites.
Horton, the Radical military mayor of Mobile, banished to New Orleans an
idiotic negro boy who had been hired to follow him and torment him by
offensive questions. Horton was indicted under the "Civil Rights Bill" and
convicted. The people of Mobile were much pleased when a "Yankee official
was the first to be caught in the trap set for southerners."[1042]

Another citizen of Mobile, a magistrate, was haled before a Federal court,
charged with having sentenced a negro to be whipped, contrary to the
provisions of the "Civil Rights Bill." The magistrate explained that there
was nothing at all offensive about the whipping. He had not acted in his
magisterial capacity, but had himself whipped the negro boy for lying,
stealing, and neglect of duty while in his employ.[1043] The agent of the
Bureau at Selma notified the mayor that the "chain gang system of working
convicts on the streets had to be discontinued or he would be prosecuted
for violation of the 'Civil Rights Bill.'"[1044] Judge Hardy of Selma
decided in a case brought before him that the "Civil Rights Bill" was
unconstitutional. He declared it to be an attack on the independence of
the judiciary.[1045]

Rejection of the Fourteenth Amendment

In the fall of 1866 the proposed Fourteenth Amendment was submitted to the
legislature. There was no longer any belief that further yielding would do
any good; the more the people gave the more was asked. State Senator E. A.
Powell wrote to John W. Forney that the people would do nothing about the
Fourteenth Amendment because they were convinced that any action would be
useless. Condition after condition had been imposed and had been absolved;
slavery had been abolished, secession acknowledged a failure, and the war
debt repudiated by the convention; the legislature had ratified the
Thirteenth Amendment, had secured the negro in all the rights of property
and person; and after all the state was no nearer to restoration.[1046]
This was the view of nearly all the newspapers of the state, and in this
they represented popular opinion. They were intensely irritated by the
fact that, although they had made so many concessions, still they were
excluded from representation in Congress, and were heavily and unjustly
taxed.[1047] Moreover, they were opposed to the amendment because it
branded their best men as traitors.[1048] One newspaper, alone, advocated
adoption of the amendment as the least of evils.[1049]

John Forsyth, in the _Mobile Register_, said: "It is one thing to be
oppressed, wronged, and outraged by overwhelming force. It is quite
another to submit to voluntary abasement" by adopting the Fourteenth
Amendment. It should be rejected, he said, because it would disfranchise
the very best of the respectable whites, the beloved leaders of the
people. Judge Busteed, in a charge to the Federal grand jury, delivered a
political harangue advocating the adoption of the Amendment. Many ultra
"union" men in north Alabama opposed the Amendment for three reasons: (1)
though it would disfranchise the leaders, the great mass of the white
people would still be allowed to vote, especially those who had not held
civil office during the war; (2) some of these "union" men had been ardent
secessionists at the beginning and had thus compromised themselves, or
had been elected to the legislature or to some "bomb-proof" office during
the war--as "obstructionists," they claimed--and the proposed amendment
would disfranchise them along with the Confederate leaders; (3) this class
as a rule disliked the negro and never wanted negro suffrage if it were
possible to secure the overthrow of existing institutions without it. Two
planters of the Black Belt were ready for negro suffrage to one
"buckra."[1050] Those men who considered themselves "unionists" wanted no
negro suffrage, nor anything so weak as the Fourteenth Amendment; but
desired some kind of a military régime in which the United States
government should place them in permanent possession of the state
administration and exclude all who were not like themselves. The test
should be a political one, they said. It seems to be a fact that a few
hundred such men with, at the most, five thousand followers expected to
have the whole state administration under their direction for years. Yet
it would have required a special law of exemption for each of them in
order to protect them from the proscription which was to be visited upon
the ex-Confederates. For these "unionists" had often betrayed both sides
during the war. Their most patriotic duty had been "obstruction."

By most persons the question of negro political rights was considered to
belong to the state and was not a matter for the Federal government to
regulate. "Loyalists" as well as "rebels" were afraid to leave negro
affairs to the regulation of Congress. In his annual message to the
legislature, in November, 1866, Governor Patton advised the legislature
not to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment, on the ground that it could do no
good and might do harm. It involved a creation of a penalty after the act.
On this point, he said that it was an _ex post facto_ law, and contrary to
the whole spirit of modern civilization; that such a mode of dealing with
citizens charged with offences against government belonged only to
despotic tyrants; that it might accomplish revengeful purposes, but that
was not the proper mode of administering justice; that adoption would
vacate merely all offices in most of the unrepresented states--governors,
judges, legislators, sheriffs, justices of peace, constables--and the
state governments would be completely broken up and reduced to utter and
hopeless anarchy; that the disabilities imposed by the test oath were
seriously detrimental to the interests of the government; that
ratification of the Amendment could not accomplish any good to the country
and might bring upon it irretrievable disaster.[1051]

Under the circumstances, the legislature refused to consider the
Amendment. But the governor during the next few weeks was induced by
various considerations to recommend the ratification, and on December 7,
1866, he sent a special message stating that there was a purpose on the
part of those who controlled the national legislation to enforce their own
terms of restoration at all hazards; and that their measures would
immeasurably augment the distress already existing and inaugurate endless
confusion. The cardinal principle of restoration seemed to be, he said,
favorable action on the Fourteenth Amendment. Upon principle he was
opposed to it. Yet necessity must rule. So now he recommended
reconsideration. If they should ratify and restoration should follow, they
might trust to time and their representatives to mitigate its harshness.
If they should ratify and admission should be delayed, it would serve as a
warning to other states and thus prevent the necessary number for

The message created excitement in the legislature and the chances were
favorable for ratification; but ex-Governor Parsons, who was in the North,
advised against it. He thought the northern people would support the
President in the matter. The legislature refused to ratify by a vote of 27
to 2 in the Senate, and 69 to 8 in the House.[1053] Potter of Cherokee
gave notice that on January 15 he would move to reconsider the vote.
Governor Patton, moreover, was convinced that Congress meant to carry out
its plan of reconstruction, and that opposition might make matters worse.
General Swayne kept a strong pressure upon him, assuring him that Congress
would have its own way. During the Christmas holidays the governor made
speeches in north Alabama in favor of ratifying the Amendment. Congress
would require it, he said. On principle he opposed the measure, but it
must come at last. "Look the situation squarely in the face," he said;
only 2000 or 3000 men (himself included) would be deprived of office, and
to oppose Congress was to ruin the state, to territorialize it. There were
men in Washington, he said, who were already working in order to be made
provisional governor under the new régime.[1054] After the recess Patton
sent a second message recommending that the Amendment be adopted, since it
was the evident purpose of Congress to enforce their own terms.[1055] For
a day or two it was considered, General Swayne and the governor using
their influence with the members, and it seemed almost sure to be
ratified. But Parsons, then in Montgomery, telegraphed (January 17, 1867)
to the President that the legislature was reconsidering the Amendment.
Johnson replied saying that no possible good could come of such action;
that he did not believe the people of the country would sustain "any set
of individuals" in attempts to change the whole character of the
government, but that they would uphold those who stood by the
Constitution; and that there should be no faltering on the part of those
who were determined to sustain the coördinate departments of the
government in accordance with its original design. For the third time the
Amendment failed to pass.[1056] One of the last resolutions passed by the
provisional legislature before it was abolished by the Reconstruction Acts
was on February 1, 1867, in regard to memorializing Congress to establish
a uniform system of bankruptcy. Relief was needed, they stated, "yet the
promptings of self-respect forbid the propriety of further intruding our
appeals upon a Congress which refuses to recognize the state of Alabama
for any purpose other than that of taxation. It is a source of regret that
Congress has assumed an attitude toward the state of Alabama totally
incompatible with the mutual obligations of allegiance and

Political Conditions, 1865-1867; Formation of Parties

In the convention of 1865 two well-defined parties had appeared, though
generally, at that time, for the sake of harmony they acted together.
These parties grew farther and farther apart. One of them, consisting of
most of the people, especially of the central and southern section of the
state, supported the policy of the President. The other party was a motley
opposition. In it were the few original "Union" men, the tories, and many
more self-styled "union" men, who saw an opportunity for advancement for
themselves if the present government were overthrown. There were others
who thought that the old ruling class should now retire absolutely from
public life and allow their former followers to take their places. There
was a fair sprinkling of respectable men who were bitterly opposed to any
party or policy that suited the former Democrats, and believing that
Congress would not be too severe, they were willing to see three or four
thousand of the leaders disfranchised in order to get the state back into
the Union. They were willing also to become leaders themselves in the
place of those disfranchised.

During the year 1866 these parties were organized to some degree, held
meetings, and made bids for northern support. The opposition worked into
the hands of the Radical party at the North, though many of them did not
favor the full Radical programme, especially as regarded negro suffrage.
The other party took the name of the "Conservative" or "Democratic and
Conservative." It was composed of former Democrats, Whigs, Know-nothings,
Anti-Know-nothings, Bell and Everett men,--nearly all of the respectable
voting people. These allied with the "Conservative" party in other
southern states and with the Democrats in the North and formed the
"National Union Party." Its platform was essentially the presidential plan
of Reconstruction.[1058] The campaign of 1866 was made on many
issues,--the Civil Rights Bill, Freedmen's Bureau Bill, Fourteenth
Amendment, the plans of Reconstruction. Ex-Governor Parsons and other
prominent Alabamians spoke in the cities of the North in support of the
policy of the President. Ex-Governor Shorter, in a public letter, said
that he had been a "rebel" until the close of the war, and understood the
feeling of the people of Alabama. There had not been since the surrender
and there was not now, he said, any antagonism to the United States
government, and Reconstruction based on the assumption of this would be
harmful and hopeless. The people had given their allegiance to the
government and had remodelled their state organizations in good

"Southern outrages" now began afresh. The Radical press and Radical
politicians began to manufacture tales of outrage and cruelty on the part
of the southern whites against negroes. There had been all along a
disposition to look for "outrages" in the South, and the reports of Schurz
and the Joint Committee on Reconstruction seemed to put the seal of truth
on the tissue of falsehoods, and for campaign purposes "outrages" were
increased. For several years, judging from some accounts, the entire white
population--men, women, and children--must have given much of their time
to persecuting, beating, and killing negroes and northern men. The Radical
papers seized upon the silly things said or done by the idlers of
bar-rooms and street corners or printed in the small newspapers and
magnified them into the "threatening voice of a whole people." Against
this mistake General Swayne repeatedly protested. He had no special liking
for the southern people, but he scorned to misrepresent the true state of
affairs for political capital. During his stay in the state (more than two
years) the tenor of his reports was: There was no trouble from the
southern whites; northern men were welcomed in a business way; disorder
and lawlessness existed in sections of the state, but this was a natural
result of long war and civil strife among the people. In his reports,
Swayne repeatedly stated that as time went on the condition of affairs was
gradually improving. Newspaper correspondents sent to write up conditions
in the South went among the most worthless part of the population, in
bar-rooms, hotel lobbies, on street corners, in country groceries, and
wrote up the doings and sayings of these people as representative of all.
Even E. L. Godkin was not above doing such a thing at times.[1060] These
writers carefully recorded the idle talk about the negro and the North and
dressed it up for Radical information. A favorite plan was to find some
woman, coarse and vulgar and cruel-minded, and describe her and her
speeches as representative of southern women. The southern newspapers
republished such correspondence as specimens of Radical methods. The
whites were more and more irritated. This aggravating correspondence and
the more aggravating editorials continued in some papers long after the
Reconstruction period.[1061]

On the other hand, northern men received little or no social welcome in
the South. Most of them would not have been sought after in any section;
few representatives of northern culture came South. The indiscretions of
some caused the ostracism of all. But that was not the sole reason.
General Swayne seemed surprised at "social exclusion" and mentioned it
before the Reconstruction sub-committee. But, said an Alabama
correspondent, what else can he expect? Why is he surprised? Can the
sister, the mother, and the father who have lost their loved ones care to
meet those who did the deeds? They meet with respectful treatment; let
them not ask too much.[1062]

What the people needed and wanted was a settled and certain policy. The
mixed administrations of the provisional authorities and the President, of
the Freedmen's Bureau and the army, did not result in respect for the
laws. The talk of confiscation and disfranchisement kept the people
irritated. They thought that they had already complied with the conditions
imposed precedent to admission to the Union and now believed that Congress
was acting in bad faith. Many were willing to affiliate even with
conservative Republicans in order to overthrow the Radicals. Much was
hoped for in the way of good results from the "National Union" movement.
Few or none of the northern business men in the state thought that the
Radical plan was necessary. They did not expect or desire its

There was a convention of the Conservative party at Selma in July, 1866.
Delegates were elected to the National Union convention at
Philadelphia.[1064] The Selma convention indorsed the policy of Johnson
and condemned the Radical party as the great obstacle to peace. The most
prominent men of the state were present, representing both of the old
parties--Whigs and Democrats.[1065] The national platform adopted in
Philadelphia stated the principles to which the southerners had now
committed themselves, viz.: the war had decided the national character of
the Constitution; but the restrictions imposed by it upon the general
government were unchanged and the rights and authority of the states were
unimpaired; representation in Congress and in the electoral college was a
right guaranteed by the Constitution to every state, and Congress had no
power to deny such right; Congress had no power to regulate the suffrage;
there is no right of withdrawal from the Union; amendments to the
Constitution must be made as provided for by the Constitution, and all
states had the right to a vote on an amendment; negroes should receive
protection in all rights of person and property; the national debt was
declared inviolable, the Confederate debt utterly invalid; and Andrew
Johnson's administration was indorsed.[1066]

Ex-Governor Parsons and others from Alabama spoke in New York, New Jersey,
Maine, and Pennsylvania, at National Union meetings. Parsons told the
North that the conservative people of Alabama were in charge of the
administration, and would not send extreme men to Congress; the
representatives chosen had opposed secession. The "Union" party,--a large
one in the state,--he said, had hoped that after the war each individual
would have to answer for himself, but instead all were suffering in

The opposition party was weak in numbers and especially weak in leaders.
The tory and deserter element, with a few from the obstructionists of the
war time and malcontents of the present who wanted office, made up the
native portion of the party. Northern adventurers, principally agents of
the Freedmen's Bureau, teachers and missionaries, and men who had failed
to succeed in some southern speculation, with a number of those who follow
in the path of armies to secure the spoils, composed the alien wing of the
opposition party.[1068] The fundamental principle upon which the existence
of the party was based required the destruction of present institutions
and the creation of a new political people who should be kept in power by
Federal authority. The northern soldiers of fortune saw at once that it
would be necessary to give the ballot to the negro. The native Radicals
disliked the idea of negro suffrage and seemed to think that the central
government should proscribe all others, place them in power and hold them
there by armed force until they could create a party.

Such a party could secure a northern alliance only with the extreme
Radical wing of the Republican party. A convention of "Southern Unionists"
was held in Washington, in July, 1866, which issued an address to the
"loyalists" of the South, declaring that the reconstruction of the
southern state governments must be based on constitutional principles, and
the present despotism under an atrocious leadership must not be permitted
to remain; the rights of the citizens must not be left to the protection
of the states, but Congress must take charge of the matter and make
protection coextensive with citizenship; under the present state
governments, with "rebels" controlling, there would be no safety for
loyalists,--they must rely on Congress for protection. A meeting of
"southern loyalists" was called to be held in September, in Independence
Hall in Philadelphia.[1069] The Alabama delegates to this convention were
George Reese, D. H. Bingham, M. J. Saffold, and J. H. Larcombe. This
Philadelphia convention condemned the "rebellion as unparalleled for its
causelessness, its cruelty, and its criminality." "The unhappy policy" of
the President was "unjust, oppressive, and intolerable." The policy of
Congress was indorsed, but regret was expressed that it did not provide
by law for the greater security of the "loyal" people in the southern
states. Demand was made for "the establishment of influences of patriotism
and justice" in each of the southern states. Washington, Lincoln, the
Declaration of Independence, Philadelphia, and Independence Hall--all were
brought in. The question of negro suffrage was discussed, and most of the
delegates favored it. Of the five delegates from Alabama, two announced
themselves against it.[1070] At a Radical convention in Philadelphia about
the same time the delegates from Alabama were Albert Griffin, an
adventurer from Ohio; D. H. Bingham, a bitter tory, almost demented with
hate; and M. J. Saffold, who had been an obstructionist during the war.
Here was the beginning of the alliance of carpet-bagger and scalawag that
was destined to ruin the state in six years of peace worse than four years
of war had done. The convention indulged in unstinted abuse of Johnson and
demanded "no mercy" for Davis. Bingham was one of the committee that
presented the hysterical report demanding the destruction of the
provisional governments in the South. Saffold opposed the negro suffrage
plank. He had no prejudice himself, he explained, but thought it was not
expedient. He was hissed and evidently brought to the correct

After the report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction in 1866 it was
believed by the Radicals that Congress would be victorious over the
President, and the party in Alabama that expected to control the
government under the new régime began to hold meetings and organize
preparatory to dividing the offices. January 8-9, 1867, a thinly attended
"Unconditional Union Mass-meeting" was held at Moulton, in Lawrence
County. Eleven of the counties of north Alabama were represented, the hill
and mountain people predominating. Nicholas Davis, who presided, said that
none but "loyal" men must control the states, lately in rebellion.[1072]
The action of Congress was commended by the convention; the proposed
Fourteenth Amendment was indorsed; and Congress was asked to distinguish
between the "precipitators" and those "coerced or otherwise led by the
usurpers."[1073] They asked for $100 a year bounty for all Union soldiers
from north Alabama, and for the compensation of Unionists for property
lost during the war. The leaders here present were Freedmen's Bureau
agents, Confederate deserters, and former obstructionists.[1074]

A "Union" convention was held in Huntsville, March 4, 1867. Seventeen
north Alabama counties were represented by much the same crowd that
attended the Moulton convention.[1075] General Swayne was there, carried
along by the current, and, it was said, hoping for high office under the
new régime.[1076] The convention declared that a large portion of the
people of the South had been opposed to secession, but rather than have
civil war at home had acquiesced in the revolution; that the true position
of these "unionists" now was with the party that would protect them
against future rebellion; it was necessary that the Federal government be
strengthened; the "union" men of each county were asked to hold meetings
and send delegates to a state convention to be held during the

The spring of 1867 saw the white Radical party stronger than it ever was
again. The few native whites who were to take part in the Reconstruction
had chosen their side. After this time the party gradually lost all its
respectable members. The carpet-baggers and Bureau agents had not yet
shown their strength. The scalawags did not foresee that to the
carpet-baggers would fall the lion's share of the plunder, owing to their
control over the negro vote.

The President's plan failed, not because of any inherent defect in itself,
but because of the bungling manner in which it was administered. If
President Johnson had been content to place confidence in any one of the
agencies to which were intrusted the government of the South, it would
have been better. Had the governments set up by him been endowed with
vigor, it is probable that Congress would not have fallen wholly under the
control of the Radicals. The penalty for the indiscretions of the
President was visited upon the South. To-day the southern people like to
believe that, had Lincoln lived, his policy would have succeeded, and the
horrors of Reconstruction would have been mitigated or prevented.
Johnson's policy was that of Lincoln, except that he reserved to himself a
much larger part in setting up and running the provisional governments. He
established state governments, pronounced them constitutional, completed,
perfected, and asked Congress to recognize them before he had proclaimed
the rebellion at an end or restored the privilege of the writ of _habeas

He interfered himself, and allowed or ordered the army to interfere, in
the smallest details of local administration. The military rule in Alabama
was on the whole as well administered as it could be, which is seldom
well. There were too few soldiers and the posts were too widely separated
for the exercise of any firm or consistent authority. But the people were
sorry to see even the worst of this give place to the reign of
carpet-bagger, scalawag, and negro. The interference of the army and the
President discredited the civil government in the minds of the people. The
absolute rule of the President over the whole of ten states, though never
used for bad purposes, was, nevertheless, not to be viewed with equanimity
by those who were afraid of the almost absolute power that the executive
had assumed during the war. That the power had not been used for bad
purposes was no guarantee against future misuse. There was some excuse for
the pretended fright of the Radical leaders, like Sumner and Stevens, and
the real anxiety of more moderate men, at the dictatorial course of
Johnson. But it must be said that a desire for a share in political
appointments was a cause of much of this "real anxiety."

From 1865 to 1868, and even later, there was, for all practical purposes,
over the greater part of the people of Alabama, no government at all.
There was little disorder; the people were busy with their own affairs.
Public opinion ruled the respectable people. Until the close of
Reconstruction, the military and civil government touched the people
mainly to annoy. From 1865 to 1874 government and respect for government
were weakened to a degree from which it has not yet recovered. The people
governed themselves extra-legally and have not recovered from the

By taking cases from the civil authorities for trial before military
commission, by dictating the course of the civil government, by nullifying
the actions of the highest executive officers, the acts of the
legislature, and the decisions of the highest courts, the army was mainly
responsible for the lack of confidence in the civil administration.



