SPEAKING IN FLORIDA ON THE ISSUES OF
PRESIDENTIAL RECONSTRUCTION 1865-1867:
A RHETORIC OF REUNION
KEVIN EMMETT KEARNEY
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE COUNCIL OF
THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE
DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
The writer wishes to acknowledge his indebtedness to all who have
helped make this study possible. This, of course, includes those who
have assisted in preparing the study, those who aided in research, and
those who gave financial and moral support.
Contributions made by individual members of the supervisory com-
mittee cover all three categories. The late Dr. Dallas C. Dickey, who
served as chairman until 1957, pointed the way by asking: "What do you
suppose southerners were saying after Appomattox?" His interest in
southern oratory and his personal standards of scholarship left their
mark on his colleagues and his graduate students. This study consti-
tutes a partial answer to his question and a token tribute to his
Dr. Douglas Ehninger, who was appointed chairman following Dr.
Dickey's death, and who is presently serving as Visiting Professor at
the State University of Iowa, had some questions of his own which served
as an additional source of enrichment and inspiration. The organization
and content of the study reflect his concern for clarity and scholarship
and his personal interest in the study itself.
The present chairman, Professor II. P. Constans, Chairman of the
Department of Speech, and other members of the committee, Dr. Roy E. Tew
and Dr. Charles K. Thomas of the Department of Speech, and Dr. George
Bentley, Dr. Franklin A. Doty, and Dr. Rembert W. Patrick of the History
Department also assisted the writer by checking the manuscript and by
making helpful suggestions. The writer is especially indebted to
Professor Constans for his interest and encouragement and to the con-
mittee members from the History Department for their guidance and
criticism on matters connected with the history of the Reconstruction
Others to whom the writer is indebted arc those who assisted in
research. MIr. Julien C. Yonge, Director of the P. K. Yonge Library of
Florida History, extended valuable service. Mrs. Harriet S. Skofield,
Librarian of the Library of Florida History, and her successor, Miss
alrgaret Chapman, also provided valuable assistance. Others who aided
in the search for materials aro: Dr. Dorothy Dodd, State Librarian,
Tallahassee, Florida; Mr. John W. Griffin, Executive Historian, St.
Augustine Historical Society, St. Augustine; Miss :arjarct Donnell,
Reference Librarian, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, Indiana;
trs. Drucella Thompson, Newspaper Division, Indiana State Library;
Mr. Philip Falco, Eewspaper Division, New York Public Library Annex,
New York City, New York; Mr. Rutherford D. Rogers, Chief, Reference
Department, New York Public Library; Miss Albertina T. B. Traver, Refer-
ence Librarian, Adriance Memorial Library, Poughkeepsie, New York; Miss
Gladys E. Love, Head, General Reference Division, Rochester Public
Library, Rochester, New York; Mrs. Belle H. Waterman, Librarian,
Skaneateles Library Association, Skaneateles, New York; Mr. William H.
Smith, Newspaper Division, Syracuse Public Library, Syracuse, Iew York.
Special thanks are extended to the Department of Speech, the
College of Arts and Sciences, and the Graduate School of the University
of Florida for the opportunities and financial assistance extended in
the form of graduate assistantships and fellowships. Thanks are also
due to Butler University and the Directors of Lilly Endowment, Inc.,
for a grant which enabled the writer to devote the summer of 1959 to
The writer is deeply indebted to his mother, Mrs. D. C. Kearney,
and his wife, Eleanor Jean, for their confidence, sympathy, and en-
couragement. It is, indeed, difficult to estimate the contribution of
a wife who spends hours typing and proofing manuscripts, foregoes numer-
ous social pleasures, willingly accepts solitude, and acts as an "in-
truder" when she feels there is a need for words of encouragement.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Acknowledent. . . . . . . . .. .. ii
I Introduction . . . . . . . . . . . 1
II Speaking to the Revolutionists During the Preconvention
Period: A Rhetoric of Acquiescence. . . . . .. 14
The Scene. . . . . . . . . .. . 14
The Discourse . . . . . ........ . 27
Speech of Alfred Sears at King's Ferry ...... 27
Speech of William Marvin at Jacksonville . . .. 33
Speech of William Marvin at Quincy . . . ... 45
The Rhetoric . . . . . . . . .. . 56
III Speaking to the Freedmen During the Preconvention Period:
A Rhetoric of Acquiescence . . . . . . .... 65
The Scene. . . . . . . . ... .. .. 65
The Discourse. . . . . . . .... . . 70
Speech of William Marvin to the Freedmen in
Marianna. . . . . . . . .... 70
The Rhetoric . . . . . . . . ... 86
IV Speaking at the Constitutional Convention of 1865: A
Rhetoric of Adjustment . . . . . . . .... 92
The Scene. . . . . . . . ... ..... 92
The Discourse. . . . . . . . .... 99
Speech of E. D. Tracy and Message of Marvin .. . 99
Speech of Oliver 0. Howard . . . . . . 109
Letter of Thomas Brown and Speeches of Thomas
T. Long, Samuel Spencer, and Thomas Baltzell. . 113
Speech of Marvin . . . . . . . . .. 115
The Rhetoric . . . . . . . . ... .121
V Speaking and the Inauguration of Conservative Government:
A Rhetoric of Adjustment . . . . . . .... 127
The Scene. .................. . .. 127
The Discourse .................. .. . 139
Speech of William W. J. Kelly. ......... . 139
Farewell Speech of William Marvin and Inaugural
Address of David S. Walker . . . . .. 141
Speech of Wilkinson Call . . . . . ... 165
The Rhetoric ..................... 171
TABLE OF CONTENTS (Continued)
VI Speaking in Florida in 1866: A Rhetoric of Vindication.
Prologue to the Rhetoric of Vindication . . . .
The Scene . . . . . . . . . . .
The Discourse . . . . . . . . . .
Speeches of William W. J. Kelly and Dillon Jordan .
Speech of David S. Walker . . . . . . .
Speech of Wilkinson Call. . . . . . . .
Speech of E. W. Perry . . . . . . .
Speech of Thomas T. Long. . . . . . . .
Message of David S. Walker . . . . . .
The Rhetoric. . . . . . . . . .
VII The SpeakinG of Florida's Senators-Elect in the Campaign
of 1866: A Rhetoric of Vindication . . . . .
The Sce e . . . .. . . . . . . .
The Discourse . . . . . . . . . .
Speech of William Marvin at Rochester . . . .
Speech of Wilkinson Call in New York City . . .
Speech of William Marvin in Syracuse . . . .
Speech of Villiam Marvin at Brooklyn. . . . .
The Rhetoric . . . . . . . . . .
VIII Speaking in Florida on
struction: A Rhetoric
Failure? . . . .
the Issues of Presidential Recon-
of Reunion or an Oratory of
Bibliography . . . . . . . . . . .
Biographical Sketch. . . . . . . . . .
During the Middle Period in American history, 1812 to 1850, cir-
cumstances gave rise to a series of political issues, clustering around
the basic questions of slavery and state sovereignty. In 1820, 1832,
and 1850, these issues were temporarily resolved through compromise.
By 1861, however, events had intensified old antagonisms, causing the
South to withdraw from the Union. Compromise proved unworkable, and a
divided nation resorted to the force of arms to resolve the issues.
After the war, during the Reconstruction period, 1865 to 1876,
the nation was troubled with the problems inherent in the formulation
of an acceptable plan of reunion. The situation was complicated by the
fact that the would-be arbitrators viewed the questions of Reconstruc-
tion with an eye to the advancement of party aims.1 Presidential Recon-
struction, congressional Reconstruction, and Republican rule in the
South produced a series of political crises which culminated in decision
at the ballot box.
1Paul Buck emphasizes that reunion was to a large extent compli-
cated by political considerations. "It became the interest of the
Democratic party to 'forget' the war and to patch up quickly a truce
which would re-admit their Southern Allies to the political contest.
But it was equally important to the Republicans that the past be not
forgotten and that a reunion which would increase the strength of their
opponents should be postponed. The process of reconciliation was fatefully
involved in this counter-purpose of party aims." Paul H. Buck, Tue Road
to Reunion, 1865-1900 (Boston, 1947), p. 73.
The presidential attempt at Reconstruction touched off a national
debate during the years 1865 to 1867. The South sought a resumption of
normal relations with the federal government as a means of supplanting
martial law with civil rule. The presidential plan provided an oppor-
tunity to achieve this goal. Southern Democrats and former Whigs, who
joined forces and called themselves Conservatives, accepted and defended
the presidential plan. Their efforts, along with those of northern Demo-
crats, and a few moderate Republicans,2 were ultimately countered by
Radical Republicans, who argued against presidential Reconstruction be-
fore audiences in the northern and western sections of the nation, and
by southern Unionists or Loyalists, who voiced their opposition in the
South and in the North.3 The differences between these parties were
2In his attempt to reconstruct the South, Johnson ultimately re-
ceived the support of northern Democrats, some moderate Republicans who
were opposed to the Radical Republican leadership of their party, and
the Conservatives in the South. Representatives of these various politi-
cal groups banded together in Philadelphia, in August of 1866, as the
"friends of the President" and sought to organize a "National Union
Party." William A. Dunning, Reconstruction, Political and Economic,
1865-1877 (NPe York, 1907), pp. 72-76. Vol. XXII of The American Nation:
A history from Original Sources by Associated Scholars, ed. Albert B.
iart; Ilichael Iartin and Leonard Gelber, The Ileu Dictionary of American
History (New York, 1952), p. 428.
3The Radical Republicans and the southern Unionists or Loyalists
were the antagonists of presidential Reconstruction. In order to avoid
confusion and to contest "the assumption by the president's supporters
that they were in the truest sense the upholders of the Union," the
Radical Republicans and the southern Loyalists called themselves "Union-
Republicans." Dunning, Reconstruction, Political and Economic, 1865-1877
The Radical Republicans have been described in terms of three
principal elements: "First, the extreme negrophiles, who, on abstract
grounds of human equality and natural rights, demanded full civil and
political privileges for the freedmen; second, the partisan politicians,
resolved at the ballot box following the congressional campaign of
1866. A sufficient number of Radical Republicans were elected to
Congress to enable that body to discard the presidential terms of Re-
construction and in March of 1867 to substitute its own.
The congressional acts of Reconstruction, which became law over
the presidential veto, and which were not ruled on by the Supreme Court,
produced debates throughout the insurrectionaryy districts" of the
South.4 Because these terms were the law of the land, the crucial
who viewed the elevation of the blacks mainly as a means of humbling
the Democrats and maintaining the existing spremacy of the Republican
Party; and third, the representatives of an exalted statesmanship, who
saw in the existing situation an opportunity for decisively fixing in
our system a broader and more national principle of civil rights and
political privilege." After the President and Congress became openly
hostile over Reconstruction, the Republican extremists gradually won
over many of the moderate Republicans in Congress. Following the con-
gressional election of 1866, the Radicals controlled a two-thirds majority
in both houses of Congress. William A. Dunning, Essays on the Civil War
and Reconstruction and Related Topics (New York, 1931), pp. 85-91.
The southern Loyalists, those who reputedly opposed disunion in
1861, and remained loyal to the Union throughout the war, initially en-
dorsed Johnson's reconstruction policy. By 1866, however, they became
the political allies of the Radical Republicans on the grounds that the
application of the presidential terms had left the southern state govern-
ments in the hands of the "ex-rebels." Although they were "a small and
unimpressive element . and could not by themselves contribute much
to the cause of the Congress party," their testimony regarding rebel ter-
rorism during the war and rebel rule under the Johnson governments
strengthened the Radical Republican position. Dunning, Reconstruction,
Political and Economic, 1865-1877, p. 77.
4In 1867, the Radicals "proceeded far in the control of the
Supreme Court by so limiting its appellate jurisdiction as to avert a
decision which might overrule the reconstruction acts." J. G. Randall,
The Civil War and Reconstruction (Boston, 1953), P. 751. When the
Supreme Court agreed to hear the case of Ex part McCardle, a case which
involved the question of the legality of the arrest of a Mississippi
editor under the Reconstruction acts, Congress passed a law relieving
that body of appellate jurisdiction in cases involving these acts. For
issue become this: Who should lead the states back into the Union,
Conservatives or Republicans? Again, the issue was resolved at the
polls. Southern Negroes and their carpet-bag friends wrote new state
constitutions, inaugurated Republican state governments, and sent
Republicans to take their seats in Congress. By 1870, all of the "un-
reconstructed" states had been re-admitted to the Union under the
auspices of the Republican party.5
Soon a major problem emerged as a result of the supremacy of the
Republican party in the South. The Republicans attempted to defend
their administration, and were countered by the Democrats who advocated
political reform and sought release from the Republican yoke. The issue
was resolved by 1876, when the Democrats generally regained political
control of the South.
These three political phases of the Reconstruction era--the presi-
dential attempt at reunion, the temporary victory of the Radicals, and
a discussion of the McCardle case, see Ellis M. Coulter, The South Dur-
ing Reconstruction, 1865-187 (Baton Rouge, 1947), p. 122. Vol. VIII of
A lJUotorj of tm: South, ed. l:endell H. Stephenson and Ellis M. Coulter.
5Eleven southern states were re-admitted to the Union between
1866 and 1870. Tennessee was re-admitted in 1866, after ratifying the
Fourteenth Amendment. The remaining ten states became members of the
Union, after complying with the congressional terms of Reconstruction,
in 1868 and 1870. The representatives of Arkansas, North Carolina, South
Carolina, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, and Florida were admitted to seats
in Congress in 1868. Virginia, Texas, Mississippi, and Georgia were re-
admitted in 1870. Georgia was admitted to Congress in 1868, but her re-
admission was repealed by Congress when the Georgia legislature expelled
its twenty-eight Negro members "on the ground that a Negro had a right
to vote, but not to hold office." For a description of the congressional
terms of Reconstruction and a narrative of their execution, see Francis
D. Simkins, A History of the South (New York, 1953), PP. 264-277.
the eventual triumph of the Democrats--may be characterized as a series
of debates. Three principal questions caused six different political
groups to espouse a cause and attempt to influence public judgment
The cumulative efforts of any of these groups may be thought of
as a rhetorical movement. Such a movement, moreover, may be said to have
inceptive, progressive, and terminal phases.6 The inception of the move-
ment stems from a situation, issue, or proposition that motivates men to
bring about change or achieve a specific goal through persuasion. When
their efforts culminate in success or failure, the rhetorical movement
has reached its terminus. The stream of discourse produced between the
inceptive and terminal phases comprises the progressive phase of the
By studying the composite rhetoric--what the speakers of a move-
ment said, rather than what one man said--one can characterize the struc-
ture or patterns of this rhetoric and evaluate its worth. Such a study
not only provides a fresh approach to the history and criticism of Ameri-
can public address, but may suggest new or neglected criteria of criti-
cism. A study of this type may enable us to ask questions about rhetoric
6n an essay outlining a methodology for the study of the rhetori-
cal structure of an historical movement, Lcland Griffin characterized the
inceptive, progressive, and terminal phases of a rhetorical movement and
suggested that they be employed in delimiting such a movement for study.
See Leland M. Griffin, "The Rhetoric of Historical Movements," Quarterly
Journal of Speech, XXXVIII (April, 1952), 184-188; Leland M. Griffin,
"The Rhetorical Structure of the Antimasonic Movement," The Rhetorical
Idiom Eszsays in Rhetoric, Oratory, language, and Drama, cd. Donald C.
Bryant (Ithaca, New York: 1958), pp. 145-159.
that have not been asked by the student of the individual orator.
Locating a rhetorical movement for study, within the framework
of the Reconstruction period, is largely a problem of choice. One per-
son cannot attempt to study, in its entirety, any one, let alone all
six, of the rhetorical movements that occurred during these years. This
may be illustrated by analyzing the two rhetorical movements that evolved
from the issue of presidential Reconstruction during the years 1865 to
Anyone attempting to study the rhetorical movement favoring
presidential Reconstruction would have to analyze: (1) the speaking of
federal officials and Conservatives in the South, (2) the speaking of
Democrats and moderate Republicans in Congress, (3) the speaking of
northern Democrats, Conservatives, and moderate Republicans in the
congressional campaign of 1866, which was decided by voters in the
northern and western parts of the nation, and (4) the speaking of
President Johnson, including his messages to Congress and his famous
"swing around the circle."7
A study of the rhetorical movement opposing presidential Recon-
struction would have to include: (1) the speaking of Radical Republi-
cans and southern Loyalists in the South, (2) the speaking of the
TFor a rhetorical analysis of Johnson's "swing around the circle,"
see Gregg Phifer, "The Last Stand of Presidential Reconstruction; a
Rhetorical Study of Andrew Johnson's Swing around the Circle in 1866"
(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, State University of Iawa, 1949); Gregg
Phifer, "'Not for the Purpose of Making a Speech': Andrew Johnson's
Swing around the Circle," Speech Monographs, XXI (November, 1954),
Radical Republicans in Congress, and (3) the speaking of Radical Re-
publicans and southern Loyalists in the congressional campaign of 1866.
Because of the scope of these rhetorical movements, the student
must choose sides and select a segment of some one movement for study.
This dissertation represents an attempt to describe and evaluate the
rhetorical movement favoring presidential Reconstruction in Florida
during the years 1865 to 1867.8
Aside from the writer's personal interest, a number of reasons
might be offered for the selection of: (1) this particular historical
period, (2) a rhetorical movement in Florida, (3) a rhetorical movement
on the issue of presidential Reconstruction, and (4) a rhetorical move-
ment favoring presidential Reconstruction.
First, as to the selection of the Reconstruction era, the
existence of the three previously mentioned controversial issues during
this period precipitated a great amount of speechmaking. Yet relatively
8The study of an individual orator has been a common approach in
writing the history and criticism of American public address. In recent
years, however, more attention has been given the movement approach,
wherein an attempt is made to study the rhetoric of "nameless men," who
spoke on a specific theme within the framework of a given historical
period. For examples of movement studies, see Leland M. Griffin, "The
Antimasonic Persuasion: A Study of Public Address in the American
Antimasonic Movement, 1826-1838" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Cor-
nell University, 1950); Donald H. Ecroyd, "An Analysis and Evaluation
of Populist Political Campaign Speech Making in Kansas, 1890-1894"
(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, State University of Iowa, 1949); Stanley
B. Wheater, "Persuasion in the Save the Union Meetings, 1859-1861"
(unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, University of Wisconsin, 1955); Huber
U. Ellingsworth, "Southern Reconciliation Orators in the North, 1868-
1899" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Florida State University, 1955);
and Robert W. Smith, "A Study of the Speaking in the Anti-Secrecy Move-
ment, 1868-1882, with Special Reference to the National Christian Associ-
ation" (unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, State University of Iowa, 1956).
little of this speaking has been studied. As Dallas C. Dickey observed,
"The speaking of southerners on the problems of reconstruction is un-
known except for that of a few men. . ."
This generalization is particularly true with respect to the Re-
construction period in Florida. Although samples of the discourse have
been preserved along with other materials of Florida history, the speak-
ing of Floridians on the issues of presidential Reconstruction has not
been studied. None of the general state histories give more than pass-
ing notice to the speaking of these years.10 William W. Davis' history
of the Reconstruction period in Florida contains some extracts from the
discourse, but makes no attempt at analysis.11
Since relatively little of the discourse of the Reconstruction
period has been studied, the selection of a rhetorical movement dealing
with the presidential Reconstruction seems a logical place to begin.
