Most of North Texas Opposed Secession in 1860

All of the counties above Dallas and Tarrant (Ft Worth's county) voted AGAINST seceding from the union in 1860. An editorial in the Fort Worth daily paper on 2/28/98 said that Tarrant County only went for secession by a margin of 27 out of 700 votes cast! It probably would have failed, the editorial said, but people were stirred up over the recent hanging of an "abolitionist" on Jacksboro Highway. A number of North Texas union supporters were shot or hanged during the Civil War.

There are monuments in virtually every Texas county to the Confederacy, but only one to the union sympathizers who made up the majority of the North Texas voters in 1860. It is a small one, not much bigger than a tombstone, just West of the intersection of California Street and IH 35 in Gainesville. It commemorates the people hanged in a single weekend in that town. About 100 yards south of the monument is a 50 ft monument to the Confederacy. For more readings, click here

In Comfort, not far West of San Antonio, there is a monument to the German immigrants who tried to make it out of Texas rather than be drafted to fight for the slave owners. They were massacred in the "Battle" of Nueces. During Reconstruction, their bleached bones were finally recovered and some of them were buried in downtown Comfort under a lovely monument with the German words "Trueh Der Union".

Dallas Hanged 3 Slaves in Civil War Hysteria

Michael Phillips, "White Violence, Hegemony, and Slave Rebellion in Dallas, Texas, Before the Civil War." East TX Hist Journal. He says that editor Charles R Pryor of the Dallas Herald and other "fire-eaters" whipped up the hysteria against abolitionists that resulted in the whippings and hangings across the state.

July 8, 1860, was the fire that consumed most of downtown Dallas. But Phillips quotes people who say it was an accident. Other reported fires around the state didn't really even happen, and some of the "evidence" against the abolitionists was suspect. In 1892, one community leader told the Herald, "We whipped every negro in the county, one by one" in order to get confessions and accusations. Eventually, they hanged Patrick Jennigsm, Sam Smith, and a slave called "Cato". The verdict was a divided one. Sam Houston claimed that the fire eaters exploited a series of accidents to whip up the hysteria.

The author doubts that there was any slave insurrection at all, since the patterns shown in other insurrections were not repeated here. Dallas depended on wheat at the time, not cotton, and the railroad didn't come until 1871.

On La Reunion, Phillips says that 700 French, Swiss and Belgian immigrants had come. "As a result of the pressure, the state legislature refused Considerant a vitally important land granrt which crippled the colony. Persecution of the Reunionists continued through the Civil War. When officials tried conscripting the colonists in to the Confederate Army, settlers barricaded themselves in the old colony and refused to fight for the pro-slavery cause."

Dallas County voted for secession by 76%, but it was only 7 months after the Dallas fire and the hysteria. He says that the "myth of unity" was propounded later, but was not based on actual support for the Southern Cause. He concludes: "The 'southerness' of Dallas could be measured by the length of a hangman's rope."

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Why Didn't Texas Divide Into Five States to Keep Southern Power in the Senate?

Karl Marx and Frederick Engels The Civil War in the U.S.. From their writings in the Vienna Presse and the New York Daily Tribune and from their correspondence to one another, 1861 and 1862. Copyright 1937, 1961, International Publishers Inc. NY. The socialist leaders were in England, but they opposed the U.S. Civil War, sided with the North, and actively worked to keep England from joining the Southern side. Labor in both the North and the South opposed the war. Marx had this to say specifically about Texas on page 78: "Even the actual slave states, however much external war, internal military dictatorship and slavery give them everywhere the semblance of harmony, are nevertheless not without resistant elements. A striking example is Texas, with 180,388 slaves out of 601,039 inhabitants. The law of 1845, by virtue of which Texas entered the ranks of the United states as a slave state, entitled it to form not merely one, but five states out of its territory. The South would thereby have gained ten new votes, instead of two, in the American Senate, and increase in the number of its votes in the Senate was a main object of its policy at that time. From 1845 to 1860, however, the slaveholders found it impracticable to cut up Texas, where the German population plays an important part, into even two states without giving the party of free labor the upper hand over the part of slavery in the second state. This furnishes the best proof of the strength of the opposition to the slaveholding oligarchy in Texas itself."


Labor History Lies Beneath the Roots in Wise County

In the mid 1990's, we visited Decatur and wrote this:

Just beneath the roots of the scant prairie grass, Texas labor history is everywhere. Just part the thin blades and look. Labor opposed slavery and, in general, supported the North in the American Civil War. Many Texans did, too. Our knowledge of them is hidden from us, but only barely.

Decatur is the County Seat of Wise County, just North and West of Fort Worth. It is a tiny town of only 1,104. Like most other small towns, the central business district's blood has been drained out to the freeway by Wal-Mart. What remains downtown, no longer bustling and important, seems quaint.

Neither the waitress at Mattie's Restaurant on the Square nor the curator at the County Museum knows that Wise County played any interesting role in the American Civil War. But it did. Along with 8 other North Texas Counties and 19 total counties statewide, Wise voted against secession.