In the account of the affairs thus far we have seen many evidences of the
active participation of the military power of the United States in the
conduct of government in Alabama. It will be useful at this point to
examine with some care the form and scope of the authority concerned
during the period of the provisional state government's existence.

The Military Division of the Tennessee (1863), under General Grant,
included the Department of the Cumberland, under the command of General
George H. Thomas. Several counties of north Alabama in the possession of
the Federals formed a part of this department and for three years were
governed entirely by the army, except for two short intervals, when the
Federal forces were flanked and forced to retire. Anarchy then reigned,
for the civil government had been almost entirely destroyed in ten of the
northern counties. June 7, 1865, the Military Division of the Tennessee
was reorganized under General Thomas, and included in it was the
Department of Alabama, commanded by General C. R. Woods, with headquarters
at Mobile. In October, 1865, Georgia and Alabama were united into a
military province called the Department of the Gulf, under General Woods.
This department was still in the Military Division of the Tennessee,
commanded by General Thomas. June 1, 1866, Alabama and Georgia were formed
into the Department of the South and were still in Thomas's Military
Division of the Tennessee. General Woods commanded, with headquarters at
Macon, Georgia. Alabama was ruled by General Swayne from Montgomery.
August 6, 1866, the Military Division of the Tennessee was discontinued
and was made a department, General Thomas retaining the command. In this
department Georgia and Alabama formed the District of the Chattahoochee,
with headquarters at Macon, commanded by General Woods. The Sub-district
of Alabama was commanded by General Swayne, who was also in charge of the
Freedmen's Bureau at Montgomery. This organization lasted until the Third
Military District, under the Reconstruction Acts of March 2, 1867, was
formed of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia, and General Thomas (immediately
superseded by General Pope) was put in command.[1079]

The Military Occupation

Within a month after the surrender of Lee, Alabama was occupied by Federal
armies, and garrisons were being stationed at one or more points in all
the more populous counties. Everywhere, the state and county government
was broken up by the military authorities, who were forbidden to recognize
any civil authority in the state. Into each of the 52 counties soldiers
were sent to administer the oath of allegiance to the United States to any
one who wished to take it. Most people were indifferent about it.[1080]

For several months there was no civil government at all, and no government
of any kind except in the immediate vicinity of the army posts and the
towns where military officers and Freedmen's Bureau agents regulated the
conduct of the negroes, and incidentally of the whites, well or badly,
according to their abilities and prejudices. Some of the officers,
especially those of higher rank, endeavored to pacify the land, gave good
advice to the negroes, and were considerate in their relations with the
whites; others incited the blacks to all sorts of deviltry and were a
terror to the whites.[1081] Each official in his little district ruled as
supreme as the Czar of all the Russias. He was the first and last
authority on most of the affairs of the community.

Early in the summer each city and its surrounding territory was formed
into a military district under the command of a general officer, who was
subject to the orders of General Woods at Mobile. There were the districts
of Mobile, Montgomery, Talladega, and Huntsville--each with a dozen or
more counties attached. Then there were isolated posts in each. The
district was governed by the rules applying to a "separate brigade" in the
army.[1082] The different posts, districts, and departments were formed,
discontinued, reorganized, with lightning rapidity. Hardly a single day
passed without some change necessitated by the resignation or muster out
of officers or troops. Commanding officers stayed a few days or a few
weeks at a post, and were relieved or discharged. Some of the officers
spent much of their time pulling wires to keep from being mustered out.
Others resigned as soon as their resignations would be accepted. Few or
none had any adequate knowledge of conditions in their own districts, nor
was it possible for them to acquire a knowledge of affairs in the short
time they remained at any one post.

After the establishment of the provisional government, the army was
supposed to retire into the background, leaving ordinary matters of
administration to the civil government. This it did not do, but constantly
interfered in all affairs of government. The army officers cannot be
blamed for their meddling with the civil administration, for the President
did the same and seemed to have little confidence in the governments he
had erected, though he gave good accounts of them to Congress. The
struggle at Washington between the President and Congress over
Reconstruction confused the military authorities as to the proper policy
to pursue. The instructions from the President and from General Grant were
sometimes in conflict.

In August, 1865, the military commander published the President's Amnesty
Proclamation of May 29, 1865, and sent officers to each county to
administer the oath.[1083] Instructions were given that "no improper
persons are to be permitted to take the oath." The oath was to be signed
in triplicate, one copy for the Department of State, one for military
headquarters, and one for the party taking the oath. Regulations were
prescribed for making special applications for pardon by those excepted
under the Amnesty Proclamation. There were 120 stations in the state where
officials administered the oath of amnesty.[1084] The military authorities
gave the term "improper persons" a broad construction and excluded many
who applied to take the oath. The various officers differed greatly in
their enforcement of the regulations. Special applications for pardon had
to go through military channels, and that meant delays of weeks or months;
so, after civil officials were appointed in Alabama, "improper persons"
took the oath before them, and then their papers were sent at once to
Washington for the attention of the President. There was some scandal
about the provisional secretary of state accepting reward for pushing
certain applications for pardon. But there was no need to use influence,
for the President pardoned all who applied.

Soon after Parsons was appointed provisional governor, an order stated
that the United States forces would be used to assist in the restoration
of order and civil law throughout the state and would act in support of
the civil authorities as soon as the latter were appointed and qualified.
The military authorities were instructed to avoid as far as possible any
assumption or exercise of the functions of civil tribunals. No arrest or
imprisonment for debt was to be made or allowed, and depredations by
United States troops upon private property were to be repressed.[1085]

The Army and the Colored Population

As acting agents of the Freedmen's Bureau, the army officers had to do
with all that concerned the negroes; but sometimes, in a different
capacity, they issued regulations concerning the colored race. It is
difficult to distinguish between their actions as Bureau agents and as
army officers. On the whole, it seems that each officer of the army
considered himself _ex officio_ an acting agent of the Bureau.

Soon after the occupation of Montgomery, an order was issued prohibiting
negroes from occupying houses in the city without the consent of the
owner. They had to vacate unless they could get permission. Negroes in
rightful possession had to show certificates to that effect from the
owner. All unemployed negroes were advised to go to work, as the United
States would not support them in idleness.[1086] This order was intended
to discourage the tendency of the negro population to flock to the
garrison towns. The first troops to arrive were almost smothered by the
welcoming blacks, who were disposed to depend upon the army for
maintenance. The officers were at first alarmed at the great crowds of
blacks who swarmed around them, and tried hard for a time to induce them
to go back home to work. Their efforts were successful in some instances.
In view of the fact that the posts and garrisons were the gathering places
of great numbers of unemployed blacks, an order, issued in August, 1865,
instructed the commanders of posts and garrisons to prohibit the loitering
of negroes around the posts and to discourage the indolence of the

In Mobile some kind of civil government must have been set up under the
direction of the military authorities, for we hear of an order issued by
General Andrews that in all courts and judicial proceedings in the
District of Mobile the negro should have the same standing as the
whites.[1088] These may have been Bureau courts.

It was represented to the military commander that the negroes of Alabama
had aided the Federals in April and May, 1865, by bringing into the lines,
or by destroying, stock, provisions, and property that would aid the
Confederacy, and that they were now being arrested by the officers of the
provisional government for larceny and arson. So he ordered that the civil
authorities be prohibited from arresting, trying, or imprisoning any negro
for any offence committed before the surrender of Taylor (on May 4, 1865),
except by permission of military headquarters or of the assistant
commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau.[1089] When the Federal armies
passed through the state in April and May, 1865, thousands of negroes had
seized the farm stock and followed the army, for a few days at least.
There was more of this seizure of property by negroes after garrisons were
stationed in the towns. The order was so construed that practically no
negro could be arrested for stealing when he was setting out for town and
the Bureau. A few weeks before the order was issued, Woods stated, "I do
not interfere with civil affairs at all unless called upon by the governor
of the state to assist the civil authorities."[1090]

Terrible stories of cruel treatment of the negroes were brought to Woods
by the Bureau officials, and he sent detachments of soldiers to
investigate the reports. Nothing was done except to march through the
country and frighten the timid by a display of armed force, which was
evidently all the agents wanted. One detachment scoured the counties of
Clarke, Marengo, Washington, and Choctaw, investigating the reports of the

The commanding officers at some posts authorized militia officers of the
provisional government to disarm the freedmen when outbreaks were
threatened. But after Christmas General Swayne ordered that no authority
be delegated by officers to civilians for dealing with freedmen, but that
such cases be referred to himself as the assistant commissioner of the
Freedmen's Bureau.[1092] There had been great fear among some classes of
people that the negroes would engage in plots to massacre the whites and
secure possession of the property, which they were assured by negro
soldiers and Bureau agents the governor meant them to have. About
Christmas, 1865, the fear was greatest. For six months the blacks had been
eagerly striving to get possession of firearms. The soldiers and
speculators made it easy for them to obtain them. In Russell County $3000
worth of new Spencer rifles were found hidden in negro cabins.[1093] There
were few firearms among the whites, for all had been used in war and were
therefore seized by the United States government. Some feared that the
negroes were preparing for an uprising, but it is more probable that they
merely wanted guns as a mark of freedom. The purchase of firearms by
whites was discouraged by the army. The sale of arms and ammunition into
the interior was forbidden, but speculators managed to sell both. General
Smith, at Mobile, had one of them--Dieterich--arrested and confined in the
military prison at Mobile.[1094] The _Mobile Daily Register_ was warned
that it must not print articles about impending negro insurrections,[1095]
a very good regulation; but the violent negro sheet in Mobile was not
noticed, though it was a cause of excitement among the blacks.

In the fall of 1866 it was reported to the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward,
that negroes were being induced to go to Peru on promise of higher wages.
Seward induced Howard, the commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, to have
the Bureau annul or disapprove all contracts of freedmen to go beyond the
limits of the United States. General Swayne, who was now both assistant
commissioner and military commander, was directed to enforce Howard's
order in Alabama.[1096]

Administration of Justice by the Army

From April to December, 1865, all trade and commerce had to go on under
the regulations prescribed by the army. The restrictions placed on trade
caused demoralization both in the army and among the Treasury agents, who
worked under the protection of the military.[1097] It was ordered that
civilians guilty of stealing government cotton should be punished, after
trial and conviction by military commission, according to the statutes of
Alabama in force before the war. Later all cases of theft of government
property were tried by military commission.[1098]

When the cotton agents were tried by military commission[1099] there arose
a conflict of authority between the military authorities and the Federal
Judge. One agent, T. C. A. Dexter, was arrested and sued out a writ of
_habeas corpus_ before Busteed, the Federal judge. The writ was served on
General Woods and Colonel Hunter Brooke, who presided over the military
commission. The officers declined to obey, saying that a military
commission had been convened to try Dexter, and that no interference of
the civil authorities would be permitted. Busteed ordered Dexter to be
discharged, and Woods to appear before him and show why he should not be
prosecuted for contempt of court. Woods paid no attention to this order,
and Busteed sent the United States marshal to arrest him. The marshal
reported that he was unable to get into the presence of Woods, because the
military guard was instructed not to allow him to pass. Woods sent a
message to Busteed that the writ had not been restored in Alabama. Busteed
made a protest to the President and asserted that the trial could not
lawfully proceed except in the civil courts. President Johnson sustained
the course of General Woods, and thereby gave a blow to his provisional
government, for Busteed at once adjourned his court--the only Federal
court in the state. The sentiment of the people was with Busteed in spite
of his own notorious character and that of the defendant. All wanted the
civil government to take charge of affairs.[1100]

Of the cases of civilians tried by summary courts in the summer of 1865,
there is no official record; of the cases tried by military commission
during 1865 and 1866, only incomplete records are to be found. A partial
list of the cases, with charges and sentences, is here given:--

    Wilson H. Gordon,[1101] civilian, murder of negro, May 14, 1865.

    Samuel Smiley,[1101] civilian, murder of negro, 1865. Acquitted.

    T. J. Carver,[1102] cotton agent, stealing cotton. Fined $90,000 and
    one year's imprisonment.

    T. C. A. Dexter,[1103] cotton agent, stealing cotton (3321 bales) and
    selling appointment of cotton agent to Carver for $25,000. Fined
    $250,000 and imprisonment for one year.

    William Ludlow,[1104] civilian, stealing United States stock. Four
    years' imprisonment.

    L. J. Britton,[1105] civilian, guerilla warfare and robbery. Fined
    $5000 and imprisonment for ten years. (Fine remitted by reviewing

    George M. Cunningham,[1106] late Second Lieutenant 47th Ill. Vol.
    Inf., stealing government stores. Fined $500.

    John C. Richardson,[1107] civilian, guerilla warfare and robbery.
    Imprisonment for ten years.

    Owen McLarney,[1107] civilian, assault on soldier. Acquitted.

    William B. Rowls,[1107] civilian, guerilla warfare and robbery.
    Imprisonment for ten years.

    Samuel Beckham,[1107] civilian, receiving stolen property.
    Imprisonment for three years.

    John Johnson,[1108] civilian, robbery and pretending to be United
    States officer. Fined $100, "to be appropriated to the use of the
    Freedmen's Bureau."

    Abraham Harper,[1108] civilian, robbery and pretending to be United
    States officer. Fined $100 "to be appropriated to the use of the
    Freedmen's Bureau."

Most of the civilians tried by the military commissions were camp
followers and discharged soldiers of the United States army. Those charged
with guerilla warfare were regularly enlisted Confederate soldiers and
were accused by the tory element, who were guilty of most of the guerilla
warfare.[1109] It was impossible to punish outlaws for any depredations
committed during the war, and for several months after the surrender, if
they claimed to be "loyalists," which they usually did. The civil
authorities were forbidden to arrest, try, and imprison discharged
soldiers of the United States army for acts committed while in
service.[1110] A similar order withdrew all "loyal" persons from the
jurisdiction of the civil courts so far as concerned actions during or
growing out of the war.[1111] The negroes had already been withdrawn from
the authority of the civil courts so far as similar offences were

Upon the complaint of United States officials collecting taxes and
revenues of the refusal of individuals to pay, the military commanders
over the state were ordered to arrest and try by military commission
persons who refused or neglected "to pay these just dues."[1113]

Numerous complaints of arbitrary arrests and of the unwarranted seizure of
private property called forth an order from General Thomas, directing that
the persons and property of all citizens must be respected. There was to
be no interference with or arrests of citizens unless upon proper
authority from the district commander, and then only after well-supported

The local military authorities were directed to arrest persons who had
been or might be charged with offences against officers, agents, citizens,
and inhabitants of the United States, in cases where the civil authorities
had failed, neglected, or been unable to bring the offending parties to
trial. Persons so arrested were to be confined by the military until a
proper tribunal might be ready and willing to try them.[1115] This was
another one of many blows at the civil government permitted by the
President, who allowed the army to judge for itself as to when it should

These are the more important orders issued by the military authority
relating to public affairs in Alabama during the existence of the two
provisional or "Johnson" state governments. It will be seen from the scope
of the orders that the local military officials had the power of constant
interference with the civil government. A large part of the population was
withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the civil administration. The officials
of the latter had no real power, for they were subject to frequent reproof
and their proceedings to frequent revision by the army officers. Both
Governor Parsons and Governor Patton wanted the army removed, confident
that the civil government could do better than both together. Parsons
appealed to Johnson to remove the army or prohibit its interference.[1116]
He complained that the military officials had caused and were still
causing much injustice by deciding grave questions of law and equity upon
_ex parte_ statements. Personal rights were subject to captious and
uncertain regulations. The tenure of property was uncertain, and citizens
felt insecure when the army decided complicated cases of title to land and
questions of public morals. A military commission at Huntsville, acting
under direction of General Thomas, had assumed to decide questions of
title to property, and in one case, a widow was alleged to have been
turned out of her home.[1117] The citizens of Montgomery were indignant
because the military authorities had issued licenses for the sale of
liquor, and had permitted prostitution by licensing houses of ill repute.
Circular No. 1, District of Montgomery, September 9, 1865, required that
all public women must register at the office of the provost marshal; that
each head of a disorderly house must pay a license tax of $25 a week in
addition to $5 a week for each inmate, and that medical inspection should
be provided for by military authority. In case of violation of these
regulations a fine of $100 would be imposed for each offence, and ten to
thirty days' imprisonment. The bishop and all the clergy of the Episcopal
Church were suspended and the churches closed for several months because
the bishop refused to order a prayer for the President.[1118] The
restaurant of Joiner and Company, at Stevenson, was closed by order of the
post commander because two negro soldiers were refused the privilege of
dining at the regular table.[1119] Admiral Semmes, after being pardoned,
was elected mayor of Mobile, but the President interfered and refused to
allow him to serve. Many arrests and many more investigations were made at
the instigation of the tory or "union" element, and on charges made by

Relation between the Army and the People

The unsatisfactory character of the military rule was due in a large
measure to the fact that the white volunteers were early mustered out,
leaving only a few regulars and several regiments of negro troops to
garrison the country.[1121] These negro troops were a source of disorder
among the blacks, and were under slack discipline. Outrages and robberies
by them were of frequent occurrence. There was ill feeling between the
white and the black troops. Even when the freedmen utterly refused to go
to work, they behaved well, as a rule, except where negro troops were
stationed. There is no reason to believe that it was not more the fault of
the white officers than of the black soldiers, for black soldiers were
amenable to discipline when they had respectable officers. Truman reported
to the President that the negro troops should be removed, because "to a
great extent they incite the freedmen to deeds of violence and encourage
them in idleness."[1122] The white troops, most of them regulars, behaved
better, so far as their relations with the white citizens were concerned.
The general officers were as a rule gentlemen, generous and considerate.
So much so, that some rabid newspaper correspondents complained because
the West Pointers treated the southerners with too much
consideration.[1123] In the larger posts discipline was fairly good, but
at small, detached posts in remote districts the soldiers, usually, but
not always, the black ones, were a scourge to the state. They ravaged the
country almost as completely as during the war.[1124] The numerous reports
of General Swayne show that there was no necessity for garrisons in the
state. He wanted, he said, a small body of cavalry to catch fugitives from
justice, not a force to overcome opposition. The presence of the larger
forces of infantry created a great deal of disorder. The soldiers were not
amenable to civil law, the refining restraints of home were lacking, and
discipline was relaxed.[1125]

Of the subordinate officers some were good and some were not, and the
latter, when away from the control of their superior officers and in
command of lawless men, ravaged the back country and acted like brigands.
For ten years after the war the general orders of the various military
districts, departments, and divisions are filled with orders publishing
the results of court-martial proceedings, which show the demoralization of
the class of soldiers who remained in the army after the war. The best men
clamored for their discharge when the war ended and went home. The more
disorderly men, for whom life in garrison in time of peace was too tame,
remained, and all sorts of disorder resulted. Finally "Benzine" boards, as
they were called, had to take hold of the matter, and numbers of men who
had done good service during the war were discharged because they were
unable to submit to discipline in time of peace.

The rule of the army might have been better, especially in 1865, had there
not been so many changes of local and district commanders and
headquarters. Some counties remained in the same military jurisdiction a
month or two, others a week or two, several for two or three days only.
The people did not know how to proceed in order to get military justice.
Orders were issued that business must proceed through military channels.
This cut off the citizen from personal appeal to headquarters, unless he
was a man of much influence. Often it was difficult to ascertain just what
military channels were. Headquarters and commanders often changed before
an application or a petition reached its destination.[1126]

The President merited failure with his plan of restoration because he
showed so little confidence in the governments he had established. He was
constantly interfering on the slightest pretexts. He asked Congress to
admit the states into the Union, and said that order was restored and the
state governments in good running order, while at the same time he had not
restored the writ of _habeas corpus_, had not proclaimed the "rebellion"
at an end, and was in the habit of allowing and directing the interference
of the army in the gravest questions that confronted the civil government.
In this way he discredited his own work, even in the eyes of those who
wished it to succeed. His intentions were good, but his judgment was
certainly at fault.

The army authorities went on in their accustomed way until Swayne was
placed in command, June 1, 1866, when a more sensible policy was
inaugurated, and there was less friction. Swayne aspired to control the
governor and legislature by advice and demands rather than to rule through
the army. There were few soldiers in the state after the summer of 1866.
Order was good, except for the disturbing influence of negro troops and
individual Bureau agents. There were in remote districts outbreaks of
lawlessness which neither the army nor the state government could
suppress. The infantry could not chase outlaws; the state government was
too weak to enforce its orders or to command respect as long as the army
should stay. At their best the army and the civil administration
neutralized the efforts and paralyzed the energies of each other. There
were two governments side by side, the authority of each overlapping that
of the other, while the Freedmen's Bureau, a third government, supported
by the army, was much inclined to use its powers. The result was that most
of the people went without government.

