Alabama’s First Black “Legislators”
Before you folks trip over yourselves in your unrestrained enthusiasm you might want to re-think what Mr. Reames said about Alabama’s carpetbagger government, because it appears that he holds the same opinion of that not-so-august body as Frederick Douglass did:
**“Well, I would be a Democrat if I was a white man and had to herd with that cattle.”

[Brooklyn Eagle, copied in Montgomery Advertiser, Feb 19, 1869]  
Gee!? Old Fred Douglass not thinking much of Alabama’s Reconstruction government? Who would-a thunk it?! Perhaps Douglass could recognize thieves and panderers when he saw them, and perhaps he held such a low opinion of those governments because of things like the following, which were not at an uncommon occurrence in the Reconstruction South:
** “Some of the more imaginative of the Negro’s new friends [carpetbaggers] were to give rather fancy exhibitions of Yankee ingenuity. Among these, one was as simple as it was profitable; they displayed stocks of brightly painted wooden pegs representing them as authorized by Washington for the freedmen’s use in marking the corners of the lands that were shortly to receive. Eager purchasers overwhelmed their benefactors in a rush to secure the markers – at a bargain price of $1 per peg. The sale took on added momentum when from the Union soldiers came confirmation of the report that lands in the South were to be divided after this fashion.” “Klu Klux Report, Alabama Testimony,” p 319) (Transactions Alabama Historical Society, V.4, Letters W.F. Samford)
And while I plead guilty to not having read Mr. Bailey’s study, I somehow doubt if he has addressed issues as to how people such as these came to be elected to the Alabama legislature:
**”The roster of members of the legislature of 1865 listed 97 Radicals, 26 of them Negroes, and 3 Conservatives. The financial caliber of the group is attested by the circumstance that the entire Radical membership of the assembly paid in taxes less than $100. As for the intelligence quotient, several among the new la makers could not write their names. Illustrative of the shortage of moral stamina, 22 of the statesman were laboring under the handicap either of conviction or of indictment for crime, the offenses running the gamut from petty theft and adultery to murder.” (“The Coming of the Glory,” By John S. Tilley – Alabama State Legislature, Page 167)
Have a wonderful time celebrating the ‘accomplishments’ of Alabama’s first black “legislators.” Everyone deserves a right to celebrate their history and have a good time doing it, including you. Just remember that other folks, who perhaps do not share your enthusiasm for this sort of thing, have the same right to celebrate what is important to them as you do. You might want to keep that in mind the next time someone wants to celebrate a “Confederate” holiday because I have lots examples like the ones I’ve given you….
"Atter S’render, dey tuck a darky for de probit jedge, but dat nigger didn’t know nothin’ an’ he couldn’t rule. So den dey tuck a white man name Sanders, an’ he done all right…”
“The Slave Narratives,” George Young, Alabama
Have a good time and a great day
Bill Vallante
Commack NY
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Associate Member Camp 3000
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Associate Member Camp 1506
Sons of Confederate Veterans, Associate Member Camp 1369