As the war developed, those who opposed it had the courage to try to form a "Peace Party" among their sympathizers in North Texas and with anti-slavery Native Americans from Southern Oklahoma. The Confederacy would not have it, and a roundup began. Eventually, a mob of 500 worked with the Confederate Military to hang 40 people suspected of belonging to the Peace Party. Two others were shot while resisting. The hangings took place in nearby Gainesville and are documented in two Texas Historical Society accounts, both titled "The Great Hanging at Gainesville." In Sherman, an anti-slavery editor was shotgunned to death in front of his newspaper office.

People in Decatur do not know of the brave resistance of their forefathers. Labor is generally deprived of its own noble history. But it is thinly disguised and barely hidden._


People Suspected of Being Northern Sympathizers Were Hanged

On March 15, 1993, we went to Gainesville and took notes on the "Great Hanging" of 1862, Nov 13. North Texas counties had opposed secession, even though almost all of the monuments in those counties today honor the South. Repression was severe for those suspected of Northern sympathies. In Gainsville, someone got the idea that a Northern officer named Jim Lane was coming down through Oklahoma to liberate North Texas. Vigilantes began to round up everybody suspected of participating in the idea. Around 50 were hanged in Gainesville in one weekend. A few were killed in Decatur. An editor was shot in the street in Sherman. Here are some of my notes:

Claude Elliott, "Union Sentiment in Texas 1861-1865". Southwestern Historical Quarterly 50:449-77.

James Smallwood, "Disaffection in Confederate Texas: The Great Hanging at Gainesville," Civil War History 22:3490 p60.

Philip Rutherford, "The Great Gainesville Hanging," Civil War Times Illustrated, April 1978, 12-20. Gainesville library 976 4533

Jones, Jon, Early Days in Cooke County. 1848-1873. Reprint by Cooke County Heritage Society, Inc, 1977. Page 64 - 67 has his remembrance of Great Hanging. Also, he moved into Chickasaw territory later & describes it.

Civil War Recollections of James Lemuel Clark edited by L.D. Clark, Texas A&M Univ Press, 1984. 7 of the 12 jurors were slaveholders and they insisted on a simple majority rule in the decisions for execution. So the slaveholders alone could condemn a person to death!

In 1860 Cooke County pop was 4,000, 66 were slaveowners which owned 300-400 slaves. These men exerted power and influence far out of proportion to their numbers. They knew how to play up the sectionalism without which the slavocrats of the South would never have been able to raise a rebellion against the US.

Clark was son of Nathanial Miles Clark, who was hanged. This book edited by Great Grandson.

Pg 23: "One estimate put the membership at 1,700 in a five county area and Childs claimed that he had sworn in 50 men in one recent eight day period." (of the League).

This from Clark book pg 43: Junius Foster, unionist editor of Sherman Patriot, refused to retract a public statement approving of Colonel Young's death. He was killed by shotgun blast, probably by Young's son.

James Lemuel Clark's remembrances seem to be a rebuttal of Diamond's "official" account. "I say there were not any Kansas men in this part of the country at that time, and will ask him to prove what he published." Lists names of 32 of the victims.

From Cooke County Library Vertical Files, a letter from U.D. Fox to his daughter: "You would like to her the cause of my leaving home the cause of it is that sum of the same company that is at the hed of that hanging scrape in Cook county tha tride to git me to join their mob company and I refused to do so and after this sum time tha set in to lying against me and tha a ... (illegible part) ... that I was a abolition and was making up a company to rob and murder women and children and a great many other report two tedious to name and then tha must take old Fox up to se if he is gilty and at the same time tha had ther two witness fixt an told them that if tha didn't sware jist as tha told them tha would hang the witness is rite up moing this all to be facts and noing them as I did I did not feel disposed to be tride by them

--U.D. Fox

Trexler, H.A. "Episode in Border History" Southwest Review, Winter, 1931 p 236. Account of 32 killed in "Battle of the Nueces"

Also summarizes the Barrett book on hanging.

Gainesville library 976-4533 "Cooke County" vertical file under "Great Hanging" pete A.Y. Gunter, "The Great Gainesville Hanging, October, 1862. Rebel Colonel Bourland's 'Witch Hunt' in North Texas. Blue and Gray (magazine) April-May 1986.

I copied this in entirety.

Graham Landrum and Allan Smith, An Illustrated History of Grayson County, Texas. Historical Publishers. Ft Worth. 1967.

E. Junius Foster published The Patriot from 1853 until his death in 1862. Bought it in Marshall. Moved it around, including to Tishomingo, Oklahoma. But he died in Sherman on Travis Street. 3 men accosted him as he was closing up. They didn't like it because he said the death of Colonel Young was one of the best thing that happened in North Texas in a long time ...

Pg 63 "Grayson voted 901 to 463 to remain in the union" E. Junius Foster's paper was a Whig publication.

Pg 141 Foster was born 1814.

T R Fehrenbach, Lone Star. A History of Texas and Texans. McMillan, New York, 1968. Attributes most resistance to conscription act and the way it was enforced. I believe conscription started around May, 1862. Exempted anybody owning a certain number of slaves.



Texas Emancipation Day is June 19, "Juneteenth"

One basis for the claim that Texas is the most reactionary part of the United States comes from the fact that Texas slaves did not learn of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863) until June 19, 1865.

The reason they learned about it then was because federal troops landed in Galveston and declared martial law. The date has been celebrated by the state's African Americans since then. Since around 1959, "Juneteenth" has also been a state holiday. Whether they are given a day off or not, a lot of African American and other progressive people take it.

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