Subject:  The fight for freedom resumes for millions of formerly enslaved people of South Carolina in 1865'.

 

Free at last, but not for long. Written by Michael Trinkley of the Chicora Foundation

 

Freedom lost: The Constitution of 1865.

 

  After the Civil War, white South Carolinians moved quickly to eliminate black people's newfound freedom. They wanted to return blacks, in effect, to their prewar status as slaves. Thus, for most African-Americans, the days of celebration were few. Within months of the Confederacy's defeat, South Carolina had adopted a new constitution. This constitution was riddled with Black Codes, or what later became known as the laws of Jim Crow.

 

  In the summer of 1865 President Andrew Johnson, who had succeeded Lincoln, ordered that lands under federal control be returned to their previous white owners. Many African-Americans found themselves forcibly evicted from lands they had been told were theirs forever. They had no choice but to work as laborers on white-owned plantations. There was a deep sense of betrayal which lasted throughout Reconstruction Period and beyond.

 

 In addition, South Carolina's constitution of 1865 failed to grant African-Americans the right to vote, and it retained racial qualifications for the legislature.

 

S.C. Governor Benjamin F. Perry.

 

The tone of the 1865 Constitution was set by Governor B.F. Perry, To extend this universal suffrage to the "freedmen" in their present ignorant and degraded condition, would be little less than folly and madness ... [because] this is a white man's government, and intended for white men only.

 

This constitution created the climate necessary for the enactment of Black Codes in South Carolina. These laws sought to recapture the power of the white master over African-Americans, thus, denying them social and political equality. For example, the Black Codes mandated the following:

 

*  "No person of color shall migrate into and reside in this state, unless, within twenty days after his arrival within the same, he shall enter into a bond with two      freeholders as sureties"

 

* "Servants shall not be absent from the premises without the permission of the master"

 

*  Servants must assist their masters "in the defense of his own person, family, premises, or property"

 

*  No person of color could become an artisan, mechanic, or shopkeeper unless he obtained a license from the judge  of the district court a license that could cost    $100 or more.

 

 

 

 

 

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Freedom Regained: The Constitution of 1868.

 

  At the national level, President Johnson vetoed two bills one extending the life of the Freedmen's Bureau and one (called the Civil Rights Bill of 1866) spelling out the rights any citizen of the United States was to enjoy, without regard to race. Fortunately both bills were passed over Johnson's vetoes. Moreover, Congress approved the Fourteenth Amendment, which broadened the federal government's power to protect the rights of American citizens. While this amendment included many provisions, the most important was that it made the federal government not the individual states the protector of citizens' rights.

 

  In 1867 Congress also passed, again over Johnson's veto, the Reconstruction Acts, which divided the South into five military districts and called for the creation of new governments which allowed blacks the right to vote. Only after the new governments ratified the Fourteenth Amendment would the Southern states be readmitted to the Union.

 

  In South Carolina, the development of a new constitution in 1868 was an extraordinary departure from the past. Blacks comprised 71 to 76 of the 124 members. An observer from the New York Times commented:   The colored men in the Convention possess by long odds the largest share of mental calibre. They are all the best debaters; some of them are peculiarly apt in raising and sustaining points of order; there is a homely but strong grasp of common sense in what they say, and although the mistakes made are frequent and ludicrous, the South Carolinians are not slow to acknowledge that their destinies really appear to be safer in the hands of these unlettered Ethiopians than they would be if confided to the more unscrupulous care of the white men in the body.

 

The resulting 1868' South Carolina constitution:

 

*  Established a balanced, tripartite form of government for the first time in South Carolina's history

 

*  Established comprehensive local governments, replacing the patchwork of specialized commissions which handled everything from roads to welfare

 

*  Created a detailed Declaration of Rights which mandated political equality regardless of race

 

*  Mandated state-wide public education for the first time

 

*   Established a welfare program for the poor, aged, and disabled that was channeled through county governments

 

*  Removed the requirement of owning property in order to vote.  To learn more of the national sponsors of the Constitutions of 1865' and 1868', [click here].

 

Four (4) men from Darlington County were chosen as delegates to the S.C. Constitutional Convention of 1868' in Charleston, S.C. instrumental in aligning the former constitution with universal acceptance for all citizens of S.C.  They are the following:

 

*  Representative Isaac Peter.Brockenton [Click here]

 

*  Representative Jordan Lang [Click here]

 

*  Representative Richard Humbert [Click here]

 

*  Representative Benjamin F. Whittemore [Click here]

 

State Senators, State Representatives, and Republican Party Chairman from Darlington County that served during the Reconstruction-era after the 1868'Constitution Convention are the following:

 

* Senator Benjamin F. Whittemore [Click here]

 

* Darlington County Republican Party Chairman Edmund H. Deas [Click here]

 

* Representative John Boston [Click here]

 

* Representative Alfred Hart  [Click here]

 

* Representative Richard Humbert [Click here]

 

* Representative Samuel J. Keith  [Click here]

 

* Representative Jordan Lang [Click here]

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1973 - 2018, CRC INC. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

State Senators, State Representatives, and Republican Party Chairman from Darlington County that served during the Reconstruction-era after the 1868'Constitution Convention are the following - continuation:

* Representative Alfred Rush  [Click here]

* Representative Jackson A. Smith  [Click here]

* Representative Zachariah W. Wines   [Click here]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1973 - 2018, CRC INC. All rights reserved.