Trees Planted by the Water: Early African American Legislators

 

 

 

Chronology

  Three-Fifths Clause of the Constitution: This clause in the Constitution greatly strengthened the political power of slaveholders by allowing slaves to be counted for representation in the House of Representatives. Slaves were counted as three-fifths of a free person for representation in the House and the Electoral College For the next 50 years, this clause enabled the slaveholding South to dominate the U. S. government even while its population failed to keep pace with the North's population.
1824 CONSTITUTION OF 1824 . Constitutional government in Texas began with the Mexican federal Constitution of 1824, which, to some degree, was patterned after the United States Constitution but resembled more the Spanish Constitution of 1812
March 24, 1825 the Federalist constituent legislature, meeting in Saltillo, passed the State Colonization Law of March 24, 1825. The legislative provision addressing slaveryqv was too ambiguous, and so the secretary of state at Saltillo declared that "What is not prohibited is to be understood as permitted
1825-29 Adams, John becomes U.S. President
 March 11, 1827 CONSTITUTION OF COAHUILA AND TEXAS More than two years was spent on the framing of a constitution, which was finally published on March 11, 1827 slavery was forbidden after promulgation of the constitution, and there could be no import of slaves after six months.
September 15, 1829 The Guerrero Decree, which abolished slaveryqv throughout the Republic of Mexico except in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, was issued by President Vicente R. Guerreroqv on September 15, 1829. The decree reached Texas on October 16, but Ramón Músquiz,qv the political chief, withheld its publication because it was in violation of the colonization laws, which guaranteed the settlers security for their persons and property. On December 2 Agustín Viesca,qv secretary of relations, wrote the governor of Texas that no change would be made respecting the slaves in Texas. The decree was never put into operation,
1829-37 Jackson, Andrew becomes U.S. President
April 6, 1830 The Law of April 6, 1830,was designed to stop the flood of immigration from the United States to Texas. Slaves, the law stipulated, were not to be imported from the United States, though blacks already in Texas would remain bondsmen.
1833 CONVENTION OF 1833 The Convention of 1833 met at San Felipe on April 1 as a successor to the Convention of 1832,qv to which San Fernando de Béxar (San Antonio) had refused to send delegates
March 1, 1836 CONVENTION OF 1836 The Convention of 1836 wrote the Texas Declaration of Independenceqv and the Constitution of the Republic of Texas,qv organized the ad interim government,qv and named Sam Houstonqv commander in chief of the military forces of the republic
Mar. 2, 1836 Texas Declaration of Independence The Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted on Mar. 2, 1836
Sept 1836 CONSTITUTION OF THE REPUBLIC OF TEXAS A constitution was adopted by the convention fifteen days later and ratified by a vote of the people of the republic on the first Monday in September 1836.slavery; citizenship, with "Africans, the descendents of Africans, and Indians excepted
June 5, 1837 act which permitted the residence of free blacks living in Texas before the Texas Declaration of Independence
1837-41 Van Buren, Martin become U.S. President
Feb. 5, 1840 act passed which prohibited the immigration of free blacks and ordered all free black residents to vacate the Republic of Texas within two years or be sold into slavery. The act was designed to make color the standard mark of servitude in Texas by eliminating the free black population. 
Dec. 12, 1840 The Ashworth Act. The Ashworth Act, passed by the Texas Congress on Dec. 12, 1840, came in response to an act passed on Feb. 5, 1840, which prohibited the immigration of free blacks and ordered all free black residents to vacate the Republic of Texas within two years or be sold into slavery. The earlier act was designed to make color the standard mark of servitude in Texas by eliminating the free black population. It repealed all laws contrary to its provisions and nullified the act of June 5, 1837, which permitted the residence of free blacks living in Texas before the Texas Declaration of Independence
1841 Harrison, William Henry becomes U.S. President
1841-45 Tyler, John becomes U.S. President
Feb. 28, 1845 Missouri Compromise The annexation resolutions passed by Congress on Feb. 28, 1845, included a restriction that if Texas were to be divided into more than one state, any state established north of the Missouri Compromise line (which was thus extended westward across Texas) would be a free state.
