Talk of the potential coming transition of power reminds me of a Texas executive who really did hunker down in his office. After the Civil War, former secessionists, or most Whites, were banned from voting or holding office, and the Democratic Party was illegal. The occupation government wrote the new Constitution of 1869, and the gubernatorial election in the same year involved serious fraud under the auspices of a general. Radical Republican Edmund Davis, who had previously attempted to split Texas into two or three smaller states for political advantage, won. His tyrannical program included a ban on handguns and the creation of the overreaching State Police by arresting senators who opposed it.

Despite thousands of votes being thrown out in the midterm election, the Democrats still regained control of the legislature; and, in 1873, Democrat Richard Coke was elected governor in a landslide. Davis attempted to maintain control over the governor’s office by having his handpicked Supreme Court invalidate Coke’s election. When the Democrats came anyway, Davis summoned the Travis Rifles to protect him, but his opponents slipped past them and gathered upstairs in the Capitol to organize a government. When the Travis Rifles switched sides, Davis requested federal troops from President Grant, but he refused. Davis finally gave up on Jan. 19, 1874. The new Constitution of 1876 limited the governor’s and state’s power to preclude such tyranny, and Davis was the last Republican governor for over a century. In a way, it was the second Texas Revolution.

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