Little Speeches for the South
By A. H. Ellett
5. Contributions of the Cavalier
THE LEGISLATION OF 1870-71.
Question. You were speaking of Mr. Ames’ first legislature. Could you tell us something of its personnel?
Answer. Let’s take the houses separately.
First, the Senate.
Q. All right, what about Hinds county? Who was the senator for Hinds, the capital county of the commonwealth, a commonwealth upon which the Anglo-Saxon had been building for one hundred and seventy years. This commonwealth founded on the adventurous souls of the three great Lemoynes – wrung from the French by the English in a war in which “they gained 2,000 leagues of territory and humanity lost a million men.”
Occupied by the proud Castilian upon the exit of the English. Taken by this republic from the loosened grasp of Spain – born a sovereign state among the sister states of this great union in 1817. Grown by 1861 to within four of the tallest, financially, in the sisterhood.
This commonwealth made the best by the sons and daughters from the best blood in the world.
For the county of Hinds, so named in honor of the Anglo-Saxon who on the field of Chalmette, on January 6, 1815, reconnoitered the veterans victors over Napoleon Bonaparte “to the admiration of one army and the astonishment of the other.” For the capital city of Jackson so named for the hero of that immortal day.
Will you have the senator for Hinds county please to rise and let us look into his face?
A. Yes, sir, there he is, Charles Caldwell, a son of Ham, descendant, not exactly of “the Mayflower,” but of those whom the descendants of “the Mayflower” sold on our shores.
Q. Lowndes county, named for William J. Lowndes of South Carolina, whom Henry Clay declared “the wisest man he had ever known in congress.” Lowndes county, that had been represented in the olden days by such men as Tilghman M. Tucker, and Jesse Speight, and Dabney Lipscomb and Joseph Cobb and Jeptha V. Harris – Lowndes the home of Barry and Humphries and Neilson and Borders Banks and Blewett, Jas. T. Harrison, the father-in-law of Stephen D. Lee – of Geo. R. Clayton and S. S. Franklin, and many more of equal worth and no whit less renown – Lowndes, named for a scholar and a gentleman, the genial home of scholars and of gentlemen – who is the senator from Lowndes?
A. Robert Gleed – dusty son of a dusky dame.
Q. Call up Washington county. Named for the foremost Anglo-Saxon on the shining rolls of fame.
Washington, the hospitable home of Colonel Wade Hampton, son of Major General Wade Hampton, military hero, himself a United States senator, and the father of a United States senator. The home of Thomas Hinds, and Jacob Yerger, and Robert P. Shelby and Wm. A. Percy “the Grey Eagle of the Delta.”
Washington one time represented in the senate by men like Henry Vick and John I. Guion, J. J. B. White and W. L. Johnston, Peter B. Stark and W. S. Yerger, who answers to her roll call now?
A. Rev. William Gray, Gray by name, but a darker hue than that by nature, come from the care of his colored flock to sit in the seat of the mighty dead, and dictate law for a million people born of those who wrote the Magna charta.
Q. Call Warren county. Warren upon whose soil stands the heroic city, and in whose soil the souls of her heroes sleep. Warren county, in which Tobias Gibson first preached the Methodist faith, in which Alexander McNutt and Wm. L. Sharkey, Joseph Holt and S. S. Prentiss and many more of fairest fame flashed out upon the realm of law a light that shall not die. Warren named for the hero died for Anglo-Saxon freedom at Bunker Hill; what present son of the blood is representing her?
A. I’ll call him up and let you see. Rev. T. W. Stringer, stand up. We want to look at the self-denying African who is willing to leave the preaching of the gospel long enough to come up to the capital and rewrite for Anglo-Saxon Mississippians the statute laws of half a century. That’s the senator from Warren, Rev. T. W. Stringer, colored.
Q. Call Adams county.
A. Yes, sir. Adams is no mean county among her sister counties in the state. By her name perpetuating the name of America’s second president.
Home of Natchez, in the olden time, the fairest daughter that dwelt in the rich domain of the Father of Waters.
You are calling now for Adams county, the oldest and one among the best. It’s capital city for half a century the seat of government for three successive controls.
The “Natchez country,” where Andrew Jackson wooed and won a Rachel no less fair than she whom Jacob kissed by the well in Haran.
Adams county, the abode of learning wealth and culture – represented in the years agone by men like Bingaman, and Fountain Winston, Robert Dunbar, and John A. Quitman, John C. Kerr and Geo. H. Gordon. Who’ll stand in the senate and answer now when the name of Adams is called?
