It's been over a month since I left the story of my great grandfather, Sam Paul (See post of Sept 20, 2011). In that post I described some of the misery he put my great grandmother through before he was sent to prison in 1883.
The Chickasaw legislature petitioned the President of the United States for a pardon for Sam Paul, and on March 17, 1884, it was granted, on the grounds that he had committed the offense "while endeavoring as an officer of the United States and of the Territory, to enforce the law", and " that a conviction in this case tends to impair the efficiency of the Indian Police, and that a pardon would be in the interest of law and order."
(National Archives: Presidential Pardon, March 17, 1884)
Sam had been in prison for two years, one year of which was spent in the Ft. Smith jail, under the most deplorable conditions imaginable. Although he must have been in a weakened condition both physically and emotionally, he wasted no time in getting back into action. The first thing that he did was to divorce my great grandmother Sarah, believing she had an affair with his co-defendant Jim Ross. He then reclaimed his two sons, my grandfather Bill and his older brother Buck, and wrote a will making them his sole heirs. They were 14 and 16 at the time, and up to that point had been attending a subscription school in Smith Pauls Valley where Bill met my grandmother. Sam's older son Joe was out on his own and Sam's daughter Hattie Jane was still a baby and was being raised by her aunt Juliana according to my great grandmother Sarah's plan to hide her from her father. (see post of Sept. 24, 2011, Hattie Jane's Story, Part One).
Federal Marshall James Mershon reported that he was unable to locate assets to pay the $500 fine assessed as a part of Sam Paul's murder sentence, but Sam didn't seem to have any financial problems after his release. He moved right back into his old house, complete with tenant farmers to provide an income; he sent his boys to boarding school, and he found himself another wife, Jennie Tolbert. Then he decided to go into politics.
During Sam Paul's two years in prison, the Chickasaw Nation had changed. A bitter rivalry had grown up between the two political parties, the Progressives and the Nationals or "Pull-backs." The Progressive Party consisted mainly of mixed blood Chickasaws and intermarried white citizens, and the National Party represented the full bloods. Their goals had always been the same, to preserve the Chickasaw way of life and to protect tribal property. Their only difference had been in how to achieve these goals, but the coming of the railroad changed all that.
One of the concessions required of the Indian nations after the Civil War was to allow railways to be constructed across Indian Territory. The first was the Katy which was built across the southeastern part of the Chickasaw Nation in 1872. The railroads improved trade, especially in cotton, and white businessmen, professionals, craftsmen, shopkeepers and laborers migrated into the territory, expanding the small Chickasaw settlements on the line into bustling towns, dominated by whites. These changes were generally welcomed by the whites and by mixed bloods but feared by the full bloods. They had lost their homeland once before, and they were determined not to let it happen again.
(The Chickasaws, by Arrell Gibson. P 252.)
Sam Paul and his older half brother Tecumseh McClure came down on opposite sides of the railroad issue. Sam had been born in Indian Territory. He had grown up in a community integrated with whites, and he viewed their influence as beneficial. Tecumseh on the other hand had spent his childhood in the Chickasaws' Mississippi homeland, and he had been on the Trail of Tears. When the Civil War broke out, he had taken his family to Kansas where they joined the Sauk and Fox tribe in refusing to take sides in the white man's war. In the book, Leaders and Leading men of Indian Territory published in 1891, he is described as a "great hunter" in the process of reserving some of the land under his control as a deer park, to preserve some of Indian Territory's pristine forest.
(Leaders and Leading Men of Indian Territory, by Harry F. O'Beirne. P 308.)
In 1886 the railroad issue came to a head. The Chickasaw Governor William Guy, a Progressive, negotiated an agreement with the Santa Fe Railroad to build a line right through the heart of the Chickasaw Nation. Guy felt that he had no alternative, but the Pull-backs blamed him for giving in. By this time both Sam Paul and Tecumseh McClure were in the Chickasaw Senate. Tecumseh was its president.
William Malcolm Guy
The route of the proposed rail line went right by the little town of Smith Pauls Valley, so for the two brothers the issue was personal. Also the company wanted to locate a terminal there. Tecumseh, who controlled the land, knew that the railroad would transform the small mostly Indian community into a bustling trade center controlled by whites, so he refused to cede the land.
On hearing this, Sam Paul went to the railroad and offered to allow a terminal to be placed just a mile and a half to the south on his land, and he offered the shop owners in the old town free lots in the new location. Santa Fe accepted Sam Paul's offer, and the town was moved to his land, it's name shortened to "Pauls Valley" because the longer name could not fit on the railroad's sign.
In the governor's race of 1888 Governor Guy faced strong opposition in William Byrd, the Pull-back candidate. Byrd had only one thirty second degree of Indian blood, but he was a sincere supporter of Chickasaw tradition and an opponent of the railroad. Under Tecumseh's leadership the Pullback dominated legislature had passed a law the previous year disenfranchising intermarried white citizens. This seriously weakened the Progressive party, but when the votes were counted Guy was still the winner. Surprised and frustrated, the legislature challenged and then threw out the votes in predominantly white counties, throwing the election to Byrd.
Infuriated by this action, Sam Paul led 200 armed supporters into the capitol where the legislature was meeting. Standing before the terrified legislators he declared: "Though we have to wade waist deep in blood to accomplish it, Guy shall this day take his seat as governor."
(Leaders and Leading Men of Indian Territory, by Harry F. OBeirne. P 282)
After Sam Paul's show of force, Guy temporarily moved back into the Governor's office, but he barely escaped an assassination attempt on his way home that evening and decided not to push his luck by returning the next day. The decision on whether or not to accept the disputed votes was then referred for arbitration to the federal agent to the Five Civilized Tribes, Robert L. Owens. Owens decided in favor of the Pull-backs, and Byrd was installed as Governor.
William Leander Byrd
The Progressives then met and selected Sam Paul as their leader and next candidate for Governor, and sent him off to Washington to present the Progressive case to Congress.