9Dallas C. Dickey, "Southern Oratory: A Field for Research,"
Quarterly Journal of Speech, XXXIII (December, 1947), 458-463. Watson's
survey of southern oratory is too comprehensive to admit concentrated
study of a particular historical period. Reconstruction speaking is
treated as one of seven aspects of "Post-Bellum Oratory in the South,
1865-1909," and only one speech is supplied to illustrate the speaking
of the period 1865 to 1867. Thomas E. Watson, History of Southern Ora-
tory (Richmond, 1909), pp. 71-75. Vol. IX of The South in the Building
of the Nation.
10See Caroline M. Brevard, A History of Florida front the Treaty of
1763 to Our Own Times, ed. James A. Robertson (Dcland, iForida. 1924)
II, 124-142; Frederick U. Dau, Florida Old and fIev (Hlew York, 1934), pp.
275-278; J. E. Dovell, Florida: Iistoric, Dramatic, Contemporary (New
York, 1952), II, 525-557; V. T. Cash, The story of Florida (ICu York,
1938), I, 458-476; and Kathryn T. Abbey, Florida Land of Chan. (Chapel
Hill, 1941), pp. 293-315.
11Uilliam U. Dnvis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida
(Columbia University Ztudies in History, Econmlco and iPblic Lna; Vol.
LIII, Ho. 131. New York, 1913).
Presidential Reconstruction, congressional Reconstruction, and Republi-
can rule of the South occurred in chronological sequence. A knowledge
of the rhetorical movements favoring and opposing the first attempt at
reunion will provide insights into the movements that followed. As the
investigator proceeds from one movement to another, it is important to
know, for example, that white Floridians who opposed Negro suffrage in
their speeches favoring presidential Reconstruction, later had to appeal
to Negro audiences for votes when they sought to retain political con-
trol of their state under the congressional terms of Reconstruction.
The same reasoning applies to the selection of a rhetorical move-
ment favoring presidential Reconstruction. President Johnson set out to
reconstruct the South between the months of April and December of 1865,
a period during which Congress was not in session. The rhetorical move-
ment opposing his scheme came as a result of what is sometimes judged to
be premature and unauthorized action. Hence, an analysis of the rhetori-
cal movement favoring the presidential plan may aid in understanding the
inception of this counter-movement.
Further, the rhetorical movement favoring presidential Reconstruc-
tion in Florida was selected because the counter-movement in the state
represented only the sporadic efforts of an impotent minority. In
1865, there was no organized group standing in opposition to the execu-
tion of the presidential plan of reunion in Florida. Florida's Loyalists
initially endorsed the presidential terms of reunion with the expectation
that they would be recognized as the rightful heirs to political leader-
ship in the state. They did not, however, achieve the prominence they
sought. Few, if any, of their number were elected members of Florida's
state government, inaugurated in accordance with the presidential plan
in December of 1865.
After Congress met in the same month, it became clear that the
presidential sheme might not represent a final settlement. As opposi-
tion to presidential Reconstruction grew stronger in Washington, Loyal-
ists in Florida became more vocal. From about February of 1866, until
the passage of the congressional terms of Reconstruction in 1867, this
disgruntled minority, together with a small number of Republicans in
the state, voiced their opposition to the "rebel rule" created and sanc-
tioned by the presidential plan of Reconstruction. This seems to have
been the nature and extent of the rhetorical movement opposing presi-
dential Reconstruction in Florida during the period 1865 to 1867.12
12The extant newspapers of the period,1865 to 1867, yield the
following accounts of the activities of Unionists and Radical Republi-
cans in opposition to presidential Reconstruction in Florida:
Meeting of "loyal citizens, Fcrnandina, February, 1866: Liberty
Billings, a former officer of a Negro regiment and a one-time resident
of Ifcw Hampshire, delivered a speech in which he characterized the John-
son government in Florida as "infamous," and described President Johnson
as an "usurper." The acts of the new Florida legislature, which met in
December of 1865, and adjourned in January of 1866, were held to be "ini-
quitous and disgraceful--the work of men fresh from rebel camps." For
an account of the meeting and the Billings speech, see Tallahassee Tri-
Weekly Florida Sentinel, February 17, 1866; Gainesville Weekly Iew Era,
February 24, 1866; Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, February 2', D166,
in Tallahassee Tri-WccI:ly FLorida Scntinel, February 27, 1866.
Meeting of "th!e truly Loyal non of Florida, Tampa, March 15,
1866: Florida's Unionists met for the purpose of "taking the initiatory
steps for the formation of a truly loyal party." In future elections for
state officers, the party members pledged themselves to support 'men who,
during the rebellion, have been known to sympathize with the Government
of the United States. . ." All "true Union men" were not prepared to
accept the position "that a man's participation in the rebellion should
be used as an argument to place him in power in the State or Federal
A final concern is that of the methodology employed in research
and in the writing of the study.
The writer began his search for materials by making an inventory
of the extant resources of the period. Pertinent general and special
histories, and theses and dissertations were consulted for information
on the historical background. Texts of speeches and related materials
were collected from newspapers, legislative and convention journals,
diaries, manuscript collections, government publications, and periodi-
cals. The investigation of these resources was carried on chronologi-
cally, proceeding from the inception of the rhetorical movement to its
Government." For an account of the meeting, the text of the resolutions
adopted, and the reaction of the Conservative press, see Tallahassee
Semi-Weekly Floridian, May 1, 1866; Jacksonville WeeJly Florida Union,
May 5, 1866; Gainesville Weekly New Era, May 25, lbo6; Tampa Weeky
Florida Peninsular, June 23, 1866.
Union Club meeting, Fernandina, July 4, 1866: Daniel Richards,
a Radical Republican from Illinois, who was stationed in Florida as a
United States tax commissioner, gave a speech denouncing the "validity"
of the Johnson government in Florida. "There is no such thing as la
existirn- here," he declared. "The rebels have cade what they call a
Constitution, enacted laws and elected officers, but none are valid.
Rebels cannot nmae a Constitution and execute Laws for . loyal
people." For an account of the occasion, see the speech and the reac-
tion of the Conservative press in Tallahassee Semi-4eelty Floridian,
July 26, 1866. See also Hew York Tines, July 23, and 29, 18.8. Rich-
ards later wrote his congressman and confided that if "union men" were
to be assured of protection in Florida, "they would [have to] organize
. . and overthrow and revolutionize the State government." He chal-
lenged the authenticity of the text of his Fernandina speech as pub-
lished in the New York Times, and regretted that President Johnson might
dismiss him as tax commissioner "for something I didn't say." Daniel
Richards to Elihu B. Washburne, Sterling [Illinois], September 11 and
November 6 and 7, 1866. George C. Osborn, "Letters of a Carpetbagger
in Florida, 1866-1869," Florida Historical Quarterly, XXXVI (January,
The method utilized in writing the study takes the form of a
chronological narrative of the rhetorical movement. The story of the
movement (Chapters II through VII) is narrated within a frame of
reference that precludes historical hindsight. Each narrative chapter
is divided into three sections: "The Scene," "The Discourse," and "The
Rhetoric." In "The Scene" an attempt is made to answer two questions:
To whom was the discourse directed, and why? The section of "The Dis-
course" constitutes an account of what was said or written.13 In the
1958), 254-255, 256-258.
Union-Republican or southern loyalists convention, Philadelphia,
September 3-7, 1866: In August of 1866, the Radical Republicans issued
a call for a national convention to counteract the effect of the National
Union convention, an assemblage of the "friends of the President," which
had met in Philadelphia on August 14, 1866. Hence, Florida's Loyalists
were invited by Ossian B. Hart, a native Floridian who became governor
in 1873, to attend a state convention of "Unconditional Unionists" at
Tallahassee on August 22, for the purpose of appointing delegates to the
Union-Republican convention in Philadelphia. For information regarding
the state convention, see Tallahassee Tri-Weekly Florida Sentinel, Aug-
ust 7, 1866; Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, August 23, September 4
and 7, and October 5, 1866; Gainesville Weekly New Era, August 10, 1866;
rew York World, September 4, 1866; Syracuse Dnill Journal, September 12,
1866. For information concerning the activities of Florida's Loyalists
at the Union-Republican convention in Philadelphia, see New York Times,
September 5, 6, and 8, 1866. For the reactions of the Florida press,
see Tallahacsee Scni-Wco]:ly Floridian, September 18, 1866. Tallahassee
Tri-eel-ly Florida Sentinel, Geptenber 18, 1866; Gainesville Weekly New
Era, September 28, 1066; Tanpa Weekly Florida Peninsular, October 5,
Public meeting to advocate the establishment of territorial govern-
ment in Florida, Fernandina, December 11, 1866. For an account of the
meeting and the reaction of the Conservative press, see Tallahassee S-ii-
Weekly Floridian, December 21, 1866.
13Although the study is largely limited to the speaking, all of
the extant discourse, whether written or spoken, which was pertinent to
the principal issues of the movement, is taken into account. In follow-
ing this procedure, the writer has been guided by Donald Bryant's con-
cept of the scope of rhetoric: "Rhetoric must be understood to be the
rationale of informative and suasory discourse both spoken and written."
Donald C. Bryant, "Rhetoric: Its Functions and Its Scope," Quarterly
Journal of Speech, XXXIX (December, 1953), 407.
section entitled "The Rhetoric, an attempt is made to define the ends
of those who produced the discourse and to describe the means which they
employed to achieve their objectives. Finally, a synthesis characteriz-
ing the structure of the movement as a whole, an evaluation of the rhet-
oric, and certain generalizations regarding the unique characteristics
of this rhetorical movement favoring presidential Reconstruction in
Florida during the years 1865-1867 are presented in the final chapter
SPEAKIITG TO THE REVOIUTIONISTS DURING TEE
PR ECOVENTION PERIOD: A RHETORIC OF ACQUIESCE~EE
On the evening of April 9, 1865, a group of Tallahassee citizens
gathered in the hall of the House of Representatives. The occasion was
one of musical festivity. "A magnificent quartette was singing 'The
Southern Marseillaise,' when a gentleman entered the door and advanced
rapidly up the aisle, bearing aloft in his hand a telegram." The music
stopped and the messenger read aloud: "General Lee surrendered the army
of Northern Virginia today, at Appomattox." The war was over!
Said Susan Eppes, who was present:
That .. .as the death knell of all our hopes and for a
moment a silence as of the grave filled the hall; then
followed such a scene as we pray we may never see repeated.
Tears and cries and lamentation, the bitterness of heart-
broken woe. Men, women, and children, wept aloud as they
realized the calamity which had befallen us. Few slept
that night and the sun arose upon a miserable, broken-
hearted people--far too miserable even to talk it over
with each other. It was as though our nearest and dearest
lay dead within the house.1
The Florida Union reflected a similar emotion when almost a month
later it reported the surrender of Confederate General Joseph E. Johns-
ton. "The present is not a fitting time for comment," it said. "A
1Susan B. Eppes, Through Some Dventful Years (Mcon, 1926), pp.
266-267. The final capitulation of southern armed resistance took
place in successive stages, with the surrender of Joseph E. Johnston
on April 26, Richard Taylor on May 4, and Kirby Smith on May 26.
Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction, pp. 279-684.
sufficient time must first elapse for careful consideration and
thought. . .
During the first months of peace, the men and women of Florida
were too much occupied with the inaediate needs of life to take time to
estimate the plight of their state. When estimates were made, however,
the findings were appalling. By July of 1865, even the most casual ob-
server was aware of the striking military, economic, social, and politi-
cal changes that had affected his society.
The cost of the war could not be measured with adjectives or
statistics. More than 17,000 Floridians had been in uniform. Of this
number, 2,334 wore the blue, 15,000 the gray. About 5,000 Confederates
never returned home. The fate of the Fifth Florida Infantry provided a
sample of the havoc wrought by war. In 1861, it numbered almost 1,100
men. At Appomattox fifty-three survivors surrendered. Their comrades
had deserted or were disabled, dead, or imprisoned.3
Many of the people at home did not have to rely on newspapers or
casualty lists for knowledge of war. Residents of coastal areas and
parts of the interior such as Fernandina, Jacksonville, St. Augustine,
2Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, May 6, 1865.
3Florida furnished the Union Army with 1,290 white soldiers and
with 1,044 Negro soldiers. Davis estimated that 6,700 Floridians served
in Confederate ranks through the entire war or until they were disabled
or killed, 6,400 for the last three years, and 2,000 for the last two
years or less. Of the 5,000 Confederates who died, 1,000 were reported
killed in battle, while the remaining 4,000 died of wounds or disease.
Davis, The Civil :'rr Cad Reconttrwction in Florida, pp. 224-225; 322-324.
Benjamin C. Truman reported that 18,000 Florida men served in Confederate
ranks, and that 6,000 died in action and from disease. New York TiLnma
December 25, 1865.
Tampa, Cedar Keys, Apalachicola, Pensacola, Baldwin, Sanderson, Gaines-
ville, Starke, Olustee, Palatka, Picolata, Magnolia, Milton, Natural
Bridge, and Marianna had experienced federal attack and occupation.
While burdened with these recollections the mind of the Floridian
was of necessity brought to focus on the problems of the living. Those
who had survived would have to make a new beginning, for the economic
resources of the state had dwindled, and in some instances vanished.
emancipation accounted for one type of economic loss: $22,000,000 in-
vested in slaves had evaporated. A total of 61,745 Negroes passed from
slavery to freedom, and 5,152 slaveholders plunged from a condition of
wealth to one of relative poverty.5 Although the economic impact of
emancipation affected the entire state, slaveowners in the'black arc"
area were hardest hit.6 In Tallahassee alone "there were about 800
persons owning slaves valued at from $3,000 to $500,000, all gone by the
same act. .. ."7
For an account of the Civil War in Florida, see Davis, The Civil
War and Reconstruction in Florida, pp. 150-174, 268-316; Rembert W. Pat-
rick, Florida Under Five Flags (Gainesville, 1955), PP. 50-55.
5Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, p. 324. For
statistical information on the people of Florida in 1860, see Kevin E.
Kearney, "Political Speaking in Florida from 1859 to 1861" (unpublished
Master's thesis, University of Florida, 1955), PP. 7-8. The estimate of
the number of slaveholders in 1860 is given in Gainesville Weekly New
Ea, July 15, 1865.
5The plantation counties of Jackson, Gadeden, Leon, Jefferson,
Madison, Alachua, and Marion formed what has been called the 'black arc,"
and contained 64.4 per cent of Florida's slave population. Edwin L.
Williams, Jr., "Negro Slavery in Florida," Florida Iistorical Quarterly,
XVIII (January, 1950), 187.
Observations of "Hawk-Eye" in the Burlington [Iowa] Bawk Eye,
April 4, 1866, in Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, April 24, 1866.
Destroyed real property totaled at least $22,000,000. Repudi-
ation of the state debt, the confiscation of cotton, and the public sale
of homes and estates for the non-payment of taxes accounted for addi-
The plight of one of Florida's citizens serves as an example of
the economic havoc wrought by war and emancipation. A business associate
of David L. Yulee sought employment for a friend in Hamilton County. He
I have a friend . (Dr. Marion) who was the owner of
80 negroes and 25000 in Confederate Bonds and is now pen-
niless [,] a man of unimpeachable veracity, and good business
qualities. He writes to me and asks me if there is any thing
he can get to do down this way to support his family--a wife
and two children.9
The Florida Union probably had men like Marion in mind when it charac-
terized the plight of the penniless. "To most of them the future is
dark and uncertain. Many who were looked upon as wealthy men are now
penniless, their Confederate money being worth no more than so much
trash. To obtain a livelihood now becomes an important question with
The anguish resulting from the loss of loved ones and wealth was
intensified by rapid changes of a social and political nature. Although
'Among the states east of the Mississippi, only South Carolina
and Alabama surpassed Florida in the proportional decline of property
values." Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, p. 324.
9John S. Purviance to David L. Yulee, Cottonwood, January 29,
1866, David L. Yulee Papers, P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History.
Cited hereafter as Yulee Papers.
10Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, May 27, 1865.
Appomattox made such changes inevitable, it was not until after the
formal surrender of the state itself that defeat really came to Florida.
On May 10, a Tallahassee resident was startled "by a cry from our little
'black boy,' of 'Yankees!' 'Yankees!' and I found myself running to the
front, to see Gen. [Edward M. ] MCook and staff enter to take command
of our little city." The General "made a very modest entrance, respect-
ing the humiliation of the people by leaving his cavalry some four
miles distant to approach more leisurely."11 McCook's orders read in
Upon your arrival at Tallahassee you will take all neces-
sary steps to carry into effect the terms of the conven-
tion arranged by General Sherman and General Johnston, and
to restore the country to peace and good order. . Compel
all editors of newspapers to publish their papers in the
interests of peace, good order, and national unity. . .
Exact a parole to this effect or prohibit the publication.
. Discountenance public meetings of all kinds in order
that excitement may be allayed and dispassionate reason may
resume its sway.12
After occupying Tallahassee and accepting the surrender of Flor-
ida troops, McCook wrote his superior:
On the 10th instant I reached Tallahassee. . The rebel
troops with all the public property in the District of
1Ellen Call Long, Florida Breezes: or, Florida, Neu and Old
(Jacksonville, 1883), pp. 330-301. Tallahaesee was the only southern
capital east of the Mississippi that did not fall during the war. For
the story of the surrender of Tallahassee, see Albert H. Roberts,
"Tallahassee Rejoins the Union," Apalachee (publication of the Talla-
hassee Historical Society, 1944), pp. 74-80.
12Jaes H. Wilson to Edward M. MeCook, iacon, May 4, 1865, in
The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the
Union and Confederate Amices, Series I, Vol. XLIX, Pt. 2 (Washington,
1897) p. 602.
Florida were surrendered to me by Maj. Gen. Samuel Jones
on the 10th day of May, and the U. S. flag raised over
the state-house. . In my intercourse with the citi-
zens and surrendered soldiers of this Florida coand I
found only the more entire spirit of submission to my
authority, and in the majority of instances an apparent
cheerful acquiescence to the present order of things.13
Shortly after sending this communication, however, the coaaan -
ing general was confronted with two problems. First, Abraham K. Alli-
son, Florida's governor, announced his plan for the reconstruction of
the state.1 Second, several planters in the Leon County area asked
that military aid be granted to compel the return of Iegroes to their
homes and work. While awaiting word from his superior on the Allison
incident, McCook proceeded to clarify the federal government's position
with regard to the status of the Negro.
Planters in Middle Florida and other portions of the interior
13Edward M. McCook to E. B. Beaumont, Macon, June 1, 1865, ibid.,
14Abraham K. Allison, a native of Georgia, but long a resident of
the state, become governor of Florida in April of 1865, acceding to the
position as president of the state Senate following the suicidal death
of Confederate Governor John Milton. Patrick, Florida Under Five Flanrs,
P. 55; Quincy Weekly Gadsden Democrat, July 21, 1893. On .sly 13, Alli-
son informed McCook that he had appointed five commissioners--David L.
