EFFECTS OF THE REFORM ADMINISTRATION IN MISSISSIPPI
Because the Democrats carried the election in Mississippi in 1875, they did not thereby secure control of the State Government. That election was for members of the Legislature, members of Congress and county officers. Only one State officer was elected,—a State Treasurer,—to fill the vacancy created by the death of Treasurer Holland. All the other State officers were Republicans. But the Democrats could not afford to wait until Governor Ames’ term expired. They were determined to get immediate control of the State Government. There was only one way in which this could be done, and that was by impeachment.
This course they decided to take. It could not be truthfully denied that Governor Ames was a clean, pure, and honest man. He had given the State an excellent administration. The State judiciary had been kept up to the high standard established by Governor Alcorn. Every dollar of the public money had been collected, and honestly accounted for. The State was in a prosperous condition. The rate of taxation had been greatly reduced, and there was every prospect of a still further reduction before the end of his administration. But these facts made no difference to those who were flushed with the victory they had so easily won. They wanted the offices, and were determined to have them, and that, too, without very much delay. Hence, impeachment proceedings were immediately instituted against the Governor and Lieutenant-Governor,—not in the interest of reform, of good government or of low taxes, but simply in order to get possession of the State Government.
The weakness of the case against the Governor was shown when it developed that the strongest charge against him was that he had entered into an alleged corrupt bargain with State Senator Cassidy, resulting in Cassidy’s appointment as one of the Judges of the Chancery Court. Cassidy had been elected a member of the State Senate as a Democrat. Notwithstanding that fact he voted for Mr. Bruce, the Republican caucus nominee for United States Senator, and subsequently publicly identified himself with the Republican party. Later his brother, William P. Cassidy, and his law partner, Hon. J.F. Sessions, did likewise. In 1874 Sessions was elected to the State Senate as a Republican to serve out the unexpired term of his law partner, Cassidy, who had resigned his seat in the Senate upon his appointment as a Judge of the Chancery Court.