On the 28th of March, 1867, the policy of Johnson came to its logical end
in failure. General Grant then issued the order which overturned the civil
government established by the President. In Alabama, which was to form a
part of the Third Military District, all elections for state and county
officials were disallowed until the arrival of the commander of the
district. All persons elected to office during the month of March (after
the passage of the Reconstruction Acts) were ordered to report to military
headquarters for the action of the new military governor.[1127] Military
government then entered on a new phase.




Department of Negro Affairs

Any account of the causes of disturbed conditions in the South during the
two years succeeding the war must include an examination of the workings
of the Freedmen's Bureau, the administration of which was uniformly
hostile to the President's policy and in favor of the Radical plans.

As soon as the Federal armies reached the Black Belt, it became a serious
problem to care for the negroes who stopped work and flocked to the camps.
Some of the generals sent them back to their masters, others put them to
work as laborers in the camps and on the fortifications. Officers--usually
chaplains--were temporarily detailed to look after the blacks who swarmed
about the army, and thus the so-called "Department of Negro Affairs" was
established extra-legally, and continued until the passage of the
Freedmen's Bureau Act in 1865. The "Department" was supported by captured
and confiscated property, and was under the direction of the War

For a year after north Alabama was overrun by the Federal troops, no
attempt was made to segregate the blacks; but in 1863 a camp for refugees
and captured negroes was established on the estate of ex-Governor Chapman,
near Huntsville in Madison county, and Chaplain Stokes of the Eighteenth
Wisconsin Infantry was placed in charge. It was not intended that the
negroes should remain there permanently, but they were to be sent later to
the larger concentration camps at Nashville. No records were kept, but the
report of the inspector states that several hundred negroes were received
before August, 1864, of whom only a small proportion was sent to
Nashville. Those who remained were employed in cultivating the
land,--planting corn, cotton, sorghum, and vegetables,--and in building
log barracks and other similar houses. Schools were established for the
children. The War Department issued three-fourths rations to the negroes,
and the aid societies also helped them, although this colony was nearer
self-sustaining than any other.[1129]

In 1864 the Treasury Department assumed partial charge of negro refugees
and captive slaves. Regulations provided that captured and abandoned
property should be rented and the proceeds devoted to the purchase of
supplies for the blacks, who, when possible, were to be employed as
laborers. In each special agency there was to be a "Freedmen's Home
Colony" under a "Superintendent of Freedmen," whose duty it was to care
for the blacks in the colony, to obtain agricultural implements and
supplies, and to keep a record of the negroes who passed through the
colony. A classification of laborers was made and a minimum schedule of
wages fixed as follows:--

No. 1 hands, males, 18 to 40 years of age, minimum wage, $25 per month;
No. 2 hands, males, 14 to 18, 40 to 55 years of age, minimum wage, $20 per
month; No. 3 hands, males, 12 to 14 years of age, minimum wage, $15 per
month; corresponding classes of women, $18, $14, $10, respectively.

It was the duty of the superintendent to see that all who were physically
able secured work at the specified rates. He acted as an employment agent,
and the planters had to hire their labor through him. He exercised a
general supervision over the affairs of all freedmen in the district.
Beside paying the high wages fixed by the schedule, the planter was
obliged to take care of the young children of the family hired by him; to
furnish without charge a separate house for each family with an acre of
ground for garden, medical attendance for the family, and schooling for
the children; to sell food and clothing to the negroes at actual cost; and
to pay for full time unless the laborer was sick or refused to work. Half
the wages was paid at the end of the month, and the remainder at the end
of the contract. Wages due constituted a first lien on the crop, which
could not be moved until the superintendent certified that the wages had
been paid or arranged for. Not more than ten hours a day labor was to be
required. Cases of dispute were to be settled by civil courts (Union),
where established,--otherwise the superintendent was vested with the power
to decide such cases. Provision was made for accepting the assistance of
the aid societies, especially in the matter of schools.[1130] Under such
regulations it was hardly possible for the farmer to hire laborers, and we
find that only 205 negroes were disposed of by the colony near Huntsville.
If the wages could have been paid in Confederate currency, they would have
been reasonable; but United States currency was required, and most people
had none of it.

In the fall of 1864 the army again took charge of negro affairs and
administered them along the lines indicated in the Treasury regulations.
Wherever the army went its officers constituted themselves into freedmen's
courts, aid societies, etc., and exercised absolute control over all
relations between the two races and among the blacks.

The Freedmen's Bureau Established

The law of March 3, 1865, created a Bureau in the War Department to which
was given control of all matters relating to freedmen, refugees, and
abandoned lands. All officials were required to take the iron-clad test
oath.[1131] No appropriation was made for the purpose of carrying out this
law, and for the first year the Bureau was maintained by taxes on salaries
and on cotton, by fines, donations, rents of buildings and lands, and by
the sales of crops and confiscated property.[1132] On July 16, 1866, a
second Bureau Bill, amplifying the law of March 3, 1865, and extending it
to July 16, 1868, was passed over the President's veto. In 1868 the Bureau
was continued for one year, and on January 1, 1869, it was discontinued,
except in educational work.[1133] There is no indication that the
provisions of the laws had much effect on the administration of the
Bureau. From the beginning it had entire control of all that concerned
freedmen, who thus formed a special class not subject to the ordinary
laws. In Alabama there were nearly 500,000 negroes thus set apart, of whom
100,000 were children and 40,000 were aged and infirm.[1134]

It was several months before the organization of the Bureau was completed
in Alabama. Meanwhile army officers acted as _ex officio_ agents of the
Bureau, and regulated negro affairs. They were disposed to persuade the
negroes to go home and work, and not congregate around the military posts.
They issued some rations to the negroes in the towns who were most in
want, but discouraged the tendency to look to the United States for
support. Only a small proportion of the race was affected by the
operations of the Bureau during the months of April, May, and June, 1865.
In north and south Alabama, above and below the Black Belt, the negroes
were more under control of the Bureau than in the Black Belt itself. The
assistant commissioner for Tennessee had jurisdiction over the negroes in
north Alabama, who had been under nominal northern control since 1862. The
Bureau was established at Mobile in April and May, under the control of
the army, and was an offshoot of the Louisiana Bureau, T. W. Conway,
assistant commissioner for Louisiana, being for a short while in charge of
negro affairs in Alabama. At the same time there was at Mobile one T. W.
Osborn, who was called the assistant commissioner for Alabama. Later he
was transferred to Florida, and in July, 1865, General Wager Swayne
succeeded Conway in Alabama.[1135]

There were but few regular agents in Alabama before the arrival of General
Swayne. A few stray missionaries and preachers, representing the aid
societies, came in, and were placed in charge of the camps of freedmen
near the towns. Conway appointed agents at Mobile, Demopolis, Selma, and
Montgomery, who were officers in the negro regiments.[1136] For several
months the army officers were almost the only agents, and, as has been
stated, the higher officials, and some of the subordinates pursued a
sensible course, giving the negroes sensible advice, and laboring to
convince them that they could not expect to live without work. Others
encouraged them in idleness and violence and advised them to stop work and
congregate in the towns and around the military posts. The black troops
and their commanders were a source of disorder and cause of irritation
between the races. The officers of these troops, and others also, were
probably often sincere in their convictions that the southern white,
especially the former slave owner, could not be trusted in anything where
negroes were concerned, that he was the natural enemy of the black and
must be guarded against.[1137]

It was on June 20, 1865, that General Swayne was appointed assistant
commissioner for Alabama, and on July 14, T. W. Conway directed all
officials of the Bureau in the state (except those in north Alabama who
were under the control of the assistant commissioner of Tennessee) to
report to Swayne on his arrival.[1138] On July 26 the latter assumed
charge and appointed Charles A. Miller as his assistant adjutant-general,
later another saviour of his country in Reconstruction days. General
Swayne stated that on his arrival he was kindly received by most of the
people, and that he was "agreeably disappointed" in the temper of the
people and their attitude toward him. Howard's instructions made it the
duty of the assistant commissioner or his agents to adjudicate all
differences among negroes and between negroes and whites. Exclusive and
final jurisdiction was vested in him.[1139]

The Bureau in Alabama was organized in five departments: (1) the
Department of Abandoned and Confiscated Lands; (2) the Department of
Records (Labor, Schools, and Supplies); (3) the Department of Finance; (4)
the Medical Department; (5) the Bounty Department. Before the end of
August, 1865, the organization was completed, on paper, and the state had
been divided into five districts, each controlled by a superintendent.
These districts were:

(1) Mobile, with seven counties; (2) Selma, with ten counties; (3)
Montgomery, with nine counties; (4) Troy, with six counties: (5)
Demopolis, with eight counties; later, (6) north Alabama, consisting of
twelve counties, was withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the assistant
commissioner of Tennessee, General Fiske, and became the sixth division in

The officials of the Freedmen's Bureau, except the state officials and
subordinate employees, numbered, in 1865, twenty-seven army officers, and
two civilians.[1140] By November the Bureau was well organized, and as
many offices as possible were established to examine into labor contracts.
Each superintendent had charge of the issue of rations in the county where
he was stationed, and in each of the other counties of his district he had
an assistant superintendent. It was the duty of these seventy-five or more
officers to investigate complaints against county or state officials, who
had been made _ex officio_ Freedmen's Bureau agents; and when a negro made
a complaint, Swayne forced Parsons to appoint a new officer. Later, when
complaint was made, Swayne would replace a civil agent by a regular Bureau
agent. Thus the Bureau gradually passed out of the hands of the state
officials. The superintendents and the assistant superintendents had the
power to arrest outlaws and evil-doers. They could also delegate the
charge of contracts to responsible persons. Depots were established from
which supplies were issued to the counties, each county furnishing
transportation and distributing the supplies under the observation of the

General Swayne was succeeded, January 14, 1868, by Brevet
Brigadier-General Julius Hayden, who in turn was succeeded, March 31,
1868, by Brevet Brigadier-General O. L. Shepherd, Colonel of the Fifteenth
Infantry, and he was relieved on August 18, 1868, by Brevet
Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Beecher, who wound up the affairs of the Bureau
in the state, except the educational and bounty divisions.[1142] The
sub-districts were continued during the existence of the Bureau. These
consisted of four to six counties each, and were sometimes under the
charge of regular army officers, sometimes under civilians.[1143] The
_Tribune_ correspondent had doubts of the benefits of the Freedmen's
Bureau where army officers, especially West Pointers, were in charge. The
West Pointers were strict with the negroes, there was no idleness; the
negro had to work; and the officers always took the side of the

Pressure from the northern Radicals was brought to bear on Swayne, as time
went on, to force him to do away more and more with army officers and
civil officials of the state, and to substitute civilians from the North,
who had a different plan for helping the negro. The alien agents were
opposed to Swayne's plan of appointing native whites as agents, and told
him tales of outrage that had been committed, but he paid no attention to
them. The Bureau officers told much more horrible tales than any of the
army officers.[1145]

_The Nation's_ correspondent seemed disappointed because the Freedmen's
Bureau and the people and the negro were getting along fairly well.[1146]

The Freedmen's Bureau and the Civil Authorities

There was, according to the state laws of 1861, no provision for the negro
in the courts, and Swayne asked Governor Parsons to issue a proclamation
opening the courts to them and giving them full civil rights. He reminded
Parsons that he (Parsons) was merely a military official, and that the law
administered by him was martial law, which had its limits only in the
discretion of the commander. Parsons and his advisers thought that the
people would oppose such action and so refused to issue the

Thereupon Swayne himself issued a proclamation, stating that exclusive
control of all matters relating to the negroes belonged to him. He was
unwilling, however, he said, to establish tribunals in Alabama conducted
by persons foreign to her citizenship and strangers to her laws.
Consequently, all judicial officers, magistrates, and sheriffs of the
provisional government were made Bureau agents for the administration of
justice to the negroes. The laws of the state were to be applied so far as
no distinction was made on account of color. Processes were to run in the
name of the provisional government and according to the forms provided by
state law. The military authorities were to support the civil officials of
the Bureau in the administration of justice. Each officer was to signify
his acceptance of this appointment, and failure to accept or refusal to
administer the laws without regard to color would result in the
substitution of martial law in that community.[1148]

This order was remarkable for several reasons. In the first place, it was
rather an arrogant seizure of the provisional administration and
subordination of it to the Bureau. All officials were forced to accept by
the threat of martial law in case of refusal to serve. Again, Swayne was
not in command of the military forces of the state, though the army was
directed to support the Bureau. This law gave to Swayne unlimited
discretion, so that by a short order he practically placed himself at the
head of the whole administration,--civil and military,--and throughout his
term of service in Alabama he never allowed anything to stand in his
way.[1149] Again, the act of March 3, 1865, provided that all officials of
the Bureau must take the "iron-clad," and it is doubtful if a single state
official could have taken it. Swayne did not require it.

As soon as Swayne's proclamation was made known, the majority of the
judges and magistrates applied to Governor Parsons for instructions in the
matter. Parsons, who disliked the Bureau, but who was a timid and prudent
man, issued a proclamation requiring compliance, and even enforced
compliance by removing those who refused and appointing in their places
nominees of Swayne. The entire body of state and county officials finally
signified their acceptance, and the negro was then given exactly the same
civil rights as possessed by the whites.[1150] Had all the state officials
refused to serve, there would have ensued an interesting state of affairs;
an official of the Freedmen's Bureau would have overturned the state
government set up by the President. It was, however, done with a good
purpose, and for a while worked well by not working at all. Swayne was a
man of common sense, a soldier, and a gentleman, and honestly desired to
do what was best for all--the negro first. He did not profess much regard
for the native white, and he made it plain that his main purpose was to
secure the rights which he thought the negro ought to have. Incidentally,
he pursued a wise and conciliatory policy, as he understood it, toward the
whites, for he saw that this was the best way to aid the negro. The work
of the Bureau under his charge was probably the least harmful of all in
the South, and for most of the harm done he was not responsible. General
Swayne attributed what he termed his success with the Freedmen's Bureau to
the fact that he used at first the native state and county officials as
his agents, and thus dispensed to some, extent with alien civilians and
army officials, who were obnoxious to the mass of the people. The
requisite number of army officials of proper character could not have been
secured, and they would not have understood the conditions. The same was
true of alien civilians. Even the best ones would have inclined toward the
blacks in all things, and thus would have incensed the whites, or they
would have been "seduced by social amenities" to become the instruments of
the whites, or they would have become merchantable. In any case the negro
would suffer. General Swayne said that he thoroughly understood that he
was expected by the Radicals to pursue no such policy, and that he half
expected to be forced from the service for so doing. Influence was brought
to bear to cause him to change and with some success.

Later some few officials were removed, the most notable case being that
of Major H. H. Slough and the police of Mobile.[1151] It was reported to
Swayne that Slough was not enforcing the laws without regard to color. A
staff officer was sent at once to Mobile to demand instant acceptance or
rejection of Swayne's proclamation. The mayor rejected it, and Swayne then
informed Parsons that Mobile had to have either a new mayor, or martial
law and a garrison of negro troops.[1152] Parsons yielded, and made all
the changes that Swayne demanded. Two commissions were made out,--one
appointed John Forsyth as mayor, and the other, F. C. Bromberg, a "Union"
man. Swayne was to deliver the commission he wished. He went to Mobile and
decided to try Forsyth, who at that time was down the bay at a pleasure
resort. Swayne went after him in a tug, and met a tug with Forsyth on
board coming up the bay. He hailed it and asked it to stop, but the tug
only went the faster. He chased it for several miles,[1153] and at length
the pursued boat was overtaken. Swayne called for Forsyth, and all thought
that he was to be arrested. But to the great relief of the party the
appointment as mayor was offered to him, and Forsyth soon decided to
accept the office. As Swayne said, he was a "hot Confederate," a Democrat,
and would fight, and no one would dare criticise him. He soon had the
confidence of both white and black.[1154]

The order admitting the testimony of and conferring civil rights upon the
negro was favored by most of the lawyers of the state. The "testimony" was
the fulcrum to move other things. The tendency of the law of evidence is
to receive all testimony and let the jury decide. So there was no trouble
from the lawyers, and their opinion greatly influenced the people. None of
the respectable people of Alabama were opposed to allowing the negro to
testify. They were not afraid of such testimony, for no jury would ever
convict a reputable man on negro testimony alone. This was one objection
to it--its unreliability and consequent possible injustice.

Bureau supported by Confiscations

Landlords were prevented from evicting negroes who had taken possession of
houses or lands until complete provision had been made for them elsewhere.
Thus the negroes would do nothing and kept others from coming in their
places.[1155] "Loyal" refugees and freedmen were made secure in the
possession of land which they were cultivating until the crops were
gathered or until they were paid proper compensation.[1156] Little
captured, abandoned, or confiscated private property remained in the hands
of the Bureau officials after the wholesale pardoning by the President. As
soon as pardoned, the former owner regained rights of property except in
slaves, though the personal property had been sold and the proceeds used
for various purposes.[1157] There was, however, a great deal of
Confederate property and state and county property that had been devoted
to the use of the Confederacy. In every small town of the state there was
some such property--barns, storehouses, hospital buildings, foundries,
iron works, cotton, supplies, steamboats, blockade-runners. An order from
the President, dated November 11, 1865, directed the army, navy, and
Treasury officials to turn over to the Freedmen's Bureau all real estate,
buildings, and other property in Alabama that had been used by the
Confederacy. The sale of this property furnished sufficient revenue for
one year, and, until withdrawn several years later, the educational
department was sustained by the proceeds of similar sales.[1158] The
failure of Congress to appropriate funds made it almost necessary to use
state officials as agents, as there was no money to pay other agents. The
Confederate iron works at Briarfield were sold for $45,000, three
blockade-runners in the Tombigbee River for $50,000, and some hospital
buildings for $8000. There was besides a large amount of Confederate
property in Selma, Montgomery, Demopolis, and Mobile. Of private property,
at the close of 1865, the Bureau was still holding 2116 acres of land and
thirteen pieces of town property.[1159] A year later all of this
property, except seven pieces of town property, had been restored to the

In 1866 a blockade-runner was sold for $4000 and a war vessel in the
Tombigbee for $27,351.93. The expenses of the Bureau in 1865, so far as
accounts were kept, amounted to $126,865.77.[1161] This sum was obtained
from sales of Confederate property. There was, also, a tax on contracts of
from 50 cents to $1.50, and a fee on licenses for Bureau marriages. But
the money thus obtained seems to have been appropriated by the agents, who
kept no record. Rations were issued by the army to the Bureau agents and
there was no further accountability. No accounts were kept of the proceeds
from the sales of abandoned and confiscated property, a neglect which led
to grave abuses. All records were confused, loosely kept, and
unbusinesslike. There were, also, funds from private sources at the
disposal of the authorities, besides the appropriations of 1866 and 1867,
those in the former year being estimated at $851,500. There was little or
no supervision over and no check on the operations of the agents. It has
been stated that the salaries proper of the Bureau agents in Alabama
amounted to about $50,000 annually.[1162] State officials acting as agents
received no salaries. It is impossible to ascertain the amount expended in
Alabama, though the entire expenditure accounted for in the South was
nearly twenty million dollars; much was not accounted for.

During the two decades preceding the war many individual planters had
erected chapels and churches for the use of the negroes in the towns and
on the plantations. Some few such buildings belonged to the negroes and
were held in trust by the whites for them, but most of them were the
property of the planters or of church organizations that had built them.
General Swayne ordered that all such property should be secured to the
negroes.[1163] These buildings were used for schools and churches by the
missionary teachers and religious carpet-baggers who were instructing the
negro in the proper attitude of hostility toward all things southern.