Yulee, J. Wayles Baker, Mariano D. Papy, E. C. Love, and J. L. G. Baker--
to proceed to Washington "for the purpose of making known to the executive
authorities of the United States the step in progress for harmonizing
the government of this State with the Constitution of the United States
and of conferring generally with the public authorities of the Federal
Government concerning our affairs. Official Records of the Rebellion,
Series I, Vol. XLIX, Pt. 2,p748. Allison announced further particulars
of his plan in a proclamation calling for an extraordinary session of
the state legislature on June 5, and for an election of a governor on
June 7. Philip D. Ackerman, "Florida Reconstruction from Walker through
Reed, 1865 to 1873" (unpublished Master's thesis, University of Florida,
1948), p. 29.
which had not bean occupied by the federal military apparently had been
startled by McCook's emancipation order of nay 20. It informed "those
who seem to be ignorant of the fact," that the President of the United
States had issued, in 1862, "a proclamation changing the status of per-
sons held as slaves," and that the proclamation had been in effect
since January 1, 1863. Moreover steps were taken to notify the Negro
of his freedom. M essoners, says Long, 'penetrated to our kitchens and
plantations, informing the negroes, who in wonderment left hearth and
field to hang around the Yankee camp to know more about 'dis here free-
dom.' 15 In Tallahassee a festival was held by the Negroes on the day
of the proclamation.
There was a broad grin on every countenance, shaking of
hands, and a general air of extreme satisfaction, but no
outbreaks, no offensiveness; nothing to indicate a feeling
15Long, Florida Breezes, pp. 381-382. Long furnishes an explana-
tion for the surprise in Middle Florida a the news of emancipation.
"Although the emancipation of the slaves had been discussed as a prob-
able result of the war, yet we in Middle Florida were so removed from
the advance or occupation of the South by the army, that we had not re-
alized that this was an accomplished fact." The news "surprised many;
as if there had never been a formal declaration of the same two years
before by President Lincoln; though, truth to say, it had never reached
us, and elsewhere, as here 'freedom' had followed in the wake of the
army." Ibid., p. 381. The Florida Union corroborates Long's account ef the
situation with the statement that "up to that time [May 20] there had been
a feeling of hope on the part of the planters that they would be allowed
to retain their slaves and a Gradual emancipation policy would be adopted.
The receipt of this order put an end to all such hopes." Jacksonville
Weekly Florida Union, ay 27, 1865. The abolition of slavery was not an
avowed purpose of the Civil War. It emerged as a 'war measure." During
the early years of war, slaves who entered the Union lines were returned
to their owners. One scheme followed another. At one point slaves were
considered as "contraband." Lincoln posed colonization and 'compensated
emancipation" as possible solutions. Hence, southerners were confused by
conflicting reports and proposals. For an historical treatment of the de-
velopment of the emancipation policy, see George R. Bentley, A History
of triumph, or joy of escape from thraldom. Some families
were disturbed by the sudden departure of house servants,
but generally both white and black accepted the situation
together, willing to wait and learn the duty required
An observer for a Jacksonville newspaper reported that "the
manner in which the negroes received the intelligence varied. Some re-
ceived it in silence; these were the more intelligent portion who were
not totally in ignorance of what had been going on. Others were con-
siderably astonished, and scarcely comprehended its meaning."17
While some Negroes may have been confused, the social implica-
tions of the change were patent to the whites. In the absence of Negro
servants Florida's women were urged "to scorn and scout all the vanities
of pride and fashion," and to remember "that woman's glory consists in
being useful as well as ornamental. . ." Young men accustomed to
"living in ease" were praised for taking "the plough and the hoe" and
going "to work in the field to save the crop."18
Political changes required further adjustments. In reply to his
query regarding Allison's authority, McCook received orders not to
of the Freedmen's Bureau (Philadelphia, 1955), pp. 1-15; Randall, The
Civil War and Reconstruction, pp. 477-511.
16Long, Florida Breezes, p. 382.
17"Report on the Interior, Tallahassee, May 23, 1865," Jackson-
ville Weekly Florida Union, May 27, 1865. For a thorough account of
the Negro's passage from slavery to freedom, see Coulter, The South
During Reconstruction 1865-1877, pp. 47-69.
18Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, June 24 and October 28, 1865.
Some planters refused to believe that the free Negro would be a success-
ful laborer and determined to procure white laborers from the Iorth.
See the Gainesville Weekly New Era, November 11, 1865.
recognize the Governor or any state official purporting to act under
his instructions.19 On May 24, the last vestiges of Florida's Con-
federate government were swept away by a military order that proclaimed
martial law to be "the only law" existing in Florida. Layers, practic-
ing physicians, and ministers of the gospel were required to take the
oath of allegiance to the United States and were "expected . to aid
the authorities in preserving and bringing the people back to a cheer-
ful and hearty obedience to the authority of the General Government."
All of the legal proceedings and acts "of the so-called Confederate
Government, or of the State of Florida as one of the members of that
Government" were declared null and void.20 Military rule replaced civil
law. The state was reduced to the status of a military department, and
humiliated by the presence of "blacks in blue."21 It became clear that
19Ackerman, "Florida Reconstruction from Walker through Reed,
1865 to 1873," P. 31.
20General Orders Number 22, issued at Jacksonville, May 24, 1865.
Official Records of the Rebellion, Series I, Vol, XLVII, Pt. 3 (Washing-
ton, 1895), 623.
21By early June the disposition of troops was as follows: five
companies at Tallahassee; one at Madison; one of the Third United States
Colored at Monticello; two companies, one white and one colored, at Lake
City; at least five companies, some white and some colored, at Gaines-
ville; one company at Nownansville; one at Micanopy. Plans were made to
occupy Ocala, Waldo, and Palatka. The scheme was to post troops "so
that they may be easily united, if necessary, at the same time covering
as large an extent of territory as possible." Brigadier General Israel
Vagdes to Major U. L. M. Burger, Jacksonville, June 4, 1865. Ibid., p. 622.
022. In accordance with General Orders Number 118 of the War Department
June 27, 1865, Major General John G. Foster was appointed to command the
Department of Florida, a subdivision of the "Military Division of the
Gulf." Ibid., Series I, Vol. XLIX, Pt. 2, 1039-1040. For information
on the disposition of the military throughout 1865, see Ackerman, "Flor-
ida Reconstruction from Walter through Reed, 1865 to 1873," pp. 31-33;
those who had worn the mantle of Confederate authority were not to be
among those who would initiate the reconstruction of the state. Three
of Florida's wartime leaders, David L. Yulee, Stephen R. Mallory, and
Abraham K. Allison were placed under federal arrest and imprisoned.22
Chaos, sorrow, and frustration were the constant companions of
defeated and demoralized Floridians. There arose a philosophy based on
the realities of the moment. A Gainesville newspaper reflected the at-
tempt to shape these impressions and emotions into an acceptable code
of conduct for a "stateless" citizenry:
It is true, alas! too true, that the sword and torch
have desolated much of our hitherto, happy land--that the
ravages of war have left no trace of remembrance of many
once happy homes--that many of our people have been re-
duced from affluence and wealth to penury and want ...
Let it be so--whether this should or should not be the
case, we left to arbitration, and by the result of that
arbitration, we are, in this, as in all other matters,
forced to abide.
Gainesville Weekly New Era, August 12, 1865; Tallahassee Semi-Weekly
Floridian November 3, 1865; Jacksonville Weelly Flor-Lda Union. December
2, 1865; New York Times, December 25, 1865.
22ulee was "charged with treason while holding a seat in the
Senate of the United States, and tth plotting the capture of forts and
arsenals of the United States, and with inciting war against the Govern-
ment." Mallory, who had served in the United States Senate and as secre-
tary of the Confederate Navy, was "charged with treason, and organzing
and setting on foot piratical expeditions against the commerce and marine
of the United States on the high seas." Information does not seem to be
available on the reason for Allison's imprisonment. Tallahassee Tri-
Weekly Florida Sentinel, January 20, 1866. All were confined in 1865.
Yulee and Allison were imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, and Mallory at Fort
Lafayette. Allison was released in September of 1865; Mallory and Yulee
were released on parole in March of 1866. Jazksonville Wcckly Florida
Union, September 16, 1865; Tallahassee Tri-Weekly Florida Sentinel,
March 17 and April 7, 1866.
It became the duty, then, of all "to submit quietly to the decree of
fate," and to rely "implicitly upon the mercy and bounteousness of a
just God . ."23 Thus it was that in May of 1865, the conquered
lived in the presence of the conqueror and pondered their fate.
When William Marvin, who was appointed Florida's provisional
governor on July 13, 1865, recalled the significant events of his life,
he included his impression of Florida's people in 1865.
I found the people very poor. Their seaports having been
blockaded throughout the war, little or no cotton had
been raised. Many families were in mourning for the loss
of their sons. . I found the whites everywhere ready
to admit that they were a conquered people and willing to "
"accept the situation . ." The negroes, . did not
seem to have any very clear ideas touching their new con-
dition of freedom. . They were generally greatly per-
plexed to know how they were to get a living, and who was
to take care of them. . Nor, indeed, were the white
people free froa many cares and anxieties not only as re-
garded their present condition as to food and raiment, but
also their future prospects. Their political and social
relations were all broken up; their state was under martial
law, and some of the citizens threatened with prosecution
On 4ay 29, President Johnson issued an amnesty proclamation, and
announced the terms under which the southern states could be restored
to their normal relations with the federal Union.25 Basing his plan on
23Gainesville Weekly New Era, August 12, 1865.
2\evin E. Kearney, "Autobiography of William Marvin." Florida
Historical Quarterly, XXXVI (January, 1958), 216-218.
25A11 those who participated in the rebellion, with the exception
of certain specified classes, were granted pardon along with the "restor-
ation of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and except in cases
where legal proceedings under the laws of the United States providing for
the confiscation of property of persons engaged in rebellion have been
instituted. . ." In order to obtain pardon, each individual had to
Lincoln's philosophy of Reconstruction, Johnson outlined his policy in
a proclamation which named W. W. Holden provisional governor of North
Carolina. The provisional governor was instructed to call a convention.
The delegates to the convention, and those who elected them, were to
take the amnesty oath and were to qualify as voters in accordance with
the constitution and laws of Iorth Carolina in force prior to the seces-
sion of the state. The duties of the constitutional convention were
well defined. It was to prescribe "permanent voting and office-holding
qualifications" for the citizens of the state, repeal the ordinance of
secession, abolish slavery, and repudiate the Confederate war debts.
After the convention completed its work, the loyal citizens
might choose their state officials. The newly elected legislature
would then meet, ratify the Thirteenth Amendment to the federal Consti-
tution, and elect United States senators and representatives. Upon the
completion of these steps, the Secretary of State, William H. Seward,
would issue a proclamation retiring the provisional governor, and re-
storing the functions of the state to the regularly elected governor.26
take the amnesty oath, swearing that he would "henceforth faithfully
support and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union
of the States, . ." and that he would "abide by and faithfully support
all laws and proclamations which have been made during the existing
rebellion with reference to the emancipation of slaves. . ." Those
excepted from the general amnesty were permitted to petition for a
special pardon. A copy of the proclamation may be found in James D.
Richardson, A Compilation of the Messac and Paerc of the Presidents,
1789-1897, VT (Wacniington, 1899), 310-312. Cited hereafter as Iseacsves
and Paoers of the Presidents.
26Similar proclamations were issued for all the southern states.
The Johnson plan, which was similar to that advanced by Lincoln, was
premised on the belief that a loyal nucleus of citizens in each of the
This was the process Florida w a to follow also, a process that
was to begin with the Floridian's accepne of defeat and with his ac-
quiescence in the political settlement proposed by the President. It
is the sty of this beginning, or more specifically, the story of the
speaking that was an important part of this bcGinnlna, that constitutes
the subject matter of the remainder of this chapter.
So far as the writer knows, there are three extant samples of
what speakers said to the white people of Florida during the pre-conven-
tioe period in 1865: the speech of Alfred Sers, a Union officer, at
King's Ferry on July 23, 1865, and two speeches by William Marvin, pro-
visional governor, one in Jacksonville on August 3, 1865, and one in
Quincy on r 5, 1865.27
Both speakers, as we shall see, dealt with some of the major ad-
ju nts that the southerner had to accept as a consequence of war and
defeat, when they pointed out that economic adjustment would depend on
the white people's vill s to recognize the Negro's capabilities as
a free laborer and that social adjustment would require mutual respect
and sympathy on the part of both races. We shall see, moreover, that
the principal speaker, the Provisional Governor, had the further respon-
sibility of telling the white people, particularly the revolutionists-
southern state could be eqpowered to reorganize the state and thus ready
it for a renewal of its proper relations with the federal government. A
detailed account of the Lincoln and Johnson plans of Reconatruction may
be found in Randall, The Civil Var and Reconstruction, pp. 699-717.
Marvin also spoke to the white people in Marianna on September
16, 1865, but so far as the writer knows, the opcch ws not preserved.
Tallahssee Semi-Weekly Floridian, September 26, 1865.
the ex-Confederates and secessionists--about the President's plan of
reunion and of convincing them that it would be to their best interest
to acquiesce in this settlement. Finally, we shall see that, aside from
the specific ends of either speaker, both provided answers for some of
the vital questions of the period. Would the federal government confis-
cate the property of those who had supported the Confederacy? Would
Negro suffrage be forced upon the South? What were the presidential
terms of reunion? Who were the pardoned and the unpardoned? Was Flor-
ida a state in the Union or a political wasteland? If Florida was al-
lowed to control its own politics, would the Loyalists--those who had
not supported secession or the Confederacy--be given any advantage over
Speech of Alfred Sears at King's Ferry
On July 23, the "loyal citizens" of Nassau County gathered at
King's Ferry "to consider the subject of reorganizing the State. "28
28The audience was said to contain 150 of "the most respectable
citizens of the county. . ." Some had come twelve miles or more to
attend the meeting. There seemed to be"a deep interest in returning
to the fold. . ." The citizens of Nassau were somewhat divided in
their attitudes. "Among some of the citizens who had suffered by the
war, an absurd bitterness toward Lincoln exists for the Emancipation
Proclamation, but the feeling is by no means general; there is a con-
siderable body of men in the county who refused to be honeyfugled or
forced into Jeff Davis' armies, and who have been under national pro-
tection the greater part of the war; these men are determined to have
their influence." Port Royal New South, August 19, 1865, in Jackson-
ville Weekly Florida Union, September 9, 1865.
The meeting was organized with the election of E. D. Tracy, former
president of the Florida Senate, as chairman. "After a few remarks by
Mr. Tracy, he proceeded to raise the 'old flag,' for which three cheers
were given; then the Rev. Mr. Emerson called upon God for his blessing
on this people, and his protection to the flag which he had so wonder-
fully preserved during the last four years of trouble." Next came the
report of a committee which submitted resolutions hailing "with patri-
otic enthusiasm the return of peace and good government," and recogniz-
ing Andrew Johnson as "a true friend of Republican Government ..
Following the adoption of the resolutions, S. B. Noyes, Collector at
Fernandina, was called on to speak. Noyes praised President Johnson as
a "true friend of republican liberty, in whose hands the interests of the
whole people would be safe."
When Noyes finished speaking, the chairman introduced the speaker
of the day, Major Alfred Sears, a federal officer in charge of construc-
tion at Fort Clinch in Fernandina.29 Sears dealt with four principal
topics: the status of Florida as a free state, the freedmen as laborers,
Negro suffrage, and the need for education.
Sears dwelled only briefly on Florida's future as a free state.
The people, he said, would have to organize under a free state consti-
tution. Such a condition had to be accepted, "if for no other reason,
because it is inevitable." He counseled acquiescence as a substitute
Sears was identified as an "Engineer of Construction" at Fort
Clinch in Fernandina, and as 'a long-time citizen of Florida." The con-
text of the speech indicates that he was probably a former resident of
Massachusetts. Ibid.; Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times, October 5, 1865.
for demoralization and inactivity. "Let us not spend time in grumbling
over what cannot be helped, but go to work, encourage the emigration of
laborers to our beautiful State, and hire men to raise crops, to carry
on arts and manufactures."
His experience with freedmen "during the last three years," Sears
continued, convinced him that once they "learn that work is necessary . .
to live, they become industrious and excellent laborers." His contact
with the whites,on the other hand, had taught him that many questioned
the ex-slave's potential as a salaried laborer.
In an attempt to change the opinion of the King's Ferry audience
on this point, Sears used empirical proof recounting how he had cured
absenteeism, demanded punctuality, and earned the respect of the IIegroez
at Fort Clinch.
Absenteeism was cured by withholding rations.
If my Negro men absented themselves from the work a day
for which a ration had been issued from my coamissariat,
I charged them with the price of that ration when I set-
tled with them at the end of the month. They soon learned
that the ration was not a gratuity, but a part of their
wages to be paid for work.
Once this lesson was learned, "they became more constant in duty ... ."
Those who had worked only eight or ten days a month soon worked the full
Another lesson was in punctuality.
If a m[a]n failed to make his appearance while the roll
was being called, he was docked for a quarter of a day.
It was necessary to be absolute in this thing; they thought
it was a great hardship that when they were only five
minutes late they should not go to work immediately, but
must wait till the end of the first quarter.--However, they
learned finally to be punctual.
"Certain old notions about Saturday afternoon" were eradicated in the
same fashion. "The negroes found, . that it paid to work all the
The application of a common rule for black and white laborers
also helped to bring the freedmen into industrious habits. They learned
that "if I did certain things to the negroes that forced them to work
more steadily than had been their custom, I did the very sane things by
the white laborers. They observed what was going on; they said, 'It's
mighty hard on us, but he serves all alike!"
Sears, as a Massachusetts man, saw the free labor question as one
of interest versus prejudice. The object of his discussion was to induce
his auditors to lay aside their prejudices toward the Negro and devote
their energies to procuring the best results from the freedman's labor.
Such a policy was better than "fretting because 'niggers put on airs.'"
The speaker clarified his position by recounting a conversation with one
of his white laborers.
One of my white laborers, a native of this county, wanting
higher wages, complained that he didn't receive as much as
a "nigger." "That's very true," I said, "but you are not
worth as much." "Well," he replied, "I think a white man
ought to be worth as much as a nigger any time." I was
forced to say thatt I reckon a man's value to me as a
laborer b[y] the amount of work he is able to accomplish;
that I do not pay a premium on color; I pay for work.
Sears concluded his analysis of the labor question by posing a
series of rhetorical questions and affirming his confidence in the good
judeaent of his listeners.
Now won't you agree with me in this proposition? Am I
not correct? And do you not feel that much of the trouble
occurring among the black proceeds in no small degree from
[o]ur own impatience under the changes that h[av]e occurred
in their relations to us? Let us [b]e honest with ourselves
and with then. Th[e]y are among us; they make the labor of
the co[un]try. . Will it not be somewhat unreasonable in us
--say a little cowardly--if [wv]e permit ourselves to be vexed
with them because they have been freed? I have no doubt you
will agree with me on this subject; that you will approach the
whole matter with the dignity becoming your manhood.
Passing on to the question of suffrage, Sears declared Negro
suffrage was a doctrine proposed by "overzealous and impractical men"
who were "agitating" for it in "various parts of the land. . ." Al-
though the subject was not worthy of argument, certain observations were
in order. First, Sears noted that the President did not countenance the
attempt to force Negro suffrage upon the South. "He is determined to let
the loyal citizens of this state settle the matter for themselves."30
Next, he maintained that northern men had not actually applied the prin-
ciple of Negro suffrage in their own section. "If negro suffrage is a
good thing in Florida, it must be good in Maine." Northerners ought to
try it first themselves, and "then advise us of the result." The suf-
frage policy of New York was an example of northern hypocrisy. While
rendering lip service to the principle, the people of the state intro-
duced safeguards against its liberal application.
30In his proclamation regarding the reconstruction of North Caro-
lina, Johnson stated definitely that the determination of suffrage
qualifications was a power that rested with the people of the states.
