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Huntsville: A Story of Post Civil War Texas


President Lincoln's reconstruction plan for the South was one of
compassion and humanitarian aid that would heal the e motional
wounds and reunite the country. His credo was malice toward none
and charity for all. But his charitable policies were bitterly opposed
by a vengeful and militant group in the U. S. Congress known as the
Republican Radicals. These men wanted to punish white southerners
and confiscate their property. Though it has never been proven, there
is credible evidence that John Wilkes Booth did not act alone in the
assassination of Lincoln, but was the instrument of a conspiracy
masterminded by this cabal. (The Lincoln Conspiracy by David
Balsiger and Charles Sellier)
After the war, the economy in Texas was in shambles. Practically
all wealth, except for the land, had been exhausted. Nearly a quarter
of the white male population had been killed or maimed. For nine
long years after Lee's surrender, Texans chafed under the yoke of an
army of occupation and a despotic political regime of carpetbaggers
and scalawags.
At first, the state was placed under military rule, with Negro
troops making up the greater part o f the occupation army. The
composition of these forces was no accident. It was done deliberately
to humiliate the people. Occupying forces committed outrageous and
lawless acts against the citizenry, and the army tribunals that had
replaced civil courts, refused to hear charges against Union soldiers
no matter how odious their crimes. The Negro garrison at Victoria
terrorized the populace, and at Brenham, Negro troops burned and
sacked the town. Union soldiers also raided Brownsville with
widespread looting and destruction of property.
For the first five years of reconstruction there was economic
chaos and political turmoil in Texas -- and then it got worse. In 1870
Edmond J. Davis, a Republican Radical, was elected Governor in a
rigged election. One of Davis's first acts was the establishment of a
state police force composed of 200 men answering directly to him.
The authority of the State Police was absolute. They were a law
unto themselves. Many State Policemen were former outlaws or
ignorant, recently- freed Negroes drunk with their newfound power
and authority. Abuses were many. Unwarranted searches and
seizures occurred daily. Habeas Corpus was denied. State Policemen,
both black and white, killed with impunity. In Texas during this era,
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