Political Research Notes


Courthouse square, Marshall, Texas. "Then there was the Court House in the middle of the square, where the voice of the crier was heard on Court days calling, "Oh yes, oh, yes, come into Court,"



Afro-American  Politicians 

Caucasian  Politicians  Republican

Caucasian  Politicians Democrat

Harrison County Reserve Militia


Incorporation of Marshall

Creation of Harrison County

Knights of the White Camellia

Ku Klux Klan

Citizen's Party of Harrison County

Harrison County Methods

White Primary

Notes from The Handbook of Texas Online , s.v." Harrison County"
  " By 1850 the county had more slaves than any other in the state, a distinction that it maintained through the next decade. The census of 1860 enumerated 8,784 slaves (59 percent of the total population), 145 planters who owned at least twenty bondsmen, and a cotton crop of 21,440 bales. Harrison County was among the richest and most productive in antebellum Texas" .
" In 1861 Harrison County's citizens overwhelmingly supported secession. The area escaped invasion during the Civil War, but hundreds of its men fought, and the majority of its people were called upon to make at least some material sacrifice. Defeat brought military occupation, the end of slavery, and Reconstruction. White citizens bitterly resented federal authority, especially when it meant enfranchisement of the black majority and a Republican party county government that continued even after the Democratic party regained control statewide in 1874. African Americans found that freedom did not bring significant economic or educational opportunities. Harrison County was "redeemed"-returned to white Democratic rule-in 1878 when residents formed the Citizen's Party of Harrison County and appealed to voters with the argument that Republican government was too expensive. Amidst charges of fraud and coercion, Citizen's party candidates won the election on a technicality involving the placement of a key ballot box and took firm control of local government. The county has remained politically conservative since Reconstruction. Until 1900 its black voters returned Republican majorities in national elections, but the Citizen's party controlled county offices. Once black voters were disfranchised, the county voted solidly Democratic in all elections until 1948. At that point, with the national Democratic party tending toward liberal policies, Harrison County began to support conservative Southerners such as Strom Thurmond in 1948 and George Wallace in 1968, and it began to vote Republican. Dwight D. Eisenhower twice carried the area easily. Lyndon B. Johnson (in spite of the fact that his wife came from the county) barely defeated Barry Goldwater there in 1964, and Republican candidates won in 1980, 1984, and 1988. The county voted Democratic in the 1992 election."
" Blacks constituted more than 60 percent of the total population in every census from 1880 to 1930"

" The 1930s and 1940s, years of the Great Depression and World War II,q marked the beginning of changes in Harrison County at least as significant as those brought on by the Civil War. Depression hit the county hard. The value of farm property fell 30 percent between 1930 and 1935, and there were almost 1,500 fewer farms in 1940 than in 1930. For the first time, a majority of workers depended on nonagricultural occupations, and unemployment became a problem. During the depths of the depression in 1935, 1,114 heads of families in Harrison County were on government relief. As late as 1940, 850 workers were employed on public emergency works, and another 838 were without jobs. World War II ended the economic disaster of the thirties, but it also brought about a significant emigration of blacks from the county. Between 1940 and 1950, although they continued to constitute a majority, blacks decreased by 17 percent in number while whites increased 8 percent. The total population rose from 48,937 to 50,900 during the 1930s and then fell to 47,745 by 1950. The trends that originated during the years of depression and war continued for another twenty years after 1950. The white population increased, but the number of blacks declined so rapidly that the county showed an overall population loss in each census, dropping to 44,841 by 1970. Agriculture occupied fewer workers each year, and cotton planting virtually disappeared. The agricultural census of 1978 reported only one farmer growing cotton in the county, which in 1860 had produced the third largest crop in the state."

" Marshall. The county seat benefited from the railroad and from its position as a retail center for the surrounding area, and by 1930 its population was 16,203, approximately one-third of the county's residents. Manufacturing establishments, located primarily in and around Marshall, employed 2,319 workers in 1930. Nevertheless, a majority of the county's workers were employed in agriculture."


Notes from The Handbook of Texas Online , s.v." Marshall. Texas"
 " By 1860 Marshall was one of the largest and wealthiest towns in East Texas, with a population estimated at 2,000. The community had an outstanding group of lawyers and political leaders including the first and last governors of Confederate Texas, Edward Clark and Pendleton Murrah."
" Marshall, encouraged by Robert W. Loughery's ultra-Southern newspaper, the Marshall Texas Republican, voted unanimously for secession in 1861.  During the spring of 1865, however, the army of the Trans-Mississippi Department disintegrated, and Marshall was occupied by United States troops on June 17. Reconstruction after the war was bitterly controversial, as the town became not only the base for occupying forces but the home for an office of the Freedmen's Bureau as well. White citizens angrily opposed federal authority and the influx of blacks who came seeking government protection. The whites were not satisfied until the Citizens party "redeemed" Marshall and all of Harrison County in 1878" .
 " Marshall also benefited during its early years by becoming a regional education center. Marshall University, although more of a secondary school than an institution of higher learning, and Marshall Masonic Female Institute attracted hundreds of students from outlying areas during the era of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Higher education for African Americans began at Wiley College in 1873 and Bishop College in 1881. The latter moved to Dallas in 1961, but Wiley remained. East Texas Baptist College was founded in 1914 and became East Texas Baptist University in 1984."



Notes from The Negro in Texas
Harrison County had at least one Negro representative until 1879 when the Citizens Party eliminated the Negro from politics in that county.  P.101

The House did not even seriously consider the notice of contest filed by Patrick Francis, Negro candidate for Harrison County against his white opponent, Alex Pope. p.102

An acquaintance of twenty-five years said of him, "He is a man of good sense, as far as blacksmithing is concern, but is a Radical of the genuine order. His radicalism must of been somewhat tempered, since he openly endorsed Richard Coke as an " honest man" and later espoused the cause of O. M. Roberts, both of whom were Democratic candidates for governor. p.103-104

It was not unknown, but it was unusual for  Negroes to serve as sureties on the bonds of white officials. In 1876 the Republican boss of Harrison County, S. H. RusselL  a white man, was elected sheriff and tax assessor, for which he had to post two bonds. As sheriff he posted a satisfactory bond of ten thousands dollars bond, and as tax assessor he met the bond requirement of thirty five thousand dollars without much difficulty. One of the five sureties on the latter bond was David Abner, Sr,, a Negro legislator. p, 89



Harrison County elected a total of six different legislators during Reconstruction, the largest number from any county in Texas.