The Bureau issued a retroactive order, requiring negroes to take out
licenses for marriages, and all former marriages had to be again
solemnized at the Bureau. Licenses cost fifty cents, which was considered
an extortion and was supposed to be for Buckley's benefit.[1164]

The Labor Problem

The Bureau inherited the policy of the "superintendents" in regard to the
regulation of negro labor, and the first regulations by the Bureau were
evidently modelled on the Treasury Regulations of July 29, 1864. The
monthly wage was lowered, but there was the same absurd classification of
labor with fixed wages. The first of these regulations, promulgated in
Mobile in May, 1865, was to this effect:--

Laborers were to be encouraged to make contracts with their former masters
or with any one else. The contracts were to be submitted to the
"Superintendent of Freedmen" and, if fair and honest, would be approved
and registered. A register of unemployed persons was to be kept at the
Freedmen's Bureau, and any person by applying there could obtain laborers
of both sexes at the following rates: first class, $10 per month; second
class, $8 per month; third class, $6 per month; boys under 14 years of
age, $3 per month; girls under 14 years of age, $2 per month. Colored
persons skilled in trade were also divided into three classes at the
following rates: men and women receiving the same, first class, $2.50 per
day; second class, $2 per day; third class, $1.50 per day. Mechanics were
also to receive not less than $5 per month in addition to first-class
rates. Wages were to be paid quarterly, on July 1 and October 1, and the
final payment on or before the expiration of the contract, which was to
be made for not less than three months, and not longer than to the end of
1865. In addition to his wages, the contracts must secure to the laborer
just treatment, wholesome food, comfortable clothing, quarters, fuel, and
medical attendance. No contract was binding nor a person considered
employed unless the contract was signed by both parties and registered at
the Bureau office, in which case a certificate of employment was to be
furnished. Laborers were warned that it was for their own interest to work
faithfully, and that the government, while protecting them against ill
treatment, would not countenance idleness and vagrancy, nor support those
capable of earning an honest living by industry. The laborers must fulfil
their contracts, and would not be allowed to leave their employer except
when permitted by the Superintendent of Freedmen. For leaving without
cause or permission, the laborers were to forfeit all wages and be
otherwise punished. Wages would be deducted in cases of sickness, and
wages and rations withheld when sickness was feigned for purposes of
idleness, the proof being furnished by the medical officer in attendance.
Upon feigning sickness or refusing to work, a laborer was to be put at
forced labor on the public works without pay. A reasonable time having
been given for voluntary contracts to be made, any negro found without
employment would be furnished work by the superintendent, who was to
supply the army with all that were required for labor, and gather the
aged, infirm, and helpless into "home colonies," and put them on
plantations. Employers and their agents were to be held responsible for
their conduct toward laborers, and cruelty or neglect of duty would be
summarily punished.[1165] The ignorance of conditions shown by these
seemingly fair regulations is equalled in other regulations issued by the
Bureau agents during the summer and fall of 1865. It is no wonder that the
negroes could not find work in Mobile when they wanted it.

Instructions from Howard directed that agreements to labor must be
approved by Bureau officers. Overseers were not to be tolerated. All
agents were to be classed as officers, whether they were enlisted men or
civilians. Wages were to be secured by a lien on the crops or the land,
the rate of pay being fixed at the wages paid for an able-bodied negro
before the war, and a minimum rate was to be published. All contracts were
to be written and approved by the agent of the Bureau, who was to keep a
copy of the documents.[1166]

At Huntsville, in north Alabama, orders were issued that freedmen must go
to work or be arrested and forced to work by the military authorities.
Contracts had to be witnessed by a friend of the freedmen, and were
subject to examination by the military authorities. Breach of contract by
either party might be tried by the provost marshal or by a military
commission, and the property of the employer was liable to seizure for

At first the planters thought that they saw in the contract system a means
of holding the negro to his work, and they vigorously demanded
contracts.[1168] This suited Swayne, and he issued the following
regulations, which superseded former rules:--

1. All contracts with freedmen for labor for a month or more had to be in
writing, and approved by an agent of the Freedmen's Bureau, who might
require security.

2. For plantation labor: (_a_) contracts could be made with the heads of
families to embrace the labor of all members who were able to work; (_b_)
the employer must provide good and sufficient food, quarters, and medical
attendance, and such further compensation as might be agreed upon; (_c_)
such contracts would be a lien upon the crops, of which not more than half
could be moved until full payment had been made, and the contract released
by the Freedmen's Bureau agent or by a justice of the peace in case an
agent was not at hand.

3. The remedies for violation of contracts were forfeiture of wages and
damages secured by lien.

4. In case an employer should make an oath before a justice of the peace,
acting as an agent of the Bureau, that one of his laborers had been absent
more than three days in a month, the justice of the peace could proceed
against the negro as a vagrant and hand him over to the civil authorities.

5. Vagrants when convicted might be put to work on the roads or streets or
at other labor by the county, or municipal authorities, who must provide
for their support; or they might be given into the charge of an agent of
the Freedmen's Bureau. This was usually done and the agent released them.
Besides this, he often interfered, and took charge of the negro vagrants
convicted in the community.

6. All contracts must expire on or before January 1, 1866.[1169]

The lien upon the crop was to be enforced by attachment, which must be
issued by any magistrate when any part of the crop was about to be moved
without the consent of the laborer. The plaintiff (negro) was not obliged
to give bond.[1170] These regulations had no effect in reorganizing labor,
and were only a cause of confusion.

A committee of citizens of Talladega, appointed to make suggestions in
regard to enforcing the regulations of the Freedmen's Bureau concerning
contracts, reported that: (1) contracts for a month or more between whites
and blacks should be reduced to writing and witnessed; (2) civil officers
should enforce these contracts according to law and the regulations of the
Freedmen's Bureau; (3) the law of apprenticeship should be applied to
freedmen where minors were found without means of support; (4) civil
officers should take duties heretofore devolving upon the Freedmen's
Bureau in matters of contract between whites and blacks. This practically
asked for the discontinuance of the Freedmen's Bureau as being

When enforced, the contract regulations caused trouble. The lien on the
crop for the negro's wages prevented the farmer from moving a bale of
cotton if the negro objected. No matter whether the negro had been paid or
not, if he made complaint, the farmer's whole crop could be locked up
until the case was settled by a magistrate or agent; and the negro was not
backward in making claims for wages unpaid or for violation of contract.
The average southern farmer had to move a great part of his crop before he
could get money to satisfy labor and other debts, and when the negro saw
the first bale being moved, he often became uneasy and made trouble.[1172]
The contract system resulted in much litigation, of which the negro was
very fond; he did not feel that he was really free until he had had a
lawsuit with some one. It gave him no trouble and much entertainment, but
was a source of annoyance to his employer. The Bureau agents were
particular that no negro should work except under a written contract, as a
fee of from fifty cents to a dollar and a half was charged for each
contract. If a negro was found working under a verbal agreement, he and
his employer were summoned before the agent, fined, and forced into a
written contract. When the negroes refused to work, the planters could
sometimes hire the Bureau officials to use their influence. The whites
charged that it was a common practice for the agents to induce a strike,
and then make the employers pay for an order to send the blacks back to
work.[1173] This was the case only under alien Bureau agents, for where
the magistrates were agents, all went smoothly with no contracts. The end
of 1865 and the spring of 1866 found the whites, who at first had insisted
on written contracts, weary of the system and disposed to make only verbal
agreements, and the negro had usually become afraid of a written contract
because it might be enforced. The legislature passed laws to regulate
contracts, which Governor Patton vetoed on the ground that no special
legislation was necessary; the laws of supply and demand should be allowed
to operate, he said. Swayne also said that contracts were not necessary,
as hunger and cold on the part of one, and demand for labor on the part of
the other, would protect both negro and white.[1174]

Some planters, having no faith in free negro labor, refused to give the
negro employment requiring any outlay of money. And "freedmen were not
uncommon who believed that work was no part of freedom." There was a
disposition, Swayne reported, to preserve as much as possible the old
patriarchal system, and the general belief was that the negro would not
work; and he did refuse to work regularly until after Christmas.[1175]
Some planters thought that the government would advance supplies to
them,[1176] and they asked Howard to bind out negroes to them. Howard
visited Mobile and irritated the whites by his views on the race

Freedmen's Bureau Courts

In Alabama, the state courts were made freedmen's courts,--to test, as
Howard said, the disposition of the judges; Swayne says that it was done
from reasons of policy, and because at first there were not enough aliens
to hold Bureau courts. The reports were favorable except from north
Alabama, where the "unionists" were supposed to abound.[1178] In all cases
where the blacks were concerned the assistant commissioner was authorized
to exercise jurisdiction, and the state laws relating to apprenticeship
and vagrancy were extended by his order to include freedmen. The Bureau
officials were made the guardians of negro orphans, but each city and
county had to take care of its own paupers.[1179] Freedmen's Bureau courts
were created, each composed of three members appointed by the assistant
commissioner, one of whom was an official of the Freedmen's Bureau, and
two were citizens of the county. Their jurisdiction extended to cases
relating to the compensation of freedmen to the amount of $300, and all
other cases between whites and blacks, and criminal cases by or against
negroes where the sentence might be a fine of $100 and one month's

In his report for 1866, Swayne states that "martial law administered
concurrently" by provisional and military authorities was in force
throughout the state; that the coöperation of the provisional government
and the Freedmen's Bureau had secured to the freedmen the same rights and
privileges enjoyed by the other non-voting inhabitants; in some cases, he
said, on account of prejudice, the laws were not executed, but this was
not to be remedied by any number of troops, since no good result could be
obtained by force.[1180] During 1865 and 1866 General Swayne repeatedly
spoke of the friendly relations between the Freedmen's Bureau and the
state officials--Governors Parsons and Patton and Commissioner Cruikshank,
who was in charge of relief of the poor.

By means of the Bureau courts the negro was completely removed from trial
by the civil government or by any of its officers, except when the latter
were acting as Bureau agents, which, as time went on, was less and less
often the case, and the negro passed entirely under the control of the
alien administration, and an army officer and two or three carpet-baggers
administered what they called justice in cases where the negroes were
concerned. The negroes frequently broke their contracts, telling the
provost marshal that they had been lashed, and this caused the employer to
be arrested and often to be convicted unjustly. The white planter was much
annoyed by the disposition on the part of the blacks to transfer their
failings to him in their tales to the "office," as the negro called the
Bureau and its agents. "The phrase flashed like lightning through the
region of the late Confederacy that at Freedmen's Bureau agencies 'the
bottom rail was on top.' The conditions which this expression implied
exasperated the whites in like ratio as the negroes were delighted."[1181]
In the Ku Klux testimony, the whites related their grievances against the
Bureau courts conducted by the aliens: the Bureau men always took a
negro's word as being worth more than a white's; the worst class of blacks
were continually haling their employers into court; the simple assertion
of a negro that he had not been properly paid for his work was enough to
prevent the sale of a crop or to cause the arrest of the master, who was
frequently brought ten or fifteen miles to answer a trivial charge
involving perhaps fifty cents;[1182] the negroes were taken from work and
sent to places of refuge--"Home Colonies"[1183]--where hundreds died of
disease caused by neglect, want, and unsanitary conditions; the Bureau
courts encouraged complaints by the negroes; the trials of cases were made
occasions for lectures on slavery, rebellion, political rights of negroes,
social equality, etc., and the negro was by official advice taught to
distrust the whites and to look to the Bureau for protection.[1184] The
Bureau perhaps did some good work in regulating matters among the negroes
themselves, but when the question was between negro and white, the justice
administered was rather one-sided.[1185] Genuine cases of violence and
mistreatment of negroes were usually not tried by the Bureau courts, but
by military commission. The following humorous advertisement shows the
result of a legitimate interference of the Bureau:--

    "Do You Like

    The Freedmen's Court? If so, come up to Burnsville and I will rent or
    sell you three nice, healthy plantations with _Freedmen_. Come soon
    and get a bargain. I am ahead of any farmer in this section, except on
    one place, which said court 'Busteed' to-day because some of the
    Freedmen got flogged.--JOHN F. BURNS."[1186]

The Bureau courts, after the aliens came into control, proceeded upon the
general principle that the negro was as good as or better than the
southern white, and that he had always been mistreated by the latter, who
wished to still continue him in slavery or to cheat him out of the
proceeds of his labor, and who, on the slightest provocation, would beat,
mutilate, or murder the inoffensive black. The greatest problem was to
protect the negroes from the hostile whites, the agents thought. The
aliens did not understand the relations of slave and master, and assumed
that there had always been hostility between them, and that for the
protection of the negro this hostility ought to continue. A system of
espionage was established that was intensely galling. Men who had held
high offices in the state, who had led armies or had represented their
country at foreign courts,--men like Hardee, Clanton, Fitzpatrick,
etc.,--were called before these tribunals at the instance of some ward of
the nation, and before a gaping crowd of their former slaves were lectured
by army sutlers and chaplains of negro regiments.[1187]

Care of the Sick

The medical department of the Freedmen's Bureau gave free attendance to
the refugees and freedmen. In 1865 there were in the state 4 hospitals,
capable of caring for 646 patients, with a staff of 11 physicians and 26
male and 22 female attendants. In the hospitals in 1866 were 18 physicians
and 16 male and 18 female attendants.[1188] In 1866 there were 6
hospitals, which number was increased in 1867 to 8, with a staff of 13
physicians and 50 male and 40 female attendants. In 1868-1869 there were
only three hospitals.

In 1865 no refugees were treated, but there were 2533 negro patients, of
whom 602, or 24 per cent, died. To August 31, 1866, 271 refugees had been
treated, of whom 8 died, and 4153 negroes, of whom 460 died. From
September 1, 1866, to June 30, 1867, 220 refugees were treated and 6
died; 2203 negroes, and 186 died; to October 31, 1866, 3801 freedmen, of
whom 473 died, and 305 refugees, of whom 12 died. After July, 1868, 289
freedmen were treated.[1189] These statistics show the relative
insignificance of the relief work.

Smallpox was the most fatal disease among the negroes in the towns, and
several smallpox hospitals were established. In Selma the complaint was
raised that the assistant superintendent encouraged the negroes to stay in
town, and insisted on caring for all their sick, but when an epidemic of
smallpox broke out, he notified the city that he could not care for these
cases. The Bureau sent supplies for distribution by the county authorities
to the destitute poor and to the smallpox patients. But the relief work
for the sick amounted to but little.[1190]

The Issue of Rations

The Department of Records had charge of the issue of supplies to the
destitute refugees and blacks. Among the whites of all classes in the
northern counties there was much want and suffering. The term "refugee"
was interpreted to include all needy whites,[1191] though at first it
meant only one who had been forced to leave home on account of his
disloyalty to the Confederacy. The best work of the Bureau was done in
relieving needy whites in the devastated districts; and for this the
upholders of the institution have never claimed credit. The negro had not
suffered from want before the end of the war, but now great crowds
hastened to the towns and congregated around the Bureau offices and
military posts. They thought that it was the duty of the government to
support them, and that there was to be no more work.

Before June, 1865, rations were issued by the army officers. From June,
1865, to September, 1866, the Freedmen's Bureau issued 2,522,907 rations
to refugees (whites) and 1,128,740 to freedmen. The following table shows
the number of people fed each month in Alabama by the Freedmen's Bureau
before October, 1866:--

                      WHITE                 ||
  Months| Men  | Women| Boys |Girls | Total ||
   1865.|      |      |      |      |       ||
  Nov.  |    72|   483|   821|   875|  2,521||
  Dec.  |   271|   909| 1,059| 1,090|  3,329||
   1866.|      |      |      |      |       ||
  Jan.  |   349| 2,377| 1,735| 2,764|  7,225||
  Feb.  | 1,285| 3,641| 3,806| 5,039| 13,771||
  March | 1,181| 4,971| 5,796| 6,758| 18,616||
  April | 1,038| 4,340| 4,844| 6,642| 16,864||
  May   | 1,743| 5,821| 6,939| 9,064| 23,567||
  June  | 1,912| 5,661| 6,932| 8,092| 22,577||
  July  | 1,585| 5,036| 7,108| 8,076| 21,805||
  Aug.  | 1,376| 4,528| 5,932| 6,836| 18,672||
  Sept. | 1,368| 4,454| 5,547| 6,543| 17,912||

   Men  | Women| Boys | Girls| Total
        |      |      |      |
     327|   656|   346|   615| 1,944
     464|   860|   345|   574| 2,243
        |      |      |      |
     538| 1,053|   742| 1,002| 3,335
     894| 1,455|   880| 1,095| 4,324
     995| 2,007| 1,389| 1,662| 6,053
   1,176| 2,331| 1,904| 2,771| 8,182
   1,479| 3,433| 2,898| 3,576|14,526
   1,654| 3,170| 2,846| 3,151|10,821
   1,294| 2,472| 2,379| 2,648| 8,793
   1,178| 2,025| 2,112| 2,247| 7,562
   1,242| 2,225| 1,939| 2,126| 7,532

    Men, 23,421; women, 63,888; children, 151,295; aggregate, 238,704;
    rations issued, 3,789,788; value, $643,590.18.

During the month of September, 1865, 45,771 rations were issued to 1971
refugees, and 36,295 rations to 3537 freedmen; in October, 1865, 2875
refugees and 2151 freedmen drew 153,812 rations. From September 1, 1866 to
September 1, 1867, 214,305 rations were issued to refugees and 274,329 to
freedmen. From September 1, 1867, to September 1, 1868, refugees drew only
886 rations, and freedmen 86,021. Fewer and fewer whites and more and more
freedmen were fed by the Bureau.[1192]

In 1865 and 1866, the crops were poor, and in 1866 there were at least
10,000 destitute whites and 5000 destitute blacks in the state. The Bureau
asked for 450,000 rations per month, but did not receive them. The agents
were now (1866) beginning to use the issue of rations to control the
negroes, and to organize them into political clubs or "Loyal Leagues."
During this time (1866-1867), however, the state gave much assistance, and
coöperated with the Freedmen's Bureau. Some of the agents of the Bureau
sold the supplies that should have gone to the starving.[1193]

The Bureau furnished transportation to 217 refugees and to 521 freedmen
who wished to return to their homes, and to a number of northern school
teachers. These transactions were not attended by abuses.[1194]

Demoralization caused by the Freedmen's Bureau

After the Federal occupation, when the negroes had congregated in the
towns, the higher and more responsible officers of the army used their
influence to make the blacks go home and work. If left to these officers,
the labor question would have been somewhat satisfactorily settled; they
would have forced the negroes to work for some one, and to keep away from
the towns. But the subordinate officers, especially the officers of the
negro regiments, encouraged the freedmen to collect in the towns. Few
supplies were issued to them by the army, and there was every prospect
that in a few weeks the negroes would be forced by hunger to go back to
work. The establishment of the Freedmen's Bureau, however, changed
conditions. It assumed control of the negroes in all relations, and upset
all that had been done toward settling the question by gathering many of
the freedmen into great camps or colonies near the towns. One large colony
was established in north Alabama, and many temporary ones throughout the
state,[1195] into which thousands who set out to test their new-found
freedom were gathered. On one plantation, in Montgomery County, in July,
1865, 4000 negroes were placed. There was another large colony near
Mobile.[1196] A year later the Montgomery colony had 200 invalids. Perhaps
more misery was caused by the Bureau in this way than was relieved by it.
The want and sickness arising from the crowded conditions in the towns was
only in slight degree relieved by the food distributed, and the hospitals
opened. There were 40,000 old and infirm negroes in the state, and
thousands died of disease. Not one-tenth did the Bureau reach. The
helpless old negroes were supported by their former masters, who now in
poverty should have been relieved of their care. Those who were fed were
the able-bodied who could come to town and stay around the office. The
colonies in the negro districts became hospitals, orphan asylums, and
temporary stopping places for the negroes; and the issue of rations was
longest and surest at these places.[1197] Several hundred white refugees
also remained worthless hangers-on of the Bureau.

The regular issue of rations to the negroes broke up the labor system that
had been partially established and prevented a settlement of the labor
problem. The government would now support them, the blacks thought, and
they would not have to work. Around the towns conditions became very bad.
Want and disease were fast thinning their numbers. They refused to make
contracts, though the highest wages were offered by those planters and
farmers who could afford to hire them, and the agents encouraged them in
their idleness by telling them not to work, as it was the duty of their
former masters to support them, and that wages were due them, at least
since January 1, 1863.[1198] They told them, also, to come to the towns
and live until the matter was settled.[1199] Domestic animals near the
negro camps were nearly all stolen by the blacks who were able but
unwilling to work. These marauders were frequently shot at or were
thrashed, which gave rise to the stories of outrage common at that time.

