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$30,000,000 pledged to railroads, the total length of whose mileage was 2,500 miles. Three new judicial circuits were created: the Albany, the Augusta, and the Allapaha ; * four new counties were added to the map: Douglas, Dodge, Rockdale, McDuffee; † a public school system was organized, I and an act passed authorizing the lease of the Western and Atlantic Railroad.** This last named measure was introduced by Dunlap Scott. It provided for a twenty year lease of this property at a fixed rental of $25,000 per month or $300,000 per annum. The act was approved October 24, 1870. Under the terms of this act the road was leased to a company of which Ex-Gov. Joseph E. Brown was president, December 27, 1870. Bond was given by the lessees for $8,000,000. While the Bullock Legislature organized a public school system, it used for other purposes the sum of $327,000, belonging to the school fund, and left the support of the public schools to Governor Smith's administration. First and last, the Bullock Legislature cost Georgia a king's ransom. Its very name to this day is a synonym and a by-word for corruption. Operating expenses alone taken into account, it surpassed all records. To quote Colonel Avery: “Nine years of Democratic Legislation, from 1853 to 1862, cost only $866,385, or less than this single Radical General Assembly.”
But reconstruction was in its last throes. The Bullock Legislature, overwhelmingly republican, ratified the Fifteenth Amendment, thus bringing the state once more en rapport with the congressional statutes and making reconstruction an accomplished fact. When Congress met in December, 1870, the entire delegation elected to represent Georgia in the House was seated. There were two sets of credentials presented to the Senate, those by Messrs. Hill and Miller, elected in 1868, before the unseating of the negroes and those presented by Messrs. Farrar and Whitely, elected afterwards. But the seats were rightfully awarded to the former. Hill was at once seated on taking the test oath. He had given no, aid to the Confederacy and had opposed secession. Doctor Miller was not seated until his disabilities were formally removed by Congress, in February, 1871, on the eve of final adjournment. The state's congressional delegation chosen in the fall of 1868 was as follows: Wm. W. Payne, R. H. Whitely, Marion Bethune, Jefferson F. Long, Stephen A. Corker, Wm. P. Price, and Gen. P. M. B. Young Three of these were sterling democrats; but all were seated early in 1871. To capitulate, Georgia had three times been reconstructed; and in this connection we quote the excellent summary made by Governor Candler. Says
“The first reconstruction was that of President Andrew Johnson, made as commander-in-chief of the United States, under the power recognized by all nations of the victor to prescribe terms to the vanquished. Under this reconstruction the state was required to repudiate her war debt and ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery. She promptly, for the sake of peace, did both.
* Acts 1870, pp. 37-38. † Acts 1870, pp. 13-21. # Acts 1870, pp. 49-60. ** Acts 1870, p. 423. | Avery's “History of Georgia," p. 444.
“She was again reconstructed under the General Reconstruction Act of March, 1867, and was required to ratify the Fourteenth Amendment conferring civil rights on the negro.
the negro. She first rejected it, but it was afterwards ratified by the Bullock Legislature.
“She was finally reconstructed under the provisions of the Reorganization Act, which required her to reseat the negro members of the Legislature who had been ejected, and to ratify the Fifteenth Amendment, conferring the elective franchise on negroes.
“All of the reconstructions were under the direction and control of a military commander, under whose orders the Provisional Government and the Legislature were required to act.
“The first reconstruction, inaugurated by Lincoln and adopted by Johnson, was necessary and proper, and was the logical sequence of the war between the states. The other two were wicked and unnecessary, and were required by the radicals for two purposes, to punish and humiliate the Southern people and to recruit the ranks of the Republican party by enfranchising the recently emancipated slaves and thus enable the party to perpetuate itself in power indefinitely.'
Once more Georgia was a sovereign state in the American Union. But her State Government was still in the hands of the radicals. To purge her legislative halls, to inaugurate a governor of her own choice, and to vest the law-making power in the hands of her own representatives, chosen without fear of the bayonet—these were tasks which still remained to be accomplished. The Bullock Legislature had been a travesty upon the law-making power. It had inaugurated an extravagant system of state aid to railroads, as the result of which money was borrowed and bonds of the state issued, fixing upon the state liabilities to the extent of $30,000,000. Most of this was incurred by pledging the state's credit to railroads, either in course of construction or in contemplation. But before some of these lines were completed a new Legislature was elected which repealed state aid in all cases where rights had not become vested. Some of the bonds endorsed by Governor Bullock, in violation of law or without authority of law, were outlawed by the state, but every dollar of bona fide liability, direct or contingent, was recognized and paid by the State of Georgia.