Richardson, Messages and Papers of the Presidents, VI, 312-314. The
Florida Union endorsed the President's position. It editorialized:
"The people of Massachusetts or Connecticut have no more right to make
our local laws or regulate them than we have to interfere with theirs.
In that sentiment we are sustained by the Constitution of the United
States as well as the policy of the President. The question of negro
suffrage is one which we have the right to settle for ourselves."
Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, July 29, 1865.
Some of the newspapers of New York city [sic] talk of
universal suffrage as if it existed in that State. From
their tone one might infer that negro suffrage had received
a fair trial, and they are giving us the benefit of their
experience. Such, however, is not the fact. When the
question was submitted to the people of New York, they re-
fused to allow negroes to vote; and so it remains to this
day, except that few very specially favored individuals,
who among other qualifications possess a certain amount of
real estate, are permitted this right. The qualifications
I refer to are demanded only of negroes. This is the '"an-
hood suffrage" of New York.
One could reason from this that "even when the laws permit negro
suffrage, the popular prejudice against these people is so strong that
they have rarely availed themselves of the privilege." The speaker
climaxed his point by declaring that although everyone could acquiesce
in the belief that "the black laborer must be protected in all his
rights," no one "regarded the elective franchise to be one of those
rights. . .
Before concluding, Sears made some suggestions relative to educa-
tion. The political control of the state would soon be in the hands of
the people. "The rolls of Lee and Johnson's armies, at the time of their
surrender" revealed "that only one man in five was able to write his name!"
If the people did not want to be "bamboozled" by the "unprincipled men of
the State" as they had been "in times past," they ought to protect them-
selves by demanding constitutional provisos for an efficient school
system and teacher training.
Following Sears' speech, the King's Ferry audience listened to "a
few appropriate remarks" from a Dr. Smith of Georgia. "A cold dinner,
with hot coffee" followed the speechmaking and ended the meeting. There
did not seem to be any "enthusiasm among the people, but there was . .
profound attention and deep, quiet earnestness. . ." The Florida
Times considered Sears' effort an "excellent address," and regarded
the speaker as one of the most earnest and zealously patriotic of our
citizens. . ." In his attempt "to arouse the people to their in-
terests," he labored for 'the good of the State," and "not from motives
of self-aggrandizement. . .31
Speech of William Marvin at Jacksonville
On August 2, 1865, the residents of Jacksonville welcomed the
newly appointed provisional governor, William Marvin. Many of them
anxiously awaited the moment when the state would be 'put on the direct
high road towards resuming . former relations with . the Federal
government under the good flag of the Union."32 Hence the next day "a
31The speeches of Tracy, Noyes, and Smith were not reported.
Only extracts of the Sears speech were published. For an account of
the meeting, see Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, September 9, 1865.
The Sears speech was published in Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times,
October 5, 1865.
32Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, July 22, 1865. Silas Nib-
lack, who was to serve as a delegate to the constitutional convention
from Columbia County, wrote Yulee of the attitude of the people in Aug-
ust: "The people of the State have accepted in good faith their situa-
tion and very much desire law and order established by civil authority
in the State." Silas L. Niblack to David L. Yulee, Jacksonville,
August 18, 1865, Yulee Papers. Stephen R. Mallory, writing from his
prison cell, counseled a policy of acquiescence. "We are prostrated
and powerless. We drew the sword, and staked life, liberty and property
upon it. . There is no dishonor in frankly accepting the result, and
acknowledging defeat, while the obvious dictates of patriotism demand
that we make all the sacrifices required for restoration to the Union."
Stephen R. Mallory to Charles E. Dyke, Fort Lafayette, November 1, 1865,
in Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, November 21, 1865. Whitelaw Reid
reported that the people of Soath Florida "were looking eagerly forward
large crowd gathered around the music stand near Head Quarters, . .
and demanded . a speech. "33
Marvin, accompanied by General Israel Vogdes and others, appeared
and "took the stand." The Provisional Governor was fifty-seven years
old. He was beardless, almost six feet tall, and of moderate propor-
tions. Many Floridians, including the "ex-slave-holders" who had peti-
tioned Johnson for his appointment, recognized him as a devout Unionist,
who had served Florida for twenty-eight years as jurist and statesman.
to re-organization. . ." Whitelaw Reid, After the War: A Southern
Tour. May 1, 1865, to may 1, 1866 (Cincinnati, 1866), p. 187. A pre-
anble and resolution passed at a public meeting held in Waldo on August
26, 1865, was a further indication that many desired change. The pro-
visional governor was asked to facilitate "our transition from Martial
to Civil Law. . ." It was resolved that "we do solemnly declare that
in our opinion the people of this portion of the State are prepared for
such a change, and do most earnestly solicit the Governor to call a Con-
vention of the people of the State, at the earliest possible date." For
an account of the Waldo meeting, see Gainesville Weekly New Era, Septen-
ber 2, 1865.
Jacksonville had been a focal point of war and occupation.
Its citizens suffered through four federal invasions: twice in 1862,
and again in 1863 and 1864. Portions of the city were burned when the
Confederates withdrew in 1862. At least one-third of the city was re-
duced to ashes when the Federals withdrew in April of 1863. Re-occupied
on February 7, 1864, the area remained under Union control for the re-
mainder of the war. Davis, T1r Civil War and Reconztruction in Florida,
p. 158 et passim. A heart-rending sight confronted returning Confeder-
ates and their families. "The des lating effects of war and decay were
apparent on every side. The streets were littered with the trunks of
trees that had been felled as a barricade against the Confederate
cavalry. Ruins of buildings burned; broken-down fences and neglected
yards; dilapidated appearance of once neatly painted dwellings--all were
depressing to those who sought their former homes. And worst of all, the
best and largest dwellings that had escaped the Federal burning in 1863,
were occupied by United States officers and troops, in some instances by
negro troops, and when the owners applied for possession, many of them
learned that their property had been confiscated and sold. . ." T.
Frederick Davis, History of Jaclconville, Florida and Vicinity 1513 to
1924 (Saint Augustine, 1925), p. 149.
An opponent of secession in 1861, Marvin remained at his post as
federal judge in Key West until 1863, when he resigned because of ill
health. On this third day of August, 1865, he stood before Floridians
as the representative of the President, a position he had sought and
had been awarded on July 13.34
Marvin's opening remarks to his colored and white listeners em-
bodied several rhetorical skills. He endeavored to gain attention and
to identify himself with the audience; he employed personal proof to
establish his right to speak on the subject of reorganization; and he
alluded to the significance of his topic. He began:
Fellow Citizens:--I am happy to meet this large audience,
and discuss the important subjects which are claiming the
attention of every one. I have the right to address you,
because I am one of the oldest citizens of Florida. I came
here whilst we were yet a territory, and assisted in the
organization of the State Government. Florida is my state
by adoption and affection. Her prosperity and happiness
are linked with y own. I have a right, also, to address
34Willin bMarvin, lawyer, author, and statesman, was uniquely
fitted for the responsibilities of the provisional Governorship. A
native of New York, he had lived in Florida from 1835 until 1863. He
was well known in many parts of the state because of his service as
United States district attorney, and judge of the southern District of
Florida at Key West; as a representative of Monroe County in the terri-
torial council, and as a delegate to the first constitutional conven-
tion at Saint Joseph in 1838-39. Defeated as a Union candidate for the
office of delegate to the secession convention in 1861, Marvln served
as federal judge in Key West until 1863. Then he moved his family to
New York City, where he established a law practice which was interrupted
by his appointment to the provisional governorship in 1865. His resi-
dence in New York during the war years provided insight into northern
attitudes. As a one-time slaveowner, Marvin could understand the ad-
justments required of ex-slaveowners and ex-slaves in a pozt-rar, free
society. Kearney, "Autobiography of William Marvin," pp. 179-222.
For a narrative of the events leading to Marvin's appointment in 1865,
see Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, pp. 354-356.
you, because I have been appointed by the President of
the United States to aid you in the reconstruction of your
State government. I shall make known to you the plan of
the President and call your attention to those subjects
which are deemed most essential to your welfare. I trust
therefore ou will give me, on this occasion, your patient
The subjects Marvin deemed essential to the audience's welfare
were: the policy of the federal government, the sale of confiscated lands
and property, slavery, the power of the military, and race relations.
The policy of the federal government was, said Marvin, a magnani-
mous one. Floridians must acquiesce in the fact that they were "a con-
quered people, and at the mercy of the Government." Speaking as one of
them, Marvin characterized their plight. "We are utterly helpless, and
lie passive in the hands of the victors." Will the government "press us
with its armies? Glut its sword of vengeance with our blood? Or con-
fiscate all our property?" Resuming his role as emissary of the President,
Marvin answered: "Not at all, its majesty and might are no greater than
its clemency and mercy."
35Marvin disseminated information on the presidential plan in a
written "Address to the People of the State of Florida." Dated August
3, 1865, the document contained a definitive statement of J hnson's
philosophy of Reconstruction, and a general outline of the plan's appli-
cation to Florida. The civil authorities of Florida, "having engaged in
an organized rebellion against the Government of the United States, have,
with the overthrow of the rebellion, ceased to exist, and the State,
though in the Union, is without a civil government. . The President
of the United States has appointed me Provisional Governor of the State,
and made it my duty, at the earliest practicable moment, to prescribe
such rules and regulations as may be necessary and proper for c,,veAtngr
a convention, composed of delegates to be chosen by that portion of the
people of the State, who are loyal to the United States and no others,
for the purpose of altering or amending the coniiitution of the State;
and with authority to exercise within the limits of the State, all the
powers necessary and proper to enable the loyal people of the State to
In the light of this statement the federal government's policies
of confiscation and amnesty exemption required explanation.
Confiscation was justified as a war measure. "At the outbreak
of the rebellion the so-called Confederate Goverrment confiscated the
property of all Union people, and had the insurgents been successful
. . the property of such citizen [sic] would have been confiscated
and lost to them." Hence, the "United States, . as a means of
strengthening the government, and crippling the rebellion confiscated
the property of its most guilty instigators and adherents." This wa
"in accordance with the usual practice of nations under similar
Why were "Generals, Judges, Governors, members of Congress,"
"those who were worth over $20,000 of taxable property, and others
exempted from the President's amnesty proclamtion? Their "prestued
superior intelligence," their "ability to take some pains to secure
pardon," and their "responsibility . to the State" were, thought
Marvin, probably "among the reasons" which led the President to exempt
the wealthier class. Circumstances would probably necessitate making
"examples of a few of the nost wicked . .persons," but very probably
restore it to its constitutional relations to the federal government."
The issue of Negro suffrage was "an open question--a proper subject for
discussion--and is to be decided as a question of sound policy by the
convention to be called." For a copy of the address, see Gainesville
Weekly New Era, August 12, 1865, or Jacksonville Weekly Florida Urion,
August 5, 1865.
most of the exempted classes would receive executive clemency.36 Marvin
concluded his discussion of the exempted classes by assuring his listen-
ers that he would "take pleasure in recommending to the favorable con-
sideration of the President all who [were] truly penitent and [gave]
good evidence of determination to be good citizens in the future."7
The next topic, that of governmental policy regarding the sale
of confiscated property, was of vital interest to the Jacksonville audi-
ence, for a sizeable portion of the city was earmarked for public auc-
tion within the next fourteen days. 8 Nrvin developed the point by em-
ploying a problem-solution sequence.
36Fourteen classes were exempted from the pardon extended in the
presidential proclamation of May 29, 1865. See Richardson, Measages and
Papers of the Prcsidents. VI, 310-312. For an interesting account of
how special pardons were obtained, see J. T. Dorris, "Iardoning the
Leaders of the Confederacy," Mississippi Valley Historical Review, XV
(June, 1928), 3-21.
37arvin played a significant part in helping to secure presiden-
tial pardon for several ex-Confederate leaders. "It was a part of my
duties to advise the President touching his granting of pardons; he re-
quired petitions for pardons to be approved by the Provisional Governors,
before being presented to him. In this way, it turned out that I was
called upon to recommend and did recommend for pardon several men who in
their fire zeal for Secession before the war broke out, had threatened
to hang me if they should catch me in the piney oods. . Governor
Allison and ex-Senators Yulec & Mallory were old friends and I very glad-
ly recommended to the President their pardon. Allison was discharged
from prison on my application. Kearney, "Autobiography of William
Marvin," p. 218.
80-n August 5, 1861, Congress levied a direct tax on real estate
in all the states. Of the total of $60,000,000, some $77,522 was appor-
tioned to Florida. On June 7, 1862, a second law was passed authorizing
the collection of the direct tax in insurrectionary districts. Talla-
hassee Tri-Weehly Florida Sentinel, January 20, 1866. The 1862 law pro-
vided "that the commissioners appointed under it should assess Southern
lands, and through advertisement notify the absentee owners of the taxes
due; should such payments not bo forthcoming, the Commission might sell
Beginning with a review of the problem, he declared:
While the war was still racing, and many of the inhabitants
of this part of the State were within the rebel lines, a Dis-
trict Court of the United States was held at St. Au _atine,
then and now occupied by Union troops, and a large nober of
decrees of confiscation of lands and houses were entered up
in the absence of the owners and without their appearing.
They were, in many, and perhaps most instances, in the rebel
country, where, perhaps, they ought not to have been, but
where they, in fact, were. The owners of these lands and
houses, in many instances, are now as well disposed to
become loyal and good citizens as any in the state. Since
these decrees were passed they have been embraced within the
Amnesty Proclamation. Under these circumstances, it appeared
desirable, that they should have an opportunity to be heard--
that the sales advertised for the 17th of August should be
suspended, and the decrees opened, and the owners allowed to
make such explanation, and set up such defences as they should
be advised by their counsel are proper to be made--in other
words, that they should have a full hearing on the merits--
and plead their pardons, if such plea should be deemed admiss-
ible in their cases.
IMarvin, apparently cognizant of the situation while still in New
York, had communicated with the Attorney General of the United States,
and was prepared to announce the remedy offered by him.
His answer was .. prompt, so read, as to give full
assurances that the Government at Washington, does not de-
sire to confiscate any person's lands without giving him
every possible opportunity to be heard. The Attorney
General ordered the sales to be suspended until the further
[orders] of the department, and he directed the District
Attorney to consent to the opening of the decrees in these
cases. By means of these orders, time and opportunity is
now given to the owners, after the country is quieted, to
at auction to highest bidders the plots or tracts." George W. Smith,
"Carpetbag Imperialism in Florida, 1862-1868," Flor2-'di Iitorical
Quarterly, XXVII (October, 191~), 112. In accordance with these laws,
"a large part of Jacksonville" was to be auctioned off on August 17,
1865. Special correspondence of the New York Tribane, dated at Jackson-
ville, Augas't 4, .--5, in Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, August 19,
cast about, look up their testimony, take advice and
counsel, and see what defence they can make.
The action of the Attorney-General, declared 4Marvin, was proof of the
government's policy of clemency. The audience was urged to accept the
action "as an omen of good--the olive branch held out by the civil
authorities to all persons who are . sincerely willing to do right,
however much they may have erred in the past."
After thus strengthening his ethos with the audience the speaker
was prepared to deal with an important condition of reunion, the aboli-
tion of slavery. "With the fall of the Confederacy, its corner stone
crumbled to dust, and the winds have scattered it. The war which was
commenced, among other reasons, for perpetuating the black man's bondage
S. .in the providence of God, brought him freedom. He can never be en-
slaved again. (A great shout among the colored people)." The constitu-
tion which the people would be called upon to form would have to "recog-
nize the order of things and secure freedom to all alike."39 With this
39Marvin's discussion of slavery was probably directed at both
the immediate and remote audiences. The Jacksonville audience had been
aware of emancipation since February, 1864, or earlier. While the
speaker probably sought to stress the fact of freedom for the benefit of
the remote, or general Florida audience, through the medium of the press.
The very fact that slavery was a dead issue needed emphasis.
Some ex-Confederates adamantly refused to recognize the validity of
Lincoln's Ea ncipation Proclamation. For example, Sears wrote Yulee:
"I notice . one or two of the most intelligent men in this county
proclaiming that the new constitution must not recognize the validity
of the war Measures liberating slaves.
"Judge Stewart is one of these; intensely bitter against Prest.
Lincoln for the Eaancipation order and declaring that it is not to be
submitted to. Such a man may do much harm by such a course, because he
is an upright intelligent citizen. But how worse than useless the com-
bat!" Alfred L. Sears to David L. Yulee, Fernandina, August 15, 1865,
done there would be "nothing to hinder a restoration of our constitutional
relationship with the general government. . ." Actual restoration
would be "through a convention to be called at no distant day to alter
or amend the State constitution." All were urged to lose no time "in
becoming qualified to vote for members of the convention. 40
The next point clarified was that, until civil government was
restored, the preservation of peace and order would "continue in the
hands of [the] military authorities" [sic]. Some would ask: "Why don't
you assume control at once of the civil administration as we prefer
civil rule?" Marvin answered that he had "no authority to resuscitate
the civil authorities or to appoint any one to office beyond what is
necessary to the calling of a convention. My business is to assist you
in organizing a government. I trust you will cheerfully acquiesce in
In the exposition of his final point, the speaker strove for em-
phasis by addressing the races individually. Florida was entering upon
40Marvin set forth the qualifications of voters in his written
address of August 3, 1865: "The persons qualified to vote at such elec-
tion of delegates and the persons eligible as members of such conven-
tion, will be such persons as shall have previously taken and subscribed
to the oath of amnesty as set forth in the President's Proclamation of
May 29th, .. and as are also qualified as prescribed by the constitu-
tion and laws of the State in force immediately before the llth day of
January 1861, the date of the so called ordinance of secession. Where
the person is excepted from the benefits of the amnesty proclamation,
he must also have been previously specially pardoned by the President
before he can become a qualified voter or eligible as a member of the
Convention. This interpretation of the two proclamations of the Presi-
dent I received from himself in person, and also from the Attorney
General." For the text of the address, see Gainesville Weekly leu Era,
August 12, 1865, or Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, August 5, 1065.
a new career; her success would depend on a "good understanding" between
Marvin first exhorted his white audience to adopt a humanitarian
attitude toward the Negro. "Some persons," he affirmed, "disappointed
and vexed, will not have any faith in the colored man."
They will not think of him with pleasure, now that he has
become free. They have no anxiety to see him socially and
morally elevated because they have no faith in his capabili-
ties. Let me say in all plainess [sic] to such, try him.
Give him a fair chance. Teach and encourage him. Your hap-
piness and prosperity are now inseperably [sic] connected
with the welfare of this people. . They cannot remain in
a stationary condition. Their movement must be upwards or
they will become, in many cases, the veriest vagabonds, and
rest like an incubus upon the country. In many respects the
white man is superior to the colored man [italics mine] and
his responsibility is correspondingly increased. We want the
colored people here. In their muscles and sinews the State
has immense wealth; but that they may be made available we
must treat them kindly . .
The Negro audience, in turn, was called upon to play its part in
adjusting to the new order of things and to recognize the difficult ad-
justments incumbent upon the white people. The orator's admonitions to
his colored listeners were clothed in simple language.
And you, my colored friends, must not be idle or lazy. Labor
is the law which God has imposed upon us all. I have been
and expect to be one of the most laborious men in Florida.
If you are respectful to all and industrious, you will be
protected by the law in the enjoyment of all the rights of
humanity. You must keep away from taverns and try to edu-
cate your children in the fear of the Lord. Send them to the
Sunday school. The white man, too, must school himself to
this new order of things. His responsibilities and duties
are of the most imrious [sic] character. He must meet them
like a hero, or the worst of consequences will follow to
himself and family.