October 1845  CONSTITUTION OF 1845  The Texas statehood constitution, adopted in 1845, laid out the basic legislative framework that has, with modifications, been retained to the present
Dec. 29, 1845 Annexation  Texas statehood constitution accepted by the United States Congress on Dec. 29, 1845, the date of Texas's legal entry into the Union.
1845-49 Polk, James becomes U.S. President
1846 J.Pinckney Henderson took Texas governor office in 1846- 1847
Feb 19 1846 Texas officially becomes a state
1847 George T. Wood took Texas governor office in 1847- 1849
1849-50 Taylor, Zachary becomes U.S. President
1849 Peter Hansbrough Bell took Texas governor office in 1849- 1853
Sept. 18, 1850 Fugitive Slave Act; Sept. 18, 1850 The Fugitive Slave Act was part of the group of laws referred to as the "Compromise of 1850."  The Fugitive Slave Act mandated the return of runaway slaves, regardless of where in the Union they might be situated at the time of  their discovery or capture. 
Nov. 25, 1850 Compromise of 1850 In 1850, as a part of the Compromise of 1850 the northern boundary of the Texas Panhandle was fixed at the Missouri Compromise line, thus avoiding conflict in interpretations and making Texas clearly a "slave state.
1850-53 Fillmore, Millard becomes U.S. President
1853-57 Pierce, Franklin becomes U.S. President
1853 James W. Henderson took Texas governor office in 1853
1853 Elisha M. Pease took Texas governor office in 1853- 1857
Mar. 6, 1857 The Dred Scott Decision. In 1857 the Supreme Court made a decision in the case of a slave named Dred Scott, whose master had taken him on a six-year trip into the free state of Illinois and the free US Territories north of the Missouri Compromise Line. Back in Missouri, Scott sued for his freedom, arguing that residence in free territory had made him a free man. The Court rejected his claim.
1857-61 Buchanan, James becomes U.S. President
1857 Hardin R. Runnels took Texas governor office in 1857- 1859
1859 Sam Houston took Texas governor office in 1859- 1861
Nov. 6, 1860 Election of 1860 Lincoln is elected President (inaugurated on Mar. 4, 1861 ).
1861 Constitution of the State of Texas, 1861. This was a slight reworking of the Constitution of 1845 to use language referring to the Confederate States of America and to secure more firmly the institution of slavery in the state. Link to document  
  Texas Secession Convention  
Feb. 2, 1861 Texas Ordinance of Secession  The Texas Ordinance of Secession was the document that officially separated Texas from the United States in 1861. It was adopted by the Texas Secession Convention on Feb. 1 of that year, by a vote of 166 to 8.
Feb. 8, 1861 Constitution of the Confederate States  the Constitution for a provisional Confederate government is adopted; Jefferson Davis of Mississippi is elected provisional president (inaugurated on Feb. 18).
Mar 16 1861 Sam Houston is forced from office when he refuses to take the oath of allegiance to the Confederacy
Aug. 6, 1861 First Confiscation Acts The U.S. Congress passes a Confiscation Act, providing for the seizure of property, including slaves, used for insurrectionary purposes
1861 Francis R. Lubbock took Texas governor office in 1861- 1863
1861 Edward Clark took Texas governor office in 1861
July 17, 1862 Second Confiscation Act the U.S. Congress passes a second Confiscation Act, freeing the slaves of those who support rebellion
Jan. 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation Lincoln issues the Emancipation Proclamation
Dec. 8, 1863 Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, Dec. 8, 1863 On Dec. 8, 1863 he issued this proclamation which provided a means of repatriating "those who resume their allegiance" even though the war was still in progress. To those who took an oath of loyalty, he was prepared to issue a full pardon, with some notable exceptions
1863 Pendleton Murrah took Texas governor office in 1863- 1865
Nov. 8, 1864 Election of 1864 Lincoln and Johnson are elected President and Vice-President
Mar. 3, 1865 Freedmen's Bureau Congress establishes the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned Lands ("the Freedmen's Bureau")
Mar. 13, 1865 Confederate Law authorizing the enlistment of black soldiers, Mar. 13, 1865 in an act of desperation, the Confederate Congress authorizes the use of slaves as combat soldiers
Apr. 14, 1865  Lincoln is assassinated by John Wilkes Booth; Lincoln dies the next morning (Booth is captured and killed on Apr. 26)Andrew Johnson becomes president upon the death of Lincoln Apr. 15, 1865
summer of 1865 Texas Unionists in exile formed a chapter at New Orleans before the end of the Civil War.  Returning exiles brought the league to Texas with them in the summer of 1865.
1865 Andrew J. Hamilton took Texas governor office in 1865- 1866
1865-69 Johnson, Andrew becomes U.S. President
   
