Richard L. Hume


In accord with provisions of the Reconstruction Acts, members of the Florida constitutional convention assembled in Tallahassee in mid-January of 1868. An examination of the historiography of this controversial gathering, a body charged with framing the constitution which was to take effect when the state was returned to civilian rule, quickly reveals the existence of the standard Dunningite-revisionist dispute which has so characterized most writing on the postwar South. William Watson Davis, who completed his classic work on Reconstruction in Florida under the direction of William A. Dunning himself, believed that the delegates who attended the Florida "Black and Tan" convention were men of little ability. In 1913, his evaluation of the membership of that body, an evaluation which was similar in most respects to those contained in "Dunning studies" of Reconstruction in other southern states, was therefore quite uncomplimentary. In this regard, he noted that "these prospective constitution makers bade fair to be rather a motley assemblage, even to an optimist. Crass ignorance, aggressiveness, vulgarity and a mixture of colors were their most protuberant characteristics."