The Untold Story Of Texas Governor E.J. Davis
Immediately after the Civil War Texas was under martial law. The racist southern forces of the Confederacy were defeated and attempts were made to provide blacks with protection and voting power. To this end it became necessary for the governor to create a military apparatus that would prevent the defeated racists from regaining power in the State and at the seat of power in Austin. Governor Edmond J. Davis became governor of Texas and under Radical Reconstruction leadership clamped down on racist southern whites who wanted to restore a system of slavery and white only elections.
Racist historians and defenders of the racist Confederate forces in Texas have falsely characterized Governor Davis. In 1862, E. J. Davis left Texas to keep from being drafted by the Confederate Army. Like many, Texas across the State refused to fight for the Confederacy and Robert E. Lee. Germans and whites refused the confederate draft by the thousands. Davis thus established himself as an enemy of the pro-slavery forces from the very beginning. He soon organized a Union army regiment and was a general by the end of the Civil War. He was captured in Mexico by slavers but they were forced to release him because of threats from Mexico. Mexico had a long tradition of opposing slavery and actually abolished slavery in 1829 over 30 years before Lincoln did it. Davis would later march to Rio Grande City and free slaves in a battle with Confederate forces. Davis would become known as a radical republican in the Texas conventions of 1866 and the conventions of 1868-69.
Since Texas would not accept an end to racism and slavery peacefully it would become necessary for the military to register African Americans and protect them at the polls at election time. Davis ordered up the drawing of new voter registration lists that excluded former racist followers of the Southern slave forces and now included blacks that could not vote in Texas before Emancipation.Additionally, hundreds of black Union soldiers were stationed in San Antonio to protect those that opposed the confederacy in Texas. This must have been quite a shock to the slave owners who thought their system of brutal slavery would last forever. Even today, old tired out dinosaurs of the racist legacy of the Confederate States of America still pop up to defend a way of life that will never return.
Because Davis was a radical reconstruction governor he stationed troops at the polls to prevent the Democratic Party of slavery, at that time, from voting. This action enabled blacks to vote in their own representatives in the Texas House and prevented racists from reestablishing power. Davis won the 1869 governorship by empowering African American voters. This would cause racist voters to begin looking for any type of excuse to remove Governor Davis. Texas racists, headed by former slave owners and white supremacists, began to invent stories that black Texas troops under Davis were harassing whites. Davis was falsely accused of protecting blacks and unionist Germans and whites loyal to the United States. One must remember that the southern states were in rebellion and traitors to the United States. They only escaped execution and imprisonment because of their racist friends in the Congress.
Governor E.J. Davis would form a black militia and a black police force that angered white racists who had a problem with seeing armed black men in positions of power. Governor Davis would appoint James Newcomb as the registrar of black voters in Bexar County who would provide a black armed force to protect black citizens from the racist followers of the Knights of the Golden Circle, the Texas Rangers, and former slave owners. Some of these racist forces would be also be followers of the racist “Rip” Ford who at one time dreamed of a slave empire in Mexico and Texas.
Texas racists found an excuse to fault Davis by claiming that he was not protecting white from “Indians and blacks.” The Texas Rangers, who were connected to the murder of blacks and Mexicans, were placed under the control of federal troops. They hated it! Davis would lose the 1873 election and would attempt to hole up in the Austin Capital building while being protected by black troops. He made an appeal for federal troops, but U.S. Grant refused to help and abandoned the Reconstruction cause and black people. Davis was considered a friend of African Americans and anti-slavery whites. The former slave owners and racists in the state of course considered him a tyrant. But the racists would win over time and would institute a “White Primary election” that would prevail in Texas until 1944 and beyond. The true story of Governor E. J. Davis is yet to be told.