Doctor Nott of Mobile wrote that in or near Mobile no labor could be
hired; that it was impossible to get a cook or a washerwoman, while
hundreds were dying in idleness from disease and starvation, deceived by
the false hopes aroused, and false promises of support by the government,
made by wicked and designing men who wished to create prejudice against
the whites, and to prevent the negroes from working by telling them that
to go back to work was to go back to slavery. The negro women were told
that women should not work, and they announced that they never intended to
go to the field or do other work again, but "live like white
ladies."[1200] Wherever it was active the Bureau demoralized labor by
arousing false hopes and by unnecessary intermeddling. It has been claimed
for the Bureau that it was a vast labor clearing-house, and that a part of
its work was the establishment of a system of free labor.[1201] In other
states such may have been the case; in Alabama it certainly was not. The
labor system partially established all over the Black Belt in 1865 was
deranged wherever the Bureau had influence. The system proposed by the
Bureau was simply that of old slave wages paid for work done under a
written contract. The excessive wages and the interference of the agents
in the making of contracts made it impossible for the system to work, and
Swayne acquiesced in the nullification of the Bureau rules by black and
white, saying that natural forces would bring about a proper state of
affairs. Wherever the Bureau had the least influence, there industry was
least demoralized. So far from acting as a labor agency, its influence was
distinctly in the opposite direction wherever it undertook to regulate
labor. The free labor system, such as it was, was already in existence
when the Bureau reached the Black Belt, and, in spite of that institution,
worked itself out.[1202]

A general belief grew up among the freedmen that at Christmas, 1865, there
would be a confiscation and division of all land in the South. The
soldiers,--black and white,--the preachers, and especially the Bureau
agents and the school-teachers, were responsible for this belief. Swayne
reported that an impression, well-nigh universal, prevailed that the
confiscation, of which they had heard for months, would take place at
Christmas, and led them to refuse any engagement extending beyond the
holidays, or to work steadily in the meantime.[1203] Christmas or New
Year's the negro thought would be the millennium. Each would have a farm,
plenty to eat and drink, and nothing to do,--"forty acres of land and a
mule." There is no doubt that the "forty acres and a mule" idea was partly
caused by the distribution among the negroes of the lands on the south
Atlantic coast by General Sherman and others, and by the provisions of the
early Bureau acts. "Forty acres and a mule" was the expectation, and to
this day some old negroes are awaiting the fulfilment of this
promise.[1204] Many went so far, in 1865, as to choose the land that would
be theirs on New Year's Day; others merely took charge at once of small
animals, such as pigs, turkeys, chickens, cows, etc., that came within
their reach.[1205]

On account of this belief in the coming confiscation of property and their
implicit confidence in all who made promises, the negroes were deceived
and cheated in many ways. Sharpers sold painted sticks to the ex-slaves,
declaring that if set up on land belonging to the whites, they gave titles
to the blacks who set them up. A document purporting to be a deed was
given with one set of painted sticks. In part it read as follows: "Know
all men by these presents, that a naught is a naught, and a figure is a
figure; all for the white man, and none for the nigure. And whereas Moses
lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so also have I lifted this d--d
old nigger out of four dollars and six bits. Amen. Selah!" In the campaign
of 1868 this was circulated far and wide by the Democrats as a campaign
document. There is record of the sale of painted sticks in Clarke,
Marengo, Sumter, Barbour, Montgomery, Calhoun, Macon, Tallapoosa, and
Greene counties, and in the Tennessee valley. The practice must have been
general. In Sumter County, 1865-1866, the seller of sticks was an
ex-cotton agent. He had secured the striped pegs in Washington, he said,
and his charge was a dollar a peg. He instructed the buyer how to "step
off" the forty acres, and told them not to encroach upon one another and
to take half in cleared land and half in woodland.[1206] In Clarke County,
as late as 1873, the sticks were sold for three dollars each if the negro
possessed so large a sum; but if he had only a dollar, the agent would let
a stick go for that. Some of the negroes actually took possession of land,
and went to work.[1207] In Tallapoosa County the painted pegs were sold as
late as 1870.[1208] In 1902 a man was arrested in south Alabama for
collecting money from negroes in this way. It was said that one cause of
the survival of this practice was the course of Wendell Phillips, who, in
the _Antislavery Standard_, advocated the distribution of land among the
negroes, eighty acres to each, or forty acres and a furnished cottage. The
speeches of Thaddeus Stevens on confiscation were widely distributed among
the negroes. His Confiscation Bill of March, 1867, caused expectations
among the negroes, who soon heard of such propositions.[1209] General
Wilson, on his raid, had taken all the stock from Montgomery and had left
with the planters his broken-down mules and horses. The military
authorities of the Sixteenth Army Corps had declared that these animals
belonged to the planters, who had already used them a year. But the Rev.
C. W. Buckley, a Bureau chaplain, promised them to the negroes, who began
to take possession of them.[1210]

The subordinate agents of the Bureau frequently were broken-down men who
had made failures at everything they had undertaken;[1211] some were
preachers with strong prejudices, and others were the dregs of a
mustered-out army,--all opposed to any settlement of the negro question
which would leave them without an office. Such men sowed the seeds of
discord between the races and taught the negro that he must fear and hate
his former master, who desired above all things to reënslave him.[1212] In
this way they were ably abetted by the northern teachers and

There were some favorable reports from the Bureau in Alabama, principally
from districts where the native whites were agents. But in the summer of
1866 Generals Steedman and Fullerton, accompanied by a correspondent, made
a trip through the South inspecting the institution. They reported that in
Alabama it was better conducted than elsewhere in the South; that all of
the good of the system and not all of the bad was here most apparent. Over
the greater part of the state, they said, it interfered but little with
the negro, and consequently the affairs of both races were in better
condition. General Patton thought that Swayne was the best man to be at
the head of the Bureau, yet he was sure that the institution was
unnecessary, its only use being to feed the needy, which could be done by
the state with less demoralization. The negro, he said, should be left to
the protection of the law, since there was no discrimination against him.
As long as free rations were issued, the blacks would make no contracts
and would not work. Swayne, Patton declared, was doing his best, but he
could not prevent demoralization, and the very presence of the Bureau was
an irritation to the whites, thus operating against the good of the negro.
He stated that in Clarke and Marengo counties, where there were no agents,
the relations between the races were more friendly than in any other black
counties, and there the negro was better satisfied. The southern people
knew the negro and his needs, Steedman and Fullerton reported, and he
should be left to them; the Bureau served as a spy upon the planters; it
was the general testimony that where there was no northern agent, there
the negro worked better, and there was less disorder among the blacks and
less friction between the races. The fact was clearly demonstrated in west
Alabama, where there was little interference on the part of the Bureau,
and where the negro did well.[1213]

An account of conditions in one county where the agents were army officers
and were somewhat under the influence of the native whites will be of
interest. When the army and the Bureau came to Marengo County, the white
people, who were few in number, determined to win their good will. There
were "stag" dinners and feasts, and the eternal friendship of the
officers, with few exceptions, was won. The exceptions were those who had
political ambitions. The population, being composed largely of negroes,
was under the control of the "office," which here did not heed the tales
of "rebel outrages." The negro received few supplies and did well, though
afterwards, in places doubtful politically, supplies were issued for
political purposes. One planter in Marengo gave an order to the negroes on
his plantation to do a certain piece of work. They refused and sent their
head man to report at the "office." He brought back a sealed envelope
containing a peremptory order to cease work. The negroes were ignorant of
the contents, so the planter read the letter, called the negroes up, and
ordered them back to the same work. They went cheerfully, evidently
thinking it was the order of the Bureau. At any time the Bureau could
interfere and say that certain work should or should not be done. Another
planter lived twelve miles from Demopolis. One day ten or twelve of the
negro laborers went to Demopolis to complain to the "office" about one of
his orders. The planter went to Demopolis by another road, and was sitting
in the Bureau office when the negroes arrived. They were confused and at
first could say nothing. The planter was silent. Finally they told their
tale, and the officer called for a sergeant and four mounted men.
"Sergeant," he said, "take these people back to Mr. DuBose's on the _run_!
You understand; on the _run_!" They ran the negroes the whole twelve
miles, though they had already travelled the twelve miles. Upon their
arrival at home the sergeant tied them to trees with their hands above
their heads, and left them with their tongues hanging out. It was the most
terrible punishment the negroes had ever received, and they never again
had any complaints to pour into the ear of the "office."[1214] The white
soldiers usually cared little for the negroes, it is said.

From the first the Bureau was unnecessary in Alabama. The negro had felt
no want before the beginning of the war, and the efforts of the general
officers of the army, besides hunger and cold, would have soon forced him
to work. He was not mistreated except in rare cases which did not become
rarer under the Bureau. Cotton was worth fifty cents to a dollar a pound,
and the extraordinary demand for labor thus created guaranteed good
treatment. Much more suffering was caused by the congregation of the black
population in the towns than would have been the case had there been no
relief. Not a one did it really help to get work, because no man who
wanted work could escape a job unless it prevented, and with its red tape
it was a hindrance to those who were industrious. Its interference in
behalf of the negro was bad, as it led him to believe that the government
would always back him and that it was his right to be supported. Thus
industry was paralyzed. Yet as first organized by Swayne, the Bureau would
have been endurable, though it would have been a disturbing element, and
the negro would have been the greater sufferer from the disorder caused by
it; but, as time went on, General Swayne was gradually forced by northern
opinion to change his policy, and to put into office more and more
northern men as subordinate agents. These men, of character already
described, had to live by fleecing the negroes, by fees, and by stealing
supplies.[1215] Then, recognizing the trend of affairs and seeing their
great opportunity, they began to organize the negro for political
purposes; they themselves were to become statesmen. The Bureau was then
manipulated as a political machine for the nomination and election of
state and federal officers, and the public money and property were used
for that purpose. The Howard Investigation refused to enter that field,
but the testimony shows that the Bureau agents, teachers, the
savings-bank, and missionaries industriously carried on political

In 1869 the Bureau was intrusted with the payment of bounties to the negro
soldiers who had been discharged or mustered out. There were several
thousand of these in Alabama. Gross frauds are said to have been
perpetrated by the officials in charge of the distribution. The worst
scandals were in north Alabama, where most of the negro soldiers


The Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company was an institution closely
connected with the Freedmen's Bureau, and had the sanction and support of
the government, especially of the Bureau officials. Many of the trustees
of the bank were or had been connected with the Bureau,[1218] and it was
generally understood by the negroes that it was a part of the Bureau. It
possessed the confidence of the blacks to a remarkable degree and gave
promise of becoming a very valuable institution by teaching them habits of
thrift and economy.[1219]

The central office was in Washington, and several branch banks were
established in every southern state. The Alabama branch banks were
established at Huntsville, in December, 1865, and at Montgomery and Mobile
early in 1866. The cashiers at the respective branches, when the bank
failed, in 1874, were Lafayette Robinson, who seems to have been an honest
man though he could not keep books, Edwin Beecher,[1220] and C. R.
Woodward, both of whom seem to have had some picturesque ideas as to their
rights over the money deposited. A bank-book was issued to each negro
depositor, and in the book were printed the regulations to be observed by
him. On one cover there was a statement to the effect that the bank was
wholly a benevolent institution, and that all profits were to be divided
among the depositors or devoted to charitable enterprises for the benefit
of freedmen. It was further stated that the "Martyr" President Lincoln had
approved the purpose of the bank, and that one of his last acts was to
sign the bill to establish it. On the cover of the book was the printed

    "I consider the Freedmen's Savings and Trust Company to be greatly
    needed by the colored people and have welcomed it as an auxiliary to
    the Freedmen's Bureau."--MAJOR-GENERAL O. O. HOWARD.

To the negro this was sufficient recommendation. There was also printed on
the cover a very attractive table, showing how much a man might save by
laying aside ten cents a day and placing it in the bank at 6 per cent
interest. The first year the man would save, in this way, $36.99, the
tenth year would find $489.31 to his credit. And all this by saving ten
cents a day--something easily done when labor was in such demand. This
unique bank-book had on the back cover some verses for the education of
the freedmen. The author of these verses is not known, but the negroes
thought that General Howard wrote them.

  "'Tis little by little the bee fills her cell;
  And little by little a man sinks a well;
  'Tis little by little a bird builds her nest;
  By littles a forest in verdure is drest;
  'Tis little by little great volumes are made;
  By littles a mountain or levels are made;
  'Tis little by little an ocean is filled;
  And little by little a city we build;
  'Tis little by little an ant gets her store;
  Every little we add to a little makes more;
  Step by step we walk miles, and we sew stitch by stitch;
  Word by word we read books, cent by cent we grow rich."

The verses were popular, the whole book was educative, and it was not
above the comprehension of the negro. If all the teaching of the negro had
been as sensible as this little book, much trouble would have been
avoided. It was a proud negro who owned one of these wonderful bank-books,
and he had a right to be proud. Many at once began to make use of the
savings-banks, and small sums poured in. Only the negroes in and near the
three cities--Huntsville, Montgomery, and Mobile--where the banks were
located seem to have made deposits, for those of the other towns and of
the country knew little of the institution. During the month of January,
1866, deposits to the amount of $4809 were made in the Mobile branch. This
was all in small sums and was deposited at a time of the year when money
was scarcest among laborers.[1222] In 1868 the interest paid on long-time
deposits to depositors at Huntsville was $38.02; at Mobile, $1349.40. On
May 1, 1869, the deposits at Huntsville amounted to $17,603.29; at Mobile,

The following statements of the two principal banks will show how the
scheme worked among the negroes:--

                                       |HUNTSVILLE BRANCH|MOBILE BRANCH
  Total deposits to March 31, 1870     |   $89,445.10    | $539,534.33
  Total number of depositors           |          500    |       3,260
  Average amount deposited by each     |       $17.89    |     $165.60
  Drawn out to March 31, 1870          |    70,586.60    |  474,583.60
  Balance to March 31, 1870            |    18,858.50    |   64,750.83
  Average balance due to each depositor|       47.114    |       39.82
  Spent for land (known)               |     1,900.00    |   50,000.00
  Dwelling houses                      |       800.00    |      ----
  Seeds, teams, agricultural implements|     5,000.00    |   15,000.00
  Education, books, etc.               |     1,200.00    |      ----
                        | HUNTSVILLE  |    MOBILE     |  MONTGOMERY
  Deposits for the month|  $7,343.50  |   $11,136.05  |  $8,522.90
  Drafts for the month  |  10,127.61  |    18,645.62  |   8,679.60
  Total deposits        | 416,617.72  | 1,039,097.05  | 238,106.08
  Total drafts          | 364,382.51  |   933,424.30  | 213,861.71
  Total due depositors  |  52,235.21  |   105,672.75  |  24,244.37[1223]

These branch banks exercised a good influence over the negro population,
even over those who did not become depositors. The negroes became more
economical, spent less for whiskey, gewgaws, and finery, and when wages
were good and work was plentiful, they saved money to carry them through
the winter and other periods of lesser prosperity. Some of those who had
no bank accounts would save in order to have one, or, at least, save
enough money to help them through hard times. Much of the money drawn from
the banks was invested in property of some kind. Excessive interest in
politics prevented a proper increase in the number of depositors and in
the amount of deposits.

In 1874, after the bank failed through dishonest and inefficient
management, the liabilities to southern negro depositors amounted to
$3,299,201.[1224] A total business of $55,000,000 had been done. The
following table, compiled by Hoffman, will show the total business of the
bank, 1866 to 1874.[1225]

      |                |      YEAR      |                |    YEAR
  1866|    $305,167    |     $305,167   |    $199,283    |  $199,283
  1867|   1,624,853    |    1,319,686   |     366,338    |   167,054
  1868|   3,582,378    |    1,957,525   |     638,299    |   271,960
  1869|   7,257,798    |    3,675,420   |   1,073,465    |   435,166
  1870|  12,605,782    |    5,347,983   |   1,657,006    |   583,541
  1871|  19,952,947    |    7,347,165   |   2,455,836    |   798,829
  1872|  31,260,499    |   11,281,313   |   3,684,739    | 1,227,927
  1873|     ----       |      ----      |   4,200,000    |    ----
  1874|  55,000,000    |      ----      |   3,013,670    |    ----

In Alabama the depositors lost, for the time at least, $35,963 at
Huntsville; $29,743 at Montgomery; $95,144 at Mobile. After years of delay
dividends were paid; but few of the depositors profited by the late
payment.[1226] The philanthropic incorporators took care to desert the
failing enterprise in time, and Frederick Douglass, a well-known negro,
was placed in charge to serve as a scapegoat. No one was punished for the
crooked proceedings of the institution. Several of the incorporators were
dead; the survivors pleaded good intentions, ignorance, etc., and finally
placed the blame on their dead associates. Their sympathy for the negro
did not go the length of assuming money responsibility for the operations
of the bank, and thus saving the negro depositors. There were several of
the incorporators who could have assumed all the liabilities and not felt
the burden severely. Agents and lawyers got most of the later proceeds,
and the good work was all undone, for the negro felt that the United
States government and the Freedmen's Bureau had cheated him. It is said to
have affected his faith in banks to this day.[1227]


As the Federal armies occupied southern territory and numbers of negroes
were thrown upon the care of the government which gathered them into
colonies on confiscated plantations, there arose a demand from the friends
of the negro at the North that his education should begin at once. An
educated negro, it was thought, was even more obnoxious to the
slaveholding southerner than a free negro; hence educated negroes should
be multiplied. No doubt was entertained by his northern friends but that
the negro was the equal of the white man in capacity to profit by
education. To educate the negro was to carry on war against the South just
as much as to invade with armed troops, and various aid societies demanded
that, as the negro came under the control of the United States troops,
schools be established and the colored children be taught. The Treasury
agents, who were in charge of the plantations and colonies where the
negroes were gathered, were instructed by the Secretary to establish
schools in each "home" and "labor" colony for the instruction of the
children under twelve years of age. Teachers, supplied by the
superintendent of the colony, who was usually the chaplain of a negro
regiment, or by benevolent associations, were allowed to take charge of
the education of the blacks in any colony they decided to enter.[1228]
Before the end of the war only three or four such schools were established
in Alabama. One was on the plantation of ex-Governor Chapman, in Madison
County, another at Huntsville, and one at Florence.

The law of March 3, 1865, creating the Freedmen's Bureau, gave to its
officials general authority over all matters concerning freedmen. Nothing
was said about education or schools, but it was understood that
educational work was to be carried on and extended, and after the
organization of the Bureau in the state of Alabama its "Department of
Records" had control of the education of the negro. For the support of
negro education the second Freedmen's Bureau Act, July 16, 1866,
authorized the use of or the sale of all buildings and lands and other
property formerly belonging to the Confederate States or used for the
support of the Confederacy. It directed the authorities of the Bureau to
coöperate at all times with the aid societies, and to furnish buildings
for schools where these societies sent teachers, and also to furnish
protection to these teachers and schools.[1229]

The southern churches had never ceased their work among the negroes during
the war,[1230] and immediately after the emancipation of the slaves all
denominations declared that the freedmen must be educated so as to fit
them for their changed condition of life.[1231] The churches spoke for the
controlling element of the people, who saw that some kind of training was
an absolute necessity to the continuation of the friendly relations then
existing between the two races. The church congregations, associations,
and conferences, and mass meetings of citizens pledged themselves to aid
in this movement. Dr. J. L. M. Curry first appeared as a friend of negro
education when, in the summer of 1865, he presided over a mass meeting at
Marion, which made provision for schools for the negroes. On the part of
the whites whose opinion was worth anything, there was no objection worth
mentioning to negro schools in 1865 and 1866.[1232] In the latter year,
before the objectionable features of the Bureau schools appeared, General
Swayne commented upon the fact that the various churches had not only
declared in favor of the education of the negro, but had aided the work of
the Bureau schools and kept down opposition to them. He was, however,
inclined to attribute this attitude somewhat to policy. He wrote with
special approval of the assistance and encouragement given by the
Methodist Episcopal Church South, through Rev. H. N. McTyeire (later
bishop), who was always in favor of schools for negroes. He reported,
also, that there was a growing feeling of kindliness on the part of the
people toward the schools. Where there was prejudice the school often
dispelled it, and the movement had the good will of Governors Parsons and

Just after the military occupation of the state there was the greatest
desire on the part of the negroes, young and old, for book learning.
Washington speaks of the universal desire for education.[1234] The whole
race wanted to go to school; none were too old, few too young. Old people
wanted to learn to read the Bible before they died, and wanted their
children to be educated. This seeming thirst for education was not rightly
understood in the North; it was, in fact, more a desire to imitate the
white master and obtain formerly forbidden privileges than any real desire
due to an understanding of the value of education; the negro had not the
slightest idea of what "education" was, but the northern people gave them
credit for an appreciation not yet true even of whites. There were day
schools, night schools, and Sunday-schools, and the "Blue-back Speller"
was the standard beginner's text. Yet, as Washington says, it was years
before the parents wanted their children to make any use of education
except to be preachers, teachers, Congressmen, and politicians. Rascals
were ahead of the missionaries, and a number of pay schools were
established in 1865 by unprincipled men who took advantage of this desire
for learning and fleeced the negro of his few dollars. One school,
established in Montgomery by a pedagogue who came in the wake of the
armies, enrolled over two hundred pupils of all ages, at two dollars per
month in advance. The school lasted one month, and the teacher left, but
not without collecting the fees for the second month.[1235]

When General Swayne arrived, he assumed control of negro education, and a
"Superintendent of Schools for Freedmen" was appointed. The Rev. C. M.
Buckley, chaplain of a colored regiment and official of the Freedmen's
Bureau, was the first holder of this office. In 1868, after he went to
Congress, the position was held by Rev. R. D. Harper, a northern Methodist
preacher, who was superseded in 1869 by Colonel Edwin Beecher, formerly a
paymaster of the Bureau and cashier of the Freedmen's Savings Bank in
Montgomery. There also appeared a person named H. M. Bush as
"Superintendent of Education," a title the Bureau officials were fond of
assuming and which often caused them to be confused with the state
officials of like title.[1236]