May 29, 1865 Proclamation of Amnesty and Pardon for the Confederate States President Andrew Johnson issues his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction
June 19, 1865 Juneteenth On June 19, 1865, Union general Gordon Granger read the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston, thus belatedly bringing about the freeing of 250,000 slaves in Texas. Link to document
Sept. 1865 Freedmen's Bureau established in Texas
Dec. 18, 1865 13th. Amendment  With the ratification of the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in Dec. 1865, slavery was officially abolished in all areas of the United States.
Feb 10, 1866. Texas. Governor (1865-1866 : Hamilton): Message of Governor A. J. Hamilton, to the Texas state convention. Delivered February 10, 1866.
Mar. 22, 1866 The Texas State Central Committee of Colored Men met in Austin on March 22, 1866, with Jacob Fontaine, a Baptist minister, presiding. It opposed a request for funds, which presumably would benefit former slaves, by Episcopal bishop Alexander Gregg,  who did not have the trust of the committee. Instead, committee members expressed their preference for the work of the Freedmen's Bureau.
Apr. 9, 1866 Civil Rights Act (1866) was passed by Congress on 9th Apr. 1866 over the veto of President Andrew Johnson. The act declared that all persons born in the United States were now citizens, without regard to race, color, or previous condition. 
 June 1866  CONSTITUTION OF 1866 proposed a series of amendments to the fundamental law, which came to be known as the Constitution of 1866   An election in June ratified the proposed amendments
1866 Black Codes The Texas Eleventh Legislature produced the Black Codes in 1866 to define the legal place of blacks in society after the Civil War.
   
July 16, 1866 Second Freedmen's Bureau Act The Second Freedmen’s Bureau Act provided many additional rights to ex-slaves, including the distribution of land, schools for their children, and military courts to ensure these rights
Aug. 20, 1866 Proclamation declaring the Insurrection at an end President Johnson's proclamation of May 10, 1865, marked the actual close of hostilities; that of Apr. 2, 1866, declared the insurrection at an end in all the States save Texas; and this of Aug. 20, 1866, gave notice of the resumption of civil government in the States which had seceded.
1866 James W. Throckmorton took Texas governor office in 1866-1867
Mar. 2, 1867 First Reconstruction Acts An Act supplementary to an act entitled "An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel states," passed on the second day of Mar., 1867, and the act supplementary thereto, passed on the 23d day of Mar., 1867. 
Mar 11 1867 Congressional (military) Reconstruction begins
Mar 19, 1867 Reconstruction became his primary task on March 19, 1867, when he assumed command of the Fifth Military District (Texas and Louisiana), with headquarters in New Orleans.
Mar. 23, 1867 Second Reconstruction Act An Act supplementary to an act entitled "An Act to provide for the more efficient government of the rebel states," passed on the second day of Mar., 1867, and the act supplementary thereto, passed on the 23d day of Mar., 1867. 
   
