In July 1875, Isaac Bently carried out his constitutional duty to register eligible voters in Precinct Number 3, Pine Thicket, Cleburne County, Alabama.
After the Civil War, the United States Congress required the southern states to adopt new state constitutions ratifying the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendments of the U. S. Constitution in order to be re-admitted to the Union. The Thirteenth Amendment abolished slavery in the United States. The Fourteenth Amendment granted citizenship and legal protections to those emancipated by the Thirteenth Amendment. It took Alabama two attempts before their state constitution was accepted by the U. S. Congress in 1868. Once back in, however, Alabama convened a convention to draft another new constitution that would undo many of the elements required of the 1868 Constitution. This new constitution would be voted on by Alabama’s citizens in November 1875, so in the summer of that year, the state initiated a voter registration drive. The below oath was sworn by all voters registered and it was required by the 1868 Alabama Constitution then still in effect.
We, the undersigned, registered electors, each for himself, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and maintain the Constitution and laws of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State of Alabama; that I am not excluded from registering by any of the clauses in Section 3, Article 7, of the Constitution of the State of Alabama; that I will never countenance or aid in the secession of this State from the United States; that I accept the civil and political equality of all men; and agree not to attempt to deprive any person or persons, on account of race, color, or previous condition, of any political or civil right, privilege, or immunity, enjoyed by any other class of men; and furthermore, that I will not in any way injure, or countenance in others any attempt to injure, any person or persons, on account of past or present support of the government of the United States, the laws of the United States, or the principle of the political and civil equality of all men, or for affiliation with any political party, and that I am a qualified elector under the Constitution and laws of the State of Alabama.
Notice the shortness of the registration list. Only eighteen voters were registered in the rural Pine Thicket precinct.
There were a few noteworthy people registered that we’ve discussed before:
Line 2: J. C. Thompson — He was Joseph C. Thompson, the Assistant Marshall that conducted the 1870 Federal Census in Cleburne County that enumerated Newman Albright and S. Elizabeth Scott shortly after their marriage. Joseph’s father Ransom Thompson was the grand-uncle of Jesse F. Graham, my 2x great grandfather. That makes Joseph my first cousin five times removed.
Line 5: J. M. Scott — My 3x great grandfather Jesse M. Scott who’s been covered extensively here.
Line 7: W. H. Barnes — Upon the death of Jesse M. Scott’s wife Senia in 1901, W. H. Barnes would petition the probate court to appoint an administrator to settle the estate.
Line 8: S. C. King — He was one of the “five discreete freeholders” appointed by the probate court to set the metes and bounds of the dower for Margaret Little, widow of Willis Lee Scott, in 1868.
Line 15: W. R. Brown — William Riley Brown was one of three court-appointed appraisers of the estate of Willis Lee Scott in 1868 and one of the “five discreete freeholders” that determined the dower for Margaret Little. His daughter Sarah Brown married John Henry Scott in 1867. His son James Brown would marry Martha Jane Scott (daughter of William Thomas Scott) in 1880.
Line 18. J. W. Brown — John William Brown, son of William Riley Brown.
The new Alabama Constitution was overwhelmingly ratified by voters on 16 November 1875. It remained until superseded by a new constitution in 1901.
Bently, Isaac. “Book of Voter Registration Oaths Taken in Cleburne County, Alabama, in 1875 (Volume 03).” Digital Collections, Alabama Department of Archives & History, https://digital.archives.alabama.gov/digital/collection/voter/id/670.
Shiver, Joshua. “Reconstruction Constitutions.” Encyclopedia of Alabama, Auburn University, 7 Apr. 2020, http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-4192.
Shiver, Joshua. “Alabama Constitution of 1875.” Encyclopedia of Alabama, Auburn University, 16 Apr. 2020, http://encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-4195.
“Constitution of 1868.” We the People: Alabama’s Defining Documents, Alabama Department of Archives & History, https://www.wethepeoplealabama.org/constitution-of-1868.