The sale of Confederate property at Selma, Briarfield, and other places,
small tuition fees, and gifts furnished support to the teachers. General
Swayne was deeply interested in the education of the blacks, and thought
that northern teachers could do better work for the colored race than
southern teachers. Most of the aid societies had spent their funds before
reaching Alabama, but Swayne secured some assistance from the American
Missionary Association. The teachers were paid partly by the Association,
but mostly by the Bureau. The Pittsburg Freedmen's Aid Commission
established schools in north Alabama, at Huntsville, Stevenson, Tuscumbia,
and Athens, and also had a school at Selma. The Cleveland Freedmen's Union
Commission worked in Montgomery and Talladega by means of Sunday-schools.
A great many of the schools with large enrolments were Sunday-schools. The
American Missionary Association, besides furnishing teachers to the
Bureau, had schools of its own in Selma, Talladega, and Mobile. The
American Freedmen's Union Commission (Presbyterian branch) also had
schools in the state. The Freedmen's Aid Society of the Methodist
Episcopal Church (North) did some work in the way of education, but was
engaged chiefly in inducing the negroes to flee from the wrath to come by
leaving the southern churches. At Stevenson and Athens schools were
established by aid from England.[1237] In 1866 the Northwestern Aid
Society had a school at Mobile.[1238] At the end of 1865, the Bureau had
charge of eleven schools at Huntsville, Athens, and Stevenson, one in
Montgomery with 11 teachers and 497 pupils, and one in Mobile with 4
teachers and 420 pupils.[1239] Some ill feeling was aroused by the action
of the Bureau in seizing the Medical College and Museum at Mobile and
using it as a schoolhouse. Even the Confederate authorities had not
demanded the use of it. Before the war it was said that the museum was one
of the finest in America. Many of the most costly models were now taken
away, and a negro shoemaker was installed in the chemical

The attitude of the southern religious bodies enabled the Bureau to extend
its school system in 1866, and to secure native white teachers. Schools
taught by native whites, most of whom were of good character, were
established at Tuskegee, Auburn, Opelika, Salem, Greenville, Demopolis,
Evergreen, Mount Meigs, Tuscaloosa, Gainesville, Marion, Arbahatchee,
Prattville, Haynesville, and King's Station,--in all twenty schools. There
were negro teachers in the schools at Troy, Wetumpka, Home Colony (near
Montgomery), and Tuscaloosa. The native whites taught at places where no
troops were stationed, and General Swayne stated that they were especially
willing to do this work after the churches had declared their intention to
favor the education of the negro. It was of such schools that he said
their presence dispelled prejudice.[1241] The history of one of these
schools is typical: In Russell County a school was established by the
Bureau, and Buckley, the Superintendent of Schools, who had no available
northern teacher, allowed the white people to name a native white teacher.
Several prominent men agreed that a Methodist minister of the community
was a suitable person. The neighbors assured him that his family should
not suffer socially on account of his connection with the school, and that
they wanted no northern teacher in the community. The minister accepted
the offer, was appointed by the Bureau, and the school was held in his
dooryard, out buildings, and verandas, his family assisting him. The
negroes were pleased, and big and little came to school. The relations
between the whites and blacks were pleasant, and all went well for more
than two years, until politics alienated the races, and the negroes
demanded a northern teacher or one of their own color.[1242] The schools
at Huntsville, Mobile, Montgomery, Selma, Tuscumbia, Stevenson, and
Athens, where troops were stationed, were reserved for the northern
teachers who were sent by the various aid societies. The disturbing
influence of the teachers was thus openly acknowledged. The Bureau
coöperated by furnishing buildings, paying rent, and making repairs, and,
in some instances, by giving money or supplies.[1243]

The statistics of the Bureau schools are confused and incomplete. In 1866
one report states that there were 8 schools with 31 teachers and 1338
pupils under the control of the Bureau. General Swayne's list includes
the schools at the various places named above, and reports 43 schools in
23 of the 52 counties, with 68 teachers and a maximum enrolment of 3220
pupils--the average being much less.[1244] Buckley's report for March 15,
1867, gives the number of negro schools of all kinds as 68 day schools and
27 night schools. The total enrolment for the winter months had been 5352;
the average attendance, 4217. At this time the Bureau was supporting 38
day schools, 19 night schools, and paying 49 teachers. Benevolent
societies under supervision of the Bureau were conducting 21 day schools,
7 night schools, with 36 teachers and a total enrolment of 2157 pupils.
Besides these there were 10 private schools with 443 pupils. In all the
schools, there were 75 white and 20 negro teachers. There were more than
100,000 negro children of school age in the state who were not reached by
these schools.

The following table, compiled from the semiannual reports on Bureau
schools in Alabama, will show the slight extent of the educational work of
the Bureau. The list includes all the schools in charge of the Bureau, or
which received aid from the Bureau.

                      | JULY 1, |  JULY 1, | JAN. 1, | JULY 1, |  JULY 1,
                      |  1867   |   1868   |  1869   |  1869   |   1870
  Day schools         |      122|        59|       33|      79 |        23
  Night schools       |       53|        19|        2|       1 |         4
  Private schools     |         |          |         |         |
    (negro teachers)  |        8|        22|        4|       1 |        --
  Semi-private        |       25|        48|       25|      55 |         2
  Teachers transported|         |          |         |         |
    by Bureau         |      122|        22|       29|       3 |        --
  School buildings    |         |          |         |         |
    owned by negroes  |       27|        13|        1|       4 |        11
  School buildings    |         |          |         |         |
    owned by Bureau   |       38|        36|       29|      66 |        --
  White teachers      |      126|        67|       49|      65?|        --
  Negro teachers      |       24|        28|       12|      23?|        --
  White pupils        |         |          |         |         |
    (refugees)        |       23|       -- |      -- |     --  |        --
  Black pupils        |    9,799|     4,040|    3,330|   5,131 |     2,110
  Tuition paid        |         |          |         |         |
    by negroes        |$1,542.00| $3,206.56|$1,431.50|$1,248.95| $1,446.30
  Bureau paid         |         |          |         |         |
    for tuition       | 6,693.00|  2,097.73| 1,219.75| 2,938.50| 22,559.88
  Bureau paid for     |         |          |         |         |
    school expenses   |18,685.07|   ------ |  ------ |  ------ |   ------
  Total expenditures  | 8,235.00|  6,463.72| 2,723.25| 4,187.45|240,061.18

These statistics showing expenditures are not complete, but they are given
as they are in the reports, which are carelessly made from carelessly kept
and defective records. There was a disposition on the part of the Bureau
to claim all the schools possible in order to show large numbers. Many of
these so-called schools were in reality only Sunday-schools,--that is,
they were in session only on Sundays,--(and the missionary Sunday-schools
were counted), and were not as good as the Sunday-schools which for years
before the war had been conducted among the negroes by the different
churches. The Bureau did not consider of importance the private plantation
and mission schools supported by the native whites, nor the state schools,
which largely outnumbered the Bureau schools, but only those aided in some
way by itself. The schools entirely under the control of the Bureau had
small enrolment. Assistance was given to all the schools taught by
northern missionaries, to some taught by native whites, and to some taught
by negroes. It was given in the form of buildings, repairs, supplies, and
small appropriations of money for salaries. Rent was paid by the Bureau
for school buildings not owned by the schools or by the Bureau. Accounts
were carelessly kept, and after General Swayne left, if not before, abuses
crept in. At least one of the aid societies received money from the
Bureau, and its representatives established a reputation for crookedness
that was retained after the Bureau was a thing of the past. This
society,--The American Missionary Association,--along with other work
among the negroes, carried on a crusade against the Catholic Church which
was endeavoring to work in the same field. Church work and educational
work were not separated. A building in Mobile, valued at $20,000, was
given by the Bureau to the association as a training school for negro
teachers. The society charged the Bureau rent on this building, and there
were other similar cases where the Bureau paid rent on its own buildings
which were used by the aid societies.[1245]

As already stated, for two years there was little or no opposition by the
whites to the education of the negro, and to some extent they even favored
and aided it. The story of southern opposition to the schools originated
with the lower class of agents, missionaries, and teachers. Of course, to
a person who had taken the abolitionist programme in good faith, it was
incomprehensible that the southern whites could entertain any kindly or
liberal feelings toward the blacks. But Buckley reported, as late as March
15, 1867, that the native whites favored the undertaking, and that no
difficulty was experienced in getting southern whites to teach negro
schools. Some of these teachers were graduates of the State University,
some had been county superintendents of education. Crippled Confederate
soldiers and the widows of soldiers sought for positions in the
schools.[1246] There were also some northern whites of common sense and
good character engaged in teaching these Bureau schools. But too many of
the latter considered themselves missionaries whose duty it was to show
the southern people the error of their sinful ways, and who taught the
negro the wildest of the social, political, and religious doctrines held
at that time by the more sentimental friends of the ex-slaves.

The temper and manner and the beliefs in which the northern educator went
about the business of educating the negro are shown in the reports and
addresses in the proceedings of the National Teachers' Association from
1865 to 1875. The crusade of the teachers in the South was directed by the
people represented in this association, and its members went out as
teachers. Some of the sentiments expressed were as follows: Education and
Reconstruction were to go hand in hand, for the war had been one of
"education and patriotism against ignorance and barbarism."[1247] "The old
slave states [were] to be a missionary ground for the national
schoolmaster,"[1248] and knowledge and intellectual culture were to be
spread over this region that lay hid in darkness.[1249] There was a demand
for a national school system to force a proper state of affairs upon the
South, for free schools were necessary, they declared, to a republican
form of government, and the free school system should be a part of
Reconstruction. The education of the whites as well as the blacks should
be in the future a matter of national concern, because the "old rebels"
had been sadly miseducated, and they had been able to rule only because
others were ignorant and had been purposely kept in ignorance. Much
commiseration was expressed for "the poor white trash" of the South. The
"rebels" were still disloyal, and, as one speaker said, must be treated as
a farmer does stumps, that is, they must be "worked around and left to rot
out." The old "slave lords" must be driven out by the education of the
people, and no distinction in regard to color should be allowed in the
schools. The work of education must be directed by the North, for only the
North had correct ideas in regard to education. Nothing good was found in
the old southern life; it was bad and must give way to the correct
northern civilization. The work of "The Christian Hero" was praised, and
it was declared that it ought to inspire an epic even greater than the
immortal epic of Homer.[1250]

The missionary teachers who came South were supported by this sentiment in
the North, and they could not look with friendly eyes upon anything done
by the southern whites for the negroes. Altogether there were not many of
these heralds of light, and it was a year before the character of their
teaching became generally known to the whites or its results were plainly
seen. Their dislike for all things southern was heartily reciprocated by
the native whites, who soon acquired a dislike for the northern teacher
which became second nature. The negro was taught by the missionary
educators that he must distrust the whites and give up all habits and
customs that would remind him of his former condition; he must not say
master and mistress nor take off his hat when speaking to a white person.
In teaching him not to be servile, they taught him to be insolent. The
missionary teachers regarded themselves as the advance guard of a new army
of invasion against the terrible South. In recent years a Hampton
Institute teacher has expressed the situation as follows: "When the combat
was over and the Yankee schoolma'ams followed in the train of the northern
armies, the business of educating the negroes was a continuation of
hostilities against the vanquished, and was so regarded to a considerable
extent on both sides." The North in a few years became disappointed and
indifferent, especially after the negro began to turn again to the
southern whites.[1251]

The negro schools felt the influence of the politics of the day, besides
suffering from the results of the teachings of the northern pedagogues.
Buckley made a report early in 1867, stating that conditions were
favorable. On July 1, 1868, Rev. R. D. Harper, "Superintendent of
Education," reported that there was a reaction against negro schools; that
the whites were now hostile to the negro schools on account of their
teachers, who, the whites claimed, upheld the doctrines of social and
political equality; the negroes were too much interested in politics in
1867 and 1868, and spent their money in the campaigns; the teachers of the
negro schools were intimidated, ostracized from society, and could not
find board with the white people. Because of this, he said, some schools
had been broken up. The civil authorities, he declared, winked at the
intimidation of the teachers.[1252] Beecher, the Assistant Commissioner
and "Superintendent of Education," reported that the schools had been
supported on confiscated Confederate property until 1869, and that this
source of supply being exhausted, the teachers were returning to the
North. He reported that 100,000 children had never been inside a
schoolhouse. The night schools were not successful because the negroes
were unable to keep awake. A year later, Beecher reported that the schools
were recovering from unfavorable conditions, and that some of the teachers
who had proven to be immoral and incompetent had been discharged.

The last reports (1870) stated that there was less opposition by the
whites to the Bureau schools.[1253] This can be partly accounted for by
the fact that the majority of the obnoxious northern teachers had returned
to the North or had been discharged. The best ones, who had come with high
hopes for the negroes, sure that the blacks needed only education to make
them the equal of the whites, were bitterly disappointed, and in the
majority of cases they gave up the work and left. Not all of them were of
good character and a number were discharged for incompetency or
immorality; others were coarse and rude. The respectable southern whites
resigned as soon as the results of the teaching of the outsiders began to
be realized, and those who remained were beyond the pale of society. The
white people came to believe, and too often with good reason, that the
alien teachers stood for and taught social and political equality,
intermarriage of the races, hatred and distrust of the southern whites,
and love and respect for the northern deliverer only. Social ostracism
forced the white teachers to be content with negro society. Naturally they
became more bitter and incendiary in their utterances and teachings. Some
negroes were only too quick to learn such sentiments, and the generally
insolent behavior of the negro educated under such conditions was one of
the causes of reaction against negro education. The hostility against
negro schools was especially strong among the more ignorant whites, and
during the Ku Klux movement these people burned a number of schoolhouses
and drove the teachers from the country where a few years before they had
been welcomed by some and tolerated by all.

The results of the attempts by the Bureau and the missionary societies to
educate the negro were almost wholly bad. DuBois makes the astonishing
statement that the Bureau established the free public school system in
the South.[1254] It is true that some of the schools then established have
survived, but there would have been many more schools to-day had these
never existed. For the whites the public school system of Alabama existed
before the war; the example of the Bureau in no way encouraged its
extension for the blacks; reconstructive educational ideals caused a
reaction against general public education. In 1865 to 1866 the thinking
people of the state, such men as Dr. J. L. M. Curry and Bishop McTyeire,
were heartily in favor of the education of the negro, and all the churches
were also in favor of giving it a trial. As conditions were at that time,
even the best plan for the education of the negro by alien agencies would
have failed. General Swayne hoped to use both northern and southern
teachers, but it was not possible that the temper of either party would
permit coöperation in the work. Buckley seems to have had glimmerings of
this fact, when he tried to get southern teachers for the schools. But the
damage was already done. The logical and intentional result of the
teachings of the missionaries was to alienate the races. If the negro
accepted the doctrine of the equality of all men and the belief in the
utter sinfulness of slavery and slaveholders, he at once found that the
southern whites were his natural enemies.

Unwise efforts were made to teach the adult blacks, and they were
encouraged to believe that all knowledge was in their reach; that without
education they would be helpless, and with it they would be the white
man's equal. Some of the negroes almost worshipped education, it was to do
so much for them. The schools in the cities were crowded with grown
negroes who could never learn their letters. All attempts to teach these
older ones failed, and the failure caused grievous disappointment to many.
The exercise of common sense by the teachers might have spared them this.
But the average New England teacher began to work as if the negroes were
Mayflower descendants. No attention was paid to the actual condition of
the negroes and their station in life. False ideas about manual labor were
put into their heads, and the training given them had no practical bearing
on the needs of life.[1255]

From the table given above it will be seen that the Bureau schools reached
only a very small proportion of the negro children. The missionary schools
not connected with the Bureau were few. It is likely that for five years
there were not more than two hundred northern teachers in the state, yet
the effect of their work was, in connection with the operations of the
political and religious missionaries, to make a majority perhaps of the
white people hostile to the education of the negro. The crusading spirit
of the invaders touched the most sensitive feelings of the southerners,
and the insolence and rascality of the educated negroes were taken as
natural results of education. The good was obscured by the bad. The
innocent missionary suffered for the sins of the violent and incendiary.
The educated black rascal was pointed out as a fair example of negro
education. The damage was done, not so much by what was actually taught in
the relatively few schools, as by the ideas caught by the entire negro
population that came in contact with the missionaries. Naturally the
blacks were more likely to accept the radical teachers. A most unfortunate
result was the withdrawal of the southern church organizations and of all
white southerners from the work of training the negro. The profession had
been discredited. One of the hardest tasks of the negro educators of
to-day--like Washington or Councill--is to undo the work of the aliens who
wrought in passion and hate a generation before they began. The evil of
the Bureau system did not die with that institution, but when the
reconstructionists undertook to mould anew the institutions of the South,
the educational methods of the Bureau and its teachers were transferred
into the new state system which they helped to discredit.[1256]

Why the Bureau System Failed

There have been many apologies for the Freedmen's Bureau, many assertions
of the necessity for such an institution to protect the blacks from the
whites. It was necessary, the friends of the institution claimed, to
prevent reënslavement of the negro, to secure equality before the law, to
establish a system of free labor, to relieve want, to force a beginning of
education for the negro, to make it safe for northern missionaries and
teachers to work among the blacks. It was, of course, not to be expected
that the victorious North would leave the negroes entirely alone after the
war, and in theory there were only two objections to such an institution
well conducted,--(1) it was not really needed, and (2) it was, as an
institution, based on an idea insulting to southern white people. It meant
that they were unfit to be trusted in the slightest matter that concerned
the blacks. It was based on the theory that there was general hostility
between the southern white and the southern black, and that the government
must uphold the weaker by establishing a system of espionage over the
stronger. The low characters of the officials made the worst of what would
have been under the best agents a bad state of affairs. In 1865 it was
necessary for the good of the negro that social and economic laws cease to
operate for a while and allow the feelings of sentiment, duty, and
gratitude of the Southern whites to work in behalf of the black and enable
the latter to make a place for himself in the new order. After the
surrender there was, on the part of the whites, a strong feeling of
gratitude to the negroes, that was practically universal, for their
faithful conduct during the war. The people were ready, because of this
and many other reasons, to go to any reasonable lengths to reward the
blacks. The Bureau made it impossible for this feeling to find expression
in acts. The negro was taken from his master's care and in alien schools
and churches taught that in all relations of life the southern white man
was his enemy. The whites came to believe that negro education was worse
than a failure. The southern churches lost all opportunity to work among
the negroes. Friendly relations gave way to hostility between the races.
The better elements in southern society that were working for the good of
the black were paralyzed and the worst element remained active. The
friendship of the native whites was of more value to the blacks than any
amount of theoretical protection against inequalities in legislation and
justice. Finally, the claim that the Bureau was essential in establishing
a system of free labor is ridiculous. The reports of the Bureau officials
themselves show clearly, though not consciously, that the new labor system
was being worked out according to the fundamental economic laws of supply
and demand, and largely in spite of the opposition of the Bureau with its
red tape-measures. The Bureau labor policy finally gave way everywhere
before the unauthorized but natural system that was evolved.[1257]






The Military Reconstruction Bills

The Radicals in Congress triumphed over the moderate Republicans, the
Democrats, and the President, when, on March 2, 1867, they succeeded in
passing over the veto the first of the Reconstruction Acts. This act
reduced the southern states to the status of military provinces and
established the rule of martial law. After asserting in the preamble that
no legal governments or adequate protection for life and property existed
in Alabama and other southern states, the act divided the South into five
military districts, subject to the absolute control of the central
government, that is, of Congress.[1258] Alabama, with Georgia and Florida,
constituted the Third Military District. The military commander, a general
officer, appointed by the President, was to carry on the government in his
province. No state interference was to be allowed, though the provisional
civil administration might be made use of if the commander saw fit.
Offenders might be tried by the local courts or by military commissions,
and except in cases involving the death penalty, there was no appeal
beyond the military governor. This rule of martial law was to continue
until the people[1259] should adopt a constitution providing for
enfranchisement of the negro and for the disfranchisement of such whites
as would be excluded by the proposed Fourteenth Amendment to the United
States Constitution. As soon as this constitution should be ratified by
the new electorate (a majority voting in the election) and the
constitution approved by Congress, and the legislature elected under the
new constitution should ratify the proposed Fourteenth Amendment, then
representatives from the state were to be admitted to Congress upon taking
the "iron-clad" test oath of July 2, 1862.[1260] And until so
reconstructed the present civil government of the state was provisional
only and might be altered, controlled, or abolished, and in all elections
under it the negro must vote and those who would be excluded by the
proposed Fourteenth Amendment must be disfranchised.[1261]

The President at once (March 11, 1867) appointed General George H. Thomas
to the command of the Third Military District, with headquarters at
Montgomery, but the work was not to General Thomas's liking, and at his
request he was relieved, and on March 15 General Pope was appointed in his
place.[1262] Pope was in favor of extreme measures in dealing with the
southern people and stated that he understood the design of the
Reconstruction Acts to be "to free the southern people from the baleful
influence of old political leaders."[1263]

The act of March 2 did not provide for forcing Reconstruction upon the
people. If they wanted it, they might initiate it through the provisional
governments, or if they preferred, they might remain under martial law.
While all people were anxious to have the state restored to the Union,
most of the whites saw that to continue under martial law, even when
administered by Pope, was preferable to Reconstruction under the proposed
terms. Consequently the movement toward Reconstruction was made by a very
small minority of the people and had no chance whatever of making any