All bore a heavy burden of responsibility. "Schools must be established
over the land." Missionaries and teachers must be sent out "from among
yourselves. . ." Promotion of the ''intelliCence, virtue, and general
elevation of all the people of the State" was a common task. Ministers
of the Gospel, in particular, had an awful responsibility in atte=ting
to promote "peace on earth and good will to men."
Having urged the Negro, white man, minister, teacher, and states-
man to accept their appointed tasks, Marvin was ready to close. In his
peroration he again stressed the theme of acquiescence, counseling a
willing acceptance of the decisions of Providence. The future of the
state, he said, rested on the shoulders of the individual citizen.
Let every man, woman and child throughout the State cease
to murder [sic] or complain against the dispensations of
Providence, but cheerfully and hopefully accept the new
order of things, as coming from Him whose ways are not as
man's thoughts. There is a bright prospect in the future
for our beautiful State. The rainbow of promise is seen
in the dissolving clouds. Let each man do his own duty
and God will bless us.41
Editorial reactions to the speech were complimentary. The New
Era regarded Marvin's "written address to the people," of August 3, and
the Jacksonville speech as "two very important documents." When studied
together, they gave "a clear conception of the Governor's views upon the
past, present, and future."42 The Florida Union said that the discourse
41For an account of Marvin's speech, see Gainesville Weekly Hew
Era, August 12, 1865.
Ibid. Following his evaluation of Marvin's speech, the editor
urged all to take an active interest in the reorganization process. While
it was generally agreed that the coming state convention would be an
"important era," there were some who treated "the matter with great in-
difference. It is not . because they do not, in heart, feel a deep
interest in the State and the welfare and happiness of the people, but
made available "a full definition of the 'Governor's policy'." It
hailed Marvin as one who "knows the condition and wants of the people."
The fact "that it was mainly through his efforts that the Government . .
ordered a suspension of all proceedings under the Confiscation Act,"
would not lessen the respect and estimation in which he was held. In
short, the Provisional Governor had come to point the way and manner by
which the people of Florida could "reestablish their civil government
and renew their constitutional relations with their sister States in
the Union." This gave the "press of Florida . a community of in-
terests, a common end and object to labor fon . ."43
The Unionists or Loyalists in East Florida also reacted favor-
ably to Marvin's explanation of Johnson's policy. 4 cn of this per-
suasion had met several tines during the war, under the protection of
the federal military,to organize a loyal state government, but their
efforts had been repeatedly thwarted by the frequent withdrawal of
federal forces.45 Now that Florida was safely in the hands of the
from the fact that they labor under mental desperation. They have
given up all hopes for prosperity in the future. We should be up and
doing. . .
43Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, August 5, 1865.
-Sears, the Union officer who had addressed the "Loyal citizens"
at King's Ferry, wrote Yulee: "There are in town one or two copies of
Marvin's address at Jacksonville on his way to Tallabassee. All Union-
ists like it much." Alfred L. Sears to David L. Yulee, Fernandina,
August 15, 1865, Yulee Papers.
451n 1arch of 1862, a group of Jacksonville Unionists attempted
"loyal political reorganization." In 1863, Unionist political rallies
were held in Saint Augustine and Fernandina. Perhaps the most formidable
Unionist atteit at political reorganization took place in Jacksonville
federal military the Unionists could look forward to organizing a new
state government. 1arvin's Jacksonville speech, in short, marked for
them the beginning of an era filled with the promise of public office.
Speech of William Marvin at quincy
Governor Marvin performed many labors between speeches. He had
to interview pardon seekers, confer with military authorities and agents
of the Freedmen's Bureau, and draft proclamations to inform the citizen-
ry of the mechanics of presidential Reconstruction. He realized, how-
ever, the importance of supplementncg actions and written instructions
with the spoken word in areas where emancipation was still a novelty and
southern mores a deeply ingrained pattern of thought. His extant
speeches indicate that he concentrated on the "black arc" counties.
Marvin visited Quincy early in September, and remained for a time
as the guest of Charles H. DuPont. On September 4, he consulted with
the citizens to determine "for himself, the spirit and temper of the
people. . ." On the following morning an audience composed entirely
of white persons assembled to hear him speak.47
in 1864. This movement allegedly steamed from Lincoln's scheme to recon-
struct Florida for the purpose of acquiring the state's electoral votes
in 1864. The project, however, is said to have failed because the
Unionists in Florida were few in number and divided politically. Davis,
The Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, pp. 250-255.
Quincy Semi-Weekly Commonwealth, in Jacksonville Weekly Florida
Union September 16, 1865.
Quincy, located just north and west of Tallahassee in the "black
arc" area, remained free from federal attack or occupation during the
war, a fact which meant that southern customs, for the most part, had not
been disturbed. This probably explains why Marvin spoke to the white
"After being handsomely introduced by Judge DuPont, the Governor
stepped forward, dressed cap a pie in white, and certainly the personal
[sic] of His Excellency was inviting." His opening remarks resembled
those used at Jacksonville. Again, the aim was to establish common
ground with his audience. He began;
FELLOW CITIZES: I am happy to meet so many of you this
morning, and, beneath the shade of this grove, discuss the
great questions which at this time are of such overwhelming
interest to the State. Though not a native of Florida, my
youth and the pride of my manhood have been spent among you.
I have sorrowed in your sorrow, and your happiness has been,
and still is, mine. I am willing, in this emergency, to do
ay full share of labor to restore to our beautiful country
more than its ancient prosperity.
Some of the questions Marvin thought worthy of discussion were:
the status of Florida as a state; the matters which must be recognized
in the new state constitution; and the folly of resistance to federal
Florida's political status, he began, was a matter that required
clarification. Was Florida a state, and if so, what was its relation to
the Union? Two points were advanced in answering this question.
First, as a consequence of the fall of the Confederacy, Florida's
state government, "which had been identified with it, and supported it,
. . went down to ruin among the general ruin which overwhelmed the
people on September 5, and to the freedmen on Sunday, September 10. He
did not wish to offend the sensibilities of the white people or inter-
fere with plantation routine by calling the freedmen from the fields on
a working day. The speaker's choice of Sunday as the best time to speak
to the freedmen, moreover, is an integral part of the rhetoric of the
freedom speech which is described in the next chapter.
States of the South." Floridians were without "a government of any
kind," and remained in a condition of "anarchy" and "confusion" until
the general government "extended" martial law "over the State."
Second, although a state in the Union, Florida could not resume
its normal relations with the general government until a new state
government had been organized in accordance with "the new order of
things." Marvin's explanation of this point provided a summary of
President Johnson's philosophy of Reconstruction, and a statement of
its application to Florida.
After much discussion by the best and soundest thinkers
in the nation, the question has been settled with much un-
animity, that the secession of a State is an impossibility.
A rebellion cannot be a success, unless it amounts to a revo-
lution, affecting alike all sections of the country. The
very soil embraced within the American Republic scorns to
receive the impress of but one government at the sae time.
It follows that Florida has never ceased to be a State in
the Union--but she has been a State in rebellion, and, by
her acts, has destroyed her State Goverment, and parti-
cularly the institution of slavery, which was nursed in its
bosom and defended by it. She is now held by martial law
in a state of tutelage, with her political rights in abeyance,
and will be kept there till she organizes for herself, on a
new basis, a new government.
Of immediate significance was the fact that the responsibility
for the organization of this "new government," and the consequent re-
establishment of civil authority, rested with the people, not the pro-
visional governor. While thus delimiting his own authority, Marvin
strove to motivate his listeners to play an active part in the business
of Reconstruction. He declared: "I am here to open the way and assist
you in this delicate and urgent business. I am not authorized to es-
tablish, by appointment, civil authority myself--that is pre-eminently
your work, and martial law will prevail till you take it in hand and
Such a declaration naturally led to a discussion of the work to
be done. Iarvin assumed that the audience had seen his "proclamation
ordering an election on the 10th of October, and a meeting of delegates
on the 25th. . Although the subject night, perhaps, be left
without further comment, Marvin, "being able . to look over the
whole ground," felt duty bound "to call . attention to a few mat-
ters which must characterize the Constitution to be framed." These
were: (1) freedom for all; (2) the equality of the Negro before the
law; (3) the incorporation of the Thirteenth Amendment into the state
constitution; and (4) the admission of the Negro as a witness in the
courts. Such revolutionary proposals required a careful explanation
for the "black arc" audience.
"The future Constitution of Florida must guarantee freedom alike
to all; it must not be black or white, but FREE!" This guarantee, de-
clared the speaker, was necessary for two reasons. First, the institu-
tion of slavery had ceased to exist. Any attempt to revive it would be
fruitless. Second, if slavery continued, Floridians would live under a
constant threat of Negro insurrection. It was well, in Iarvin's judg-
ment, that slavery had "passed away forever."
,Issued on August 23, the proclamation set forth qualifications
for voting and membership in the convention; outlined the procedure for
taking the anmesty oath; made provision for the conduct of the election;
and directed that the convention 'provide, by a schedule, for the elec-
tion of a Governor and General Assembly, and for the reorganization of a
permanent State government." Gainesville Weekly New Era, September 2,
1865; Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, September 2, 1865.
Supposing the institution remained, and the 150,000
colored troops, who have been thoroughly drilled in the
use of arms, and instructed in the rights of freemen,
and who have exhibited on maay a bloody field, and in
the storming of batteries, a steadiness and a courage
equal to that of the white man, were turned loose ong
us, how long would that institution last, or whose life
or property would be secure? In that case, slavery would
disappear in carnage and in rivers of blood. Thank God,
the thing is out of the way and we are safe!
Next, "as citizens, before the law, the freedmen must be in all
respects our equals." Marvin did not believe "that as a race they are
or can be made during many generations, if ever, the equals PERSONALLY
of the Caucasian race, or can enjoy the same political or social posi-
tion," but this did not constitute a "reason why Constitution or law
should discriminate against them." To be sure, the right of suffrage
did not "necessarily follow, for that is not a natural, but a political
right, which may be granted or with-held, as sound policy may dictate."
The Negro, then, was to be the equal of the white, but this equality
was restricted to the legal realm. 9
The third obligation was the incorporation of the Thirteenth
Amendment into the state constitution, and its ultimate adoption by the
49The demand for legal equality probably seemed reasonable, so
long as the political and social supremacy of the whites received un-
qualified acknowledgment. Marvin's statement of the issue differed only
slightly from an editorial appearing in the Gaincsvillo Wcelly [eew Era
of August 19, 1865. The New Era editorialized: "We are bound to treat
the negroes as freemen. We are, and always will be the superior race.
We shall continue to rule politically. They have and always will have,
the protection of law." After hearing, or reading, the Quincy speech,
Mrs. Yulee wrote her husband: "How do you like Gov [sic] Marvin's
speech at Quincy? I am satisfied with securing the Negroes their civil
rights. They ought to be protected from injustice, but they are incap-
able of the right of suffrage." Iannie C. Yulee to David L. Yulee,
Wickland, October 3, 1865, Yulce Papers.
legislature.50 If the people were in earnest in recognizing the complete
freedom of the blacks, and in perpetuating that freedom, public opinion
would not be a deterrent to the incorporation of the amendment. Of more
importance, however, was the consideration 'that the Government . be
convinced that we are acting in good faith in framing a Constitution."
Were there any objections to the amendment? The speaker had heard two.
Some believed its adoption would be "assenting to abolition," and these
persons preferred having that measure forced upon them. Mervin countered:
"Very well, it is forced upon you by Government, and by accomplished facts
and you must consent to it or you are a beligerent [sic]." Florida's
consent had to go "on record in the most formal, solemn and binding man-
ner, as a condition precedent to peace and a restoration of State rights."
A second objection was: "We are unwilling to impose abolition upon
others." Again, the answer was direct:
You do no such thing. Congress demands this of all the
late insurgent States. Six of them have already complied
with the demand. In so doing, they acted simply for them-
selves. Let Florida frame a free Constitution, adopt the
amendment, and you give evidence to the world that you are
taking steps which neither you nor your posterity can re-
trace, and you prepare the way for admission into the great
sisterhood of States.
A final requirement was "that persons of color . be admitted
as witnesses in all our Courts of civil jurisprudence." Because of
50Marvin explained that the Thirteenth Amendment "prohibits
slavery or involuntary servitude, except when the party has been duly
convicted of crime, by due process of law. . The amendment also
granted the "United States the power to enforce this provision." Formal
ratification was a function of the state legislature, but Marvin was of
the opinion that the incorporation of the language of the amendment into
the state constitution would serve to demonstrate the good faith of the
personal conviction and a knowledge of the audience's prejudices regard-
ing Negro testimony, Marvin was prepared to argue at length in favor of
this policy. "I am aware that this is a hard doctrine to many," he
said, "but it is not, and never was such to me."
Some believed "the negro constitutionally a liar--that false-
hood is marrow in his bones, and that it circulates in his blood." This
was a slander on God and man. Thirty years in the South had convinced
Marvin "that the slave. . often told the truth, whilst the master . .
lied." Some might perjure themselves, but "who does not know that every
Court room is the theatre of more or less false swearing?" A wise
Providence seldom permits a perversion of justice by false witnesses.
"Perjury is such a monster--that the hissing of their tongues makes a
sort of Babel of the witnesses' stand, warring with each other and with
reason, and with a thousand circumstances which surround, reveal and
guard the truth."
Marvin next called on personal experience to prove that in the
past some guilty persons had gone unpunished because the Negro was not
able to testify. "Many are the instances in which I have known guilty
parties to go unwhipped of justice because colored people could not come
into the Court. . ." Their admission as witnesses "would have given
the State's prison or the gallows its due, and relieved society of . .
dangerous characters." "I have," said Marvin, "much feeling upon this
subject, because the impressive and painful lessons of years crowd in
upon my memory."
The proposal to admit Negroes as witnesses gained further
justification from precedent. The audience knew "that the menial
classes of all nations are permitted to appear in Court and testify,
and that in some instances Lords end nobles have been sent to the gal-
lows on the evidence of house servants." The Negroes were "as well
qualified to testify as they."
If the Negroes were barred from the courtroom, they would have
little chance for justice. "The Government and the world are aware of
this." In all probability Congress would not regard Florida's constitu-
tion "as republican in form, or calculated to secure the ends of justice
to all citizens, unless the negro is permitted to come into Court as a
witness." If the convention denied the Negro this right, and Congress
rejected the constitution on that account, the speaker would "acquiesce
in the justice of the decision."
Marvin concluded his arguments on Negro testimony by urging his
audience "to make a clean breast of this whole business, [to] do full
justice to the negro, though he is of an inferior race," and thereby
"remove the whole subject growing out of his slavery, emancipation and
status, from the theatre of politics." Two years' residence in the North
provided sufficient proof of the wisdom of such a course. While there
was no "unkind feeling . among any class, a stern determination
exists everywhere that slavery, in all its forms and phases, shall be
buried so eternally deep, that it will know no resurrection." All were
determined "that the elements which enter into the foundation of our
Government shall be of universal application, making us a happy and
Having told his listeners that a reorganization of the state
government would be necessary and the constitution would have to re-
flect the changed condition of affairs, the speaker depicted the might
of the Horth and the nation as a means of prompting the to acquiesce
What is our condition? Florida has suffered many losses. "Our
property lies ruined and scattered in the wide sweeping and bloody
paths of war." The ruin wrought here was, however, but one view of the
case. "The suffering has not all fallen to your lot. The sacred re-
mains of 200,090 Northmen [sic] lie buried in Southern graves!" Such
heroism "touches the chivalrous feelings of the South, and teaches us
that we were conquered, not by menials or cowards, but by foemen worthy
of our steel." This was the lesson of the war, and it contained implica-
tions for the future. Although the conquered and the conqueror alike
sustained great losses, the muscle and fiber of northern men were not
to be underestimated.
Their wealth and resources have astonished the nations of
the earth, as well as ourselves, and let me say to you
that the forth is so firmly fixed in its position that
the conflict of the last four years, calling to the field
a million and a half of men and spending money in propor-
tion, has had but the slightest effect upon either busi-
ness or society; and the Government was never so strong in
men, resources and the affections of the people, as when
the war closed. -- At the time of Lee's surrender, Grant
had under his command 800,000 men, and could have held
every position he occupied, and concentrated at any given
point 500,000 of his veteran troops.
The wonder was "not that you were conquered, but that you were able to
hold out so long against such fearful odds." Moreover, the implications
were clear. "The Southern people are brave as the bravest; but it is
folly for them to think that one is a match for ten of the same blood,
and each as brave as himself."
What was true of the North was true of the nation. "The United
States was never so powerful. . ." Not even in the midst of war,
"when you seemed to be a full match for the Great Republic, did France
and England combined dare to insult the old flag. Their sympathies
were with you, but they dared not make them of any practical value, and
now both nations are ready to get down on their marrow-bones at her
bidding!" Floridians formed a part of a "great, powerful and honored
Republic," and could "share in its glory."
The Quincy audience heard Mtrvin climax his effort with the pre-
diction that they would be numbered among the staunchest of Americans.
"When a few years shall have passed away, and the exasperations of the
present are healed, none will be prouder than yourselves to say, 'I AM
AN AMERICAN CITIZEN=L '51
The Democratic Commonwealth, Quincy's only newspaper at the time,
did not comment on the Marvin speech itself, but judging from its reac-
tion to his visit to Quincy, the speech must have been well received.
51For the complete text of Marvin's Quincy speech, see Jackson-
ville Weekly Herald, September 15, 1865. The editor prefaced the speech
text with some facts relative to its authenticity. IHe noted: "We have
been kindly furnished by a gentleman who was present, with a copy of the
speech delivered by Gov. Marvin, on the 5th inst., at Quincy. It is
proper for us to say that the Governor was not aware that the speech was
preserved, and that there has been no opportunity of presenting it to
him for revision or correction. But we have no doubt that he will see
in it a very correct likeness of himself as he appeared on that occasion,
so far as the Living Orator can be transferred to print."
The Comoanealth editorialized: "His conciliatory and considerate
policy coamends him varmly to the people of Florida. "52
It is this type of reaction that suggests that as Iarvin paved
the way for political reunion during the pre-convention period, he
earned the respect of Loyalists and revolutionists alike. As the Jack-
sonville Times, a Republican paper that supported Florida's Loyalists,
put it, Marvin had through "his good sense, his high character, [and]
his impartiality not only made himself a favorite throughout the State,
but by prudence and shill [had] exercised a happy, and . a lasting
influence upon its welfare. . ."53
The Provisional Governor's preconvention speeches to the white
people also received a favorable press in the North. In the opinion of
Benjamin C. Truman, a special correspondent for the New York Times,
I hrvin in his tour of the 'most important places" in Middle and Eastern
Florida had taken the "'bull by the horns,' to the great consternation
of narrow-minded politicians, and to the disgust of the 'crackers' and
the ignorant masses generally. . ." He had effectively "explained to
the people the policy of the President, and vhat was expected of
52Quincy Semi-Weekly Commonwealth in Jacksonville Weekly Florida
Union, September 16, 1865.
53Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times, December 7, 1865.
54Report of Benjamin C. Truan, dated at Tallahassee, December
7, 1865, in New York Times, December 25, 1865.