July 4, 1867 The Texas Republican Party was formed on July 4, 1867, in Houston by 150 African Americans and 20 Anglos.
July 19, 1867 Third Reconstruction Act becomes law
   
   
   
1867 Elisha M. Pease took Texas governor office in 1867- 1869
1867 In 1867 the newly established Republican party of Texas In July 1867 twenty whites and 150 blacks attended a Republican convention in Houston, where they endorsed free common schools and free homesteads from public lands for blacks and whites alike. Thus began a decades-long tradition of black Republicanism in the state. 
Mar. 11, 1868 Fourth Reconstruction Act becomes law
May 20, 1868 George T. Ruby who was elected to the Texas Senate, is the only black in the Texas delegation to the national Republican convention in 1868.
June 1, 1868 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1868-69   The convention assembled at Austin on June 1, 1868. The ninety delegates consisted of eighty whites and ten blacks. Six of the ninety had been members of the Constitutional Convention of 1866. Most of the delegates had been antebellum opponents of the Democrats and represented Republicans of varied interests.
June 20,1868 Report of the Joint Committee on Reconsruction, June 20,1868
June 25, 1868 At the annual Union League convention at Austin on June 25, 1868, the followers of Davis and Morgan Hamilton gained control of the league when they elected a black man from Galveston, George T. Ruby, as its first state president. 
July 28, 1868 14th Amendment  this amendment made him a citizen and essentially establishing civil rights for blacks, 
Nov. 1868 Ulysses S. Grant Ulysses S. Grant elected President
Apr. 15, 1869 Texas v. White  the U.S. Supreme Court declares Radical Reconstruction constitutional, stating that secession from the Union is illegal.
Nov 30 1869 Texas voters approve new constitution
1869 When the Republicans gained the Texas Legislature in 1869, they established a system of free public schools to educate all the children of the state—something Democrats had refused to do.
   
Mar. 30, 1870 Fifteenth Amendment this amendment guarantees the right of citizens of the United States to vote regardless of race, color, or previous condition of slavery. But it was not really until the Voting Rights Act in 1965, almost a century later, that this guarantee was actually achieved in all states.
Mar. 30 1870 Act to readmit Texas  Texas was readmitted into the Union, but reconstruction of the great state would last another four years.
April 26, 1870 George T. Ruby. Oath of office as a state senator, April 26, 1870. Ruby was an African American leader in the Texas Republican Party. Link to document
May 31, 1870 Force Acts of 1870 designed to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, provided heavy penalties of fine and imprisonment for anyone preventing qualified citizens (in this case African Americans) from voting.
1870 Edmund J. Davis took Texas governor office in 1870- 1874
   
   
Feb. 28, 1871 Force Acts of 1871 In a similar vein but even more drastic was the act of Feb. 28, 1871.
Apr. 20, 1871 Ku Klux Klan Act of 1871 declared the acts of armed combinations tantamount to rebellion and empowered the President to suspend the privilege of habeas corpus in lawless areas.the act was partially responsible for the subsequent decline of the Klan.
July 7, 1871 During the congressional election of 1871 factions within the Republican party fought for control of the league, hoping to gain power over party machinery. . At a state convention in Austin on July 7, the dissidents elected Johnson Reed, a black justice of the peace from Galveston, as grand president.
Nov. 1872 Ulysses S. Grant Grant elected to a second term
   
1872 When Democrats recaptured Texas government in 1872, Democrat Governor Richard Coke’s election was described as “the restoration of white supremacy.”
   