Foster Blodgett was a loyal friend to Governor Bullock, but a friend whose demands were extortionate. He worked for his share of the spoils. To provide a berth for him, Governor Bullock first dismissed from office William W. Clayton, treasurer of the state road, after which Colonel Hulbert, the road's efficient superintendent was sacrificed. Blodgett knew as much about practical railroading as he did about astronomy, and though the state road had been a paying investment ever since its restoration under Maj. Campbell Wallace, often paying into the treasury as much as $450,000 per annum, Foster Blodgett made it a liability to the state, whereas hitherto it had always been an asset. Blodgett succeeded Colonel Hulbert in office on January 1, 1870. His administration ended with the calendar year, but during this short length of time he achieved a record without parallel in the annals of railroading. He ran the road purely as a partisan machine. The receipts during Blodgett's administration aggregated $1,464,737, but of this only $45,000 was paid into the treasury of the state. Colonel Hulbert had turned over to him $109,131, showing the road's fine condition at this time. But Blodgett represented to the Legislature that half a million dollars was needed for repairs; and he left behind him a legacy of debt, in the round sum of $600,000 which the state afterwards paid.*
But there was one redeeming feature of the Bullock administration. It inaugurated a system of free schools for which provision was made in the State Constitution of 1868 and in this way laid the foundation for Georgia's splendid present-day system of public instruction. Gen. J. R. Lewis, an appointee of Governor Bullock, was Georgia's first state school commissioner.
On August 17, 1870, Gen. Alfred H. Colquitt was made the recipient of a double honor, foreshadowing his future career of brilliant achievement in Georgia politics. He was chosen to preside over a state democratic convention in Macon, and on the same day was made president of the State Agricultural Society, an association famous for its leverage in elevating public men to office in Georgia. Some of the prominent men in attendance upon the state democratic convention were: Thomas Hardeman, Wm. S. Holt, Augustus O. Bacon, Stephen A. Corker, Wm. M. Browne, James S. Boynton, Cincinnatus Peeples, Rufus E. Lester, John Collier, E. F. Hoge, Nelson Tift, Robert N. Ely, L. N. Trammell, George T. Barnes, James R. Randall, Ambrose R. Wright, Willis A. Hawkins, Linton Stephens, Wm. M. Reese, Albert R. Lamar, James L. Seward, Peterson Thweat, Julian Hartridge, and Alexander R. Lawton. There were 300 delegates in attendance from 109 counties. It was a strong body of men. Judge Linton Stephens wrote its resolutions, pledging the democracy of Georgia to an uncompromising stand for constitutional government. Benjamin H. Hill had ceased to hurl his thunderbolts against the radicals, since reconstruction had become an accomplished fact; and in consequence of his silence he suffered criticism at the hands of many who had formerly been his ardent political admirers. But he was destined to emerge from this cloud and to represent Georgia ere long in the world's greatest forum: the American Senate.
Here, too, another Georgian who had tasted of the bitter herbs, who had long endured ostracism and estrangement, was destined to be his colleague: Joseph E. Brown. Members of Congress were elected this year as follows:
A. T. MacIntyre, R. H. Whitely, John S. Bigby, Thomas J. Speer, Dudley M. DuBose, Wm. P. Price, and P. M. B. Young. Some of these were republicans; but most of the congressmen-elect were democrats. Thomas J. Speer, a republican, died during the session and Erasmus W. Beck, a democrat, was elected to his vacant seat. Colonel MacIntyre and General DuBose were both new members. Colonel MacIntyre was a Scotchman, and was the first democrat to be elected from his district after the war. He had served in the state constitutional convention of 1865 and had been a strong supporter of President Johnson's plan of Reconstruction. General DuBose was a son-in-law of Robert Toombs.
He had also been a Confederate brigadier-general. There were two other democrats in the delegation, Gen. P. M. B. Young and Col. Wm. P. Price; but these had served in the preceding Congress. When the new State Legislature met, Hon. Thomas M. Norwood, of Savannah, was chosen to succeed Dr. H. V. M. Miller in the United States Senate. Colonel Norwood was a man of scholarly attainments, a brilliant writer, especially in the vein of satire, and a most cultured gentleman; but he possessed no personal magnetism, he lacked initiative, and as a consequence held the toga for only one term. Chief-Justice Joseph E. Brown, in the meantime, having resigned the judicial ermine to become president of the company leasing the Western & Atlantic Railroad, Governor Bullock designated as his successor Hon. Osborne A. Lochrane, one of the state's most gifted sons, but a strong supporter of the policies of reconstruction.
