November 16, 1875
After Democrats regained control of the governor’s office and state government in the 1874 election, one of their immediate goals was to “redeem” the state from Reconstruction and the Reconstructionist Constitution adopted in 1868. That document, among other things, broadened voting rights for African-Americans and poor whites. The 1875 constitutional convention was comprised of 80 white Democrats, 12 Republicans – four of whom were black – and seven independents. The result, according to historian Wayne Flynt, was a constitution specifically designed to reduce the size of state government and the services it provided, lower taxes and constrain the political power of African-Americans. But delegates, fearing federal intervention, could only go so far. The new Constitution established segregated schools, abolished the state Board of Education, shifted the Legislature to biennial sessions, and limited taxation powers for local governments. In practice it reduced funds for public education and state services. But it did little to alter voting rights. That would be done by many other means, until delegates met again to craft yet another Constitution, in 1901.
For more on Alabama’s Bicentennial, visit Alabama 200.