Could you not see?

Could you not see the Fall?  

Could you not see ...(Haiku)

(This is verbatim from Brooks, 1918, and is clearly about Georgia, and I will change it as time permits.  Anyone who would like to re-write this for South Carolina, please contact me.)  South Carolina was worse, and it will take me some time to put this section together for South Carolina.  Meanwhile, Brooks has an excellent description of events in Georgia.


The Political Situation at the Close of the War

When Lee had surrendered and actual fighting had stopped, the question arose in the victorious North, how should the Southern states be treated? Some were for punishing the South by keeping them in the position of a conquered country for a time; others held that nothing was necessary except for the defeated states to admit the failure of their effort to secede and resume their former place in the Union. President Lincoln held this latter view. He had throughout the war denied that the Southern states were out of the Union at all. After his assassination, Vice-President Johnson became the head of the government, and his views were the same as Lincoln's.

The Presidential Reconstruction, 1865

President Lincoln had even before the war ended settled on a program of restoration, under which there were three conditions to be met by the South before their readmission. These were a declaration that secession was null and void, the acceptance of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, and the repudiation of the war debt. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery. President Lincoln had freed the slaves by a proclamation on January 1st, 1863. This act was a war measure, being intended to inspire the North with new determination, and it was felt necessary to put the emancipation in the shape of an amendment to the Federal Constitution. The first two requirements may be regarded as the results of the war the end of the argument as to the permanency of the Union and the death of slavery. In addition, President Lincoln proposed to require the Southern states to agree never to pay the debt incurred by them for war purposes. President Johnson announced that he would carry out Lincoln's plans. Accordingly he appointed in each Southern state a provisional governor. In Georgia, James Johnson, a lawyer of Columbus and an opponent of secession, was appointed. He was directed to summon a convention in Georgia to perform the acts required. This convention met in October, 1865. Herschel V. Johnson, also an opponent of secession, was made chairman. The convention made a new constitution, repealing secession, abolishing slavery and forbidding the payment of the war debt. The constitution provided for the election of a governor and legislature. The election was held in November, when Charles J. Jenkins was chosen governor. In the other Southern states a similar program was carried out.

Laws About Freedmen

It turned out, however, that the South was not to regain her former position in the Union so easily as seemed likely. Many people in the North resented the failure to place some penalty on the seceding states. Members of Congress felt that Congress was the proper authority to fix the terms of admission. This general feeling of dissatisfaction with the way things were going was increased by certain laws passed by the Southern states to control the freed negroes. During the war the conduct of the negroes in Georgia had been above reproach; but their attitude toward their former masters and toward work was changed by the result of the war and their emancipation. They were ignorant, and naturally did not understand what freedom meant, many of them fancying they would never have to work any more. Great numbers of them flocked to towns, where they became an idle and dangerous element. To meet this situation the Southern states passed measures intended to regulate the negroes, such as acts to punish vagrancy.

Congress Sets Aside the Presidential Reconstruction

The acts passed by Southern legislatures to control the negroes were misunderstood by the Northern people, who thought the South was trying to force the blacks back into a state of practical slavery. Therefore, when Congress met in December, 1865, the Republicans, the majority, were in a sullen mood. They refused to recognize the legality of Johnson's measures and declined to give seats in Congress to the Southern Representatives and Senators. This they had a right to do and reconstruction could not be regarded as complete until the Southern states were represented in Congress.

The Freedmen's Bureau

Congress then set to work to make new plans for a second reconstruction, having determined to take the matter into their own hands. Meanwhile, they created the Freedmen's Bureau, which was intended to aid the negroes in every possible way. The Bureau was empowered to take charge of abandoned land and lease it to the negroes; to provide fuel, provisions and clothes for the blacks; and to establish free schools for them. While the purpose of the Bureau was good, a low class of officials were put in control, and the offices of the Bureau in every town of consequence soon became the rallying point of idle negroes, petty politicians from the North, called "carpetbaggers," and such native whites as would  associate with them. The Bureau did some good work, but was an institution hated by the South, because it was meddling and oppressive.

The Overthrow of the Johnson Governments: The Fourteenth Amendment

After several months of discussion, Congress, under the leadership of Charles Sumner, of Massachusetts, and Thaddeus Stephens, of Pennsylvania, finally decided on a course of action. Congress declared the Johnson governments to be temporary only and informed the Southern states that they would be regarded as again in the Union when they had adopted a Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. This Amendment had a number of clauses, of which two were of special importance to the South. The first had to do with giving the negroes the right to vote. The arrangement was a curious one and will have to be explained. The number of representatives each state should have in the lower house of Congress was determined before the war by adding to the number of white people three-fifths of the number of slaves. Of course, now that slaves were freed, the result would be that the South, where the ex-slaves lived, would have more representatives than formerly. The Republicans desired to prevent this, but there was no way to do it. So they hit upon the idea of putting into this Fourteenth Amendment a clause stating that unless the South gave the negro the right to vote, the negroes would not be counted at all in estimating the number of representatives from this section. This provision, therefore, put before the South the hard condition of losing representatives or of allowing the negroes to vote. The other important clause prohibited leading Southerners who had taken part in the war from holding any office.