Robert E. Lee, the illustrious commander of the Army of Northern Virginia and one of the greatest soldiers of the age, according to the unbiased judgment of military critics, died at his home in Lexington, Virginia, on October 12, 1870. Two days thereafter, the Georgia Legislature, then in session, adopted the following resolution:
"Robert E. Lee is dead. The brightest of virtue's stars has fallen; the noblest of patriotism's exemplars is gone; the peerless hero and the guileless Christian sleeps with Washington; the Union has lost her most gifted pupil and soldier; the South her most loved son and peerless chief; mourning darkens the whole land, and the heart of the South is in tears; such a death, so great a loss, and so overwhelming a sorrow, stay the hand of labor, and suspend the contests of the day: therefore
“1. Resolved, That the General Assembly will attend the citizens' meeting of the city of Atlanta, to be held on Saturday morning next, to give expression to the feeling of sorrow, which fills the public heart.
"2. Resolved, That a committee of two from the Senate and three from the House be appointed to confer with the committee of arrangements of said citizens' meeting as to the participation of this General Assembly in the same.
"3. Resolved, That the Senate and House adjourn tomorrow, each House to adjourn to Monday morning.
"Approved October 14, 1870."
Only a few months before his death, General Lee, in the spring of 1870, came to Georgia for a brief visit to the grave of his father, the renowned “Light-Horse Harry” Lee of the Revolution.* The latter was buried at Dungeness, on Cumberland Island, having died at this place while visiting the family of his deceased comrade-in-arms, Gen. Nathanael Greene. In a letter, wtitten from Savannah, on April 18, 1870, Robert E. Lee thus speaks of his filial pilgrimage to Dungeness :
“We visited Cumberland Island where Alice decorated my father's grave with beautiful fresh flowers. I presume it will be the last time I shall be able to pay it my tribute of respect. The cemetery is unharmed
* The remains of “Light Horse Harry'' Lee were exhumed in 1914 and taken to Lexington, Virginia, where they now occupy a crypt in the chapel of Washington Lee University, beside the ashes of Robert E. Lee.
+ Fitzhugh Lee's “Life of General Lee," Great Commander Series, New York, 1899, p. 410.
and the grave in good condition, but the house at Dungeness has been burned and the island devastated. I hope I am better."
But it was not to be. He resumed his arduous duties only to lay them down in a few short weeks. The end came gently but suddenlyalmost in a flash. It was not disease in the ordinary sense that severed the mysterious thread of life, but anguish of soul. Six months from the date when the above letter was penned the renowned warrior fell asleep at Lexington, bequeathing to his fellow-countrymen and to the whole Anglo-Saxon race, the untarnished sword, the matchless example, and the immortal name of Robert E. Lee.
On November 1, 1871, the newly elected State Legislature assembled in Atlanta. Both houses were overwhelmingly democratic, a result which had been foreshadowed in the fall elections; and throughout the state there was profound rejoicing. The downfall of the radical regime in Georgia was at hand. Hon. L. N. Trammell, of the Forty-third District, was elected president of the Senate and Hon. James M. Smith, of Muscogee, speaker of the House. The State Senate at this time was a perpetual body, half of its old membership holding over, while the other half was newly elected. Prominent among the state senators were: Rufus E. Lester, John C. Nichols, L. C. Hoyle, Charles C. Kibbee, Thomas J. Simmons, Wm. M. Reese, Wm. S. Erwin, George Hillyer, E. Steadman, and James R. Brown. The leaders in the House were: Morgan Rawls, Joseph B. Cumming, Claiborne Snead, Henry Jackson, E. F. Hoge, Joel C. Fain, J. H. Guerry, John I. Hall, J. W. Renfree, John W. Wofford, E. D. Graham, R. W. Phillips, Wm. D. Anderson, R. L. McWhorter, George F. Pierce, Jr., W. P. Johnson, Isaac Russell, Emanuel Heidt, L. J. Allred, and W. H. Payne.
But Governor Bullock was not on hand to greet the law-makers. He had read the handwriting on the wall. Impeachment loomed before him. Exposure was imminent. How to escape the evil day was a question uppermost in the executive mind. There was only one safe course to adopt; and just one week in advance of the ominous day set for the assembling of the State Legislature, Governor Bullock played his trump card. On October 23, 1871, Georgia's chief-magistrate fled the state between two suns, quietly slipping his resignation into the hands of Benjamin Conley, president of the Senate who, pending an election, became governor ad interim. At a special election held on the third Tuesday in December, Hon. James M. Smith, of Muscogee, then speaker of the House, was elected, receiving 39,705 votes, with only a few scattering ballots cast in opposition.*
When the Legislature re-convened after the Christmas holidays, Speaker Smith transmitted his resignation to the governor; and Hon. Joseph B. Cumming, of Richmond, formerly speaker pro tem., was elected speaker. Georgia had called one of her most distinguished sons to the governorship; and thus fell the curtain upon the last act in the tragic drama of reconstruction.
* House Journal, p. 25.