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In Their Own Words

January 02, 1868

Delegates to Constitutional Convention

Atlanta teacher Elizabeth Sterchi wrote to Bishop George F. Bahnson in North Carolina with about the constitutional convention then underway in Atlanta. Of the 169 convention delegates, 112 were identified as “Scalawags” (white southerners sympathetic with Reconstruction). Of the remaining delegates, 36 were black, 9 were white “Carpetbaggers” (northerners – usually Republicans – who had come south to benefit from Reconstruction), and 12 were Georgia Democrats – a mixture that upset Sterchi:

“… A great excitement has been caused the last month [in Atlanta] by the presence of the Convention; and by all that I have heard of it, from people who have gone there for mere curiosity, it is terrible to think that the Government has lowered itself so much as to trust the making of laws to such base and vile men. Everyone is disgusted, and some members themselves have resigned, or never have been there, ashamed as they were to be counted in such a crowd. General Pope [commander of the Third Military District who had just been replaced] is gone, to the satisfaction of the reasonable people of both sides; he was generally detested because of his weather-cock character. The Radical party has rendered itself odious to everyone, and everyone hopes this is the end of it… .”

Source: Franklin M. Garrett, Atlanta and Environs: A Chronicle of its People and Events (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1969 reprint of original 1954 volume), Vol. I, p. 772.