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be known as the “Tennessee State Guards" to consist of "one or more" regiments from each congressional district, and to be composed exclusively of loyal men. This army was to be subject to the orders of the Governor when "in his opinion the safety of life, property or liberty, or the faithful execution of law" required it.29
The State Guard when organized contained many negroes, and the conduct of blacks and whites alike gave offense. There were other Acts of the Reconstruction Legislature evincing extreme partisanship and prejudice, but they are matters of general rather than of constitutional history. The franchise Acts and the State Guard Act produced important results in the Constitutional Convention of 1870. It is prob. able that the franchise Acts were the sole cause of section 17 of Article XI of the Constitution requiring all County offices created by the Legislature to be filled by the people or the County Court, while the militia law is responsible directly for that part of section 5, of Article III which requires legislative action for calling out the militia, and permits such action only in case of rebellion or invasion.
There was, from the first, substantial opposition to the franchise Acts and, generally, to the policy of the radical and controlling element of the Union party, within that organization, and this, became so strong
29 Acts of Tennessee, 1866-7, chapter XXIV; see also Acts, 1867-8, chapter LXX.
that in the Spring of 1866 it led to ond effort by the radicals to have East Tennessee made a separate State. A Convention of the more extreme unionists of that section was held and forwarded a memorial to the legislature. The memorial was referred to a committee but the franchise Acts having been passed in the meantime, it was taken for granted that East Tennessee was satisfied and no final action was taken upon the memorial.
It soon became apparent that the extreme union element could not be successful in its efforts to maintain itself in power by disfranchising the great majority of the voters. The evident futility of the attempt provoked excessive action by the Legislature, which had, in this case, the usual result of such policies, that is to say, a tendency to defeat the purpose it was designed to accomplish. There was much dissatisfaction on account of the failure of the Tennessee Senators and Congressmen to obtain their seats. Congress was waiting for the ratification of the fourteenth amendment, to which there was strong opposition even among the Union men in Tennessee. On the fourth of July, 1866, the Legislature having been convoked by a proclamation of the Governor, met in extra session but there was not a quorum of the House of Representatives in attendance, and the Sergeant at Arms was sent out to arrest and bring in enough members to form a quorum. He made a number of arrests, but at the time when the vote was taken in the House, upon the amendment, there was less than a quorum present, although two members were under arrest in one of the committee rooms. Finding it impossible to secure a quorum under the Constitution, or a two-thirds vote of all the members, as was required by law, the House adopted a resolution declaring a vote of two-thirds of the members present to be sufficient. A vote was taken and the speaker announced that there was no quorum, and there certainly was none, but an appeal was taken from this decision of the chair, and was sustained, and thus by a joint resolution adopted July 19, 1866, was accomplished the ratification of the fourteenth amendment of the Constitution of the United States by the Legislature of Tennessee.
Congress seems to have been satisfied with this ratification, or at any rate, the waiting Tennesseans were admitted to their seats in both houses, and Tennessee was again in the enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of statehood.
On the 31st of January, 1868, the Republican Legislature, removed all civil disabilities of negroes, and since that time they have enjoyed every right of citizenship in the State.30
In discussing the period of reconstruction the writer has endeavored to confine himself to facts that are related logically to the development of the Constitu
30 Acts of Tennessee, 1867-8, chapter XXXI.
tion, and to treat them dispassionately and fairly but without attempting to conceal his. disapproval of much that was done. It is hardly possible yet to write of this period in the true historic spirit. Many of the actors in it still survive. The strong passions which it excited are not yet allayed and have descended, though, happily, with reduced intensity, to the present generation; a natural, but unprofitable inheritance. One thing there is that stands to the credit of the reconstruction administration and is of sufficient merit to offset many of its ex
The public school law of 1867 was perhaps the best single act that has appeared on the statute books of the State in the last fifty years, and it is to be regretted exceedingly that its repeal followed the overthrow of the Republican party.
The most unfortunate continuing result of the reconstruction period was the intensifying of sectional or divisional feeling in the State. The strength of the Republican party was in East Tennessee and the policies of the party were, with more or less justice, attributed to that section. We have seen that East Tennessee was, by a great majority, firmly for the Union, that it gave many thousands of soldiers to the federal army, and that both before and after the war its leaders engaged in movements to have it made a separate State. These things were resented, naturally, by the other divisions, but the antagonism was
31 Acts of Tennessee, 1866-7, chapter XXVII.
intensified ten fold, by the policy of the reconstruction administration.
Indiscreet utterances may still be heard from men of both parties, and occasionally unwisdom asserts itself in suggesting a new state, although the time has passed when a man of standing might safely commit himself to such a scheme.
While the bitterness lingers, and folly or mistaken selfishness, now and then would revive it, the passing years are doing their work well, and the time is not far off when the people of Tennessee will be one in sentiment, as they are one in interest and in duty. 32
32 The subject of Reconstruction in Tennessee is ably discussed in the following publications: First, an article by Ira P. Jones in the volume entitled: Why the Solid South? (Baltimore, R. H. Woodward & Co., 1890), page 169; Second, by R. L. McDonnald, American Historical Magazine, volume I, page 307; Third, by J. W. Fertig in a dissertation submitted to the University of Chicago, for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, entitled “The Secession and Reconstruction of Tennessee," University of Chicago Press, 1898.