The South Refuses to Accept the Fourteenth Amendment

Before a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States can become law, it is necessary that it be adopted by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states. When this Fourteenth Amendment was put before the state legislatures, it was rejected by all of the Southern states, except Tennessee, and by Ohio, Michigan, Kansas, and Minnesota, so that it failed ratification. The radicals then determined to force it on the South, and they began to pass measures designed to turn Southern society upside down and make the negroes the controlling element.

The Reconstruction Acts of 1867

A number of important acts were passed by Congress in 1867 to carry out the purpose of the Republicans. These acts declared that no government existed in the Southern states and that it was the duty of Congress to provide it. The South was divided into five military districts, with a Brigadier-General and an army in each. Congress ordered that a list of voters be prepared in each state, negroes included. and that a convention be held. This convention was to make a new constitution, giving the right to vote to the negroes. The negroes had not at that time been enfranchised; nevertheless, they were allowed to vote for members in this convention and to sit as members, if elected. Furthermore, the leading Southerners were denied, the right to vote.

The Convention of 1868

Under the direction of the military authorities voters were registered in Georgia during the summer of 1867. General Pope was in charge. He divided the state into forty-four districts of three counties each and three districts of a city each. In each district two white registrars were chosen and they were made to choose a negro for the third. The total registration was 95,214 whites, 93,457 negroes. The delegates chosen at the ensuing election met in Atlanta in December, 1868. There were 169 delegates, of whom thirty-seven were negroes, nine white men from other parts of the Union who had recently moved to Georgia ("carpetbaggers"), twelve were conservative whites, and the rest were native "scala-wags," a term applied to Southerners who acted with the carpetbaggers and negroes. The small number of the better class of white men was due to the fact that though large numbers had registered, they failed to vote. Between 7,000 and 10,000 leading Georgians were refused the right to vote. This convention made the Constitution of 1868, the most notable change being the enfranchising of the negroes.

The Election of 1868; Adoption of the Fourteenth Amendment

The new constitution was submitted to the people for ratification in April, 1868, and at the same time an election was held for state officers. Rufus B. Bullock was elected governor. He was not a native Georgian, but had lived in the state for some time, at Augusta. He was superior to the general run of carpetbaggers. The constitution was ratified by a majority of about 18,000. The radicals, however, were not so successful in the election of a legislature. In the Lower House the Conservatives or Democrats had a majority; and in the Senate the Radicals or Republicans had a majority of ten. Ten of the Republicans, however, were classed as "Moderates" and did not always vote with the Radicals. This legislature adopted the Fourteenth Amendment in july, 1868. Congress then gave their seats to the new members elected from Georgia. The new Senators did not arrive in time to take their places.


Reorganization of the Democratic Party

When the plan of Congress to overthrow the governments set up by President Johnson became known, the conservative people of Georgia made up their minds to have nothing to do with the proceedings, and little effort was made to send worthy men to the Convention of 1868, the result being that the convention was controlled by men of a low stamp. But with the election of 1868, it was determined by the former Democratic leaders to do all they could to wrest the control of Georgia from the hands of the carpetbag element.  A great Conservative convention was held in Macon in December, 1867. It was decided to run a candidate against Bullock, the nominee of the Republicans.  Although he was defeated, the Conservatives succeeded in electing a majority of the House of Representatives. This was a serious set back for the Republican schemes, and Governor Bullock did his best to remedy the situation.

The Eligibility Question

The military governor of the state was General Meade. Governor Bullock informed him that a number of persons were said to hold seats in the legislature who were disqualified under the Reconstruction acts. Meade directed that each house of the legislature appoint a committee to examine into the eligibility of its members. The Senate Committee reported none ineligible; the majority of the House Committee reported two ineligible; but a minority report found none ineligible, and the House accepted the minority report. Meade considered this final and refused to interfere, as he believed Bullock was simply trying to secure a party advantage.

Expulsion of Negro Members

Twenty-five members of the House and three members of the Senate were negroes. Their presence was distasteful to all the Conservatives and to many of the Radicals. Resolutions were therefore passed in both houses, declaring that negroes while having the right to vote were not eligible to hold office, and hence were expelled from the legislature. This was an unfortunate step, as it opened a way for Bullock to get control of the legislature. He went to Washington, made himself agreeable to radical Republicans and induced them to take the view that Georgia ought to be reconstructed again. He said there were a large number of members of the legislature who were ineligible under the Fourteenth Amendment. Congress therefore refused to seat the new Georgia Senators and unseated the Representatives.

