Telegram from Andrew Johnson to Hamilton,

February 13, 1866

Page 1

In his early career, Jack Hamilton had been a member of the "Opposition Clique," a group of Texas Democrats who opposed secession. As a result of his unpopular views, he had to flee Texas under death threats in 1862, but was considered a hero in the North. President Lincoln appointed Hamilton a brigadier general and provisional governor of Texas, but it was not until the summer of 1865 that he could return to take up his post.

Under the Reconstruction plan envisioned by President Andrew Johnson, Hamilton had one main task as governor: to call a constitutional convention that would nullify the act of secession, abolish slavery, and repudiate the state's Confederate debt. The delegates would also elect a new governor and other state officials. To ensure that the convention would consist of Unionists and not former Confederates, all delegates (and the voters who elected them) would be required to take a loyalty oath to the Union.

In reality, the Constitutional Convention of 1866 included many prominent pre-war and Confederate leaders, and it did only the bare minimum required by the president's instructions. Former Confederates and moderate Unionists blocked most of Hamilton's other suggestions, such as extending the right to vote to freedmen.

Hamilton was disgusted by the failure to achieve real change after four years of war. Upon leaving the governorship, he rejected the relatively mild presidential Reconstruction and became an advocate of the harsher program of the Radical Republicans in Congress. A couple of years later, Hamilton once again changed his views, opposing the Radicals' plans, and even withdrawing his support for African American suffrage.

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | "War, Ruin, and Reconstruction"

Johnson to Hamilton, page 1

By telegraph from Washington

Dated Feb 13 1866

To Gov A.J. Hamilton


I was highly gratified

to receive your dispatch

and that your Convention

was organized. I hope

all will end well.

It is of the utmost importance

that the proceedings of

your Convention be prudent

and of the most temperate

character indicating loyalty

and of the entire willingness

to acknowledge the supremacy

Page 1 | Page 2 | Page 3 | "War, Ruin, and Reconstruction"

Telegram from Andrew Johnson to Hamilton, February 13, 1866, Records of Andrew Jackson Hamilton, Texas Office of the Governor, Archives and Information Services Division, Texas State Library and Archives Commission.

Page last modified: March 30, 2011