Here I wrap up the known workings, with some opinions regarding the “unknown” workings, in Washington that would lead to the subsequent ratification of the progressive, Republican Constitution already rejected by the Mississippi taxpayer in tandem with the relatively brief, but calamitous period of Radical Republican rule in Mississippi.
Justification for the Butler Bill having been effectively rebuked by James Beck of Kentucky (see my 20 February post), John F. Farnsworth, a representative from Illinois and member of the Reconstruction Committee, offered that the commanding general should resubmit the constitution to a vote with the objectionable clauses (proscription of Confederates) separate and if said clauses were defeated, then remove them from the constitution. Halbert Paine of Wisconsin offered another change to the bill—that being to first offer the constitution as a whole, then with the obnoxious clauses removed. This revised version passed 125-25 and Butler’s bill was sent to the Senate.
Let me emphasize, these Democrats were the men who had seized the reigns of the Democratic Party in the wake of defeat—the bulk of the old leadership impotent. Though many names were not new, those now in power were those who were willing to make some effort to adjust to the new order. They did not necessarily appreciate the stubborn will of the people they thought they represented and, as time progressed, proved a little too accepting of the “new order” for their constituents’ tastes. But as of the spring of 1869, the impact of their acquiescence has yet to be recognized by the majority outside the old leadership. On the other side, the Radicals in Washington, eager for a second go at ratification and a Republican victory in Mississippi, cast their minions in theater under the carriage wheels on the proscription issue. But here are two important points worth noting. Though the powers that be appear to have sold out the Radicals in Mississippi on the proscription clauses and refused to support them in their November 1868 goon-like declaration that the progressive constitution had been ratified and the Republican ticket elected, the national Republican leadership was hard at work securing both. They got rid of the old commander of the Fourth Military District, General Gillem, who repeatedly thwarted the schemes proposed by the Radicals in Mississippi under the Reconstruction Acts, and replaced him with Ben Butler's son-in-law, Adelbert Ames. Then Congress called for the vacating of all civil positions in the state (recall this was one of the Mississippi Republican’s biggest demands—they wanted those govenment jobs and all the blessings of malfeasance that came with them).
As the district military commander (not to mention he was still the provisional governor at that time), Ames had full authority to choose the registrars for the upcoming election, which would once again decide the fate of the Republican ticket and the already rejected constitution. In other words, Mississippi’s taxpayers (many of whom subsequently would not be allowed to vote) would be forced to hold election after election until the Radical Congress in Washington got the results it wanted, and James Lusk Alcorn was part of the committee of sixteen orchestrating all this with Congress behind the scenes. The objective was to nullify the Democratic victory in July 1868—under seemingly legal conditions. The failure of the national Repubican leadership to honor the Mississippi Radicals in their November 1868 delaration of victory was mere lip service. Such tyranny needed to be handled with a bit more finesse (covertly)—especially in the face of so much wrong doing exposed by James Beck. As will be seen, the Radicals achieved it.]
I’ll begin my next post with an overview of Ames’ military rule, much of which—again I’m forcing my unsolicited opinion on you to accept or reject as you will—was carried out to ensure a Republican victory in Mississippi the second time around, a victory which the Radicals further believed would prove more palatable to the people by having Mississippi’s own James Lusk Alcorn on the ticket for governor.
Thanks for reading,