Oath of Office taken by Trailblazing African-American Legislator
David Medlock represented Limestone, Falls, and McLennan countries during Reconstruction
The nine-year post-Civil War period known as Reconstruction (1865-1874) was contentious in Texas. As in the other former Confederate states, many Texans objected to the federal mandates for readmission to the Union, which included granting voting rights to people formerly enslaved. However, in an election held under federal supervision, thirteen African-American men were elected to serve in the 12th legislature, which met from February 8, 1870 to December 2, 1871.
This oath of office was taken by David Medlock, a freedman who was elected to represent Limestone, Falls, and McLennan counties. Medlock served on the Federal Relations Committee, sponsored a bill that incorporated his hometown of Springfield, and sought the return of taxes to Limestone County for the building of a jail. Despite intimidation, African Americans continued to serve in the legislature until a combination of threats of violence and laws such as poll taxes and literacy tests severely curtailed the ability of African Americans to vote. It was not until 1966, with the election of Barbara Jordan to the Texas state senate, that African Americans again took their place in the Texas legislature.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission, Austin
9 3/4" Length X 7 3/4" Width
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