Therefore, in order to hasten the restoration of the states and to insure
the proper political complexion of the new régime, Congress assumed
control of the administration of the law of March 2, by the supplementary
act of March 23, 1865. "To facilitate restoration" the commander of the
district was to cause a registration of all men over twenty-one not
disfranchised by the act of March 2, who could take the prescribed
oath[1264] before the registering officers. The commander was then to
order an election for the choice of delegates to a convention. He was to
apportion the delegates according to the registered voting population. If
a majority voted against holding the convention, it should not be held.
The boards of registration, appointed by the commanding general, were to
consist of three loyal persons. They were to have entire control of the
registration of voters, and the elections and returns which were to be
made to the military governor. They were required to take the "iron-clad"
test oath, and the penalties of perjury were to be visited upon official
or voter who should take the oath falsely. After the convention should
frame a constitution, the military commander should submit it to the
people for ratification or rejection. The same board of registration was
to hold the election. If the Constitution should be ratified by a majority
of the votes cast in the election where a majority of the registered
voters voted, and the other conditions of the act of March 2 having been
complied with, the state should be admitted to representation in

Pope assumes Command

On April 1, 1867, General Pope arrived in Montgomery and assumed command
of the Third Military District. General Swayne was continued in command
of Alabama as a sub-district. Pope announced that the officials of the
provisional government would be allowed to serve out their terms of
office, provided the laws were impartially administered by them. Failure
to protect the people without distinction in their rights of person and
property would result in the interference of the military authorities.
Civil officials were forbidden to use their influence against
congressional reconstruction. No elections were to be held unless negroes
were allowed to vote and the whites disfranchised as provided for in the
act of March 2. However, all vacancies then existing or which might occur
before registration was completed would be filled by military appointment.
The state militia was ordered to disband.[1266] General Swayne proclaimed
that he, having been intrusted with the "administration of the military
reconstruction bill" in Alabama, would exact a literal compliance with the
requirements of the Civil Rights Bill. All payments for services rendered
the state during the war were peremptorily forbidden.[1267] The _Herald_
correspondent reported that Pope's early orders were favorably received by
the conservative press of Alabama, and that there was no opposition of any
kind manifested. The people did not seem to realize what was in store for
them. The army thought necessary to crush the "rebellious" state was
increased by a few small companies only, and now consisted of fourteen
companies detached from the Fifteenth and the Thirty-third Infantry and
the Fifth Cavalry, amounting in all to 931 men, of whom eight companies
were in garrison in the arsenal at Mount Vernon and the forts at
Mobile.[1268] The rest were stationed at Montgomery, Selma, and

Writing to Grant on April 2, Pope stated that the civil officials were all
active secessionists and would oppose Reconstruction. But the people were
ready for Reconstruction, which he predicted would be speedy in Alabama.
Five days later he wrote that there would be no trouble in Alabama; that
Governor Patton and nearly all the civil officials and most of the
prominent men of the state were in favor of the congressional
Reconstruction and were canvassing the state in favor of it.[1269] He was
evidently of changeable opinions. However, he was so impressed with the
goodness of Alabama and the badness of Georgia, that, in order to be near
the most difficult work, he asked Grant to have headquarters removed to
Atlanta, which was done on April 11.[1270]

[Illustration: FEDERAL COMMANDERS, Who ruled the State, 1865-1868.

GENERAL GEORGE H. THOMAS, in command of the district including Alabama,

GENERAL WAGER SWAYNE, Assistant Commissioner of Freedmen's Bureau.

GENERAL JOHN POPE, First Commander of Third Military District.

GENERAL GEORGE G. MEADE (in field uniform), Commander of Third Military

The Georgia people were evidently so bad that they caused a change in his
former favorable opinion of the people in general, or rather of the
whites, for in a letter to Grant, July 24, 1867, we find a frank
expression of his sentiments in regard to Reconstruction. He thought the
disfranchising clauses were among the wisest provisions of the
Reconstruction Acts; that the leading rebels should have been forced to
leave the country and stay away; that all the old official class was
opposed to Reconstruction and was sure to prevail unless kept
disfranchised; that it was better to have incompetent loyal men in office
than rebels of ability,--in fact, the greater the ability the greater the
danger; that in order to retain the fruits of reconstruction the old
leaders must be put beyond the power of returning to influence. He had by
this time evidently become somewhat disgusted with the reconstructionists,
for he intimated that none of the whites were fit for self-government, and
was strongly of the opinion that, in a few years, intelligence and
education would be transferred from the whites to the negroes. He
predicted ten thousand majority for Reconstruction in Alabama, but thought
that in case Reconstruction succeeded in the elections, some measures
would have to be taken to free the country of the turbulent and disloyal
leaders of the reactionary party, or there would be no peace.[1271]

Control of the Civil Government

Pope instructed the post commanders in Alabama to report to headquarters
any failures of civil tribunals to administer the laws in accordance with
the Civil Rights Bill or the recent acts of Congress. They were, above
all, to watch for discrimination on account of color, race, or political
opinion. While not interfering with the functions of civil officers, they
were instructed to give particular attention to the manner in which such
functions were discharged.[1272] Civil officials were warned that the
prohibition against their using influence against Reconstruction would be
stringently enforced. They were not to give verbal or written advice to
individuals, committees, or the public unless in favor of Reconstruction.
Officials who violated this prohibition were to be removed from office and
held accountable as the case demanded.[1273] District and post commanders
were ordered to report to Pope all state, county, or municipal officials
who were "disloyal" to the government of the United States, or who used
their influence to "hinder, delay, prevent, or obstruct the due and proper
administration of the acts of Congress."[1274] Later, Grant and Pope
decided that the paroles of soldiers were still in force and that any
attempt to "prevent the settlement of the southern question would be a
violation of parole."[1275]

In May, Pope issued orders informing the officials of Alabama of their
proper status. There was no legal government in Alabama, they were told,
and Congress had declared that no adequate protection for life and
property existed. The military authorities were warned that upon them
rested the final responsibility for peace and security. Consequently when
necessary they were to supersede the civil officials. In towns, the mayor
and chief of police were required to be present at every public meeting,
with sufficient force to render disturbance impossible. It would be no
excuse not to know of a meeting or not to apprehend trouble. Outside of
towns, the sheriff or one of his deputies was to be present at such
gatherings, and in case of trouble was to summon a posse from the crowd,
but must not summon officers of the meeting or the speakers. It was
declared the duty of civil officials to preserve peace, and assure rights
and privileges to all persons who desired to hold public meetings. In case
of disturbance, if it could not be shown that the civil officials did
their full duty, they would be deposed and held responsible by the
military authorities. When the civil authorities asked for it, the
commanders of troops were to furnish detachments to be present at
political meetings and prevent disturbance. The commanding officers were
to keep themselves informed in regard to political meetings and hold
themselves ready for immediate action.[1276]

From the beginning, Pope, supported and advised by General Swayne, pursued
extreme measures. There were soon many complaints of his arbitrary
conduct. In his correspondence with General Grant he complained of the
attitude of the Washington administration toward his acts, and largely to
support Pope (and Sheridan in the Fifth District), Congress passed the act
of July 19, 1867, which was the last of the Reconstruction Acts, so far as
Alabama was concerned. This law declared that the civil governments were
not legal state governments and were, if continued, to be subject
absolutely to the military commanders and to the paramount authority of
Congress. The commander of the district was declared to have full power,
subject only to the disapproval of General Grant, to remove or suspend
officers of the civil government and appoint others in their places.
General Grant was vested with full power of removal, suspension, and
appointment. It was made the duty of the commander to remove from office
all who opposed Reconstruction.[1277] Pope had already been making use of
the most extreme powers, and the only effect of the act was to approve his
course. Pope gave the laws a very broad interpretation, believing that
Reconstruction should be thoroughly done in order to leave no room for
future trouble and embarrassment. Grant, on August 3, wrote to him[1278]
approving his sentiments, and went on to say: "It is certainly the duty of
the district commander to study what the framers of the Reconstruction
laws wanted to express, as much as what they do express, and to execute
the law according to that interpretation."[1279] This was certainly a
unique method of interpretation and would justify any possible assumption
of power.

There had been several instances of prosecution by state authorities of
soldiers and officials for acts which they claimed were done under
military authority. Pope disposed of this question by ordering the civil
courts to entertain no action against any person for acts performed in
accordance with military orders or by sanction of the military authority.
Suits then pending were dismissed. The military authorities were to
enforce the order strictly and report all officials who might
disobey.[1280] A few weeks later a decree went forth that all jurors
should be chosen from the lists of voters registered under the acts of
Congress. They must be chosen without discrimination in regard to color,
and each juror must take an oath that he was a registered voter. Those who
could not take the oath were to be replaced by those who could.[1281]

So much for the general regulation and supervision of the civil
authorities by the army. There were but a few hundred troops intrusted
with the execution of these regulations, which were, of course, enforced
only spasmodically. The more prominent officials were closely watched, but
the only effect in country districts was to destroy all government. Many
judges, while willing to have their jurors drawn from the voting lists,
refused to accept ignorant negroes on them, or to order the selection of
mixed juries, and many courts were closed by military authority. Judge
Wood, of the city court of Selma, had a jury drawn of whites. A military
commission, sitting in Selma, refused to allow cases to be tried unless
negroes were on the jury. Pope's order was construed as requiring negroes
on each jury, and he so meant it.[1282] Later, he published an order
requiring jurors to take the "test oath," which would practically exclude
all the whites.[1283] Prisoners confined in jail under sentence by jurors
drawn under the old laws were liberated by the army officers or by
Freedmen's Bureau officials. Twice in the month of December, 1867, there
were jail deliveries by military authorities in Greene County.[1284]

Within the first month Pope began to remove civil officials and appoint
others. Mayor Joseph H. Sloss of Tuscumbia was the first to go. Pope
alleged that the election had not been conducted in accordance with the
acts of Congress and forthwith appointed a new mayor. No complaint had
been made, the removal being caused by outside influence.[1285] At this
election, negroes for the first time in Alabama had voted under the
Reconstruction Acts. Sloss had received two-thirds of all votes cast.
Evidently the blacks had been controlled by the whites, which was contrary
to the spirit of the Reconstruction.

Immediately after a riot in Mobile[1286] following an incendiary speech by
"Pig Iron" Kelly of Pennsylvania, one of the visiting orators, Colonel
Shepherd of the Fifteenth Infantry assumed command of the city. The police
were suspended. Breach of the peace was punished by the military
authorities. Out-of-door congregations after nightfall were prohibited.
Notice of public meetings had to be given to the acting mayor in time to
have a force on hand to preserve the peace. The publication of incendiary
articles in the newspapers was forbidden. The provost guard was directed
to seize all large firearms in the possession of improper persons and to
search suspected persons for small arms. The special police, when
appointed, were ordered to restrict their duties to enforcing the city
ordinances. All offences against military ordinances would be attended to
by the military authorities. A later order prohibited the carrying of
large firearms without special permission. Deposits of such arms were

Pope declared all offices vacant in Mobile and filled them anew,[1288] in
the face of a report by Swayne that reasonable precautions had been taken
to prevent disorder. The blame for this action of Pope's fell upon Swayne,
who had to carry out the orders. The officers appointed by Pope refused to
accept office, and then he seems to have offered to reappoint the old
officials, and they declined. Thereupon he lost his temper and directed
Swayne to fill the vacancies in the city government of Mobile "from that
large class of citizens who have heretofore been denied the right of
suffrage and participation in municipal affairs and whose patriotism will
prevent them from following this disloyal example." He was referring to
the refusal of the former members of the city government to accept
reappointment after suspension, and meant that negroes should now be
appointed. Swayne offered positions to some of the most respected and
influential negroes, who declined, saying that they preferred white
officials. Negro policemen were appointed.[1289] In October a case came up
in Mobile which caused much irritation. The negro policemen were
troublesome and insolent, and one day a little child ran out into the
street in front of a team driven by a negro, who paid no attention to the
mother's call to him to stop his horses. Some one snatched the baby from
under the heels of the horses, and the scared and angry mother relieved
her feelings by calling the driver a "black rascal." The negro policemen
came to her house, arrested her, and with great brutality dragged her from
the house and along the street. Another woman asked the negroes if they
had a warrant for the arrest of the first woman. She was answered by the
polite query, "What the hell is it your business?" Mayor Horton, Pope's
appointee, fined the woman ten dollars[1290]--for violation of the Civil
Rights Bill, it is to be presumed, since that was considered to cover most
things pertaining to negroes.

This Mayor Horton had a high opinion of his prerogatives as military mayor
of Mobile. The _Mobile Tribune_ had been publishing criticisms on his
administration and also of Mr. Bromberg, one of his political brethren.
Archie Johnson, a crippled, half-witted negro newsboy, was, it is said,
hired to follow the mayor about, selling his _Tribune_ papers, much to the
annoyance of Mayor Horton. On one occasion Archie cried, "Here's yer
_Mobile Tribune_, wid all about Mayor Horton and his Bromberg rats." This
was too much for the military mayor, and, considering the offence as one
against the Civil Rights Bill, he sentenced the negro to banishment to New
Orleans. Archie soon returned and was again exiled by the mayor. Here was
an opportunity for the people to get even with Horton, and suit was
brought in the Federal court before Busteed, who was now somewhat out with
his party. Horton was fined for violation of the Civil Rights Bill.[1291]

Many officials were removed and many appointments made by Pope. His
removals and appointments included mayors, chiefs of police, tax assessors
and collectors, school trustees, county commissioners, justices of the
peace, sheriffs, judges, clerks of courts, bailiffs, constables, city
clerks, solicitors, superintendents of schools, aldermen, common councils,
and all the officials of Jones and Colbert counties.[1292] Pope was
roundly abused by the newspapers and by the people for making so many
changes. I have been unable to find, however, the names of more than
thirty-four officials of any consequence who were removed by Pope. He made
224 appointments to such offices, besides minor ones. A clean sweep of all
officials from mayor to policemen was made in Mobile and again in Selma.
Most vacancies were caused by expiration of term of office or by forced

As there was need of money to pay the expense of the convention soon to
assemble, and as the taxpayers were beginning to understand for what
purposes their money was to be used and were in many instances refusing to
pay, Pope issued an order to the post and detachment commanders directing
them to furnish military aid to state tax-collectors.[1294] The bitterest
reconstructionists were heartily in favor of aid to the tax-collecting
branch of the "rebel" administration. They needed money to carry out their
plans. When the terms of the tax-collectors expired, they were ordered to
continue in office until their successors were duly elected and
qualified,[1295] which, of course, meant to continue the present
administration until the reconstructed government should take charge. Pope
was very careful not to allow the civil government to spend any of the
money coming in from taxes. He said that he thought it proper to prohibit
the state treasurer from paying out money for the support of families of
deceased Confederate soldiers, for wooden legs for Confederate soldiers,
etc., since the convention soon to meet would probably not approve
expenditure for such purposes.[1296] Later the treasurer was ordered to
pay the _per diem_ of the delegates and the expenses of the convention,
though Pope expressed doubt, for once, of his authority in the

General Swayne, at Montgomery, who had long been at the head of the
Freedmen's Bureau in the state and also military commander of the District
of Alabama since June 1, 1866, found himself relegated to a somewhat
subordinate position after Pope assumed command in the Third District. The
latter took charge of everything. If a negro policeman were to be
appointed in Mobile, Pope made the appointment and issued the order. Nor
did he always send his orders to Swayne to be republished. In consequence,
Swayne dropped out of the records somewhat, but he had to bear much of the
blame that should have fallen on Pope, though he was in full sympathy with
the views of the latter. He was, however, a man of much more ability than
Pope, of sounder judgment, and had had legal training. Consequently, Pope
relied much upon him for advice in the many knotty questions that came up,
often coming from Atlanta to Montgomery to see Swayne, and as a rule none
of his well-known proclamations were ever issued when under the latter's
influence. The orders written for him or outlined by Swayne were
stringent, of course, but clear, short, and to the point. Pope's own
masterpieces were long, rhetorical, and blustering. His favorite
valedictory at the end of an order was a threat of martial law and
military commissions.

General Swayne was still at the head of the Freedmen's Bureau, and in this
capacity he made his authority felt. In April, 1867, he ordered probate
judges to revise former actions in apprenticing minors to former owners
and to revoke all indentures made since the war if the minors were able to
support themselves. Though the vagrancy law had never been enforced and
had been repealed by the legislature, he declared its suspension. The
chain-gang system was abolished, except in connection with the
penitentiary.[1298] In the fall, in order to secure pay for negro
laborers, he ordered a lien on the crops grown on the farm where they were
employed. This lien was to attach from date of order and to have
preference over former liens.[1299]

Pope and the Newspapers

When Pope first assumed command, it was reported that the conservative
papers were, at the worst, not hostile to him;[1300] but within a few
weeks he had aroused their hostility and the battle was joined. Pope
believed that the papers had much to do with inciting hostility against
the visiting orators from the North, resulting in such disturbances as the
Kelly riot in Mobile. Consequently, instructions were issued prohibiting
the publication of articles tending to incite to riot. This order was
aimed at the conservative press. No one except the negroes paid much
attention to the Radical press. However, after the Mobile trouble the
military commander was somewhat nervous and wanted to prevent future
troubles. The negroes, now much excited by the campaign, were supposed to
be much influenced by the violent articles appearing in the Radical paper
of Mobile,--the _National_. On May 30 an article was printed in that paper
instructing the freedmen when, where, and how to use firearms. It went on
to state: "Do not, on future occasions [like the Kelly riot], waste a
single shot until you see your enemy, be sure he is your enemy, never
waste ammunition, don't shoot until necessary, and then be sure to shoot
your enemy. Don't fire into the air." Fearing the effect upon the negroes
of such advice, the commanding officer at Mobile suppressed the edition of
May 30, and prohibited future publication unless the proof should first be
submitted to the commandant according to the regulations of May 19, issued
by Pope. Instead of approving the action of the Mobile officer, Pope
strongly disapproved of and revoked his orders. The Mobile commander was
informed that it was the duty of the military authorities, not to
restrict, but to secure, the utmost freedom of speech. No officers or
soldiers should interfere with newspapers or speakers on any pretext
whatever. "No satisfactory execution of the late acts of Congress is
practicable unless this freedom is secured and its exercise protected,"
Pope said. However, "treasonable utterances" were not to be regarded as
the legitimate exercise of the freedom of discussion.[1301]

The conservative papers managed to keep within bounds, and Pope was unable
to harm them. Finally he decided to strike at them through the official
patronage. By the famous General Order No. 49,[1302] he stated that he was
convinced that the civil officials were obeying former instructions[1303]
only so far as their personal conversation was concerned, and were using
their official patronage to encourage newspapers which opposed
reconstruction and embarrassed civil officials appointed by military
authority by denunciations and threats of future punishment. Such use of
patronage was pronounced an evasion of former orders and an employment of
the machinery of the state government to defeat the execution of the
Reconstruction Acts. Therefore it was ordered that official advertising
and official printing be given to those newspapers which had not opposed
and did not then oppose Reconstruction or embarrass officials by threats
of violence and of prosecution as soon as the troops were withdrawn.[1304]
This order affected nearly every newspaper in the state. There were
sixty-two counties, and each had public printing and advertising. On an
average, at least one paper for each county was touched in the exchequer,
and as Pope reported, "a hideous outcry" arose from the press of the
state.[1305] There were only five or six Reconstruction papers in the
state, and a modification of the order in practice was absolutely
necessary. Pope was so roundly abused by the newspapers, North and South,
and especially in Alabama and Georgia, that he seems to have been affected
by it. He endeavored to explain away the order by saying that it related
only to military officials and not to civil officials. He did not say that
in the order, though he may have meant it, and was now using the
remarkable method of interpretation suggested to him by Grant in regard to
the Reconstruction Acts. Several accounts of newspapers for public
advertisements were held up and payments disallowed. The best-known of
these papers were the _Selma Times_ and the _Eutaw Whig and
Observer_.[1306] The order was strictly enforced until General Meade
assumed command of the Third Military District.

