George T. Ruby of Galveston, a Northern journalist and teacher who had moved to Texas to work in freedmen's schools; he became a well-known African- American Republican leader.
In July 1867 twenty whites and 150 blacks attended a Republican convention in Houston, where they endorsed free common schools and free homesteads from public lands for blacks and whites alike. Thus began a decades-long tradition of black Republicanism in the state. Despite widespread violence and intimidation by the Ku Klux Klan and Democrats, many black men registered for the first election in which they could participate-the 1868 referendum on whether to hold another constitutional convention and elect delegates. More blacks than whites cast ballots, and, with their white allies, they overcame the opposition of the majority of white voters and voted to hold another convention. The Convention of 1868–69, dominated by Republicans, included ten African-American delegates out of ninety. Among them was George T. Ruby of Galveston, a Northern journalist and teacher who had moved to Texas to work in freedmen's schools; he became a well-known Republican leader. All ten were active on committees and presented important resolutions. Though frustrated in attempts to secure certain constitutional safeguards for their people, they contributed to the accomplishments of the convention, which paved the way for the readmission of Texas to the Union in March 1870.
Reconstruction ended in 1873 with the defeat of Davis, an event hailed by a former governor as "the restoration of white supremacy and Democratic rule." The number of blacks in the legislature dropped, and white Democrats began reestablishing control of Texas politics. This was accomplished primarily by the Constitutional Convention of 1875, which was accompanied by continuing violence and intimidation aimed at blacks. In a state now controlled by white Democrats, African Americans experimented with three options: involvement in the Republican party, alliance with factions of Democrats, and collaboration with third parties. None of these proved satisfactory, however, given blacks' worsening legal status and shrinking share of the state's population. (Black Texans declined from 31 to 20 percent of the population between 1870 and 1900.) African-American activity in the Republican party focused on preventing the conservative faction from gaining control and driving out blacks, who in the 1880s formed 90 percent of the party's membership. By attracting like-minded whites, conservative Republicans hoped to compete effectively with the Democrats. Norris Wright Cuney of Galveston, an early protégé of Senator Ruby, was the astute leader of the black Republicans from the death of E. J. Davis in 1883 to his own death in 1897.
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