Look, there he is, Rev. Hiram R. Revels. The colored shepherd of his colored sheep has come into the white man’s senate to set his seal upon the statute books of Mississippi, and later go to fill, in the United States senate, the unexpired term of Jefferson Davis.
I have the honor of introducing to you the Rev. Hiram R. Revels, of Adams.
Q. Enough for the senate, what about the lower house? Any colored brethren in it?
A. Adams had three, Noxubee had three, Warren had three, Hinds had two, Holmes had two, Panola had two, Washington had two, Wilkinson had two, sixteen others had one each.
Q. These being set to care for the political welfare of a great Anglo-Saxon state. I would expect them to have far more than the ordinary equipment of their kind. Could you specify some of the special qualities or attainments that rendered these the proper people to man the ship of state, while men like J. Z. George, and L. Q. C. Lamar, and E. C. Walthall, were shipped ashore and Jefferson Davis lay bounded in the chains of political disability.
What resplendant attribute was brought by these intruders to the service of the state that they should sit in the seats of the mighty dead?
A. Well, sir, in the first place there were in the herd
twelve of these in the house of representatives and three of them in the senate. Any one acquainted with the usual equipment of the colored minister in America, in the year of grace, 1870, could tell you how the state must have been blessed by their services.
The fact that half of the entire herd could not write their names, but signed their salary receipts with an “X,” did in no wise impair the potency with which they drew their salaries.
I hope the fact of the tax levy of 1870 being five times as great as that of 1869, will be considered sufficient proof of this last statement, or if it needs any further verification it may be found in the following little table:
Entire state expenditures for 1869, $463,219.71; for 1870, $1,061,249.90.
Q. Is there further evidence of the capability and unflagging patriotism of the flock?
A. I think so. The fact that they sat ten and a half months of the years of 1870-71, drawing $7.00 a day and 20 cents mileage, and the further fact that after the agreement to adjourn had finally been reached four of the members drew up a long protest that they sought not to abandon their posts; that it was their duty to work “diligently and considerately, deliberately, dispassionately, moderately, and without too much haste.”
If you know of a more comprehensive appeal than this to stay and get your $7.00 a day instead of going home to your 50 cents and board, I wish you would call my attention to it.
Any man with the least political acumen must be able to see that $7.00 a day in the shade is better reading on the human thermometer, than 50 cents a day, at the caboose end of a “bell-cord.”
Q. This making a good, dark background, what figures occupied the remaining area of the canvas?
A. Three other groups.
1. The carpetbaggers.
2. The scalawag.
3. The white man.
Q. What chance did the last named class have under the circumstances?
A. About the chance a snowball would have in Biloxi.
Q. Who was speaker of this aggregation?
A. Dr. F. E. Franklin, of New York.
Q. Could you give a few other prominent names to indicate the lairs from which the animals came?
A. A. Warner, Connecticut; W. H. Gibbs, Illinois; H. W. Warren, Massachusetts; A. G. Packer, New York; H. W. Lewis, Ohio; W. B. Cunningham, Pennsylvania; and A. T. Morgan, Wisconsin.
This last named one is the one who killed the sheriff of Yazoo county and himself became sheriff. Who was a close personal friend of Governor Ames, so much so that when the judge declined to grant bail for the murder, the governor promptly turned the judge out of office and appointed one who would and did turn Morgan loose.
He is the same gentleman, also, who having married him a negro wife, urged negro men to reciprocate by marrying the daughters of their former masters.
You will remember that out of these things grew the Yazoo riot in 1875.
Mr. Warner, of Connecticut, it was who later became chairman of the state executive committee of the republican party, and in the final struggle against the democracy of the state besought the president to send down more Federal troops to enable him to save the party, which meant save himself and the other jackals with him who were feeding upon the mangled body of the south.
Leaving the representative from the land of the wooden nutmeg, we come next to a pure blooded son of the Pilgrim Fathers – a breed that has always been able to spare enough time from their own business to attend to that of every one else.
Mr. H. W. Warren so ingratiated himself with the philanthropic gentlemen of his kind, that upon the death of Dr. Franklin, he, the Hon. H. W. Warren, of Massachusetts, became speaker of the house.
Q. Could you summarize some of the work done by this aggregation?
A. Three things:
1. Repealed about all existing legislation.
2. Ratified the 14th and 15th amendments.
3. Elected three United States senators; J. L. Alcorn, late of Illinois; Adelbert Ames, of Maine, and Rev. Hiram R. Revels, colored, of North Carolina, Indiana and the union army.
Thus endeth the first lesson.