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«WE MUST RUBB OUT AND BEGIN ANEW": The Army and the Republican Party in Texas Reconstruction, 1867-1870 William L. Richter The men who made up the Texas Republican party in 1867 wanted to establish a completely new power structure in the state. "I do not adopt the cant phrase 'The Union as it was and the Constitution as it is!' " said A. J. Hamilton, paraphrasing the Democratic party's 1864 campaign slogan. "I want the Union as it wasn't and the Constitution as it Isn't." Others echoed Hamilton's sentiments. "We must have a change before we can have peace and quietness in the country," wrote M. H. Beatty, adding that the "Modern Democracy" was a Rebel plot to "rule or ruin" the country. The only remedy was reconstruction of the state's politics and government by loyal men. "He, who occup[ies] an official position [and] does not aid us in Spirit, is an obstruction, and ought give way (voluntarily) to those who will," thundered one irate Republican Judge. As another supporter curtly phrased it, "We must rubb out and begin anew."1 The Texas Republicans saw the appointment of Elisha M. Pease to the provisional governorship as the first step in the process of necessary change. "I hope Gov. Pease may be invested with full authority to make further changes among the State officials as he may deem necessary," said Judge T. H. Duval. In consultation with the commander of the Fifth Miltary District, Major General Philip H. Sheridan, and the officer in charge of the District of Texas, Brevet Major General Charles Griffin, Pease began to fulfill the Republicans' hopes.2 1 S. M. Swenson to E. M. Pease, June 17, 1865, J. L. Haynes to Pease, Nov. 28, 1866, W. C. Phillips to Pease, Dec. 18, 1866, C. Caldwell to Pease, Sept. 3, 1867, M. H. Beatty to Pease, Jan. 12, 1867, R. Niles Graham-?. M. Pease Collection, Archives, Austin Public Library. See also, undated speech, 1865, Andrew Jackson Hamilton Papers, Archives, University of Texas, Austin. All spelling and emphasis in the original. 2T. H. Duval to John Hamilton, Hamilton papers; Pease to AAG, August—, 1867, Letters Received, Fifth Military District records, Record Group 303, National Archives; Bvt. Maj. Gen. Charles Griffin to Pease, Aug. 15, 1867, Pease Papers; Ma/. Gen. Philip H. Sheridan to Griffin, August 27, 1867, Letters Received by the Office of the Adjutant General (Main Series), 1861-1870, File 57M1868, Microcopy 619, Roll 634, National Archives. Griffin made most of his appointments and removals after August 27. For the sake of convenience, the following abbreviations will be used: AG, Adjutant General; AAG, Assistant Adjutant General; AAAG, 334 But state Republicans were elated only momentarily. In Washington , President Andrew Johnson threatened to sabotage the whole Texas patronage program. Exercising his prerogative under the Reconstruction Acts, the President removed Sheridan from his command and appointed in his stead, Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, a man with an enviable war record as a corps commander in the Army of the Potomac, but more importantly, a well-known Democrat.3 The Texas Republicans had but one chance to organize their own state government. They would have to act in the interval between Sheridan's departure and Hancock's arrival. Fortunately for the Republicans, Griffin, as the senior officer in the Fifth Military District, would handle both his and Sheridan's functions until Hancock arrived. He could be counted on to approve the "correct" appointments. Then Griffin suddenly succumbed to the yellow fever epidemic that was raging along the Gulf Coast.4 The Texas Republican party desperately needed a miracle to set in motion their patronage program. It came in the person of Brevet Major General Joseph Jones Reynolds. Born in Kentucky, Reynolds was graduated from West Point in 1843. He served in the Army until 1857 when he resigned to assist in the family grocery business in Indiana. The war saw Reynolds rise rapidly from regimental to corps command in the Western Theater where he was breveted for heroic action at Chickamauga and Missionary Ridge. He became the colonel of the Twenty-sixth Infantry in 1866 and was assigned to the Sub-district...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 334-352
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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