Dead Confederates, A Civil War Era Blog

Against Secession

Posted in Memory by Andy Hall on August 20, 2013
The seven Texas Secession Convention delegates who voted against secession. Standing, l. to r.: A. P. Shuford, James W. Throckmorton, Lemuel H. Williams, and Joshua Johnson. Seated, l. to r.: William H. Johnson, George W. Wright, and Thomas P. Hughes. Texas State Archives image.

The story behind the image, from Wharton’s History of Texas, from Wilderness to Commonwealth, Vol. 4, 336-38:

As the roll call proceeded, and vote after vote was recorded in the affirmative, the spectators in the gallery broke into applause. Seventy delegates responded “aye” before there was a single negative vote. Then the name of Thomas P. Hughes of Williamson county was called. “No!” came the response. The effect was electrical. Immediately there was a demonstration of disapproval among the spectators, but order was quickly restored and the roll call proceeded. The next three votes were in the affirmative and there was applause. The secretary then called the name of William H. Johnson of Lamar county. He voted “no,” and again there was a demonstration of disapproval. Quiet was no sooner obtained, however, than the name of Joshua Johnson of Titus county was called, and he, too, voted in the negative. A roar of disapproval went up, but the chairman demanded order and the next name was called.
The response was in the affirmative and the crowd applauded. Then there were sixty-four “ayes” in succession before another negative vote was cast. The spectators applauded popular favorites as they announced their votes. Reagan, the brilliant member of congress, was cheered. There were cheers also for Runnels, the former governor, whom Houston had defeated at the previous election. And so it went. Finally the secretary called out, “Shuford! ” This was A. P. Shuford of Wood county. He voted in the negative and there was a flutter of disapproval. Eight more affirmative votes came next, and then the secretary reached the name of James W. Throckmorton of Collin county. Throckmorton arose. “Mr. President,” he said, speaking in tones that were audible throughout the hall, “in view of the responsibility, in the presence of God and my country — and unawed by the wild spirit of revolution around me, I vote “no.” For the first time the Unionists in the audience found their voices, and there was scattered cheering. But the expressions of disapproval were more pronounced and hisses came from all parts of the gallery. Throckmorton again addressed the chair. “Mr. President,” he said, “when the rabble hiss, well may patriots tremble!” A mighty shout went up from the gallery. Only a small percentage of the crowd was Unionist in sentiment, but, small as it was, it spontaneously responded to Throckmorton’s declaration.
Above the hoots and jeers there was prolonged cheering, and it was with extreme difficulty that President Roberts restored order. Two other delegates, L. H. Williams and George W. Wright, both of Lamar county, voted “no” before the close of the roll call. Then the result was announced and both the delegates and the spectators broke into cheers. Out of one hundred and seventy- four delegates, only seven had voted against the ordinance. An impromptu procession, which included a number of ladies, entered the hall, led by George M. Flournoy, who carried a beautiful Lone Star flag. A wild frenzy of cheering followed, and it continued for several minutes as the flag was installed in a place of honor over the platform. Texas had taken the first step toward reassuming her independent station.
The news got abroad in the town, and everywhere there was wild enthusiasm. Only the few who disapproved the action and who felt that evil days were ahead failed to join in the rejoicing. Among the latter were the seven delegates who voted against the ordinance. It had taken a superior order of courage for them to face that unfriendly crowd and vote their convictions, for they could not fail to know that the attitude of the crowd represented the attitude of an overwhelming majority of the people of the state. They were conscious of the fact that they had participated in a historic proceeding and had made themselves conspicuous by the part they had played. They believed the time would come when their votes would be judged otherwise than they were judged by the crowd that jeered them. In order to leave a lasting record of the event, therefore, they decided to have themselves photographed in a group. This they did in due course. The photograph is reproduced in this volume (see page 342), thus being printed in a book for the first time, sixty-six years after the event it commemorates.




5 Responses

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  1. Matt McKeon said, on August 21, 2013 at 6:54 am

    Great find, Andy.

  2. Cotton Boll Conspiracy said, on August 21, 2013 at 10:14 am

    I’m curious if any of the seven were slaveholders and what motivated their opposition to secession. Whatever their motivation, it took guts to stand against the overwhelming majority.

    • Andy Hall said, on August 21, 2013 at 10:30 am

      I haven’t checked, but I believe most of them probably were slaveholders. Several also went on to serve in the Confederate military. Throckmorton, especially, had a very active (and turbulent) postwar career, trying to balance his Unionist sympathies with opposition to radical Reconstruction. I’ll have to dig a little more to see if I can find their reasoning. Sam Houston was ousted from the governorship because he refused to support secession, seeing (more clearly than most) that the Union would fight and, win or lose, it would be a disaster for the South.

  3. Brad said, on August 22, 2013 at 6:11 am

    Considering that the overwhelming majority of their colleagues and the State was in favor of secession, voting no took a certain amount of courage.

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