THE ADMINISTRATION OF GOVERNOR R. C. POWERS.
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 385-386.
Governor Powers was a Northern man, and a volunteer soldier, amiable and courteous. He was a property owner and tax-payer, and seemed satisfied to continue the line of policy inaugurated by his chief. His administration was marked by less lawlessness than that of Ames, and towards its close he manifested a desire to co-operate with the white people, and return to economical government, but his surroundings rendered him powerless to do much in that direction.
Governors Alcorn and Ames were occupying their seats in the United States Senate. The former, a man of high bearing, wealthy, full of courage, proud and imperious, had a contempt for the pretentions [sic] of the latter, and asserted, in substance, on the floor of the Senate, that Ames was a fraud, that his poverty of intellect was only equalled [sic] by his arrogant assumption of unauthorized powers; that he was not, and never had been, a citizen of Mississippi. Ames made the best reply he could, but was no match in debate for his opponent. The estrangement and breach between them culminated in both declaring themselves candidates for Governor of the State. A number of white Republicans advocated the election of Alcorn, while Ames was supported by the extreme Radicals, who controlled in a great measure the negroes.
This was the political situation in the spring of 1873, when the Democratic party were considering and discussing the expediency of pretermitting nominations for State officers in the election to come off in the fall of that year.
In accordance with party custom, and to settle questions of difference, the Democratic party assembled at Bennett's Hall, in the city of Meridian, on the 17th of September, 1873. At 11 o'clock A.M. of that day, Robert Lowry, of Rankin county, chairman of the Democratic State Executive Committee, called the Convention to order, making a brief address, in which he recommended deliberate action, and generous concessions, the outcome of which he believed would give success to the party. Col. R O. Reynolds, of Monroe, was made permanent chairman of the Convention. After a thorough and exhaustive discussion of the political situation, in which a number of prominent delegates participated, the following resolution, offered by Hon. Jeff. Wilson, of Pontotoc, was adopted by a vote of one hundred and one to forty-five, to wit:
"Resolved, That it is the sense of the Democratic party of the State of Mississippi, in Convention assembled, that it is inexpedient in the approaching State election to nominate a State ticket."
The adoption of this resolution left the gubernatorial contest to be determined between the Republican candidates. Alcorn was the leader of the conservative wing of his party, and insisted upon the observance of law and order, while General Ames was the recognized leader of brute force, and if clothed with authority, was ready to inaugurate a species of tyranny and oppression that would drive struggling property holders from the State. The gubernatorial contest grew fierce and bitter. The negroes with their few white carpet-bag leaders constituted the followers and supporters of Ames, whose candidacy created grave fears in the minds of the white people throughout the State. The Democratic party, as a people throughout the State. The Democratic party, as a choice between the candidates, gave their support to Governor Alcorn, for the reason that he was an old citizen of the State, largely interested in its material development and welfare, and in every view vastly preferable to his opponent for official station. Ames was elected. In the meantime Governor Powers regarded the election just held as illegal; that the election laws on the statute books were conflicting, and that the election for State officers should have been deferred until November, 1874, and as a consequence Ames and his associates should not qualify. Governor Powers urged this view in a carefully prepared message to the Legislature, which he had assembled in extra session. All parties desired an early settlement of the question, which was very soon determined by the Supreme Court adversely to the views enunciated in the Governor's message. With the announcement of this decision Governor Powers retired, and was succeeded by Adelbert Ames.
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