ADELBERT AMES AS MILITARY GOVERNOR.

Source: Lowry, Robert and McCardle, William H. A History of Mississippi, from the Discovery of the Great River by Hernando DeSoto, Including the Earliest Settlement Made by the French Under Iberville, to the Death of Jefferson Davis [1541-1889]. Jackson, Miss.: R. H. Henry & Co., 1891. Pages 379-382.

The Democratic canvass was made under the direction of Gen. John D. Freeman, Chairman of the Democratic State Executive Committee

Governor Humphreys refused to obey the military order of McDowell, but continued to discharge the duties of his office.

Col. Biddle, armed with an order from General Ames, called at the Executive office and demanded of the Governor a surrender of it and the archives of the State; and if refused, notified him of the hour at which he would seize them. Before the hour of seizure arrived the Governor invited Dr. M. S. Craft, Marion Smith, Oliver Clifton and Wm. F. Fitzgerald to be present and witness what occurred. At the appointed hour the military officer with a file of soldiers appeared at the Executive office to carry into execution the order mentioned. On renewing his demand he was informed by the Governor that his force was insufficient to take possession of his office; the officer's deportment was that of a gentleman, and he inquired what force would be necessary, and was informed that the Governor would be the judge of that; immediately thereafter the officer returned with a military company, marched them into the Executive office, and instructed their commander to permit any one who desired to pass out, but allow no one to come in. Soon after this order and demonstration, the Governor, accompanied by his private secretary, went to the Attorney-General's office, and on his return at the door of his own office he was ordered to "halt" at the point of two bayonets. Upon inquiry of the sergeant what that meant, he was kindly informed by the sentinel that his orders were to allow no one to enter the office, and that it was a military order from his superior officer that he was compelled to obey. The Governor was thus ejected from the Executive mansion.

Referring to this proceeding Governor Humphreys said:

"I knew it was futile to disobey these orders, and that I must succumb, but I had the honor, the dignity, property rights, and the sovereignty of the State to guard, and I was determined to maintain those rights and yield nothing except at the point of overpowering bayonets, and that the world should know that I yielded not to civil process, but to stern, unrelenting military tyranny."

The ejection of Governor Humphreys from the Executive office and the Governor's mansion was followed by the military administration of Adelbert Ames, whose career constitutes a dark and disgraceful page in the State's history Adelbert Ames was born in the State of Maine in 1835, and at the age of thirty-four years the fortunes of war found him in this State, a Lieutenant-Colonel in the regular army, and a Brevet Major-General of volunteers, appointed military Governor of Mississippi. A young man without experience in civility polity, he was utterly unfitted for the discharge of the duties assigned him. The gigantic task of putting in operation the machinery of a State government was beyond his capabilities, and to make it more embarrassing, he was unable to divest himself of the passions and prejudices engendered during the war against Southern white people, and the further fact that he was surrounded and controlled by corrupt influences rendered him obnoxious to those who bore the burdens of government. The charge was openly made by the press and speakers of the Democratic party during the canvass conducted under the auspices and direction of Ames, as military Governor, that his object was to have his tools and minions returned to the Legislature that he might be rewarded, not only for his fealty to them, but as well for his slanderous official report touching the condition of Mississippi affairs. Leading Republicans, and Ames himself, denied the accusation, but its truth was established by his election to the Senate of the United States in 1870. His administration as Military Governor was characterized by an utter disregard of law, stupidity and oppression, and when superseded by civil government the people felt that they were rid of a withering, blighting curse.

On the 15th of January, 1870, he transmitted to the Legislature copies of the fourteenth and fifteenth amendments to the Constitution of the United States, which the two houses on that day ratified according to the prescribed terms of a resolution of Congress.

His reign as Military Governor was drawing to a close, to the gratification of the intelligent people of the State. Examples of his bad conduct were many and disgraceful. He appointed, in 1869, one of his minions probate judge, and president of the board of supervisors in Rankin county, who during his official term as such appointee, was, on a preliminary examination, found guilty of obtaining money under false pretenses, and also of embezzlement. For the latter offense he was held to bail in the sum of two thousand dollars, and failing to give the required bond he was lodged in jail. His appointee for sheriff, one Curliss, was also in the custody of a special officer for obtaining a county warrant fraudulently, and for subornation of perjury. Pending the trial of these two officials, Governor Ames sent a company of United States troops, under command of one Major Rosencranz, and stationed them at Brandon. Major Rosencrantz [sp?] demanded and obtained possession of the jail key, and with a squad of soldiers took the probate judge out of jail and escorted him to the courthouse, when a soldier with a musket in hand opened court (it being Monday of the regular term), and in a short time the same soldier adjourned court until the next regular term.

The imprisoned judge and sheriff were carried away by military force without consultation with the civil authorities, and given their freedom, both of whom went beyond the confines of the State and never returned. Kindred audacious insults and lawless conduct were inflicted upon the people of a number of counties in the State, notably, Choctaw, Yalobusha and Monroe. His high-handed tyranny was remembered in Copiah county, where twenty-five or more substantial and respectable citizens, without authority of law, but to gratify his caprice, and to meet the wishes and complaints of treacherous renegades and negro politicians, were arrested and imprisoned.

For the purpose of giving a further exhibition of his power, and to increase his methods of oppression, he dared, in violation of the Federal Constitution, and every State Constitution in America, to arbitrarily suspend the writ of right, and writ of habeas corpus, when there was neither a rebellion or invasion, nor the public safety threatened.



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