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THE AMENDED RESOLUTION PASSES.
Judge Woodward, of Pennsylvania, who said little that had not already been said by Buckalew in the Senate, but enlarged upon what he considered the evil effect of the amendment in changing the fundamental law of Pennsylvania, and demanded that it should be submitted fairly to the people, as Buckalew and Hendricks had suggested. He could conceive, he said, of no profounder depth of selfdegradation than to make the feeble, timid and ignorant descendants of a race of slaves, our voters and law-givers, our judges and representatives. But the yeas and nays were demanded, and Bingham's amendment was agreed to, and the amended resolution passed. 3
The House now requested the concurrence of the Senate and on the twenty-second the new resolution was taken up by that body, on motion of Senator Stewart.4 Buckalew pointed out that the resolution as it came from the House did not differ substantially from the one lately sent to the House by the Senate. The House then had taken exception to the Senate amendment, because it was too comprehensive. The Senate amendment differed from the House proposition by including the question of office-holding, and by naming nativity, property and creed. Stewart's motion to disagree to the House amendment and to ask a conference was carried, and he and Senators Conkling and Edmunds were appointed on the part of the Senate to confer upon the disagreeing votes of the two
1 See his speech in the Appendix to the Globe, February 20, 1869, pp. 205-207.
2 92 yeas, 70 nays; 60 not voting.
4 It read: Article XV. The right of citizens of the United States to vote and hold office shall not be denied or abridged by any State on account of race, color, nativity, property, creed or previous condition of servitude.
That Congress, by appropriate legislation, may enforce the provisions of this article.
THE RESOLUTION IN CONFERENCE.
Houses. In the House, on motion of Boutwell, the rules were suspended, and the request of the Senate for a Committee of Conference was reciprocated, the Speaker appointing as conferees, Boutwell of Massachusetts, Bingham of Ohio, and General Logan of Illinois.
The meeting of the Conference Committeee wrought a compromise. The House should recede from its amendments and agree to the resolution of the Senate with one amendment—the words, “to hold office,” should be stricken out. On the twenty-fifth Boutwell reported the result to the House: it was the original proposition of the Senate with three words stricken out, and the House agreed to the report of the Committee by a vote of one hundred and forty-five to forty-four, the Speaker, Colfax, voting in the affirmative.2 On the following day the report was agreed to by two-thirds of the Senators present. A concurrent resolution originating in the Senate and instructing the President to transmit the article forthwith to the executives of the several States, passed on the second of March. This act completed the work of Congress in passing the Fifteenth Amendment.
Of those who voted for the amendment in the form reported by the Conference Committee, no member had been longer identified with its spirit and purpose than George W. Julian, the Free Soil candidate for the VicePresidency in 1852. It had been his privilege and satisfaction to vote also for the Thirteenth and Fourteenth. With him now voted James M. Ashley of Ohio, whose patriotic zeal had carried through the Thirteenth, and Boutwell,
1 The vote on the motion to disagree to the House amendment was 32 to 17; February 23. Globe, p. 1481.
2 Globe, February 25; p. 1564.
8 Yeas 39, nays 13, absent 14; the vote, it will be observed, was not two-thirds of the Senate: Globe, 1641.
PROSPECT OF RATIFICATION.
Colfax, Windom, Garfield, Blaine and Logan were among the one hundred and forty-five who carried the resolution. In the Senate, all the Republican members were its supporters, but among those who voted for it at the last were Trumbull, Sherman, Conkling, Morrill and Fessenden. Bayard of Delaware and Hendricks of Indiana, later greatly distinguished in the annals of the Democratic party, now voted against the amendment as they had all along, in whatever form it had come up. The passage
of the Fifteenth Amendment on the twentyseventh of February, 1869, was the culmination of a political movement which had begun nearly four years before, and was viewed by its supporters as the crowning work of reconstruction. The language which distinguishes it had been used in the Civil Rights Bill, and again in the enabling act for Wyoming of July, 1868, which forbade the territorial assembly at any time to abridge the right of suffrage or the right to hold office on account of race,
color or previous condition of servitude. The prospect of a speedy ratification of the amendment was not assuring. Within two years seven northern States had rejected negro suffrage, when made a distinctive issue at the polls. Pennsylvania and New Jersey had gone Democratic on this question in 1867; Minnesota had refused to strike the word "white" from its constitution, and Connecticut and Ohio in the following year had voted against negro suffrage. In the late Presidential election, New Jersey had voted for Seymour and Blair and the Republicans had barely succeeded in securing a majority in its Lower House, its Senate being Democratic by nearly three to one. John Sherman had warned the Senate of possible defeat of
1 Acts of July 25, 1868; Statutes at Large, XV, 180.
2 At the election November 5, 1867; 28,790 votes against, and 27,479 for, striking out the word.
the amendment in Ohio, and the people of Michigan and New York had recently rejected free negro suffrage by a majority of nearly thirty thousand in each State. In the uncertainty of the prospect, Congress determined to strengthen the chances of the amendment by making its adoption a condition of the admission of Virginia, Mississippi and Texas to federal representation.
Meanwhile the Texas convention had reassembled, and almost its first act was to pass resolutions of condolence on the atrocious murder, during the session, of one of its members by a band of masked assassins, in the city of Jefferson. This hint of the condition of affairs in the State grew into portentous proportions under the investigation of the Special Committee appointed by the convention to inquire into the enforcement of law and the preservation of order. It declared that in many counties law and order did not exist; that no fair and impartial election could be held in the State and that probably none could be held until several months after the inauguration of General Grant.* So alarming was the evidence before this committee that it formally submitted a resolution which confessed to the prevailing anarchy and requested Congress to give the convention the powers of a State legislature.5
1 In Michigan, the vote was on abolishing the word "white" in the constitution and stood, 110,582 for and 71,733 against; and in New York, the vote against the new constitutional provision for the abolition of a property qualification for negroes was 232,403 against, and 249,802 for.
2 Journal of the Reconstruction Convention which met at Austin, Texas, December 7, A. D. 1868, Second Session. Austin, Texas: Tracy, Siemering & Co., Printers, State Journal Office, 1870, 576 pages.
8 Hon. George W. Smith: Journal, p. 7.
4 See its report of December 23, 1868, in the Journal, pp. 107
8 Journal, p. 110.
The evidence on which it based its report was brought out more in detail by Major-General Reynolds, the military commander of the District, who declared that the murder of negroes was so common as to make it impossible to keep an accurate account of them. The State was practically in the hands of an “armed organization generally known as the 'Ku-Klux-Klan.'” So terrible was the reign of crime and lawlessness that official reports, far from exaggerating, did not tell the whole truth. The evidence was cumulative. Governor Pease, in a letter to the chairman of the committee, corroborated its report and that of Reynolds, and added testimony of a most serious nature.? Even the minority report of the committee did not lessen the horrors of the situation. “Texas," so ran their report, "is not ready for civil State government; is in a state of outlawry; is a land of persecution and murder of loyal men, and disregard of law is the order of the day.” The condition of the State was so deplorable, Congress should be asked for a territorial government. Without waiting for the approval of Congress, the convention proceeded to act as a State legislature, and passed many ordinances with the object of bringing back the State to the observance of law and order. Its more radical members formally recorded their protest against the constitution it had adopted, because, they said, in extending the right of suffrage to those who had participated in the late rebellion, it had deliberately removed "every safeguard for the protection of the loyal voters, white and black.” They accused the majority of repudiating the oath of loyalty, required by the reconstruction laws, and of striking out the system of registration which Congress had prescribed.4
1 Report of General Reynolds, Journal, pp. 110-112.