July 3-4, 1873 On July 3-4, 1873, delegates for a Colored Men's State Convention gathered at Brenham with Norris Wright Cuney, a Republican party leader, as president. They announced support for friendly race relations, a federal civil rights act, open political meetings, black landholding, internal improvements, immigration to the United States, President U. S. Grant, and the Republican party. The delegates criticized the violence faced by blacks and efforts to repudiate state debts.
Jan 17 1874 Reconstruction ends in Texas
1874 Richard Coke took Texas governor office in 1874- 1876
January 1974 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1974   Recognizing the need for a new state constitution, the Sixty-second Texas Legislature passed a resolution in May 1971 that called for the establishment of a constitutional revision commission and for the convening of the Sixty-third Legislature as a constitutional convention at noon on the second Tuesday in January 1974.
Mar. 1, 1875 Civil Rights Bill of 1875: As one of its last acts, the Republican-led Congress passes the Civil Rights Bill of 1875, prohibiting segregation in public facilities. The law will stand only until 1883, when the U.S. Supreme Court will strike it down.
Sept 6, 1875 CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1875  The convention, presided over by Edward B. Pickett,qv met in Austin on September 6, 1875, and adjourned on November 24. The new Constitution of 1876,qv which was adopted by a vote of fifty-three to eleven, was submitted to the people in an election on February 15, 1876
1876 Richard B. Hubbard took Texas governor office in 1876- 1879
February 15, 1876 CONSTITUTION OF 1876 It was framed by the Constitutional Convention of 1875 and adopted on February 15, 1876The Constitution of 1876, drafted by the Constitutional Convention of 1875, is still in effect
1877 Hayes-Tilden Compromise of 1877  the withdrawal of federal troops from the South, which effectively ended the period known as Reconstruction.
Feb. 8, 1877 Rutherford B. Hayes Electoral commission decides the presidential election in favor of Hayes
Apr. 10, 1877 End of Reconstruction the last Federal troops are withdrawn (from South Carolina, where it all started), ending Reconstruction; between 1869 and 1877, conservatives in each former Confederate state regained political control, ousting Republicans and blacks from power
July 4, 1879 When a Colored Men's State Convention, chaired by former legislator Richard Allen, met on July 4, 1879, in Houston, it focused upon the causes of the black exodus from Texas and the South to Kansas. The members repeated some earlier concerns and objected to the exclusion of blacks from juries, lack of adequate schools, harsh treatment in prisons, inequitable enforcement of laws against intermarriage, and railroad segregation. To solve these problems the delegates generally urged blacks to move out of the state, although some individuals favored acquisition of land on the Texas frontier.
1879 Oran M. Roberts took Texas governor office in 1879- 1883 
Feb. 16-17, 1880 A black convention followed in Dallas on February 16-17, 1880, with delegates from nearby North Texas counties and W. R. Carson, a local minister, presiding. Those attending favored an effort to seek land in West Texas as a solution to problems of discrimination. To promote that goal the convention founded the Texas Farmer's Association, which proved unsuccessful, perhaps because of white Democrats' fears that it would strengthen the Republicans.
1881 Garfield, James becomes U.S. President
July 10-12, 1883 On July 10-12, 1883, a State Convention of Colored Men of Texas, chaired by Abraham Grant, a minister in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, met at Austin in response to the United States Supreme Court decision that declared the Civil Rights Act of 1875 unconstitutional. The delegates took a nonpartisan position on politics and reasserted earlier concerns about various forms of discrimination. The convention called for establishment of a Colored People's Progressive Union to assist in court cases on civil rights, but it did not develop.
  until 1883, when the U.S. Supreme Court will strike it down.
1883 John Ireland took Texas governor office in 1883- 1887
Aug. 5-7, 1884 Black leaders gathered on August 5-7, 1884, at Houston, with John N. Johnson presiding. The convention supported many positions taken in previous meetings, denied any plots to attack whites, urged equal sentences for black and white criminals, opposed lynching, and emphasized moral conduct.
1884 The Teachers State Association of Texas, organized to promote quality education for blacks and good working conditions for black teachers, was founded in 1884 by L. C. Anderson, David Abner, Sr.,qv I. M. Terrell, and ten other colleagues who met at Prairie View Normal School. In 1885 the group organized as the Colored Teachers State Association of Texas.