Georgia Again Out of the Union

Congress then began to take testimony as to conditions in Georgia. Some of the witnesses summoned said that Georgia needed further reconstruction, and others held that matters had gone far enough. Among those who strongly urged that Georgia be not further molested was Ex-Governor Joseph E. Brown. Judge Brown had been the war governor of Georgia, holding the office for eight years and managing the affairs of the state with conspicuous ability. After the overthrow of the Johnson government he counseled the acceptance in good faith of the terms imposed by Congress for readmission and became a Republican, thereby incurring the hatred of his former associates. He was made Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia by Governor Bullock. On the question of further reconstruction measures for Georgia, Judge Brown split with the Republicans and soon rejoined the Democratic Party. In 1880 he was elected to the United States Senate and on the expiration of his term in 1886, was re-elected with only one vote cast against him. In December, despite the plea of Judge Brown, Nelson Tift, a Democratic Congressman, and others, Congress restored the military control in Georgia, General Terry this time being the military governor. He appointed a committee of military officers to investigate the question of eligibility in the legislature. This committee deprived many Conservatives of their places and reseated the negroes in this way giving the Radicals complete control. This was done in January, 1870. Later the Judiciary Committee of the United States Senate condemned as unlawful the whole proceeding.

Final Restoration of Georgia, 1870. Adoption of the Fifteenth Amendment

The condition of readmission imposed on Georgia by Congress was the acceptance of a Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution. It will be recalled that the Fourteenth Amendment had placed before the South the alternative of either granting the right to vote to the negroes or of having their representation in Congress reduced. The radicals, however, were not satisfied with this arrangement and had made another amendment which conferred on negroes the right to vote without any sort of qualification. A great deal of opposition to this amendment arose and it was feared that the necessary number of states could not be induced to accept it. Georgia was therefore forced to agree to the amendment or stay out of the Union indefinitely. This the state did, thus finally getting rid of the military control. In every other state the vote on the Fifteenth Amendment was a voluntary one.

The Campaign of 1870

The governor's term under the Constitution of 1868 was four years; but the legislature was elected every two years. The election of 1870 was a memorable one in the history of Georgia, because it was at that time that the Conservatives came back permanently into power and the alien government was overthrown. Two-thirds of the new legislators and five of the seven Congressmen were Conservatives. Governor Bullock saw that his power was gone, and fearing trouble, in October, 1871, fled from the state. A special election was called in December, 1871, when James M. Smith, a Democrat, was elected governor, thus marking the final overthrow of the carpetbaggers. Governor Bullock was arrested in 1876 and brought back to Georgia, where he was tried on charges of misuse of the state funds. He was acquitted, however, and lived for many years in Atlanta, becoming a useful and honored citizen.

The Reconstruction Era in Georgia

The years during which Georgia was under military control and the governorship of Bullock are the most unpleasant in her history. Unprincipled natives and ignorant blacks under the management of carpetbag politicians combined to loot the state treasury. They were not nearly so successful in Georgia as in other states, due in part to the fact that a small group of upright men in the Radical Party fought against bad government, and partly due to the quick recovery of the Democratic Party. Still, a good deal of money was stolen or misused. About $2,700,000 received from the sale of bonds was squandered, while the state was made liable for nearly $7,000,000 more on the endorsement of the bonds of various railroads. Bullock's legislature and various investigating committees spent large sums of money, four or five times as much as any previous legislature had used. The most scandalous instance of corruption was in the case of the state railroad. The Western & Atlantic was put under the management of one of the worst carpetbaggers, Foster Blodgett. The auditor was also of the same stripe. He admitted having saved from twenty to thirty thousand dollars out of his small salary. Hundreds of employees were discharged to make way for friends of Bullock; positions of trust and importance requiring special knowledge were filled by men entirely ignorant of the work they were supposed to do.

The End of Reconstruction in South Carolina

In 1877, Reconstruction ended in South Carolina with the election of Rutherford B. Hayes as President, 12 long years after the end of the war!  On 31 October 1876, when Hampton spoke in Georgetown, he urged the freedmen to move to the front of the crowd so that they could hear his plan. He spoke of interracial unity in an attempt to revive the economy and promised the ex-slaves that he would protect their rights and restore peace and prosperity.


Georgia went through three separate processes of reconstruction. The first is known as the Presidential Reconstruction, in which President Johnson attempted to carry out the plans outlined by Lincoln. The Southern states were required to declare the secession ordinances null and void, to repudiate the war debt, and to accept the Thirteenth Amendment, which abolished slavery. The second reconstruction was due to the resentment of Congress at the president's presuming to reconstruct the South without consulting the law-making body; and to the desire to impose harder terms. Congress divided the South into military districts, with a General and an army in each. The condition of readmission was the acceptance of a Fourteenth Amendment, which disqualified leading Southerners from office-holding and put before the South the choice of either losing representatives in Congress or of giving the negro the vote. Georgia met the wishes of Congress and was admitted a second time in 1868. The third reconstruction was the result of the expulsion of the negro members from the Georgia legislature. Georgia was finally admitted in 1870, after having been forced to adopt the Fifteenth Amendment, which gave the negroes the franchise without any qualifications.

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This section is initially verbatim from An Elementary History of Georgia by R. P. Brooks, Ph.D., U.Ga., Atkinson, Mentzer, & Co., Boston, ©1918.  It will be continuously modified as suitable for South Carolina.

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