Trials by Military Commissions

The newspapers state that many arrests of citizens were made by military
authorities, and in the spring of 1868 they generally remarked that the
jails were filled with prisoners thus arrested who were still awaiting
trial. Most of these were probably arrested under the Pope régime, since
Meade, his successor, was not so extreme. However, Pope, in spite of his
threats, had but few persons tried by military commissions. D. C. Ballard
was convicted of pretending to be a United States detective and of
stealing ninety-five bales of cotton, and was sentenced to eight years'
imprisonment.[1307] One David J. Files was arrested for inciting the Kelly
riot at Mobile. Pope said that he was the chief offender and had him
imprisoned at Fort Morgan until he could be tried by a military
commission. He was fined $100.[1308] William A. Castleberry was convicted
by a military commission, fined $200, and imprisoned for one year for
purchasing stolen property and for assisting a deserter to escape. Jesse
Hays, a justice of the peace in Monroe County, was sentenced to five
months' imprisonment and fined $100 for prescribing a punishment for a
negro that could not be prescribed for a white, that is, fifty lashes.
Matthew Anderson and John Middleton, who were tried for carrying out the
sentence imposed on the negro, were acquitted.[1309] These are all the
cases that I have been able to find of trial of civilians by military
commission under Pope. In one case there was a direct interference by Pope
with the administration of justice. Daniel and James Cash had been
indicted in Macon County for murder and had made bond. They were later
indicted and arrested in Bullock County. Pope ordered that they be
released and that all civil officials let them alone.[1310]

Registration and Disfranchisement

But the prime object of Pope's administration was not merely to carry on
the government in his military province, but to see that the
Reconstruction was rushed through in the shortest possible time and in the
most thorough manner, according to the intentions of the Congressional
leaders as he understood them. As already stated, he had very clear ideas
of what should be done, and from the first was hampered by no few doubts
as to the limits of his power. The Reconstruction laws were given the
broadest interpretation. In the liberal interpretation of his powers Pope
was equalled only by Sheridan in the Fifth District.

A week after his arrival in Montgomery Pope directed Swayne to divide the
state into registration districts. Army officers were to be used as
registrars only when no civilians could be obtained. General supervisors
were to look after the working of the registration, and there was to be a
general inspector at headquarters. Violence or threats of violence against
registration officials would be punished by military commission.[1311] May
21, 1867, the state was divided into forty-two (later forty-four)
registration districts, so arranged as to make the most effective use of
the black vote.[1312] A board of registration for each district was
appointed, each board consisting of two whites and one negro. Since each
had to take the "iron-clad" test oath, practically all native whites were
excluded, those who were on the lists being men of doubtful character and
no ability. There were numbers of northerners. For most of the districts
the white registrars had to be imported. It is not saying much for the
negro members to say that they were much the more respectable part of the
boards of registration.[1313] Again it was stated that in order to secure
full registration, the compensation would be fixed at so much for each
voter--fifteen to forty cents, the price varying according to density of
population. Five to ten cents mileage was paid in order to enable the
registrars to hunt up voters. They were directed to inform the negroes
what their political rights were and how necessary it was for them to
exercise those rights. Voters were to be registered in each precinct, and
later, in order to register those missed the first time, the board was to
sit, after due notice, for three days at each county seat. Any kind of
interference with registration, by threats or by contracts depriving
laborers of pay, was to be punished by military commission. The right of
every voter under the acts of Congress to register and to vote was
guaranteed by the military. In case of disturbance the registrars were to
call upon the civil officials or upon the nearest military authorities. If
the former refused or failed to protect the registration, they were to be
punished by a military commission.[1314] May 1, Colonel James F. Meline
was appointed inspector of registration for the Third Military
District,[1315] and William H. Smith was appointed general supervisor for
Alabama.[1316] Boards of registration were authorized to report cases of
civil officials using their influence against reconstruction.[1317] When a
voter wished to remove from his precinct after registration, he was to be
given a certificate which would enable him to vote anywhere in the state.
If he should lose this certificate, his own affidavit before any civil or
military official would suffice to obtain a new certificate.[1318]

On June 1, Pope issued pamphlets containing instructions to registrars
which were especially definite as to those former state officials who
should be excluded from registration. The list of those who were to be
disfranchised included every one who had ever been a state, county, or
town official and later aided the Confederacy;[1319] former members of the
United States Congress, former United States officials, civil and
military, members of state legislatures and of the convention of 1861; all
officials of state, counties, and towns during the war; and finally
judicial or administrative officials not named elsewhere.[1320] The
records fail to show that any officials were not excluded from
registration except the keepers of poorhouses, coroners, and health
officers. Instructions issued later practically repeated the first
instructions and added former officials of the Confederate States to the
list of disfranchised. The registrars were reminded to enforce the
disfranchising clauses of the acts both as to voters and candidates.[1321]

The stringent regulations of Pope caused much bitter comment, and the
Washington administration was besought to revoke them. Complaints were
coming in from other districts, and on June 18, 1867, at a Cabinet
meeting, the questions in controversy were brought up point by point, and
the Cabinet passed its opinion on them. A strict interpretation of the
Reconstruction Acts was arrived at, which was much more favorable toward
the southern people. Stanton alone voted against all interpretation
favorable to the South. The interpretation of the acts thus obtained was
issued as a circular, the opinion of the Attorney-General, through the War
Department and sent to the district commanders on June 20.[1322] As soon
as Pope received a copy of the opinion of the Attorney-General he wrote to
Grant protesting against the enforcement of the opinion as an order, so
far as it related to registration. If enforced, his instructions to
registrars would have to be revoked. According to all rules of military
obedience, it was his duty to consider the instructions sent him through
the adjutant-general's office as binding, though in this case the
instructions were not in the technical form of an order, but he expressed
doubt if they were to be considered as an order to him. Grant telegraphed
to him to enforce his own construction of the acts until ordered to do

In order to remove all doubt in the matter, Congress, in the act of July
19, 1867, sustained Pope's interpretation of the acts and made it law. The
construction placed upon the laws by the Cabinet was repudiated, and
officers acting under the Reconstruction Acts were not to consider
themselves bound by the opinion of any civil officer of the United
States.[1324] This was aimed at the Attorney-General and the Cabinet. The
law also gave the registrars full judicial powers to investigate the
records of those who applied for registration. Witnesses might be examined
touching the qualifications of voters. The boards were empowered to revise
the lists of voters and to add to or strike from it such names as they
thought ought to be added or removed. No pardon or amnesty by the
President was to avail to remove disability.[1325]

The Elections and the Convention

After the passage of this law it was smooth sailing for Pope. Registration
went on with such success that on August 31 he was induced to order an
election to be held on October 1 to 4, for the choice of delegates to a
convention, and an apportionment of delegates among the various districts
was made at the same time. In the distribution the black counties were
favored at the expense of the white counties.[1326]

The work of the registrars was thoroughly done. The negro enrolment was
enormous; the white enrolment was small. The registration of voters before
the elections was: whites, 61,295; blacks, 104,518; total, 165,813.[1327]
For the convention and for delegates 90,283 votes were cast. Of these
18,553 were those of whites, and 71,730 were negro votes. Against holding
a convention, 5583 white votes were cast, and 69,947 registered voters
failed to vote--37,159 whites and 32,788 blacks.[1328] The names of the
delegates chosen were published in general orders, and the convention was
ordered to meet in Montgomery on November 5.[1329] During the session of
the convention Pope took a rest from his labors and spent some time in
Montgomery. He was a great favorite with the reconstructionists and was
accorded special honors by the convention. But he did not think as highly
of reconstructionists as when he first assumed command, and the antics of
the "Black Crook" convention made him nervous. After a month's session he
was glad to see it disband.[1330]

One of the last important acts of Pope's administration was to order an
election for February 4 and 5, 1868, when the constitution should be
submitted for ratification or rejection, and when by his advice candidates
for all offices were to be voted for. Two weeks beforehand the registrars
were to revise their lists, adding or striking off such names as they saw
fit. Polls were to be opened at such places as the board saw fit. Any
voter might vote in any place to which he had removed by making affidavit
before the board that he was registered and had not voted before.[1331]

Removal of Pope and Swayne

Both Pope and Swayne had been charged with being desirous of representing
the states of the Third Military District in the United States Senate.
Pope had made himself obnoxious to the President, and the white people of
Alabama and Georgia were demanding his removal. So, on December 28, 1867,
an order was issued by the President, relieving Pope and placing General
Meade in command of the Third Military District. General Swayne was at the
same time ordered to rejoin his regiment,[1332] and a few days later his
place was taken by General Julius Hayden.[1333] The whites were greatly
relieved and much pleased by the removal of both Pope and Swayne. The
former had become obnoxious on account of the extreme measures he had
taken in carrying out the Reconstruction Acts, on account of his
irritating proclamations, his attitude toward the press, etc. General
Swayne had long enjoyed the confidence of the best men. His influence over
the negroes was supreme, and had been used to promote friendly relations
between the races. But as soon as the Reconstruction was taken charge of
by Congress and party lines were drawn, all his influence, personal and
official, was given to building up a Radical party in the state and to
securing the negroes for that party. He was high in the councils of the
Union League and controlled the conventions of the party. The change of
rulers is said to have had a tranquillizing effect on disturbed conditions
in Alabama.[1334] But the people of Alabama would have been pleased with
no human being as military governor invested with absolute power.


Registration and Elections

On January 6, 1868, General Meade arrived in Atlanta and assumed command
of the Third Military District.[1335] His first and most important duty
was to complete the military registration of voters, and hold the election
for ratification of the constitution and for the choice of officials under
it. Registration had been going on regularly since the summer of 1867, and
after the convention had adjourned there was a rush of whites to register
in order to defeat the constitution by refraining from voting on it. As
the time for the election drew near the friends of the Reconstruction,
much alarmed at the tactics of the Conservative party, brought pressure to
bear upon Grant, who suggested to Meade that an extension of time be made.
Consequently, the time for the election was extended from two to five days
in order to enable the remotest negro to be found and brought to the
polls. At the same time the number of voting places was limited to three
in each county,[1336] in order to lessen the influence of the whites over
the blacks.

General Meade was opposed to holding the election for state officials at
the same time with that on ratification of the constitution. He thought it
would be difficult to secure the adoption of the constitution on account
of the proscriptive clauses in it, but in his opinion the
candidates[1337] nominated by the convention were even more obnoxious to
the people than the constitution, and many would refrain from voting on
that account. Swayne, who seems to have still been in Montgomery, admitted
the force of the objection, but Grant objected to any change until too
late to make other arrangements.[1338]


The election took place on February 1 to 5, and passed off without any
disorder. Meade reported that the charges of fraud made by the Radicals
were groundless, and that the constitution had been defeated on its
merits, or rather demerits. Both the constitution and the candidates were
obnoxious to a large number of the friends of Reconstruction. He reported
that the constitution failed of ratification by 13,550 votes, and advised
that the convention assemble again, revise the constitution of its
proscriptive features, and again submit to it the people.[1339]

Administration of Civil Affairs

Pending the decision of the Alabama question by Congress, Meade carried on
the military government as usual. He thoroughly understood that his power
was unlimited. No more than Pope did he allow the civil government to
stand in the way. There was, however, a vast difference in the
administrations of the two men. Meade was less given to issuing
proclamations, but was firmer and more strict, and less arbitrary. He was
not under the influence of the Radical politicians in the slightest
degree, and was abused by both sides, especially by the Radical
adventurers. It was a thankless task, for which he had no liking, but his
duty was done in a soldierly manner, and his administration was probably
the best that was possible.

He made it clear to the civil authorities that he was the source of all
power, and that they were responsible to him and must obey all orders
coming from him. If they refused, he promised trial by a military
commission, fine, and imprisonment. They must under no circumstances
interfere, under color of state authority, with the military
administration. He had no admiration for the "loyal" element; and when a
bill was before Congress providing that the officials of the civil
government be required to take the "iron-clad" test oath or vacate their
offices, he made a strong protest and declared that he could not fill half
the offices with men who could take the test oath.[1340] After the
February elections political influence was brought to bear to force Meade
to vacate the offices of the civil government and to appoint certain
individuals of the proper political beliefs. The persons voted for in the
elections were clamorous for their places. Grant suggested that when
appointments were made, the men recently voted for be put in. Meade
resisted the pressure and made few changes, and these only after
investigation. Removals were made for neglect of duty, malfeasance in
office, refusing to obey orders, and "obstructing Reconstruction." Many
appointments were made on account of the deaths or resignations of the
civil officials.[1341] Few of the officials appointed by him could take
the test oath, and he was much abused by the Radicals for saying that it
would be impossible to fill half the offices with men who could take the
oath. He was constantly besought to supersede the civil authority
altogether and rule only through the army. In this connection, he reported
that he was greatly embarrassed by the want of judgment and of knowledge
on the part of his subordinates, and by the great desire of those who
expected to profit from military intervention. So he issued an order
informing the civil officials that as long as they performed their duties
they would not be interfered with. The army officials were informed that
they should in no case interfere with the civil administration before
obtaining the consent of Meade; that the military was to act in
subordination to and in aid of the civil authority;[1342] and that no
soldiers or other persons were to be tried in court for acts done by
military authority or for having charge of abandoned land or other

There was much disorder by thieves and roughs on the river boats during
the spring of 1868. To facilitate trials of these lawbreakers, Meade
directed that they be arrested and tried in any county in the state where
found, before any tribunal having jurisdiction of such offences.[1344]

The courts were not interfered with as under Pope's rule. The judges
continued to have white jurors chosen, and the army officers, as a rule,
approved. In one case, however, in Calhoun County, there was trouble. One
Lieutenant Charles T. Johnson, Fifteenth Infantry, attended the court
presided over by Judge B. T. Pope. He found that no negroes were on the
jury, and demanded that the judge order a mixed jury to be chosen. The
judge declined to comply, and Johnson at once arrested him. Johnson found
that the clerk of the court did not agree with him, and he arrested the
clerk also. Pope was placed in jail until released by Meade.[1345] The
conduct of Johnson was condemned in the strongest terms by Meade, who
ordered him to be court-martialed. A general order was published reciting
the facts of the case and expressing the severest censure of the conduct
of Johnson. Meade informed the public generally that even had Judge Pope
violated previous orders, Johnson had nothing to do in the case except to
report to headquarters. Moreover, Johnson was wrong in holding that all
juries had to be composed partly of blacks. This order stopped
interference with the courts in Alabama.[1346]

Meade did not approve of Pope's policy toward newspapers, and on February
2, 1868, he issued an order modifying General Order No. 49 on the ground
that it had in its operations proved embarrassing. In the future, public
printing was to be denied to such papers only as might attempt to
intimidate civil officials by threats of violence or prosecution, as soon
as the troops were withdrawn, for acts performed in their official
capacity. However, if there was but one paper in the county, then it was
to have the county printing regardless of its editorial opinions.
"Opposition to reconstruction, when conducted in a legitimate manner, is,"
the order stated, "not to be considered an offence." Violent and
incendiary articles, however, were to be considered illegal,[1347] and
newspapers were warned to keep within the bounds of legitimate discussion.
The Ku Klux movement, especially after it was seen that Congress was going
to admit the state, notwithstanding the defeat of the constitution, gave
Meade some trouble. Its notices were published in various papers, and
Meade issued an order prohibiting this custom. The army officers were
ordered to arrest and try offenders. Only one editor came to grief. Ryland
Randolph, the editor of the _Independent Monitor_, of Tuscaloosa, was
arrested by General Shepherd and his paper suppressed for a short

General Meade was no negrophile, and hence under him there were no more
long oration orders on the rights of "that large class of citizens
heretofore excluded from the suffrage." He set himself resolutely against
all attempts to stir up strife between the races, and quietly reported at
the time, and again a year later, that the stories of violence and
intimidation, which Congress accepted without question, were without
foundation. He ordered that in the state institutions for the deaf, dumb,
blind, and insane, the blacks should have the same privileges as the
whites. The law of the state allowed to the sheriffs for subsistence of
prisoners, fifty cents a day for white and forty cents a day for negro
prisoners. Meade ordered that the fees be the same for both races, and
that the same fare and accommodations be given to both. Swayne had
abolished the chain-gang system the year before, because it chiefly
affected negro offenders. Meade gave the civil authorities permission to
restore it.[1349]

The convention had passed ordinances which amounted to stay laws for the
relief of debtors. In order to secure support for the constitution, it was
provided that these ordinances were to go into effect with the
constitution. Complaint was made that creditors were oppressing their
debtors in order to secure payment before the stay laws should go into
effect. Though opposed in principle to such laws, Meade considered that
under the circumstances some relief was needed. The price of cotton was
low, and the forced sales were ruinous to the debtors and of little
benefit to the creditors. Therefore, in January, he declared the
ordinances in force to continue, unless the constitution should be
adopted. A later order, in May, declared that the ordinances would be
considered in force until revoked by himself.[1350]

Trials by Military Commissions

When the ghostly night riders of the Ku Klux Klan began to frighten the
carpet-baggers and the negroes, Meade directed all officials, civil and
military, to organize patrols to break up the secret organizations. Civil
officials neglecting to do so were held to be guilty of disobedience of
orders. Where army officers raised _posses_ to aid in maintaining the
peace, the expenses were charged to the counties or towns where the
disturbances occurred.[1351]

Nearly all prisoners arrested by the military authorities were turned over
to the civil courts for trial. Military commissions were frequently in
session to try cases when it was believed the civil authorities would be
influenced by local considerations. The following list of such trials is
complete: H. K. Quillan of Lee County and Langdon Ellis, justice of the
peace of Chambers County, were tried for "obstructing reconstruction" and
were acquitted; Richard Hall of Hale County, tried for assault, was
acquitted;[1352] Joseph B. F. Hill, William Pettigrew, T. W. Roberts, and
James Steele of Greene County were sentenced to hard labor for five years,
for "whipping a hog thief, and threatening to ride him on a rail";[1353]
Samuel W. Dunlap, William Pierce, Charles Coleman, and John Kelley,
implicated in the same case, were fined $500 each, and sentenced to one
year's imprisonment; Frank H. Munday, Hugh L. White, John Cullen, and
Samuel Strayhorn, charged with the same offence, were each fined $500, and
sentenced to hard labor for two years;[1354] Ryland Randolph, editor of
the _Monitor_, was tried for "obstructing reconstruction" in his paper and
for nearly killing a negro, and was acquitted. During the trial Busteed
granted a writ of _habeas corpus_, and Meade and Grant both were prepared
to submit to the decision of the court, but Randolph wanted the military
trial to go on.[1355]

Meade was much irritated by the careless conduct of officers in reporting
cases for trial by military courts which were unable to stand the test of
examination. After frequent failures to substantiate charges in cases
sent up for trial, orders were issued that subordinate officials must
exercise the greatest caution and care in preferring charges, and in all
cases must state the reasons why the civil authorities could not act.
Sworn statements of witnesses must accompany the charges, and the accused
must be given an opportunity to forward evidence in his favor.[1356]

The Soldiers and the Citizens

The troops in the state during 1867 and 1868, though sadly demoralized as
to discipline, gave the people little trouble except in the vicinity of
the military posts. The records of the courts-martial show that the
negroes were the greatest sufferers from the outrages of the common
soldiers. The whites were irritated chiefly by the arrogant conduct of a
few of the post commanders and their subordinates. At Mount Vernon,
Frederick B. Shepard, an old man, was arrested and carried before Captain
Morris Schoff, who shot the unarmed prisoner as soon as he appeared. For
this murder Schoff was court-martialed and imprisoned for ten years.[1357]
Johnson, the officer who arrested Judge Pope, was cordially hated in
middle Alabama. He arrested a negro who refused to vote for the
constitution; in a quarrel he took the crutch of a cripple and struck him
over the head with it; hung two large United States flags over the
sidewalk of the main street in Tuscaloosa, and when the schoolgirls
avoided walking under them, it being well understood that Johnson had
placed them there to annoy the women, he stationed soldiers with bayonets
to force the girls to pass under the flags. For his various misdeeds he
was court-martialed by Meade.[1358]

Most of the soldiers had no love for the negroes, carpet-baggers, and
scalawags, and at a Radical meeting in Montgomery, the soldiers on duty at
the capitol gave three groans for Grant, and three cheers for McClellan
and Johnson. For this conduct they were strongly censured by Major Hartz
and General Shepherd, their commanders.[1359]

The soldiers sent to Hale County knocked a carpet-bag Bureau agent on the
head, ducked a white teacher of a negro school in the creek, and cuffed
the negroes about generally.[1360]

From Martial Law to Carpet-bag Rule

The act providing for the admission of Alabama in spite of the defeat of
the constitution was passed June 25, 1868.[1361] Three days later Grant
ordered Meade to appoint as provisional governor and lieutenant-governor
those voted for[1362] in the February elections, and to remove the present
incumbents.[1363] So Smith and Applegate were appointed as governor and
lieutenant-governor, their appointments to take effect on July 13, 1868,
on which date the legislature said to have been elected in February was
ordered to meet.[1364]

Until the state should comply with the requirements of the Reconstruction
Acts all government and all officials were to be considered as provisional
only. The governor was ordered to organize both houses of the legislature,
and before proceeding to business beyond organization each house was
required to purge itself of any members who were disqualified by the
Fourteenth Amendment.[1365]

A few days later, Congress having admitted the state to representation,
Meade ordered all civil officials holding under the provisional civil
government to yield to their duly elected successors. The military
commander in Alabama was directed to transfer all property and papers
pertaining to the government of the state to the proper civil authorities
and for the future to abstain from any interference or control over civil
affairs. Prisoners held for offences against the civil law were ordered to