 August 25, 1886 The Lone Star State Medical, Dental, and Pharmaceutical Association, an organization of African Americansqv in the health field, came into existence on August 25, 1886, in Galveston.
1885-89 Cleveland, Grover becomes U.S. President
May 18, 1886 Plessy v. Ferguson  In this case the U.S. Supreme Court established the "separate but equal" policy which legalized the de jure segregation policies in the South which eventually were called Jim Crow laws
Sept. 8-9, 1886 On September 8-9, 1886, a Colored Men's State Convention met at Brenham with D. W. Roberts, an Austin minister, in the chair. It focused upon the need for education and economic advancement, an emphasis that resulted in an appeal to the legislature for a black industrial college.
December 11, 1886  In the 1880s black farmers in the South, like white farmers, faced economic problems resulting from falling commodity prices, rising farm costs, and high interest rates. Since the Southern Farmers' Alliance  barred blacks from membership, a small group of black farmers organized the Colored Farmers' National Alliance and Cooperative Union in Houston County, Texas, on December 11, 1886. For a while he faced competition from a rival group, the National Colored Alliance, which appeared in Texas about the same time as the Colored Farmers' Alliance. In 1890 the two groups merged
1887 Lawrence Sullivan Ross took Texas governor office in 1887-1891
1888  
1889-93 Harrison, Benjamin becomes U.S. President
Aug 20, 1889 Delegates to a Colored Men's State Convention gathered in Waco on August 20-22, 1889, again under the direction of Roberts. In addition to citing new examples of old problems, they protested lynching and moves toward political disfranchisement of blacks. Yet they also emphasized economic progress, offered thanks for educational advances, and endorsed high moral standards.
1890  The Farmers' Home Improvement Society (also known as the Farmers' Improvement Society) was founded in 1890 by Robert Lloyd Smithqv at Oakland, Colorado County, as a farmers' association for African Americans.qv The purposes of the society were to abolish the share-cropping and credit system that ensnared poor farmers, encourage self-sufficiency, promote home and farm ownership, promote crop diversification and use of improved farming methods, foster cooperative buying and selling, provide sickness and health benefits, and encourage the social and moral elevation of members. By 1898 the society claimed 1,800 members; by 1900 it had grown to eighty-six branches and 2,340 members
Sept. 1-2, 1891 on September 1-2, 1891, the Colored Men's State Convention met in Houston, chaired by I. B. Scott, a Methodist minister. The delegates adopted new resolutions in favor of home ownership, a black-owned railroad, black inspectors for state prison camps, membership of black teachers on county examining boards, and the founding by the state of a black university. A further address opposed efforts to segregate black exhibits at the World's Fair to be held in 1893.
1891 James Stephen Hogg took Texas governor office in 1891- 1895
1892 Grover Cleveland
1885 Charles A. Culberson took Texas governor office in 1895- 1899
May 23, 1895 The last black state convention came together at Houston on May 23, 1895, with Scott, now serving Wiley College as president, again in the chair. Key issues that aroused the concern of delegates continued to include discriminatory laws, antiblack group violence, and exclusion from juries. The convention also honored Frederick Douglass and sought to found a permanent Colored Men's Union. Although that effort failed, it foreshadowed the establishment of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, to which some former convention leaders later belonged. Through the late nineteenth century the black conventions provided one of the strongest collective voices for the black people of Texas.
1896  
May 4 1897 The last of forty-two black Reconstruction-era legislators, Robert L. Smithqv of Colorado County, attended his final sessions in 1897, offering an impassioned resolution on May 4 against lynching. He was the last African American to serve as a state legislator until 1966.
1897-1901 McKinley, William becomes U.S. President
Apr. 25, 1898 Williams v. Mississippi Court upholds literacy tests, poll taxes and grandfather clauses because they did not on their face indicate racial discrimination
1899 Joseph D. Sayers took Texas governor office in 1899-1903
Dec. 18, 1899 Cumming v. Richmond County Board of Education It is a landmark case, for it allowed the segregation of races in American schools. .Decided Dec. 18, 1899 by the Supreme Court of the United States. In 1954, The supreme court over turned their decision in Brown v. Board of Education.
Present  

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