When William ~Mrvin accepted his appointment as provisional
governor, he accepted the responsibility of preparing Florida for a
resumption of its normal relations with the federal government. Poli-
tical reunion under the President's plan became Mrvin's personal goal
and the goal of those who were to join him in producing a rhetoric of
After considering the problems involved in accomplishing this ob-
jective, Marvin realized that reunion hinged on the attainment of three
intermediate goals: (1) getting the people of Florida to accept the
President's terms of reunion, (2) creating a stable economic and social
climate in which the political adjustments could take place, and (3)
getting the people to carry out the necessary acts and procedures. The
first end was the object of a rhetoric of acquiescence. The third goal
was the object of a rhetoric of adjustment, and the second goal was a
common aim of both rhetoric.
Because he was familiar with conditions in the state, Marvin
realized that the attainment of the first goal, getting Floridians to
accept the President's terms of reunion, was a problem of persuasion.
Ihd President Johnson wanted to impose a set of terms on a conquered
people, he could have written out a military order. Because he believed
however, that neither the war nor the victory of the North had impaired
or voided state rights, this was not the course he followed. His plan
of Reconstruction called for acquiescence in certain demands, but, at
the same time, provided that the actual process of adjustment be carried
out by the people themselves within the framework of the democratic
process. If the people were willing to accept the settlement, they
would co-operate by taking the amnesty oath, by electing delegates to
a constitutional convention, and by electing officers for a new state
government. If they were not willing to cooperate, they could reject
the settlement simply by staying away from the polls.
Knowing that the primary objective of the pre-convention period
would be to persuade the people to accept the President's terms of re-
union was one thing; working out a rhetorical strategy that would ac-
complish this end was yet another. Who would favor the President's
terms of reunion? Who would oppose them, and on what grounds? low
many would be opposed, and what would be the extent of audience hos-
tility? Was there anything about the terms of reunion that might ap-
peal to certain audience desires, attitudes, or prejudices?
Marvin realized, first of all, that the white people who were to be
the agents of political adjustment made up two distinct classes, accord-
ing to their background: Loyalists and revolutionists. The Loyalists,
men who had not supported secession or the Confederacy, he believed,
could be counted on to support the President's plan of reunion. But
there were not enough such men to reconstruct the state, for most Flori-
dians had been revolutionists who had either supported secession or
the Confederacy, or both.
Insight acquired from personal contact with the revolutionists
ruled out any false notions the speaker might have had regarding this
class. tany of them, Marvin knew, harbored beliefs and attitudes that
were at odds with his purpose. In 1861, he had witnessed the fervor of
the secessionists,55 and during the first years of the war and on his re-
turn to Florida in 1865, he had come face to face with the bitterness
resulting from the loss of loved ones killed in the conflict. karvin
also expected hostility from the planters and from property owners who
had been impoverished by war and defeat.
Further analysis, however, brought to light certain potential
avenues of persuasion. Marvin knew, for example, that southerners were
a proud people, that they wanted civil rule restored as quickly as poss-
ible, and that perhaps more than anything else, they were int..zested in
the preservation of white supremacy. It was this sort of analysis that
provided basic clues that ultimately lead to the strategy of his
rhetoric of acquiescence.
Marvin used this strategy in his pre-convention speeches when he
called for acquiescence in the President's terms of reunion on the
grounds: (1) that what was demanded was nothing more than formal recog-
nition of fait accoa~li, (2) that equality for the freedmen was not re-
quired, and (3) that acquiescence was the only logical course for a
The Provisional Governor appealed to the logical judgment of his
551n 1860, Marvin had been elected as a Unionist delegate to the
secession convention but was "counted out." His opponents in Key West
denounced hin as a traitor to the state, and two Marion County delegates
boasted to the convention in Tallahassee that they would hang Marvin if
they caught him in the "pincy woods." "If I had gone into the interior
of the State at that time," 1arvin told a New York reporter, "it would
have been at the risk of my life, undoubtedly." Syracuse Sunday Herald,
March 5, 1899.
listeners when he pointed out that what the President demanded was
formal recognition of accomplished facts. What Marvin said of slavery
at Jacksonville, for example, also applied to the Confederate debt and
to the -hole history of secession. The cornerstone of slavery had
"crumbled to dust" at Apponattox and "the winds [had] scattered it."
Floridians would be forced to acknowledge this fact when they wote a
new state constitution. When Marvin told the people of Quincy that
Florida would have to ratify the Thirteenth Amendment he carefully ex-
plained that they would not be "assenting to abolition"; it was being
forced on them by "accomplished facts."
Viewed in this light, the President's demands were not unrealistic.
In fact, under the circumstances, they were reasonable. What made them
acceptable, however, stemmed from a full realization of what was not be-
ing demanded. By emphasizing that the President had not made Negro suf-
frage a condition of reunion, Marvin made the conditions that were being
required appear more favorable. An appeal to the basic wants, beliefs,
or prejudices of the audience--to the southerner's desire for white
supremacy--became the "sugar coating" of the rhetoric of acquiescence.56
In his Jacksonville speech, the Provisional Governor asked the
white people to give the freedmen a fair chance. Because "the white man
[was] superior to the colored man," it was his responsibility to look to
the welfare of the freedmen. His written address to the people of Flor-
56For an historical interpretation of the significance of the
theme of white supremacy in southern society, see Ulrich B. Phillips,
"The Central Theme of Southern History," The Amcrican Historical Review,
XXXIV (October, 1928), 30-43.
ida, released to the press the day before, however, made clear that
whether this responsibility included the conferring of suffrage was "an
open question"--one that would be left to the decision of the constitu-
tional convention. In the heart of the "black arc" at Quincy, Marvin
left no margin for doubt regarding what was and what was not demanded.
Slavery was dead. It had "passed away forever." So far as law was con-
cerned the freedman was now the equal of the white. Suffrage, on the
other hand, did not "necessarily follow." It was not a natural right,
"but a political right, which may be granted or with-held [sic] as sound
policy may dictate." Leaving nothing to inference and making no attempt
to shield the central appeal of acquiescence, Marvin declared that he
did not believe "that as a race [Negroes were or could] be made during
many generations, if ever, the equals PERSONALLY of the Caucasian race,
or [could] enjoy the same political or social position . "
After minimizing what was demanded and emphasizing what was not
demanded, Marvin clinched his appeal for acquiescence in the President's
terms of reunion by fostering a general attitude of resignation. To re-
fuse to acquiesce in defeat would be sheer folly. The Jacksonville audi-
ence was told not to "murmur or complain against the dispensations of
Providence, but [to] cheerfully and hopefully accept the new order of
things, as coming from Him whose ways are not as man's thoughts." The
white people of Quincy were tactfully but candidly told that acqui-
escence in defeat was their only logical course. "The Southern people
are [as] brave as the bravest," he had declared; "but it [would be]
folly for them to think that one is a match for ten of the same blood,
and each as brave as himself."
If a revolutionist who had heard the Provisional Governor had to
tell another what he had heard, he would probably have explained: (1)
Actually the President only wants us to acknowledge what has already
been accomplished; (2) He is not asking us to accept the freedmen as
political or social equals; (3) Since there is no doubt about the fact
we have been licked, resistance is out of the question. The conclusion?
The only logical thing to do is to acquiesce in the President's terms
This was the core of the strategy of acquiescence, but the
rhetoric of acquiescence as a whole embodied other characteristics.
Aside from the basic strategy evolved from an analysis of the subject
and audience, and in addition to the persuasive effect of a general
pattern of arrangement that placed a discussion of what had to be done
first, and what did not have to be done second--a technique that was con-
sistently used whenever the speaker took up the question of the Negro's
status--the rhetoric of acquiescence was also made up of a judicious
combination of ethical, logical, and pathetic appeals, language that
suggested impartiality yet reflected personal interest, and data that
were exaggerated to carry a point.
Marvin's use of logical and pathetic proofs was by no means
limited to the basic strategy of acquiescence. Proofs of this type,
along with ethical appeals, were often used to create positive audience
attitudes and to gain belief on points that were subordinate to the
The Provisional Governor always began his talks to the revolu-
tionists by establishing his ethos; that is, he worked for the respect
and good will of his audience. He told the people in Jacksonville that
he had a right to speak to them because the President had appointed him
to assist in the work of Reconstruction. A common ground appeal--a
rhetorical device whereby a speaker identifies himself with a hostile
audience through positive reference to their cherished attitudes or be-
liefs--was also used to win good will. At Jacksonville, Marvin explained
that Florida's prosperity and happiness were inseparable from his own.
At Quincy, he declared: "I have sorrowed in your sorrow, and your hap-
piness has been, and still is mine."
Logical and pathetic appeals were combined to make the abolition
of slavery appear less odious when the speaker pointed out that if the
institution were to remain, it would ultimately be overthrown by the
Negroes who had been trained in the skilb of war. Appealing to the
southerner's fear of Negro insurrection, Marvin told the revolutionists
in Quincy that it was a good thing slavery was "out of the way." This
was preferable to having it "disappear in carnage and in rivers of
Ethical and logical proofs were blended to create a favorable at-
titude toward the federal government. At Jacksonville, Marvin contended
that the "majesty and might" of the federal government were no greater
than its "clemency and mercy." Some revolutionists whose property had
been confiscated during the war might question such a statement, but
confiscation was a war measure. The "so-called Confederate Government"
had confiscated Union property during the war. Hence, there was nothing
unreasonable about the federal government's policy of confiscating the
property of revolutionists. Proof of the government's clemency, more-
over, could be found in United States Attorney General James Speed's
order that the sale of confiscated property be suspended until the
owners had had an opportunity to establish their loyalty or prepare a
The Floridian's desire for self-rule was consistently exploited
as an incentive for acquiescence in the presidential terms. This sort
of appeal came at the beginning of the Quincy speech. After identify-
ing himself with the audience and characterizing the plight of the
people, Marvin candidly announced that Florida would remain "in a state
of tutelage, with her political rights in abeyance, .. till she or-
ganizes for herself, .. a new government." Tile se "spring of
response" was tapped at Jacksonville when Marvin made it clear that the
military would continue to rule until the people had taken matters in
hand and had worked out their own redemption.
Marvin's use of language was another important part of the
rhetoric of acquiescence. His matter-of-fact statements regarding what
had to be done and his candid declarations regarding the finality of
defeat and the end of the Confederacy gave the revolutionists a clear
picture of his position and, at the same time, made a favorable impres-
sion on the loyalists. Marvin's style as a whole, rather than any par-
ticular thing he said, placed a premium on loyalty to the Union and yet
possessed an undertone of respect for Confederate heroism.
Marvin's use of personal pronouns ias a technique that helped him
stay on common ground with his listeners. He subordinated his status
as provisional governor and created the impression that one Floridian
ms talking over a problem with another when he spoke in terms of
restoring "our" constitutional relationship with the general government.
We" are helpless, was one of the statements used to characterize the
condition of Florida's people. At Jacksonville he called upon each man
to do his part in preparing Florida for reunion. "Let each man do his
own duty," he declared, "and God will bless us."
On at least one occasion, Marvin's sincere desire to persuade the
revolutionists to accept defeat and acquiesce in the presidential terms
of reunion caused him to commit the error of overstatement. While de-
picting the might of the North in order to foster an attitude of resig-
nation, in his speech at Quincy he exaggerated when he credited General
Grant with the almost incredible feat of being able in April of 1865 to
concentrate 500,000 of his troops "at any given point."
Marvin's speeches to the revolutionists did not constitute the
whole of the rhetoric of acquiescence. Circumstances were such that he
found it necessary to speak to the freedmen and, as we shall see, these
speeches were not only linked with economic and social problems, but
constituted an integral part of the rhetoric of acquiescence.
SPEAKING TO THE FREEDOM DURING THE PRECONVENTION PERIOD:
A RHETORIC OF ACQUIESCEICE
William Marvin realized that getting the revolutionists to ac-
quiesce in the President's terms of Reconstruction was only part of his
job in preparing Florida for a resumption of its normal relations with
the federal government. He knew that the creation of a new state
government, and for that matter reunion itself, could not be accom-
plished without the permissive atmosphere of a stable economy and a
peaceful society. Firsthand experience with life as it had been in
ante bellun Florida, moreover, had taught Marvin that the tranquility
and the economic stability of Florida's new social order would depend
on the degree of harmony that could be established between a people
who had only recently been half-slave and half-free, and on the rapid-
ity with which the ex-slave could adjust to his new status as a free
1The census of 1860 listed Florida's population as 140, 24--77,747
white, 932 free colored, and 61,745 slaves. Population of the United
States in 1860 (Washington, 1864), p. 53. The New Era cited an 1663
census in reporting that the Negro population had increased to 63,000 in
1863, and used Freedmen's Bureau reports to support the claim that the
number of Negroes had soared to 100,000 in 1866. Gainesville Weekly New
Era January 27, 1866. Benjamin C. Truman, a correspondent for the 1cw
York Times, estimated that Florida's Negro population had increased by
about 20,000. "Florida," he reported, "had about sixty thousand colored
men within her possessions before the war, which were . increased to
eighty thousand, about twenty thousand slaves having been sold into or
urged into the State during the war from neighboring states liable to
fall into Federal hands." Report of Benjamin C. Truman, dated at Talla-
hassee, December 9, 1865, in New York Times, December 25, 1865.
The white people, accustomed as they were to a society that had
been regulated by one legal code for slaves, another for free Negroes,
and a third for whites, were not experienced in the give and take so
essential to racial harmony; and what aggravated the situation even more,
they lacked confidence in the ex-slave's ability to function as a free
laborer. This, of course, explains why both Alfred Sears and William
Marvin called on the white people to accept the freedom of the slave,
to be patient with him until he had learned how to live with freedom,
and not to let their prejudices stand in the way of his development as
a free laborer.
The freedmen, on the other hand, were ill-equipped to contribute
to Florida's economic and social stability; in fact, there was a strong
possibility that they would unwittingly produce economic and social
chaos. This stemmed from the fact that they constituted the backbone
of a labor force that was essential to an agrarian economy, and from their
heritage as slaves.
The Florida Union pointed up the significance of the freedmen's
role in Florida's economy when it observed in May of 1865, just after
the planters had sowed the season's crop, that its cultivation would
require the freedmen's undivided attention and industry. Whether the
ex-slaves would stay on the plantations and tend to the crop, it con-
tinued, was a question that constituted a great "source of uneasiness,"
for if they neglected their work for two weeks or more, the crop would
be lost and entire counties impoverished.
Contributing to this uneasiness was the realization that a people
who had known no life but that of slavery might not believe they were
free until they had had an opportunity to put that freedom to some sort
of practical test. Many of the freedmen, it was feared, would settle
on freedom of movement as just such a test. From slavery days, the
freedman knew that if he left the plantation, he would have to have a
pass. He knew that if he tried to escape, he would be pursued and,
when captured, returned to his master. Accustomed as he was to the
restraints of slavery, it seemed almost inevitable that he would experi-
ment with freedom by leaving the plantation and by wandering off beyond
the reach of the master to determine for himself how far he could get
without pass or pursuit.3
Another concept of freedom that was harbored in the minds of
many ex-slaves--one that went hand in hand with freedom of movement--
was that freedom meant freedom from work, that it was a sort of continu-
ous jubilation.4 Again, this kind of thinking had been shaped by the
freedman's experience as a slave. His contact with free people had
largely been limited to the plantation, and the thing that impressed
him most about "free folks" was their leisure. Freedom in the mind of
the ex-slave, explained the Florida Union, was a notion that involved
Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, May 27, 1865.
3Coulter, The South During Reconstruction, 1865-1877, p. 50.
freedom from want "without the necessity of unremitting labor, . .
the practice of economy, [or] the exercise of care or forethought for
As ironic as it seemed, it was nonetheless true that if enough
ex-slaves wandered to test their freedom, they would unwittingly strike
a devastating blow against the economy that had profited from their
slavery. Furthermore, because many harbored the notion that freedom
was a sort of lazy man's paradise, it followed that many would become
vagrants and thereby bring about even greater economic discord and com-
pound it with social chaos.
Still another side of the freedman's nature that promised to
undermine the economy, produce social unrest, and engender racial ten-
sion was his ignorance--a carry-over from the slave codes of a bygone
era.6 The particular facet of this ignorance that complicated the
freedman's adjustment as a social man and a free laborer in 1865 was
his credulity. It was this aspect of his nature that prompted the Flor-
ida Union to take a dim view of the many stories that were circulating
throughout Florida during the pre-convention period. "Some days," it
related, "a report will travel about the country that the lands, crops
and everything [sic] is to be given to the negroes; then a report that
5Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, September 9, 1865.
Although some Negroes might have received private instruction,
most were illiterate. Prior to 1865, it was illegal for Negroes to
meet for any purpose other than work or religious services. Simkins,
A History of the South, p. 126; Thelma Bates, "The Legal Status of the
Ilegro in Floridarid' orida Historical Quarterly, VI (January, 1928), 176.
the emancipation proclamation is to be null and void. To [the] darkened
minds [of the freedmen]," it warned, "such stories appear as credible as
official orders."' The New Era made the same point, but added a touch
of humor when it explained that the freedmen had lost whatever ~onse
they had the moment the freedom horn blew.
Not long after July 4, 1865, a resident of Leon County, one of
seven principal "cotton producing plantation counties" in Florida,9
told of a warning that had come true.
Negroes from a circle of twenty or thirty miles assembled
in Tallahassee on the 4th inst., with the avowed expecta-
tion of receiving a share of the property of the white
people, which they had been informed would be divided among
them. Though they walked this and shorter distances, they
supposed they would drive home with their own carriages, or
"a-horseback." And thus the poor creatures are deluded by
their own bewilderment.10
Incidents such as this constituted in a sense the humorous side of the
tragic comedy that evolved from the Negro's passage from slavery to
freedom. The tragic part of the drama, on the other hand, stemmed from
a realization of what could happen if the freedmen, who made up approxi-
mately half of the state's population, wandered to test freedom,
languished in idleness, waited in ignorance for their share of the white
Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, June 24, 1865.
8Gainesville Weekly New Era, December 16, 1865.
9Jilliams, "Negro Slavery in Florida," p. 187.
loLong, Florida Breezes, pp. 382-383.
Under these circumstances and in the interest of the social and
economic adjustments that were essential counterparts of political ad-
justment, it is little wonder that William arvin made the instruction
of these children of freedom a part of the rhetoric of acquiescence.
So far as the writer knows, there are two extant "freedom
speeches," but since both cover the same ground, we need examine only
one of them.11 As we shall see, Marvin's freedom speech in Marianna,
located in the heart of Florida's plantation counties, provided some
basic answers to some basic questions. Are we free? What about "dis
here freedom"? What is freedom? Where did it come from? Is the story
about the President's plan to give us "forty acres and a mule" true, or
is "[dis] a bad egg dat chicken won't hatch no how!"
Speech of William Marvin to the Freedmen in Marianna
As Villiam Marvin moved from place to place in his pre-convention
tour of the "black arc" counties, his activities began to take on a
ll0f the two extant speeches to freedmen in 1865, one at Quincy
on September 10, 1865, and one at Marianna on September 17, 1865, the
Marianna speech was selected because it was reported in detail. For an
account of the Quincy speech, see Quincy Semi-Weekly Commonwcalth, Sep-
tember 16, 1865, in Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, September 30,
1865. Chaplain H. H. Moore, later appointed superintendent of education
for freedmen, spoke to Negro audiences during the spring and sumner
months. Jacksonville e'-kly Florida Union, June 24, 1865; Jacksonville
Weekly Herald, August 31, 10.5. larvin talked to Monticello's Negroes
in late Uovcnber. The Reverend L. M. Hobbs, later named state superin-
tendent of Negro schools, addressed the same audience a week earlier.
Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times, December 7, 1865. J. C. Gardner, a
Gainesville attorney and later a Freedmen's Bureau agent for Alachua
County, spoke to Negroes in Gainesville on December 10, and in Micanopy
on December 24, 1865. Gainesville Weekly New Era, December 16, 1865.
meaningful pattern. After his arrival in a community he would spend
some time studying local conditions. A day or so later he would address
the white people of the area concerning the changes they had to accept
and the political settlement that had been offered by the President.
The "freedom speech" came last, and for reasons connected with the ex-
slave's duties as a field hand and his religious proclivities, it always
came on the Sabbath. When Marvin visited Quincy, for example, he ar-
rived on September 4, spoke to the white people on the following day,
and gave a "freedom speech" five days later on Sunday, September 10.
The pattern at Marianna was the same. Marvin talked to the
white people on September 16,13 and on the following day--Sunday, Sep-
tember 17, 1865--spoke to the freedmen.
1Marvin's choice of Sunday as the best time to talk to the freed-
men was influenced by two important considerations. The freedmen were
needed in the cotton fields during the week, and Sunday, as had been the
case in slavery days, was the customary time for leisure and Christian
worship. In short, Sunday was the best day from the planter's point of
view because Marvin could talk to the freedmen without interfering with
the cultivation of the crop. From the speaker's point of view, Sunday
was also ideal inasmuch as the ex-slave's experience with religion con-
stituted a potential avenue of persuasion--a frame of reference which
the speaker could use to clarify and support whatever ideas he wished
to convey. For information on the slave's religious experience, see
Ulrich B. Phillips and James D. Glunt (eds.), Florida Plantation Records
from the Papers of George Noble Jones (St. Louis, 1927), p. 31; uillians,
"Negro Slavery in Florida," pp. 189-190.
13The writer was not able to locate the speech of September 16.
A Tallahassee newspaper reported that "the Governor addressed the people
of Jackson at Marianna on the 16th inst." A spectator related "that the
speech had a happy effect." Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, Septem-
ber 26, 1865.
At this town, when the appointed hour arrived, more than a
thousand :Neroes had assembled to hear Marvin speak. Before the
Provisional Governor and his escort appeared, the Negroes sang "several
hymns in Camp Meeting Stentorian style." After "a very appropriate
prayer," by the Reverend Mr. West, pastor of the Marianna Methodist
Church, Marvin began his speech, but was interrupted by a sudden rain.
The heroess were "drenched to the skin," and "their starch lost its
stiffness and their swell collapsed. . ." When the rain stopped,
"the crowd gathered again, but materially changed in the 'pomp and
circumstance of' liberty. . ." Marvin began anew.
In his opening remarks he traced the source of the Negro's free-
dom. To begin with, the colored people had not won their freedom on
the battlefield. The "terrible war" had been between the white men of
the North and the South.
With this war you had nothing to do; you neither commenced
it, nor did you end it,nor is the result attributable to
you at all. It was a white man's war. It is true, that a
few colored men were enlisted in the army of the U. S., but
14The Floridian provided a vivid account of the Negro audience:
"It was on the sabbath and they appeared in their best--starched, ruf-
fled and gay--both sexes fully represented, and all ages, sizes, shapes,
and complexions, from the unadulterated, impenetrable black African, to
the fair mixture that tells of an association of blood in which the
Anglo Saxon is even or greatly has the advantage." Ibid.
Marianna was one of the "sore spots" in Florida's interior.
Less than a year before, on September 23, 1864, Marianna had been the
scene of a federal raid, led by General A. Asboth. Some three hundred
old men and boys, who tried to meet the attack, were forced to retreat
to a church. Asboth's men set fire to the structure and shot the de-
fenders as they ran for cover into the churchyard cemetery. The com-
munity had been plundered, and prisoners and booty carried off to a
federal base at Pensacola. Davis, The Civil War and Reconstruction in
Florida, pp. 311-312.
they fought no battles; or if engaged at all in such, they
were trifling affairs; indeed, you had nothing to do with
it. You remained at home, worked, beloved yourselves, and
the blood of no man is on your hands.
Second, emancipation was not a war aim. "At the beginning, the war was
neither intended nor prosecuted . to liberate you from slavery.
Neither the Northern white man nor the Southern white man expected nor
intended such a result; neither, therefore, is entitled to your thanks
To whom, then, should thanks be offered for the boon of freedom?
The answer supplied by the speaker was in keeping with the religious
atmosphere of the occasion. He declared:
To a higher power should you feel grateful for your freedom
today--to the Providence, and tender mercies of Almighty God.
You are free; as free as the white man--(A voice--"Thank the
Lordy, blessed Moses Jesus!" followed by many pious ejacula-
tions)--and never again so long as the U. S. exist . .will
you be reduced to slavery.
Another question the colored people should be able to answer for
themselves concerned the identity of their friends. Who were their true
friends? To whom could they look for guidance and sympathy? Answering
in favor of the Southern white people, Marvin said:
If you ask me the question, whether the white man of the
North or the white man of the South is your friend, I will
answer you by saying that I hope and believe both of them
are; but if it comes to a question of certainty as to which
of the two is your better friend, I shall answer plainly and
tell you, the white man of the South. I was born in the North,
raised and educated there, but I have spent the last thirty
years of my life in the South, and I consider myself capable
of judging between the two people particularly in reference
to yourselves. I know the Northern man, or Yankee, as you
call him, from the crown of his head to the sole of his foot,
and I tell you today as your friend, that the Southern white
man, with whom you were raised and who is acquainted with your
habits and customs, is the best friend you have.
Moving on to the broader topic of the responsibilities of free-
dom, hMrvin explained that freedom could "prove a blessing . looking
to .. advancement and civilization, or a curse, involving a condition
of vagabondism and ultimate destruction." The outcome, of course, rested
with the colored people themselves. "It is with you, and you alone to
determine," he declared. Iibcration had come "unexpectedly" and involved
"a state of trial" for both former slaves and owners. While the masters
had to accept the financial losses involved in emancipation, the colored
people had the obligation of demonstrating their appreciation of freedom
through "good conduct." The best way they could do this would be to
measure up to their new roles as free laborers and social citizens.
Instruction relative to the obligations of a free laborer came
first. Drawing on his knowledge as an ex-slaveholder, Marvin told the
freedmen that he knew they would want to test their freedom.
I know, that though I am here as the Governor of the State,
and tell you that you are free, that you will not believe it.
You are prepared to say, that you remain on the same planta-
tions and are controlled and directed by the same owners,
for whom, as before, you have to work, and that you do not
understand by such facts that you are free; and on and after
the first of January next, I know as well as if I witnessed
it now, what you will do. You will leave your old homes--
drift about the country--float from plantation to plantation--
hundreds of you will come to town, and everywhere you will be
looking for freedom, and it will only be when your old masters
and mistresses do not pursue you that you will be convinced that
you are no longer slaves. And when you shall find as you will
that you are free-find it with hungry stomachs and with nothing
to eat, with the fact that none cares for you, and that you are
driven more than ever to care for yourselves you will then begin
wisely to consider what is best to be done. 1
15Mrvlin's fears were well founded. In fact, his prediction
materialized before the first of the year. Editorials in a Tallahssce
Following this attempt to talk the ex-slaves out of wandering to
test freedom, Marvin raised another question: "After you shall have
newspaper indicated that the city had been transformed into a camping
ground for Negro vagrants. The Floridian of November 3, 1865, editori-
alized: "We call the attention of the powers that be to the depredations
committed on the City Cemetery. The fences and palings enclosing graves
are being torn down and carried off, probably for fire-wood by the idle
neg-os (sic] who infest the city and its suburbs." On November 7, it
reported that "every tenement, stable and outhouse is filled, and . .
that in some tenements they are so thick that men, women and children
live together indiscriminately. .. ." The November 28 issue recalled
Marvin'S prediction at Marianna, that hundreds of Negroes would come to
the towns, and reported that "Tallahassee has already witnessed the
evil. .. Ever since their freedom, not only from the immediate neighbor-
hood, but from the neighboring counties, they have been crowding into this
place." The situation was described as a "public disorder" which posed a
threat to "health, morals and industry." Tallahassee Semi-L'ce:ly Flori-
dian, November 3, 7, 28, 1865. For further information on Negro vagrancy
in Florida, see Tallahassee Tri-Weekly Florida Sentinel, January 2, 1866;
Jacksonville Weekly Times, February 8, in Tallahassee Tri- eekly Florida
Sentinel, February 10, 1866.
Though enough Negroes wandered to produce public disorder and
caused a great deal of anxiety on the part of the white people, the prob-
lem did not reach anticipated proportions. Military and civil officials
joined forces to campaign against idleness and inculcate habits of in-
dustry among the freedmen. Many freedmen, moreover, had an opportunity
to test freedom during the Christmas holidays--a period that came between
crops. By the end of January and the beginning of February, 1866, the
planters began to express their confidence in the ex-slave as a free
laborer. The Hew Era, the most extreme of Florida's Democratic papers,
was among the first to praise the freedmen. Generalizing with respect
to Alachua and Marion Counties, it announced "that the negroes [were]
doing exceedingly well. . ." Gainesville Weekly New Era, February 17,
1866. A business associate who wrote David L. Yulee, one of Florida's
former senators imprisoned at Fort Pulaski, of affairs on his plantation,
reported: "I am truly glad to have it in my power to tell you that, . .
the negroes, . are working very well. . I have been surprised to
see such a great change for the better." John S. Purviance to David L.
Yulee, Cottonwood, March 6, 1866. Yulee Papers. For further informa-
tion on the freedmen's successful adjustment as a free laborer, see
Abraham K. Allison to David L. Yulee, Quincy, February 22, 1866, ibid.;
Marianna Weekly Courier, February 1, 1866, in Tallahaacee Tri-Weekly
Florida Sentinel, February 6, 1866; Tallahassee Tri-Weeily Florida
Sentinel, February 13 and August 9, 1866; Gainesville Ueczly Hew Era.
July 20, 1866.
found your freedom, and driven by stern necessity to do something for
yourselves, the question is, What is the best for you to do?" The
answer was couched in simple language.
My advice is to remain on the plantations where you have
been accustomed to work, with your former owners if they
will make a contract with you. Make the best contract
you can with them, and show to them that you are willing
to work better, now that you are compensated for your work,
than you ever have done before. Be faithful, be truthful,
be honest, be interested in the affairs of the plantation;
see that the mules are well fed, that the hogs get good at-
tention and that the things entrusted to you be not
The mention of contracts naturally led to some advice concerning
them. They might be made with former owners, if they were "kind," but
no member of the audience need "remain with such as are disposed to
treat you cruelly and meanly. . ." The contract should be "for a
part of the crop or so much money. . ." When making a contract, more-
over, the freedmen should be sure "that the man with whom you make it
has property--has land, or mules and wagons and cattle out of which you
may, if necessary, get your pay. .. ." As everyone knew, "all you can
get from a cat is his skin. ..
Making a contract was one matter; abiding by it another. The
audience was counseled not to "break off" from an agreement, because
. . you will do great injustice alike to those who have employed you
and to yourselves." They must develop "a character for faithfulness,
truthfulness and industry." Such was their duty, "a duty which you owe
to your God who has given . you freedom, to yourselves and to the
great country that protects you." Those who did not labor "would soon
form habits of great idleness and indolence--would resort to stealing
to keep from starving, and thus become a curse even to themselvess]"
What was true for the freedmen also held true for the women. Freedom
was not an excuse to "put on airs."l6 Addressing the women directly,
Marvin declared: "Do not think because you are free, that your hus-
bands are to support you, and that you are to sit all day in your
houses and do nothing." Able bodied women were to "go into the fields
and work as . before." This would be "lady-like." There was
"nothing more trifling, . than a good-for-nothing shiftless woman."
Everyone had to work. The destiny of the entire race was in the hands
of each individual.
The white man, continued Marvin--emphasing the freedman's need
to establish a good record as a competent laborer--can care for himself
"without you." There is "no danger of his starving; if anybody is to
starve," he said, "it will be you and the fault will be yours." As
proof of the fact that the white was not dependent on the Negro, Marvin
referred to the "thousands of white men in the North who have never
owned a slave ahd scarcely have ever seen one, whose industrious pursuits
and habits have secured to them a good living, and many of them fortunes."
The sane would be true "with the white of the South if there was not one
l6Social aspirations seemed to be universal among the Negro
women. They "retired from the cotton fields, for no lady worked in the
fields, if, indeed, anywhere. Their first great ambition was to wear a
veil and carry a parasol." Coulter, The South During Reconstruction,
1865-1877, pp. 52-53. The New Era revealed that the freedwonen in Flor-
ida were no exception. "In many instances," it reported, "the negro
women, as their co-workers say, 'have the devil in them' and will not
wok. Gainesville Weekly New Era, February 17, 1866.
of you to remain in the country."
With freedom "found," then, the colored people could improve
themselves by remaining on the plantation, by making contracts with
their former masters, and by establishing proper habits of industry.
Marvin introduced his next point--the social responsibilities
that went with freedom--by contrasting freedom with slavery. In tell-
ing his colored listeners of some of the differences between the two
conditions, the speaker created a vivid comparison through his use of
concrete, personalized examples and plain, direct language.
You will have much to think about, great trials to en-
counter--difficulties to contend with never experienced
before, and harder work . to do than you have ever
done before. Heretofore, comparatively, you have had no
cares. Your masters, influenced by interest aside from
human feelings, which none question many of them having,
have fed you, clothed you, and when sick have nursed you
and when necessary have employed medical attendance; the
raising of your children has received almost their exclu-
sive care; they furnished the old women to watch over them
during the absence of their mothers, who came two or three
times to nurse them during the day. Now, as freed men and
women, you are by your work to feed yourselves, clothe your-
selves, employ medical attendance, [and] raise and educate
Would the children be raised properly? Marvin was afraid some
might suffer. He knew of instances where "mothers . neglected their
children to perish and to die." They wished them dead "so that they no
longer would be on their hands." These "abominable" and "unnatural"
acts would, "in time, bring down on the heads of those base enough to
commit them the awful punishment they deserve."
Education was one of the privileges of being free. Some of the
listeners who were "old or grown up to be men and women," could not
expect to experience "much of the benefits of freedom," but they would
have the privilege of sending their children to school, and "so preparing
them that they will be greatly benefited by it." Children should be
reared "in the fear of the Lord, and when they shall be as old as you,
they will know something about freedom and be far better calculated than
you now are to get along in the world."
Another matter incident to freedom was matrimony.17 Those who
had "never been regularly married," were ordered to "go at once and get
a clergymen [sic], or a magistrate, and be so." Moreover, the law of
God allowed the taking of "only one wife, or one husband."
Saving and the ownership of property were also emphasized as im-
portant aspects of freedom. Marvin suggested the proper policy by hav-
ing his audience visualize the benefits of industry and thrift.
Some of you will work hard, make a little money and save it,
and so on, till you get one, or two, or three hundred dol-
lars, and then you will buy a piece of land, and you go to
some white man kindly disposed to the colored man and borrow
money enough to buy a mule and a plough, &c., and you will set
up for yourselves. Others will in time buy town lots and
build on them, and so on; others will work and save till they
will own considerable property and become good examples for
The next bit of instruction concerned politeness, a subject
which Marvin emphasized by identifying it with employment. Again, the
17In the ante bellum South, marriages among slaves were "arrange-
ments of convenience"; hence, many unions had to be legalized and sancti-
fied. Coulter, The South During Reconstruction, 1865-1877, p. 53.
Legislation requiring that Negroes living as husband and wife "be
regularly joined in the holy bands of matrimony" by October 11, 1866,
produced numerous marriage rites. An Alachua County judge, for example,
"joined together in wedlock as many as twenty couples in one day."
Gainesville Weekly New Era, July 13, 1866.
speaker's style was plain and direct.
Do not think that, because you are free, you have a right
to be impudent, uncivil, or impolite to white people. You
have no such right. Impoliteness is not justifiable in any
one. You should be as civil, as polite as you always have
been. . You do not wish to make white people hate you.
It is to them that you are to look for almost everything;
you want to be instructed by them; you want to learn from
them a great many things you cannot possibly learn without
them; so you must be polite and civil to them and don't put
on airs and flaunt and look insolent at them, and don't as I
have heard has been done in places, jostle, or rub, or shove
up against them when passing them on the road. Such a course
is highly wrong and will get you into trouble. Some of the
most polite men I have ever seen were colored men who have been
raised in good families. They were naturally polite and knew
well how to be so, and it is so with you. You can be as
polite as any one, and you ought not to be otherwise. It is
a duty which is due to yourselves; it is gentlemanly and lady-
like, and, now that you are free, you should try and be gentle-
men and ladies. You have a greater inducement now than you
ever had before, and if you wish to be esteemed as ladies and
gentlemen, you must conduct yourselves accordingly. Call your
old Master, Master, and your old Mistress, Mistress. It is
right that you should; it is proper, it is polite. You do not
mean by calling them so, that you belong to them, but that you
wish to be respectful and polite, and to give no cause for offence,
but rather desire to please. I don't say that you must call them
Master or Mistress; but I say it is civil and polite in you to do
it, and you ought, therefore, to do it. I have known many white
servants, and there are thousands in the North where I was raised,
and it is so in England, too, who call those who employ them
Master and Mistress. It is a term of respect and deference, and
they call them thus because this is so. There they, as I said
before, are white servants, and they till the land, feed the
stock and do other work that is done here, and they are respected
and all of them find employment, as you may do if you will conduct
If the colored people reflected upon their status, they would have
to conclude that the mantle of freedom did not make them the "equal" of
the whites. To be equal, they would "have to be able to write a book,
build a railroad, a steam engine, a steamboat and thousands of other
things. . ." The white people were far ahead of them, and it was
foolish "to think they are not superior to you and will ever be .. "
The whites, however, were willing to help them "rise," on condition that
the colored people try to "raise" themselves. It was to the advantage
of the audience, then, to labor to make "fast friends" of the white
people rather than bring scorn upon their race through "bad behavior."
Having told the ex-slaves that they were "as free as the white
man," and having instructed then in some of the responsibilities of free-
dom, Marvin next tried to discredit a rumor that had been spread among
the colored population in various parts of the "black arc." He referred
to "a story circulated in Middle Florida that on the first of January. .
the land, mules, &c., will be taken from your former owners and divided
among you." He wondered if anyone in the audience had heard the story.
"Have you? Speak out. If you have tell me so. ('Ise hearn it, Ise
hearn it,' said all.) Well who told you so? (An answer, 'the soldiers')
What soldiers? These soldiers in town? ('No sir, the Confederate
The speaker went on to relate that he had attempted to discredit
the same story for "the colored people in Quincy"; they had not under-
stood. He wanted the audience before him to "understand . and be-
lieve what I say." The President had sent him to talk to then and to
tell them the truth. "If he had thought I would not tell you the truth,"
explained Marvin, "he would not have sent me." The President did not
1A New York Times correspondent, writing from Tallahassee on
October 26, reported: "The black population have a firmly established
belief that the estates of the slaveholders are to be divided among the
former slaves--that they are to be provided with homes and means to live
plan to give them 'one foot of land, nor a mule, nor hog, nor cow, not
even a knife and fork or spoon. (A voice, 'Dar! . hear dat? dat's
a bad egg dat chicken wont hatch no how!')" The President had granted
freedom and that was "everything he intends to give you. .. ."
