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Constitution of 1876

The end of Reconstruction left many Texans with a lack of trust for any political ideas influenced
by the Radical Republicans and with a fear of too much power in the hands of the government.
In 1875, Governor Richard Coke organized a convention to write another constitution. Texans
would have a new constitution a year later, in 1876. The Constitution of 1876 would become
the one that still governs Texas today. This constitution limited the powers given to the three
branches of government, severely limited the power of those elected to office, and gave more
local control to citizens. The provisions of the amendment process have resulted in it being a
very long document when compared to other state constitutions. Presently, the constitution has
been amended more than 400 times.

Black Codes
In 1866, southern states passed laws called Black Codes which would define the rights of free
African Americans in society. These laws created a separation between African Americans and
whites regarding labor, transportation, public facilities, education, and owning land. They also
prevented African Americans from voting, holding public office, and serving on a jury. The
passage of the Black Codes would convince the Republicans in Congress that Texas and other
states had not changed and should not be readmitted into the Union. As a result, the Texas
Constitution of 1866 was not approved. These practices of segregation (separation) would
continue in Texas and in the South until the 1960s.

Reconstruction Amendments
At the end of the Civil War, the goal was to reunite the nation by quickly readmitting the
southern states into the Union and to rid the nation of slavery. Reconstruction required that
states ratify (approve) the 13th amendment to be readmitted into the Union. The 13th
amendment (1865) made slavery illegal in the United States. It was not until the Radical
Republicans refused to admit southern states back into the Union that the states, including
Texas, ratified the 13th amendment (1865), as well as the 14th amendment (1868), which
declared all persons born or naturalized in the United States (except Americans Indians) to be
citizens. Before Reconstruction came to an end, the Radical Republicans passed an additional
amendment guaranteeing all men the right to vote. This was the 15th amendment (1870).
Southern states wanted Reconstruction to come to an end. They, along with Texas, approved
this law, but still found ways to prevent African Americans from voting. Voters were intimidated,
had to pay poll taxes, and were subject to voting requirements. It would not be until the Voting
Rights Act of 1965 that all citizens were guaranteed full voting rights.

Ku Klux Klan
The Ku Klux Klan (KKK) originally started as a loosely-organized group spreading across the South
during the period of Reconstruction. The Ku Klux Klan spread into Texas during 1868. The ideas
of the Ku Klux Klan were based on vigilantism (one who takes the law into his own hands) and
opposition to Republican rule. The Klan used acts of intimidation and murder. These actions
were directed at those emancipated from slavery and white Republicans who supported the
actions of the Freedmens Bureau and Radical Republicans. Members of the KKK wanted to keep
emancipated African Americans from gaining economic and political power. The actions of the
Klan were primarily centered in Northeast Texas from Houston to the Red River. The Klan faded
some with the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1871. It would regain strength in Texas after
World War I because of immigration fears, and later in the 1950s and 60s in response to

Juneteenth On January 1, 1863, President
Abraham Lincoln emancipated (freed) those enslaved in
Confederate territory declaring them forever free. Since Texas was part of the Confederacy, the state ignored this
1, 1863,
President Abraham Lincoln emancipated (freed) those enslaved

Confederate territory declaring them forever free. Since Texas was part of the Confederacy, the
state ignored this proclamation (public statement). After the southern states surrendered, the
U.S. government delivered the proclamation throughout the country announcing that people in
slavery were free. General Gordon Granger arrived in Galveston on June 19, 1865, and declared
that all those in slavery were free. Since then, Juneteenth has been celebrated by many in Texas
and now across the nation often with celebrations featuring food and fun with a focus on selfimprovement and education. Today, Juneteenth is a state holiday in Texas.
ment). After the southern states surrendered, the U.S. government delivered the

Freedmans Bureau
Commonly called the Freedmens Bureau, the Bureau of Refugees, Freedmen, and Abandoned
Lands was created by the U.S. Congress to help former enslaved people adjust to the transition
from slavery to freedom. The Bureau opened its doors in Texas in September of 1865. The agency
provided food, shelter, and medicine to formerly-enslaved Texans. It focused primarily on
helping freed African Americans get jobs. This was a difficult task for those working for the
Freedmens Bureau. Since many southern whites did not believe that formerly-enslaved people
should be treated as equals, many times agents of the bureau were threatened or killed. One
aspect of the Freedmens Bureau that succeeded was the creation of schools for African
American children. Even though it did not receive much funding, over 100 schools were built in
Texas during this time.

Two Plans for Reconstruction

After the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, a southern Democrat,
became the 17th president of the United States. His plan for reconstruction was for southern
states to be admitted back into the Union as quickly as possible. To lead Texas through this
process, Johnson appointed Andrew J. Hamilton as the temporary governor of Texas. However,
many in Congress disliked Johnsons attempt as too lenient. Congress took over Reconstruction
offering a plan that required states to end slavery by ratifying (approving) the 13th amendment,
declaring that secession (to leave the Union) was illegal, and cancelling all war debts. For adult
white males to be able to vote again, they would have to pledge an oath of allegiance (loyalty)
to the United States. Edmund J. Davis was elected governor under Congressional Reconstruction
and acted to implement the provisions as well as organize a group of delegates to begin writing
a new constitution. Reconstruction would not be easy eventually leading to Johnsons
impeachment and the increased power of the Radical Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

Sharecroppers and Tennant Farmers

After the Civil War, thousands of former slaves and white farmers forced off their land by the
bad economy lacked the money to purchase the farmland, seeds, livestock, and equipment they
needed to begin farming. This led to the creation of sharecropping. A system in which families
would farm on land and in exchange give a large portion of their crop to the landowner at the
end of each season.
Tenant farmers were similar except that they usually paid the landowner rent for farmland and
a house. They owned the crops they planted and made their own decisions about them. After
harvesting the crop, the tenant sold it and received income from it. From that income, he paid
the landowner the amount of rent owed.
High interest rates, unpredictable harvests, and unfair landlords often kept tenant farmers and
sharecroppers severely indebted and prevented them from moving if they were indebted to
their landlord.