Slavery: Just a "Detail"?
If a Republican state representative from Dallas has his way this session, the Texas legislature will ratify a constitutional amendment passed by the U.S. congress a month before the civil war prohibiting interference with the states' domestic institutioris, specifically including slavery.
On March 2, 1861, the 36th congress adopted a joint resolution to amend the constitution prohibiting other amendments to the constitution giving congress the power "to abolish or interfere, within any state, with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to labor or service by the laws of said state." Ratification by three-fourths of the states is required to put such an amendment into effect; just three states ratified this one, Ohio, Mary.land, and Illinois. The civil war started on April 12, 1861.
Rep. Henry Stollenwerck, one of the seven Republicans in the Texas House, has introduced a joint resolution by which Texas would ratify this 1861 amendment and ask the other states, except the three that have already ratified it, to do likewise.
"I'm opposed to slavery!" Stollenwerck assured the Observer. He explained that the difficult thing nowadays about amending the U.S. constitution is getting the congress to get the thing going. He contended in dead seriousness that despite the intervening 102 years, the 1861 amendment is still alive and should be ratified. Slavery is not lawful in any state now, so the amendment obviously would not protect it, he said.
"I almost didn't introduce it, Stollenwerck said, "because I thought it might be subject to an amused reaction." In 1861, he said, the northern Republicans' intent in passing it was to hold the union together, not to preserve slavery, since, he said, slaves had become "an economic liability" by that time.
The name of Rep. Bob Johnson, Democrat from Dallas, appears on the resolution as a co-sponsor. Asked about it, Johnson's first reaction was, "What does it do?" Reminded, or advised, whichever the case may have been, Johnson could hardly disguise his chagrin. "I'm not for slavery!" he, also, said.