The reason for the President's decision was just; in fact, the
President had received his instructions from God.
Before the war each one of you was worth in dollars and
cents to your owners, eight hundred, or a thousand, or
fifteen hundred dollars--worth more than fifty acres, or
eighty acres of land and a mule thrown in. Well, the
President has, in giving you your freedom, taken so many
dollars and cents from your old masters, and he thinks, as
I do, they have lost enough, and you by it have had enough
given to you. If he were to give you more it would prove
a curse to you. God has directed the President how much to
give you and he will give no more.
The Lord knew what was best for them. If they were given land
and mules, they would be proud and say, "I have land now and a mule and
I am a gentleman, and I ain't going to work." It was best for them to
be content with their freedom, "and what else you have you will have to
get by work." They were at liberty to work for themselves. They had
independently by the government. .. When Gov. Marvin, in a recent
speech, undertook to undeceive them, they turned from him in disgust
and believed him in league with their old masters to deceive then." New
York Times, November 10, 1865. Perhaps, it was the fact that Marvin
failed to convince the Quincy Negroes that prompted him to establish his
ethos with the Marianna audience, before refuting the story of the land
In his attempt to clarify the matter for the Q-uincy Negroes, Mur-
vin had explained that the story of free land and mules had been started
by General Edward M. McCook's men. "These men said this because thyy
did not know the war was over and were here amongst us endeavoring to
use this as one of the means of stopping the war." See Marvin's speech
to the freedmen in Quincy, Quincy Weekly Comsonwealth, September 16, 1865,
in Jacksonville Weekly Florida Unlon, September 30, 1865.
"none other to work for." They belonged to "no man," and had "ceased
to be property."
As he approached the conclusion of his speech, Marvin again ex-
horted the audience to "struggle hard and do right," and to "live as
good men and women." They all appeared to be well equipped for work;
they were "well fed, well clothed, healthy, strong, full of muscle and
sinew, showing kind treatment. . ."
Finally, Marvin said he believed he had "covered the whole ground."
If he had left "anything out" he wished to be informed "what it [was]."
After answering a few questions he again inquired if all were satisfied.
"Are you? (We are,' by all.) Will you promise me to do the best you
can, be kindly disposed to all,to be good men and women? ('We will.')"
Marvin, who had validated many of his pronouncements on this Sunday morn-
ing by relating them to "God" or the "Lord," closed with a benediction:
"God help you do it."19
The probability is that this speech on freedom and its responsi-
bilities both pleased and disappointed the Marianna Negroes. Writing of
the reaction of Florida's Negroes to his "freedom speeches," Marvin
19For the text of the Marianna speech, see Tallahassee Semi-Weekly
Floridian September 26, 1865; Jacksonville Uecl-ly Florida Union, October
7, 1865. When a portion of the speech became a szurzc of controversy
between the Jacksonville Herald, which was owned by a northerner, and
the Florida Union, which stipported Johnsonian Reconstruction, its authen-
ticity came into question. The Florida Union affirmed: "until we see a
contradiction or denial of that speech of the Governor, as reported, we
S. believe that the address was substantially reported in the language
uttered by him on the occasion. . ." Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union,
October 7, 1865. No contradiction or denial appeared In subsequent is-
sues of the Florida Union.
related: "Judging from the stolid and indifferent manner which they
exhibited when spoken to on the subject, one would not suppose that they
regarded freedom as 'a thing of beauty and joy forever.'20
Some who had children by several women were hard put to choose a
wife.2 Others were infirm and aged, and now that they were no longer
wards of their former masters, feared for their survival.22 All who had
heard the story of "forty acres and a mule" were, no doubt, provoked by
the speaker's denial of its truth. On the other hand, the prospects of
freedom were pleasant and the speaker's expressions of confidence in his
The arianna speech had its effect both within the "black arc," and
outside. Charles E. Dyke, owner and editor of the Democratic Floridian,
wrote: "We have read a number of addresses to similar audiences from
several distinguished gentlemen, but none of them, in appropriateness,"
equalled that of Marvin.23 The Jacksonville Herald, which had been
purchased by a northerner, E. H. Reed of Wisconsin, did not share the
20Kearney, "Autobiography of William arvin, p. 217.
21For a report of a conversation on this subject reputedly held
between Marvin and a freedman at Marianna, see Tallahassee Semi-Weekly
Florldian, September 26, 1865.
22Such was the concern of an aged Negro who queried Marvin after
he had finished speaking to a colored audience in Jefferson County. For
a report of the dialogue, see Kearney, "Autobiography of William Iarvin,"
p. 217. For information on the problem of aged freedmen, see editorial:
'What will become of Old Pompey?" Monticello Weekly Famiy Friend, in
Jacksonville Weekly Florida Union, December 9, 185.
23Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, September 26, 1865.
enthusiasm of the Floridian.24 It took exception to Narvin's treatment
of the Negro's role in the war; he had asserted it was "a white man's
war." Such a statement was "a falsehood and a slander. 25 The Florida
Union, a staunch advocate of Johnsonian Reconstruction, entered the
skirmish by coming to Marvin's defense. "This language of the Governor
is true, every word of it." It had been a "white man's war," and until
"the promulgation of President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation it
was prosecuted without any ultimate view of changing the status of the
negro in the then slave States." Colored soldiers had numbered only
150,000 and "were not enlisted to any great extent till near the close
of the war. . ." The Herald was admonished to "try to hunt up
modesty and decency enough to prevent . calling Gov. Marvin, a liar
and a slanderer."2
The Jacksonville Times, a Radical Republican paper that supported
the Unionist element in Florida, did not restrict its comments to the
24During the short period of its existence, August to December
of 1865, the Jacksonville Weekly Herald served both Democrats and Repub-
licans. The paper was started as a Democratic organ in August of 1865,
with Joseph F. Rogero as proprietor, and Holmes Steele as editor.
Gainesville Weekly New Era, August 19, 1865. In its third issue, Rogero
reported that he had sold the paper to E. H. Reed. The New Era, in its
coverage of the sale, related that E. H. Reed was the son of Harrison
Reed, United States postal agent for Florida. Ibid., September 2, 1865.
By December of 1865, the Herald had been absorbed by the Jacksonville
Times, a Radical Republican paper that supported the Unionists in Flor-
ida. See Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times, December 14, 1865.
25Jacksonville Weekly Herald, September 29, in Jacksonville :.eckly
Florida Union, October 7, 865.
26The Florida Union defended the position taken by Marvin con-
cerning the Negro's role in the war, in its issues of October 7 and 21,
Marianna speech. Instead, it came out with a "blanket editorial"
covering the Provisional Governor's speechmaking to all classes during
the preconvention period. Ignoring politics and the squabble over the
Mariana speech, it editorialized:
If it is difficult for the slave to fit himself at once
for the exercise of the duties and responsibilities of a
freedman, it is also difficult for the master to immedi-
ately shake off the life-long habits of arbitrary power
and at once regard his late chattel as changed to a full
man and equal, before the law and before God, with him-
self. But Gov. Marvin has allayed the bitterness of
prejudice by his frank, generous and manly bearing, and
has commanded the respect of all classes by his adherence
to truth and his undisguised utterance of the well-defined
purposes of the federal Government.27
What William Marvin said to the white people during the precon-
vention period was largely aimed at persuading them to acquiesce in the
President's terms of reunion. His remarks, and those of Alfred Sears
concerning racial harmony and the Negroes as free laborers, concerned
the related end of creating a stable economic and social atmosphere for
As we analyze the rhetoric of the "freedom speeches," we see that
the Provisional Governor's remarks to the freedmen also constitute a
rhetoric that served these same two ends. Marvin had to convince the
ex-slaves they were free, and educate them regrding their economic
and social responsibilities without undermining the rhetoric of
27Jacksonville Weekly Florida Times, October 5, 1865.
Talking to thousands of illiterate ex-slaves on such intangible
matters as freedom and its responsibilities was a difficult atsigisent,
but not an impossible one for a speaker who was skilled in discovering
and employing the available means of persuasion. Marvin fashioned his
rhetoric from proofs which he derived frno his knowledge of the audi-
ence and his analysis of the occasion, and from rhetorical techniques
which he selected and used because of their appropriateness for his
purpose and his audience.
Proofs were needed to convince the ex-slave that he was free.
These were found in his background as a Christian and in the atmosphere
of the immediate occasion. Much of Marvin's personal proof or ethos
in the Marianna speech stemmed from the fact that he spoke on Sunday
and that his speech was preceded by religious songs and by prayer.
When he told the ex-slaves freedom had come from God, he, in effect,
combined a religious identity with an appeal to the ex-slave's belief
in God to establish or "prove" the reality of freedom.
Restatement was the rhetorical method chosen to reinforce belief
in freedom. The theme "you are free" or "God has given you freedom,"
or a combination of the two ideas, was systematically emphasized through-
out the speech. Marvin began with statements to this effect, worked them
into transitions, included them along with advice on a variety of sub-
jects, and incorporated them into his peroration.
One internal suymmry contained this statement: "I have told you
that you are free, as free as the white man, that you never will again
be slaves--that God himself has given this freedom to you. . ." In
the course of advising the freedmen to make contracts with their em-
ployers, Marvin admonished them to be faithful. It was their duty to
be so, "a duty which you owe to your God who has given you freedom. .. ."
As he neared his conclusion, he restated the theme of freedom four dif-
ferent ways: "You now are at liberty to go to work for yourselves; you
have none other to work for. You belong to no man; you have ceased to
be property; you never will be sold again. . ."
Proof was also needed to discredit the rumors about gifts of
land and mules. Here again, the speaker used religious identity and
an appeal to the freedman's belief in God to carry his point. In addi-
tion, he strengthened his own status as an authority figure by identify-
ing himself with President Johnson. The President had sent him to tell
"the truth." God had directed the President to give them freedom, and
in keeping with God's wishes this was all the President intended to give
Getting the ex-slaves to understand and to carry out the responsi-
bilities of freedom required rhetorical techniques that would produce
clear understanding and pathetic appeals that would supply the necessary
motives. Clarity was achieved through rhetorical tactics typical of the
rhetoric as a whole. The speaker's style was paternalistic. His language
resembled that of a father speaking to his children. Examples wore numer-
ous and specific. Explanations were simple, lengthy, and sometimes
repetitious. Parallel sentence structure provided a means of emphasis,
and references to familiar objects were often employed for clarity.
Pathetic proofs or the motives supplied to bring about the desired
conduct, centered in the ex-slave's social aspirations, his moral con-
victions, and his physical needs.
Freedwomen were not to put on airs; they were not to sit in their
houses all day and do nothing. It was perfectly "lady-like" to work in
the fields. Those who were not married were to be so, but there could
only be one husband or one wife, "for such is the law of God." Being
polite was one way of being respected as "ladies and gentlemen." Those
who floated from plantation to plantation or drifted into town looking
for freedom would find it with "hungry sto~achs and with nothing to eat."
Those who were honest, faithful, and industrious, those who fed the
mules, took care of the hogs, and looked after the affairs of the plan-
tation would enjoy the friendship and succor of the white people. For
them, freedom would prove a blessing involving "advancement and civili-
zation" rather than a curse "involving a condition of vagabondism and
This kind of information and advice, of course, was important
because of its contribution to the economic and social stability so
essential for political adjustment. But what of the affinity of the
"freedom speech" with the rhetoric of acquiescence?
The connection becomes clear if one recognizes that when Marvin
talked to the freedmen, he was also talking indirectly to the white
people. Many white people listened to the freedom speeches, were told
about them, or read them in their newspapers. What they heard or read
reinforced the rhetoric of acquiescence. Thus Marvin's method of an-
nouncing freedom to the Negroes strengthened his status with the
southern white people, and the tenor of his remarks on the responsi-
bilities of freedom reinforced the central theme of the strategy of
acquiescence: White men shall rule!
Moreover, the Provisional Governor won the confidence of the
southern white people by neutralizing the source of freedom--a technique
which he was not able to carry off without doing violence to the facts.
According to 1arvin, freedom had not been granted by the northerner or
southerner; and what was even more to the point, the ex-slave had not
himself earned freedom on the battlefield. To divest the northerner
and southerner of any connection with emancipation by attributing free-
dom to God vae one thing; but to wipe out the Negro's connection with the
war by asserting that the war had been "a white man's war" was another.
Such a claim not only contradicted what Marvin had said to the white
people at Quincy loss than two weeks before; it left him open to the
charge of "falsehood"--a charge which wva, in fact, made by the northern
owned Jacksonville Herald.2 Few, if any southerners, however, ques-
tioned MJrvin's assertion. No one, moreover, challenged his claim that
the southern white man was the freedman's best friend.
28The speaker wac guilty of emphasizing the Negro's role in the
war--he had exhibited courage on 'aony a bloody field"--to help the
white people rationalize the abolition of slavery and to minimize it.
The phrase colored men "fought no battles" sought to divest the freed-
men of any feelings of importance growing out of their connection with
The Herald was justified in charging Marvin with falsehood, for
when he told the freedmen at Marianna that the war had been "a white
man's war," he went too far. Abrahan Lincoln had authorized the use of
colored troops in 1863, and by the end of the war there were 186,000
regroes in the Union service. Negroes recruited in Florida served as
occupation forces in Jacksonville, were sent on raiding expeditions in
In his speeches to the revolutionists, !hrvin had nurtured
the southern ego with statements about the superiority of the white
people and had buttressed his appeal for acquiescence in the President's
terms of reunion by emphasizing that Negro suffrage was not among them.
Having told the white man he was superior, MNrvin now proceeded to tell
the Negro he was inferior. He was not to be impolite to the white
people. "It is to them that you are to look for almost everything; . .
you want to learn from them a great many things you cannot possibly
learn without them. . ." Former masters oucht to be called "anster,"
and mistresses, "mistress," as a sign of respect. Freedom did not make
the colored people the equal of the whites. "They are far ahead of you,
and it is foolish for you to think they are not superior to you and will
ever be. . ."
Statements such as these were calculated to reduce racial tension
by inculcating a spirit of submissiveness in the freedmen but, at the
same time, they contained persuasive implications for the white people,
implications that reinforced the face saving feature of the strategy of
In sum, while the freedomn speeches" fell short of accomplishing
one of their central purposes inasmuch as great nxubers of freedmen
wandered and many became vagrants, the claim can be made that they con-
tributed significantly to the economic and social stability that made
political reorganization possible.
East Florida from 1863 to 1865, participated in skirmishes at Marianna
and Natural Bridge, and played a prominent part in the battle of Olustee.
See Randall, The Civil War and Reconstruction, pp. 503-505; Davis,The
Civil War and Reconstruction in Florida, pp. 218-242.
SPEAKING AT THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION OF 1865:
A RHETORIC OF ADJUSTMaT
Through the pre-convention speeches and proclamations of William
Marvin, the provisional governor, Floridians had learned that they must
be the agents of their own redemption. During September of 1865, atten-
tion was focused on the nomination of delegates to a constitutional con-
vention. With the election set for early October, candidates were
nominated at public meetings held during September.
In at least three counties, Unionists vied with ex-Confederates
for seats in the convention.1 Such was the case, for example, in Colum-
bia County, located in north-central Florida. The "loyal citizens" net in
Lake City on September 16, and nominated William M. Dukes and William H.
Christi as convention candidates. Before adjourning, they adopted a
platform containing eight resolutions. Three were significant. One ac-
cepted the "overthrow of slavery"; it was "something of the past."
Another called for constitutional and legal guarantees for all in the
protection of their person and property, "regardless of color, religion
In his testimony before a congressional committee in 1866, Marvin
explained that he did not believe "that there were any tickets run in any
of the counties, . which could be called in opposition to the recon-
struction of the Union. There were in some of the counties candidates
running who claimed to be old Union men, and claim to be at present the
Simon Pure Union men all through, who were opposed by men who went into
the war and were in the confederate army. That was the case, I think,
in three counties." Report of the Joint Committee on Reconstruction
(Washington, 1866), 39th Cong., 1st Seas., Pt. 4, p. 7.
or birthplace." The third was an unqualified stand on debt repudiation:
'"e are unalterably opposed to the recognition, directly or indirectly,
of any debt or obligation whatever, incurred by the State while in
rebellion. . .
Six days later the ex-Confederates met in the same city and named
their slate for the convention. Silas L. Niblack, who became Democratic
candidate for Congress in 1870,3 and Thomas T. Long, an ex-Confederate
and secessionist, were nominated by acclamation.5
A "large and spirited meeting of . colored sold rs and citi-
zens" held in Jacksonville on September 18 reflected an interest in the
approaching convention that extended beyond the nomination of candidates.
The group met in the Baptist Church "to take into consideration the
2For an account of the Union meeting, see Jacksonville Weekly
Florida Times, October 5, 1865.
3Quincy Weekly Journal, September 2, 1870.
4Long was a politician who believed in casting his lot with the
party in power. In 1860, he was an avid Democrat and one of the leaders
in the movement for secession. During the war he served in the Confeder-
ate army. In 1865 and 1866, he joined with the Conservatives to support
presidential Reconstruction. When the Johnson government fell, he joined
forces with the Republicans and was rewarded with a political appointment
from Republican Governor Tarrison Reed. Testimony Taken by the Joint
Select Committee to Inqaire into the Conditic-. of Affairs in tne Late In-
surrectionary States (Wacnington, 1872), XIII, :; fernandina Weekly Last
Floridian, January 19, 1860; Tallahassee Icely Florldian, August 18, i2o.
For Long's secession speaking, see Kearney, "Political Speaking in Florida
from 1859 to 1861," pp. 46, 59, 72, 107.
5Long was present at the meeting and, being called on for a speech,
he expressed his views on the issues and accepted the nomination. For an
account of the "ex-confederate" meeting, see Jacksonville Weckly Florida
Union October 7, 1865. For reports of other pre-election nmetings held
at Jacksonville, Madison, and Gainesville, see Jacksonville Weekly Herald,
September 22, 1865; Tallahassee Semi-Weekly Floridian, September 26, 1865;
Gainesville Weekly New Era, October 7, 1865.
interests of the colored population of the state and adopt such measures
as the exigencies of the case seemed to require." Addresses were given
by "several soldiers and citizens," and by a "Reverend Mr. Harris" of
Beaufort, South Carolina. Before dispersing, the group appointed a
committee to prepare resolutions expressing the sense of the meeting,
and "a petition to the Convention . asking for the right of
At a subsequent meeting on September 26, the resolutions and
petition were reported and adopted. In its resolutions the group acknowl-
edged "with gratitude the position taken by Gov. MARVIN, in his procla-
mation and in his recent speech at Quincy, in regard to the rights of
colored men. . ." The governor was tendered "profound thanks" for his
declaration "that the freedom proclaimed by the federal government is
intended to be the full, ample and complete freedom of a citizen of the
United States." Further, it was resolved that the suffrage petition ap-
proved by the meeting be circulated throughout the state for signatures,
and that copies of the resolutions and petition be given to Marvin,
Major General John G. Foster, Brigadier General John ewton, Colonel
Marple, and the subordinate officers of the district.
Addressed to the convention, the petition read in part: "The
undersigned, colored soldiers and citizens of __ grateful to Al-
mighty God and to the federal govermnnt [italics mine] for our libera-
tion from slavery and the acknowledgment of our rights as freemen, . .
ask of your honorable body, that in framing the Constitution . you
may make it in all respects to conform to the principles of Republican
government--doing away with distinction on account of color and recog-
nizing the rights of all. . .
"We respectfully, but earnestly, ask that we may be admitted to